Welcome to the first ever mid-year review blog post. Here we will dive into the state of the video game industry at the midway point of the year 2016, with a follow up at the end of the year as well.
First we will get into some behind the scenes type news that happened on the business side of things at the beginning of the year. Just four days into 2016, Activision Blizzard announced that they had aquired Major League Gaming. Two days later SquareEnix closed cloud gaming subsidiary Shinra Technologies making it the first of several closures so far this year. The biggest of course was announced back on April 29th when Microsoft Studios closed Lionhead Studios, Peter Moleneaux’s studio that was responsible for the hit Fable series. The closure of Lionhead also marked the doom for the project the team was working on when Microsoft handed down the pink slip, Fable Legends. Some would say that the project was doomed from the start and some will say that this is the most disappointing news so far this year. Disney Interactive Studios shutdown Avalanche Software. Yahoo! closed their game division, and Vivendi succeeded in their hostile takeover of Gameloft in June. On the console side of things, on April 20th Microsoft announced that it was discontinuing production of the Xbox 360, officialy marking the death of the hit console.
Not everything this year so far has been doom and gloom. There was several legendary franchises that celebrated their birthdays this year. Sonic the Hedgehog turned 25 years of age earlier this year, and Resident Evil and Tomb Raider will both celebrate their 20 year marks. With Tomb Raider having been rebooted with two stellar titles in the last couple years, Resident Evil 7 generating a massive amount of hype releasing this coming January, and two new Sonic the Hedgehog titles recently announced, these franchises futures look to be that their best years are ahead of them, not behind them.
As far as hardware goes, 2016 is undoubtedly “The Year of VR”, with 3 VR units scheduled to drop this year. The Occulus Rift and HTC Vive were released earlier in the year, with Sony’s Playstation VR scheduled for an October 13th launch. One of the biggest announcements to come out of this years E3 back in June was Microsoft announcing the Xbox One S which will be dropping on August 2nd. They also announced Project Scorpio which is scheduled for a Holiday 2017 release.
Now let’s get into the bread and butter of our favorite industry, the games! 2016 has already seen a few great titles, consider the fact that usually the best games of the year are released in the Fall and Holliday seasons, which is still the case this year with games from established franchises such as Deus Ex, Gears of War 4, Final Fantasy 15, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Dishonored 2, Titanfall 2, Gran Turismo Sport, Watch Dogs 2, Forza Horizon 3, Mafia 3, Battlefield 1 and many more. Another new trend we have seen in 2016 is the release of tripple A titles much earlier in the year. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Doom were rolled out only three days apart from each other back in May, DOOM was surprisingly great, and I will be shocked if Uncharted 4 isn’t Game of the Year come years end. There has also been numerous new IP’s released so far this year (The Division, The Banner Saga, Rocket League, etc.) with more coming in the second half of 2016, including the uber hyped and super ambitous No Man’s Sky which boasts a procedurally generated algorythm that alouds to have 18 quintillion planets to explore! No Man’s Sky is set to release in about a week from the time of this writing and I have my pre-order down so stay tuned for First Impressions and an eventual Review in the near future.
In closing, 2016 has reenforced my belief that this is truly the best time ever to be a gamer. Consoles are getting more powerful, gamers are better and more cinematic and truly maturing and coming into their own, the online community has never been stronger, and just being a nerd nowadays is a ‘cool’ thing. If you would have told me that in Jr. High and High School I would not have ever believed you. Stay tuned to SportsNerdWeb for more on games for the rest of 2016 and beyond! Be kind to one another!….CHEERS!