2017: The Roller Coaster Year for Video Games
2017 has been a pretty wild year for the video game industry. Tons of amazing games have been released, we’ve gotten the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, and we watched the rise of new genres and advances on current ones.
Yet, alongside all of these amazing gifts, we also got tons of bad stuff. The rise and wholesale adoption of loot boxes have crippled many AAA releases, EA shut down the Dead Space studio who were making a single-player Star Wars game, and many major games failed to live up to expectations.
Before we delve into the craziness of the holidays and start a whole new year for video games, let’s recap the good, the bad, and the ugly of this year and discuss what the future might hold for the industry.
The Good: Holy Crap, the Games
2017 crushed it with amazingly good games. Many long-term franchises have released refreshing new installments, like the Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, and Assassin’s Creed, that were met with critical acclaim.
But that isn’t all. Alongside all of the amazing franchise releases, we’ve gotten a host of completely new games. Horizon: Zero Dawn created a whole new world for people to explore, PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds topped PC gaming, and Nier: Automata reimagined how stories are told in games.
Finally, indie games have had a great year too. Games like Cuphead, Hollow Knight, Rime, and Dead Cells have shown that indie games can do amazing things with limited resources.
No matter what kind of game genre you like, there is bound to be some game that came out this year that catches your eye.
The Bad: Loot Boxes…
It’s frightening how quickly the industry has adopted the loot box model. Yeah, the idea of the loot boxes can be traced back to the early 2000s, but the model didn’t really take off until last year. Overwatch showed the world how profitable loot boxes can be, even when just selling cosmetic items.
Now, 2017 has become the year of the lootbox. Most AAA games released this year have had some form of loot box in them, with rewards ranging from simply cosmetics that have no impact on the game to weapons and upgrades that can give players a huge advantage.
Here are some of the AAA games released this year that include loot boxes:
- Star Wars Battlefront II
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds
- Injustice 2
- Destiny 2
- FIFA 18
- Middle Earth: Shadow of War
- Need for Speed: Payback
- Call of Duty: WWII
There are a lot of issues with loot boxes that are drastically changing how games are made and played. For some, this problem stems from content in the game locked behind random chance, and that to get that content, you have to pay more. For others, their issue lies in the random nature of loot boxes and the similarities it shares with gambling.
Either way you approach the issue, loot boxes are impacting how games are monetized. Some premium games are including pay-to-win elements that can even impact online multiplayers, which is always negative.
The Ugly: Games at Launch are Still Bad
It’s been a problem for the last few years, and 2017 is no different. Many games are launching broken. They have bugs, glitches, exploits, and inexcusable mistakes still in the game. Even though many games have betas and stress tests to make sure everything works, most AAA games are shipped with problems.
This problem stems from both a lack of quality assurance and quality control. When the game is being created, upper management doesn’t establish quality guidelines that need to be met; so, when it comes time for the game to be tested, there is too much work to fix before the game’s release.
You don’t need to look further than Mass Effect: Andromeda for the perfect example of this. The game at launch had problems of all nature, from graphical glitches to poor optimization for PC players. Alongside this, many consumers were simply unhappy with the quality of the finished products, stating a poorly crafted storyline and subpar graphics.
What 2018 Might Hold?
Looking at the games expected to release in 2018, it’s looking like another strong year of amazing games. Anticipated titles include: Red Dead Redemption 2; the new God of War; Monster Hunter: World; Anthem; Spiderman, and more.
We can expect that the loot box craze will continue as publishers continue to push for its inclusion in games. As of right now, it is a very profitable system for them, and more games will include them as a key feature. Consumers will continue to push back and two different things will likely happen: First, the game market will get flooded with loot box games that many consumers will learn to either ignore them or actively avoid. The other scenario is that, because of its similarities to gambling, governments will get involved and want to regulate their uses.
Currently, it’s expected that the SNES Classic is going to be one of the hottest items this holiday season and be nearly impossible to get. With the cash Nintendo is raking in, we can expect other game companies to jump on board too, possibly starting in 2018. Already, Atari has announced their Ataribox, but we may see a Playstation or Xbox Classic, or maybe even the N64 Classic.
Expect 2018 to be another roller coaster year. As the video game industry continues to grow, there will always be amazing new games, and we can expect some companies to try and take advantage of us.