Tobold's Blog
Thursday, December 18, 2014
What do you think of 2014 in gaming?

It's not even Christmas yet, and I've already seen several articles on the internet claiming that 2014 was the worst year in gaming ever. The evidence cited in those articles is a varying list of triple A games that failed to impress, or even failed to be playable on launch day. Seen from that point of view, the MMORPG genre isn't an exception: Both The Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar, the two big triple A releases of 2014 failed to hold onto their subscribers. Somewhat surprisingly the one MMORPG triple A product of 2014 that earned both critical and commercial success was Warlords of Draenor, an expansion for a 10-year old game.

But what if we look at 2014 in a different way? Do triple A games really matter all that much?

Personally, for me as a gamer, what is important isn't the success or failure of any single game. What is important for me is whether I have a game to play, and whether I have fun playing that game. And looking back at 2014 with that in mind, I don't think the year was all that bad. I played lots of different games, and I had lots of fun with many of them. And the games I played weren't even very expensive!

I am wondering of those game journalists talking about a bad year are too much considering gaming from the point of view of the industry. Honestly, I wouldn't want to work in the gaming industry today, nor would I invest my money in it. As I see it we are in the middle of a huge glut of games, and that is driving down prices and profits. $60 games being a disappointment has a lot to do with there being $6 games which are just as much fun. I spent a good amount of gaming time this year with iPad games that cost only a tiny fraction of the cost of a $60 console game. And because the PC gaming industry is producing games much faster than I can play them, I can afford to wait and buy them in Steam sales for 50% to 90% off.

I would say that the "bad year" is still to come. We are in the glut phase of the videogames pork cycle. It might well be that after years of overproduction we will have some years of underproduction, until the industry is profitable again. Well, Steam will probably survive and I have a large library of games in reserve in case we see those 7 lean years.

How was 2014 in gaming for you? Did you buy a lot of disappointing games, or did you enjoy the consumer benefits of the surplus in supply?

This year I continued to play StarCraft 2 and RIFT (which had an expansion). The new games I played were Borderlands presequel (good), Sacred 3 (bad), War in the North (ok, still playing), Long Live the Queen (interesting), Shadowrun Returns (enjoyable, but short). I bought a number of other games, but didn't really get into them.
I felt like there were plenty of games to play that were quite fun. Like you've said though, few of those games were from the big names.

robocraft, spintires, 7 days to die, etc.

I've been lured bu Blizzard to buy the expansion and renew for 1 month. It was (is) amazing. Loved every bit of it, like I did years ago.

Other than that... Nothing really hit my heart. I've been busy with Lego games (StarWars, HarryPotter, IndianaJones and Marvel superheroes) with my kids (Xbox360). Great fun.
Blizzard smashed three home runs this year with Hearthstone, Reaper of Souls, and Warlords of Draenor.

I'm struggling to think of any other developers who impressed me, though. Every other game I've been playing has been pre-2014.
I have been enjoying the "Endless" ganes from amplitude studios - endless legend and dungeon of the endless. I also bought mordheim early access (good bones but very early), about $200 worth of iOS games, hearthstone and heroes of the storm. Elder scrolls was a fail to me.

Nothing has grabbed me so tight that I have been obsessed with except dream quest. That game was easily my game of the year.

There are so many games to play at the moment that sometimes I just read about games rather than playing them :(
I predicted a year ago that this year would be one for enjoying older MMOs and it certainly was for me. I tried Secret World finally and am loving it so far. I have played a good amount of EQ2 as well having finally gotten more involved in the game's vast amount of leveling content.

I tried both Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online in late beta but neither felt ready for release.
Whiny game journalist here!
I don't have much interest in AAA titles (since these are mostly just the same games I've already played some years ago), but for indie games this year was terrific.

Road Not Taken, Dungeon of the Endless, Sir You Are Being Hunted, Qvadriga, This War of Mine... There's steady grow in quality of indie games. It is supposed that AAA-titles are targeted at hardcore gamers, but they are, in fact, often not. With good indie games hardcore gamers get to play too :]

I also have to mention Hearthstone, which spectacularly excels at the (pretty narrow and focused) goals Blizzard had in mind.
Yeah, I agree that the bad year is yet to come (and it will pale inc omparison to whatever journalists think of this year). Just from my own personal observations:

1. There's such a flood of games on the market, thanks to the fact that nothing goes out of stock anymore in the digital download era, plus indie games, plus endless AAA games, that the industry's biggest competition right now is itself from every year prior.

2. In consoles I've noticed two things in my house, and wonder how many others have this issue: first is that I haven't dumped last gen's consoles yet, because I still have a backlog on both, and they keep selling great games at insanely low (like Steam sale low) prices every week. Second, the new consoles created a least for people like me who tend to own 10-15 games per console and play them slowly over time....I actually have run out of hard drive space (since each has only 500 GB) for new games. If I want to buy something today for the Xbone or PS4 I'm going to have to uninstall something else. This is a cold glass of water in the face for habitual consumers like myself, a suggestion that I should slow down and play what I've got rather than buy new stuff.

3. Finally, I think it's becoming really obvious that the industry is teetering on the brink of self-induced failure created by its own aggrandized expectations. We'll always have AAA titles, but I have a feeling the producers of those titles are going to look very different in 5 years from the ones we know today, as many have milked their franchises to the point where there's nothing left, or they've done even worse, setting the bar so high for themselves they'll never be able to match prior years of success.

Just some thoughts....
Not too much has interested me, but I'm a very casual gamer these days.

I did resub to WoW. I completely lost interest in WoD after hitting 100. I stand by my early opinion that it's their best xpac leveling experience, but I was just not interested in doing the endgame. Maybe they made raiding more convenient and flexible, but you still need to play multi-hour sittings with rare pauses at most if you want to skip the super-touristy LFR. That just doesn't work for me anymore. Would need a bunch of real life friends playing for it to make sense.

The new MMOs didn't interest me much, certainly not enough to buy an additional Windows machine. Ditto with the new gen of console systems, all of which have some great looking games but are still a must-have or two away from making a sale to me.

Currently I'm back on Hearthstone. I really like the GvG expansion. One of my favorite themes in WoW, and more RNG means unique situations every match. Still only playing it casually.
Finally quit WoW in March after 5+ years. Ditto above, end game is compelling but just too time consuming for an adult with a family and a job.

Stopped gaming cold turkey and threw myself into gardening and listening to audiobooks and podcasts. Now back into Hardcore Diablo with garden season over. The removal of the auction house revitalized that game for me.
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