As the Doctor once said: There’s loads of boring stuff like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons, but now and then there are Saturdays”.
2015 was perhaps not quite a Saturday, but nor was it a Tuesday. A Friday, perhaps? Although only a Friday morning or early afternoon.
The current generation of consoles spent the year comfortably bedding in. Sales were pretty good – better than expected, really – but slower than in 2014. Although PS4’s performance at least has likely exceeded even the wildest expectations.
At the same time, the looming promise of virtual reality feels perpetually nearly here, but never actually here. And meanwhile the growing shift to digital has left the market a little confused about how we’re actually doing.
Another frustration was the number of big triple-A releases that were pushed into 2016. We did have some big hitters, with titles like The Witcher 3, Fallout 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III smashing it at retail. On the flip side, games like Halo 5 and Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate probably fell short of expectations.
Perhaps 2015 is best seen as an appetiser for what’s to come. With a new Nintendo console and perhaps a brand new format revolution in the form of virtual reality, 2016 approaches with massive expectations. Here’s a look back at how the stage was set.
Happy New Year! Did you make a New Year’s resolution? It seems that lots of folk did, pledging to abandon the tired and old tradition of reading dull, static words about video games in favour of listening to excitable youngsters shout, swear and wriggle in front of a webcam.
Said youngsters started the New Year on a bit of a downer, however, when Nintendo had the nerve to ask if it could please have a share of the millions being made by people streaming its software online. Suffice to say, Nintendo’s revenue sharing arrangement flopped harder than the Virtual Boy. This is outrageous!” cried many, including PewDiePie, who mainly felt that Nintendo should be pretty effing grateful for the coverage.
There was more bad news this month, too, with revenue numbers from Japan revealing that the video games market was not only down 10 per cent year-on-year but had also hit its lowest point for 24 years. Kuso.
You thought January was bad? February was even grimmer, with parts of the internet – and even parts of the press – rounding on one of the UK development scene’s most cherished fathers. As much as MCV felt for Peter Molyneux, however, few would argue that the Populous, Theme Park and Fable designer didn’t drop a colossal clanger with his handling of Kickstarted strategy title Godus.
That the game looked almost certain to fall short of the promises made to backers was bad enough, but it was the handling of its God of God prize winner that really sent temperatures racing. Bryan Henderson was supposed to have been awarded not only a controlling god-like position in Godus, but also a share of its real-world financial spoils. Neither of which came to fruition. Peter held his hands up in a video confession, although it should be noted that Henderson is still waiting to claim his prize.
After a slow couple of months, 2015 really got going in March. GAME’s acquisition of eSports companMultiplay was a very telling move at a time of transformation in the games industry.
Speaking of which – Nintendo’s announcement that it had partnered with DeNA to release its IP on smartphones was as stark a sign of the times as you could ever want.
So much so, in fact, that many assumed the announcement signalled Nintendo’s prospective exit from the console market. Or at least they would have done had Nintendo not at the exact same time announced its next console, the NX.
All of which put the company in a slightly sticky situation. It was desperate for the public not to misconstrue its mobile move as a strategic shift away from traditional gaming, but in announcing the NX to achieve this it also potentially hit the already doomed Wii U right where
Along with all of this, March also brought with it the first rumblings of discontent between Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima and his employer Konami. Even as 2015 draws to a close we still don’t know exactly what’s going on. Konami insists Hideo’s just on holiday, but the developer not only appeared to have a leaving party upon his supposed departure, but was also barred by Konami’s lawyers from accepting his award at December’s US show The Game Awards.
Surely we all know where this one is heading…
With spring came some real cause for celebration. Feminist Frequency creator and equality advocate Anita Sarkeesian made her debut in the prestigious TIME 100 list. Her entry, written by Wil ‘Wesley Crusher’ Wheaton, recognised the horrific behaviour she suffered at the hands of the GamerGate hate group and the strength she has shown in standing up and defeating it.
In more domestic affairs, retailers cut the PS4 to 290 for the first time (that’s below the current post price-drop RRP) as the somewhat unique UK High Street price wars adopted the new-gen console race as its battleground.
Also dropping in price was Xbox One, with a new 299 SKU paving the way for an official cut in June.
In more glamorous news, it was also confirmed that Daniel ‘Harry Potter’ Radcliffe and Bill Paxton were to star in an unofficial BBC drama about the development of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
The month for sales figures, it seems, both in the software and hardware realms. Rockstar announced that Grand Theft Auto V had up to this point shipped an eye-watering, tank-exploding, jet fighter-stealing, shotgun-emptying 52m units worldwide, helped in no small part by the previous month’s delayed PC launch.
On the console side, MCV also revealed that Sony’s highly successful PS4 had reached 2m unit sales in the UK alone.
It did so faster than the PS2 managed, too, taking just 75 weeks to hit the milestone. Earlier it had hit 1m in 42 weeks.
While many concerned themselves with products already released, some were more interested in products yet to come. A studio called Playtonic hoped to make a spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie, and punters were keen to oblige, zipping the game past its 175k Kickstarter funding target in just 40 minutes. It went on to raise over 2m.
Right, now we’re talking. June means E3 and E3 means news. Sony’s conference probably had the most thrills, with a headline-making and long-awaited appearance from Team Ico’s The Last Guardian and the fanboy-melting Shenmue III and