This year was bizarre. Seriously the strangest year I’ve had in gaming in as long as I can ever remember touching a keyboard or controller. There were highs and lows like every year, but this year brought about personal paradigm shifts and even some which may apply to the entire industry.
2014 goes down as the worst year in MMO history. Didn’t we say that last year? Let’s evaluate.
- Elder Scrolls Online: Failed
- WildStar: Failed
- ArcheAge: Failed
Each failed for very different reasons, and each were completely avoidable by anyone who really understands what gamers want in a MMORPG. For the past eight years I have penned my ideas about making MMOs great right here on this blog. These have become my personal annals of MMO virtue. I look back at what we (you the readers included) have come up with and I cringe at what those who do this for a living create. Why are these two thing not aligned, and how can we change that? (I’m open to starting something, email inquiries welcome!)
The paradigm shift I alluded to earlier is that I am no longer stuck in the mindset that I have to play every MMO. I played TESO for a few weeks, Wildstar for a few days, and I never even picked up ArcheAge. I haven’t played a MMO for the past six months. That would have been completely inconceivable to me last year. I no longer feel compelled to settle for or try mediocrity. My standards are set for what I will put up with, and if something isn’t truly appealing to me then I’m fine sitting back and waiting.
Interestingly enough, I think I’m not alone in that. I’ve always felt I have a feel sense for the pulse of the industry. I feel many others are in the same mindset as I am, and that a huge chunk of the potential pool of MMO players is simply sitting here idle without a game to play. The real question now is how do you capitalize on that without waiting until 2017?
MMOs on the Horizon
The horizon looks bright. Very, very bright. But it’s still so far off.
- Camelot Unchained – At least a year? Something beyond a tech demo should be playable in 2015. They’ve made progress, and our friend Mark Jacobs has been incredibly forthcoming and open with the community about where they are taking the game. They’ve said all of the right things. They just have to execute a high-quality product.
- EverQuest Next – We won’t see it until 2016 at the earliest. For now it remains nothing more than a tease, but it’s EverQuest and I will drool over it incessantly until it’s here.
- The Repopulation – Looks to be very much a SWG-type. I have modest hopes for it to rekindle some of the love I’ve had for sandbox games.
- H1Z1 – Not a MMO, but they like to call it one. Perhaps it may mutate into some type of MMO hybrid. Nevertheless, I am interested. We should hopefully see this sometime early 2015.
Oh the joys of whatever you want to call this crap. This has actually gone from being a neat way to build hype and mutated into a business model. I know exactly how it happened. I’m part of the problem. We the ever-impatient gamers buy ourselves into the ability to play sooner, and it all snowballed from there.
I’m torn on whether or not early access is inherently evil or simply executed poorly. Could the idea still work if handled ethically and with the player’s best interests at heart? I think so. Sorta. Maybe we’ll revisit this one in 2015 when the half-dozen already announced games with early access open their doors. For now, this model blew up in the face of 2014 gamers.
The year for console gaming seemed fairly good. We had games like Dark Souls 2, Dragon Age Inquisition, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, and several more. I even received my very own Wii U for Christmas (thanks Santa!) and will soon get a PS4 as well. I’m excited at the prospects of playing console games with Graev!
Remember when Indie games were like the under dogs and had unquestionable support from everyone? I think that’s starting to fade. Indie games are now more prevalent, and in my eyes no longer get a free pass. You can’t make crappy games and get away with it. You can’t screw people (early access) then walk away from a project. Indie game dev or big publisher dev, you’re both accountable to the players.
Lots of good indie titles came out in 2014. Everything from Divinity: Original Sin to Shovel Knight. Kickstarter has given rise to many opportunities. Great ones like The Repopulation and Camelot Unchained. Horrible ones like Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, and a few with the jury still out like Shroud of the Avatar. We shall see what 2015 brings the indie devs.
Other Games and Entertainment
My faith in mobile gaming has increased this year. I’ve seen some amazing things on the iPhone and Tablet. Games like Hearthstone are coming to the iPhone in early 2015, and are already available on iPad and Android tablets. Other games like Seabeard have shown me that an experience matching or exceeding that of the 3DS is possible, but remains unexecuted. This year was a huge leap forward in progress for these devices — at least for my own personal take on them. I’m eager to see what 2015 brings.
My love of board games and card games has increased this past year. I picked up several for Christmas including Ticket to Ride Europe, Dominion, Shadows over Camelot, Munchkin, and Small World. We’ve played through many of them already, and have enjoyed them all.
One of the best ways to pass the time during a gaming slump is to get engaged and plan a wedding. I got engaged in September, and I’ll be married in March of next year. I couldn’t be happier to find something that matters more to me than video games. She’s way more dynamic, much more sandbox, and has the best daily quests. Alright, I admit that was a wee bit cheesy. In a strange way she’s taught me to value gaming more. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I know that when I play games I have more fun. It’s kinda cool.
I have a few more posts planned for the end of 2015. I’ll look back at my favorite game(s) (this is going to be hard), announce my goals for the new year, and talk about a few upcoming games I’m excited to play.