Back from quite a long hiatus, and just in time for a quick look back at 2018!
2018 was another game changing year for almost all things entertainment. This year we saw how legislature directly changing how gaming companies do business, how social media and companies harnessing it’s data have been put in the spotlight, how the tables have started to turn from the previous years GamerGate scandals to women empowered #metoo movements that have promised change across the board.
There are tons more that we could talk about so lets get to the ones we saw directly affected us- and if you have any opinion about what we are saying, please do say something in the comments below.
When companies like Blizzard started the trend of “randomized” lootboxes to give players some cosmetic upgrades to their games (Overwatch), other publishers like Activision took that model and ran with it- albeit in the totally nerd-raging direction. Star Wars Battlefront II was center stage on the drama for offering lootbox-like micro transactions that technically gave players the ability to “pay-to-win”. People who spent enough money could upgrade their ships and characters that practically rendered them undefeatable in PvP scenarios. Feedback, criticism and blowback was swift and people started boycotting the game and calling for legal intervention. Loot boxes as they were implemented fell under what was deemed to be gambling and as such some countries have required changes on how they are represented or even used in general. To sooth the pitchfork wielding masses, Lootboxes were removed from Star Wars- yet sadly still too late for the game that had so much potential to be a great game. Other publishers have followed and have been more cautious on implementing paid content but we have yet to see how this will affect future games in 2019.
Another downer for the year was how people fell victim to the hype machines that promised stellar gaming experiences but ended up being duds. I’m looking at you Fallout 76 and No Mans Sky! And you too Star Citizen and your current funding of hundreds of millions…
It wasn’t just software though. The NES Classic was awesome. It made old school gaming cool enough to get kids interested in gaming history and us old foggies to shell out money to play stuff we already own in emulation but were still tempted to play on mini consoles. The mini NewGeo, mini Genesis, Mini Comodore64 and even the PS Classic were terrible- and a terrible waste of money. The PS Classic is so bad that Tekken 3 looked like slo mo Virtual Fighter 1– much so that the original 99$ price tag is now 50$ at some retailers.
There were some winning moments in gaming though! The biggest winner that took the world by storm in 2018 has been Fortnite. It propelled gamers like Ninja into super stardom complete with pro-athlete like endorsements (and even a new years gaming marathon event!). The genre originally made popular by PUBG was tweaked just enough to make a huge difference. The combination of royal rumble and Minecraft like building coupled with dance move emotes to fit almost every situation has become the proven formula to get gamers young and old hooked and publisher Epic Games $3Billion richer.
This new love for e-sports has even affected how some parents view gaming. No longer is it in the claws of just the basement dwelling hard core gamers (although I’m not one to judge since I do have my basement set up as such as well lol) but now we see/hear of kids pitching their idea of a career in esports as professional gamers and parents are actually PAYING for gaming tutors and boot camps for games like Overwatch, Street Fighter and yup.. even Hearthstone! (I wish my summer camp was gaming based!!)
This has also trickled down to mobile gaming. The year introduced some really powerful phones and tablets that have brought Fortnite to the smaller screens. The future of mobile gaming is truly bright and we can only imagine where next years tech will take us.
In 2017 we were heavily invested in the future of VR. Our team built computers with the most popular sets (Vive and Oculus) in mind and we put them through a ringer. 2018 though was more of a win for AR than it was for VR since commercial applications for AR seemed more viable to a lot of companies as platforms to help sell ideas, train people and expand their businesses. VR has evolved still with updated headsets for the Vive, mobile and standalone versions for Oculus and the introduction of wireless options that will propel the adaption rates even further. Prices too have gone down but still a bit prohibitive to more casual gamers.
The gamification of learning has evolved as well. Kits like the Osmo and Kano have made coding and building computers more accessible to children. Even Nintendo jumped in with the LABO series of buildable AR kits for the switch. As informative as textbooks are, nothing is quite as fun as learning about stuff using buildable robots, playable instruments, programmable wands and the like and with todays advancements in AI and machine learning, it is never to early to have your kids learn about our future robot overlords!
Overall 2018 has been a rough ride for most gaming studios, and gamers alike but social movements that have now openly addressed diversity and inclusivity in gaming sets us in the right path to a more awesome gaming future.
To end the post, I’d like to just list our Top 5 Most Played Games of Year.
Detroit: Become Human
Monster Hunter: Worlds
Destiny 2: Forsaken
God of War
Let us know what you are/were playing and what you think we SHOULD be playing and from the bottom of our hearts, we hope you have an awesome new year!