Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Most Memorable Gaming Moments in 2015

I'm almost positive that Forbes is being trolled by one of their opinion article enthusiasts.

Erik Kain is his name, and with his 19 thousand Twitter followers he reports on gaming content for Forbes. Apparently his work has appeared in The Atlantic and he's a curator on Steam. But that's really easy to do. You just need a Steam account and either create a group or join a group and smack that Curator button. Bam! You're a Curator. Your opinion matters.

Sarcasm aside, I'm not sure who Kain is, but Forbes felt he was important enough to write opinion articles for them. One includes a slap in the face at the Star Wars Prequels with a satire on what would make Episode 7 better (including Senate debates and Jar Jar).

I had to dig into this guy's credibility when I read his list of the 15 Most Disappointing Games of 2015. Because this list blows. It's not the level of crude and tact as a WhatCulture list (and that says a lot). It's just a bad list. And I don't know if he's joking! At least with the Episode 7 article he made it clear at the end that he was joking. This...he is either kidding around, he's trying to instill click bait by prompting fan rage (to which I will not rise as you will see with the Do Not Links), or he truly believes his opinion and he needs to be schooled in gaming 101.

On this glory hole of a list are Fallout 4, for not being polished and could be a better game. There's Metal Gear Solid V, for Keifer Sutherland and being too open world. And The Wither 3: Wild Hunt for the change in the combat (even though he didn't like the original combat system), the open world scenario again, and for not being as pretty as other games.

Yeah. I'm thinking he's trolling. Even the most argumentative of gamers would appreciate one of those games as great. Not a disappointment.

In my fashion of retooling an article to provide more in-depth gaming coverage, I'm going to take this and transform it into a new list of the Most Memorable Gaming Moments in 2015. And it does include a disappointment! So it's kind of in line with the Forbes article.

There are a lot of things that went down in 2015 - some great. Some not so great. And we still have a long way to go before we see more diversity in gaming. But we have to start somewhere, and this list will showcase some of the changes to the gaming world we saw this year.


- The Kojima/Konami Debacle. This isn't about Kojima leaving Konami. Since Metal Gear Solid IV, it's been publicly known that Kojima was done with the MGS franchise and wanted to jump into new games. And then Konami gave him a lot more money. What made this memorable was how poorly Konami handled the impeding departure. It started with issues on the box art. Kojima wanted it one way, Konami wanted it another. It ended up with the removal of Kojima's name entirely from the box (though some retailers took it upon themselves to fix it).

When the box war began, Konami officially cancelled Silent Hills, which was a collaboration between movie producer Guillermo del Torro and Kojima. There had been a lot of stories going back and forth between Kojima and Konami since then. It's speculated that the working conditions for Konami are sub-par, and they would fight back with more changes to MGS5's marketing.

The real kicker came with The Game Awards when host Geoff Keighley dropped that Kojima was forbidden from attending and accepting any awards for MGS5 per an obscure contract clause with Konami. Basically the man is not getting the recognition he deserves for his decades of service to Konami. Instead he was allowed to leave the company quietly last week and jump on board with Sony, who were eager to have him.

Konami has not been doing a good job at saving face. Their social media responses have either been non-existent or come off as emotionally callous. They're the company to be hated by gamers right now, even as their stock continues to grow due to their change in direction as a business to mobile.


- Female Default Avatar. You're probably wondering why this is here or what the heck it's about. It's a pretty simple concept: we're slowly starting to see changes to the industry where women and POC are headlining games. Minecraft, arguably one of the biggest games in the world, made waves in May by releasing a female avatar as part of the default selection to new characters. Until then there was only one option: Steve. As the world has changed, games need to update as well. And if Minecraft can do it, you know the demand is high enough that other companies are sure to follow. Ubisoft learned very quickly with their floundering on Unity that a female avatar shouldn't just be an option, but a requirement. This isn't about throwing more women and POC into a game so we will stop complaining, but providing fair and equal representation to all characters that we're no longer stereotypes in these fictional universes. And we're seeing that change, slowly but steadily.



- Episodes are the Future? The biggest news for PlayStation fans came with the announcement of Final Fantasy 7 will be remade for the PS4. Earlier this month, SquareEnix gave a microscopic glimpse on what that would entail: episodes! Not a lot of fans are happy about this. But episodic content has been the BIG deal this year. Looking at games such as Tales of the Borderlands, Life is Strange, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones, all products that have sold well (and most of them from Telltale Games), and have really thrived in a market that wasn't designed for episodic content. All 2015 games that really stood out and provided a new way to tell a story. Is it really that crazy for large scale franchises like Final Fantasy to consider taking that route and provide more content in the long run?


- The Dwindling Power of Pre-Orders. Kotaku aficionado Luke Plunkett has been preaching the anti-pre-order lingo for years, but in 2015 he really ramped it up with a thoughtful piece on on how much pre-orders affect games. Essentially we're paying for unfinished product and a potential promise that it'll be fixed later. Since then, the internet has been busy with attempting to slow down the pre-order craze. I've written numerous articles about the topic this year. The outrageous "bonuses" developers were offering to get people to pre-order their games were astounding. But! We have seen progress. The Dues Ex crazy pre-ordering program (where you needed to convince your friends and family, and their friends, and then their friends to pre-order to unlock all the perks) was met with an overwhelming negative reaction, SquareEnix cancelled it and will give away all the perks no matter when you pre-order the game.

It's proof that your wallet holds all of the power. If you don't want to buy an unfinished game, don't pre-order. If you don't want to wait on updates to fix a game, don't pre-order. And we're seeing it influence the industry now that gamers are starting to realize that their money talks.


- Nintendo Testing Mobile Games. This is a BIG step for Nintendo. This is the one company that has been very stuck in the mud, pun intended, in moving forward with providing new gaming outlets. They wanted to focus on their products, not licensing out content to other developers. They have been insistent for years that this isn't the route that they wanted to take. And then they changed their minds! Their first game will release in 2016 called Miitomo, a mixture of social networking and Tomodachi for your Mii. Will this new era of Nintendo produce the same results that we come to expect from the company, or will it fall flat? And if it works, will other big developers follow? The trend is mobile, if Konami's big move is any indication.


- eSports Gaining Ground. ESPN, the biggest sports network globally, has been steadily airing eSports matches since April. TBS is currently in production for a new TV show to air in 2016 with video game competitions. The country's largest eSports groups have created a drug policy. With games like League of Legends drawing in crowds by the millions in theaters all over the country, eSports is a big deal. A very big deal. It's going to change how people are viewing games, how we play games, and how we talk about games. It won't be long until we can comfortably talk about our favorite gamers like we can American Football athletes. Gaming is more mainstream!


And now to wait for the madness 2016 brings with it.

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