Yesterday, we looked back at some of our hopes for the game industry from the beginning of 2012. This time around, I've put together a wish list for the big brains at each of the big three console makers.
Why aren't the PC and iOS represented? Well, both of those represent a disparate set of interests. While Apple as a a hardware maker is a channel through which games are delivered, they're not (at present) in the making of games business. And the PC--well, everyone making excellent PC games, just keep doing that times infinity.
A new system emerges and gamers... yawn, maybe? It's hard to tell as someone who spends a lot of time talking to people who are lifelong gamers who have a definite idea of what Nintendo should be doing, but I'm not sure how the average person sees the Wii U. The new console didn't exactly break records or anything, but it also didn't crater in subsequent weeks like the poor, poor Vita. At the same time, there wasn't the same mad dash to get one that there was with the Wii. Do people even know what a Wii U is? Do they know it's a new system? Maybe part of the problem is the name and perception among your average Joe (or Jane) that it's an add-on for the Wii. Whatever, the case, the thing has a perception problem.
It also has a software problem, but it's still in the launch window and we're not going to complain too much about that. Still, if you're the savvy gamer who knows what a Wii U is, and you went to pick one up, aren't chances good that you've already got a system with "Darksiders II" on it--one that might have fewer loading/performance issues than the Nintendo console version? The first-party offerings were light, and the only real system seller in the lot is the excellent, harder-than-the-hardcore "ZombiU."
Oh, and please have some massive patch planned to fix the sluggish interface and menu problems.
So I guess our resolution for Nintendo is to have more games for your video game system? Yeah, that sounds like something.
2012 was a good year for you, Microsoft, but it doesn't feel like you've been paying much attention to the competition. As soon as PlayStation Plus was unveiled, you should have had a copycat service in place within two months. Really, if MS is going to continue to ask me to subscribe to something, it can't simply be to connect and play games with other people since, you know, every platform everywhere else does that--why not offer free/discounted* games to your subscribers and allow them to build on their game collections. In fact, think how helpful this would be in the lean first months of the new console cycle, if players were able to snag a few high-profile, beloved games for free, just for subscribing.
In fact, I'm hoping 2013 is the year that the Redmond giant Borg-like assimilates a lot of the smart things happening with the PS3, WiiU, and on the PC. WiiTV might be one of those things that puts the whole home entertainment area on lock for Nintendo (if non-techies can figure it out), so MS, do... whatever that is. And game video sharing--that needs to be in at the system level. People like to do it and you shouldn't put them through hoops to show off their skills in non-"Halo," non-"COD" games. And why hasn't day and date downloadable games become a thing on the 360 yet? It's such a no-brainer at this point, and it's weird that you're behind the curve with Nintendo on this one.
And what about your first-party, AAA stuff? "Fable" is starting to look a little long in the tooth, there likely won't be another "Halo" or "Forza" for a couple of years, and you own Rare and they're not making a new "Killer Instinct" game? What gives?
Oh, and let's ultimately figure out how to get games onto the Kinect. While there's some compelling family fare, and it's occasionally nice to navigate the menus with it (with my lights at just the perfect levels so the hardware can see my stubby mitts), I've really only played one "game" that I enjoyed on the Kinect this year without qualification and that was "Marvel Avengers Battle For Earth."
Finally, let's hope 2013 is the year that you kill off the Xbox Indie games channel and start heavily supporting the same indie games in the main XBLA marketplace. While the most recent Dashboard updates haven't made it any easier to find some of the more obscure and intriguing content, the Indie space is home to interesting concepts that might do well in the wider marketplace if they got the same daily or weekly push on the main page.
*I'm not overlooking sales for Gold members, but it's not really a consistent, well-acknowledged feature as it is on PS Plus.
Sony, last year you were the champion with innovative, fresh, exciting (pick your superlative) smaller downloadable titles. So much so, that in putting together a Best of list for the PS3 (we'll get to the Vita in a minute), it was actually a challenge to narrow it down to a few choices. With that in mind, I'm hoping you'll put the same kind of aggressive support behind these games that could easily fall through the cracks in the months to come. The digital/retail divide is getting so thin as to be nonexistent, and we feel like this year you found that if you put your support behind a few sub-$15 indies as opposed to a leviathan marketing push for a couple of first-party retail releases, it pays dividends. Let it be said here and now that among the three platforms, the best and brightest digital titles made their home on the PS3.
Having said that, 2012 was a bummer when it came to first-party AAA releases, Sony, and with the exception of "The Last of Us," I'm not too excited about 2013. "PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale" had a title that was only slightly accurate, while "Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault" was a joyless base defense game that should not exist on the same platform that has "Monday Night Combat," and "Twisted Metal" offered more dark driving action, but I'm not sure anyone is actually interested in that anymore.
As for the Vita: keep plugging away at it, Sony. While I'll never stop rolling my eyes anytime a suit gets up and talks about "console-quality games" for the handheld, the Vita is undoubtedly a powerful platform with a great deal of promise. Just stop trying to put "Call of Duty" or "Uncharted" on it and exercise more quality control when someone hands off a lazy, uninspired port that doesn't really meet the needs of the system.
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