We'll soon say goodbye to 2017. The year was full of ups and downs for the video game industry. This time of year is perfect for looking back and that's what we did: from the Switch launch all the way to the scandalous loot boxes.
Looking back is something many people do as a year draws to a close. With the dreaded midnight of 31 December almost upon us, we tend to think about all the things that happened since the last time we counted down from 10.
To each his own I say, let's look at someone else's year. Here are the biggest news that broke in 2017. Curated and described as yours truly remembers them, which is pretty unreliable, but such is life.
- The Switch:
Nintendo's handheld/console hybrid was unveiled in October 2016 and released in March 2017. Approximately one year after the console was unveiled, Nintendo released the reports for the second fiscal quarter of 2017.
The reports showed that 7.85m units was sold since the Switch launched. December brought news of another major milestone for the console - 10 million units had been purchased. If the Switch manages to sell 14 million units by the end of the year, it will have passed the Wii U's life to date sales in one calendar year.
Can't talk about the Switch without talking about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, released as a Switch launch title. The game went on to get more 10/10 scores than any game in history.
- PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
PUBG was first a series of mods that Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene developed for other games. The game started out in Steam's early access in March 2017. During its time in early access, PUBG managed to beat DOTA's numbers for most concurrent players, and it still sits at number one with 2,949,950 peak players in the last 30 days, according to Steam Charts.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is currently available for PC and Xbox One, but a PS4 version should not be far behind.
- The indies:
Square Enix' financial report published back in May showed less than desirable reports considering the financial success and viability of the Hitman franchise. Square Enix purchased Hitman developer Io Interactive's parent company Eidos Interactive in 2009.
In June, Io Interactive officially became an indie studio. The two companies had agreed to a management buyout that left Io Interactive with all of the rights to the Hitman IP. A new Hitman game was confirmed by Io Interactive CEO himself - Hakan Abrak. He said that they "don’t plan to start talking about that until some point in 2018", and I say that 01 January is, in fact, some point in 2018.
Ninja Theory's action adventure was released in August 2017. The "independent AAA game" was inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture. The game's protagonist - Senua notably suffers from psychosis.
Hellblade was developed by a team of 20 developers who worked with neuroscientists, mental health specialists and people affected by psychosis in order to accurately represent the condition. The game went on to win Best Audio Design, Best Performance and Games for Impact award at The Game Awards 2017.
The last indie on the list, promise. This run and gun game by StudioMDHR beat Hellblade to the Best Independent Game award. It's art style has been widely praised for obvious reasons.
Cuphead was inspired by 1930s-era cartoons, and the style can be seen all though the game.
EA's bad year started with Mass Effect: Andromeda being shipped buggy and unfinished. The game's poor reception caused BioWare to be dismantled and absorbed into Motive Studios. Motive was, at the time, EA's newest studio lead by industry veteran Jade Raymond. Motive developed Star Wars: Battlefront II in collaboration with EA DICE and Criterion Games. More on Battlefront II later.
EA' s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year continued when they decided to dismantle Visceral Games just a few weeks before Star Wars: Battlefront II launched: "Our Visceral studio has been developing an action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe. In its current form, it was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game."
They tested the market and deduced that people wold like a money pit instead. And so Star Wars: Battlefront II was born.
Pay real world cash - get a loot box. This is a tried system that has been working for a number of games until EA tested the fundamental shifts in the marketplace and decided "to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design". The design pivot included a pay to win model.
The system was most (in)famously implemented into Star Wars: Battlefront II by locking items crucial to player progression behind a paywall. A number of games including NBA 2K18, Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War, and Need For Speed Payback followed the formula.
The problem and the subsequent outcry found their way into the mainstream media and even kicked some governments and politicians into taking action against "gambling in video games". Whether something will come of all this remains to be seen.
That was my quick rundown of the biggest news in 2017. Can't wait to see what happens in 2018.