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Veteran Member - Level 11
Disclaimer: I am not biased towards setting PS3's on fire
Yes, I know what you are probably thinking: "Whoa, hold up right there alex720, 1983 was definitely the 'doomsday' in video games, period." Well to tell you the truth, I wasn't alive in 1983, so I couldn't really tell you about how that was the worst year ever in gaming. I'm sure it was terrible, but come on people, that was almost 30 years ago. Since then, the industry has rebounded significantly and now video games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment across the world. The past decade has brought a wealth of amazing games, and because of new technology, developers have taken more risks this generation by forging their own genres that no one ever thought imaginable 10 years ago. New genres almost non-existent a decade ago now reign supreme, motion control technology is more popular than ever, and now the online component is the main attraction for many popular game franchises. But, after years of innovative new products, it seems we have finally found one that trails behind all of them: 2012.
I understand that it is only August, but by now, we usually have at least 10 noteworthy games of the earlier year to reflect upon, and at least one candidate for Game Of The Year. But it seems 2012 has had no such luck, as I can only think of 3 unique games (Max Payne 3, Diablo 3, and Mass Effect 3), and while Mass Effect 3 scored phenomenally, I think it has generated enough negative buzz to strip it of it's early contender position for Game Of The Year, and I personally don't think Diablo 3 or Max Payne 3 could be considered candidates, even though they are amazing games. If someone told me how potentially bad this year was going to be back in January, I would have strongly disagreed, since there were a handful of promising titles that were scheduled for the first half of 2012 (that were ultimately delayed), and there were many games that previewed well, but when they eventually released, they obviously scored far below expectations.
Some of those disappointing games include Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, SSX, Syndicate, Starhawk, and The Darkness 2. When I saw these games in preview form and read about them in various articles, I was expecting most of them to be fantastic games, and planned on enjoying most of them. However, I personally played all of these games and was highly disappointed with all of them. I rented Raccoon City because of my skepticism after seeing many below average reviews, and after playing for 15 minutes, I went to the Xbox dashboard and ejected the game back into its case, never to be played again. This held true for the other games that I mentioned above, and I regret spending the full $60 on some of them at launch only to return them less than a month later. I realize that some of these games weren't total train wrecks, but all in all, they didn't turn out as well as they had been hyped up to be.
Then, we start looking ahead at the usual avalanche of games coming out this fall, which seems diminished compared to years prior. Earlier this year, there were a ton of games scheduled to release this fall, but subsequent delays have led to a good majority of them being pushed back to the first quarter of 2013. Don't get me wrong, I'm still pumped for games that look spectacular like Dishonored and Assassin's Creed 3, but I think most people can agree that this year is lacking, especially compared to the loads of awesome games that the holiday season of 2011 brought us. And there is the obvious reason that the high profile games coming out later this year haven't been released yet, and to be honest, there will be a few that are going to leave something to be desired. It's a shame some big titles like BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider had to be pushed back, as they are already entering a very crowded spring 2013, and they possibly could have rebounded the pathetic software sales which has been a trend this year.
Speaking of game sales, let's take a look at some of the numbers of hardware and software which prove that 2012 is far behind 2011 in game and console sales. Overall game sales from July 2012 were down about $124 million from the same time last year, according to NPD. June was down about $290 million from last year, and May game sales declined from $718.9 million in 2011 to $516.5 in 2012, even with blockbusters like Max Payne 3 and Diablo 3 coming out this May. Basically, the entire year of 2012 has been dramatically down from 2011, and according to analysts, could be one of the worst years ever in video game sales. Only the 3DS has seen a rise in hardware sales, with all other systems seeing a decline in sales. You would think that to improve sales, Microsoft or Sony would issue a price drop to not only move more consoles, but also increase software sales as well, a win-win scenario. But no such thing has occurred yet, probably because the next generation of consoles is imminent and the two companies do not want to lower the price until the new wave of consoles are announced. Hopefully they will soon though, as it would greatly benefit the industry's state as of now.
Besides slashing prices of consoles and withholding the number of delayed games, what else can be done to revitalize this drought? Well, for one, the industry needs more creativity. It's already being done with unique titles like Dishonored and XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which are 2 games out of the norm. While games like Halo 4, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, and Assassin's Creed 3 look fantastic, it's nothing we haven't seen before. I applaud IO interactive and Square Enix for resurrecting the Hitman franchise with Hitman: Absolution, since even though it's not a new idea, it's been dormant for long enough that I think people will enjoy the change of pace from the over-saturation of shooters and action games. Realistically though, to save 2012 of it's lackluster lineup, it would need a savior like Grand Theft Auto V to release, which is very unlikely to happen. But the industry shouldn't be relying on existing franchises with a great reputation to save the day, as developers should branch out into unknown territory. Yes, I realize that it is late in the current consoles life cycle's, but there should be at least a few games at the end of this generation that forge their own genre or totally reinvent an existing one, and 2012 seems to have none of these games in sight. Hopefully 2013 will bring those games, and some of the titles already announced (Watch Dogs, South Park: The Stick of Truth), have demonstrated the true potential of what our current systems are still capable of. It's just a shame that none of them could have released this year, possibly redeeming this year's lack of creativity.
Believe me, I wish I could be as optimistic as I was last year, but it's just impossible for me not to point out this year's many flaws. I wish I could also say, "Okay, so maybe the first half of 2012 was mediocre at best, but the rest of the year is shaping up to be amazing!", but I just can't since there isn't a mound of game releases this fall and a good portion of the games releasing could end up having the same fate as the ones released earlier this year, demoing great but ending up forgettable in the final product. I am also afraid what could happen if this year turns out as bad as analysts are making it out to be, possibly affecting the years ahead. I really hope that I am wrong, but we will have to wait and see how the rest of this year pans out.
Share your comments below and tell me if you think I'm missing a major concern of yours, or your thoughts on how this year will play out and if you agree/disagree.