Is 2014 a “rebuilding year” for games?

The holidays are quickly approaching and if you’re anything like us you’re readying your browsers and wallets for some great Black Friday sales coming up soon (god forbid you’re actually braving the retail store in person and, if so, be sure you update your wills before venturing out Thanksgiving night).  Not only is it a chance for us to get excited about the holiday games we have yet to play but also take a look back at the year in whole to possibly seek out what we may have missed.  And as we look back at the year in reviews and updates, we can’t help but feel like 2014 was a lousy year for games.

Objectively the top two highest rated games of 2014 right now are GTA 5 and The Last of Us Remastered for the PS4.  Granted both are fantastic games that we thoroughly enjoyed in 2013.  Also this year we had rereleases of Diablo III, Rayman Legends, Guacamelee!, Tomb Raider, and, of course, Halo: The Master Chief Collection.  Again, these are all fantastic games well worth your time but were available last year (or years prior in Halo’s case).  Excluding remakes, it appears so far that 2014 will be critically defined by Wii U titles like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Mario Kart 8, and Bayonetta 2 while the other consoles wrap up the year really only with Dark Souls 2 having overwhelmingly strong reviews and Destiny owning the sales charts despite failing to meet the hype – at least for now…

This is tremendously disappointing for us.  Consider last year which gave us GTA 5, The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and, yes we’ll say it because we love this series, Rayman Legends.  2012 was a big year too with the final chapter of the Mass Effect series, the original TellTale Walking Dead game, Dishonored, Borderlands 2, and Far Cry 3.  And 2011, if you want to think back that far, yielded one of the best years in gaming ever with Batman: Arkham City, Skyrim, Portal 2, Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 3, Gears of war 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dead Space 2 etc. etc.  That was a good year to be a gamer.

Perhaps the lack of definitive titles this year is a symptom of truly being split by too many different consoles.  In our home we currently have 4 different systems hooked up to the main TV in order to play Borderlands: The Pre Sequel (360), Smash Bros (Wii U), Far Cry 4 (PS4), and the Uncharted series (PS3 – we just wanted to play through the franchise once more).  Presumably developers were holding off this year a bit to ensure market saturation of the new consoles before releasing titles to help encourage better sales volumes which may explain why so many promised titles were pushed back to 2015.  A lot of developers instead opted to port over older games with a shiny polish and veneer on the new consoles (now with a first person mode!) which means less financial risk and, since there isn’t much original content to compete, means it becomes considerable to own the “definitive edition” of your favorite titles.

So as we head into the holidays looking back at a year, we feel like 2014 was a transition year for gamers.  A “rebuilding year” for the developer community promising us new Zelda or Metal Gear games in the imminent future on our brand new systems.  Hopefully 2015 delivers on some of those promises so next year’s Christmas wish lists won’t be bloated with remakes and DLC bundles that make up 2014.