2012 was the first year that I entered into both game journalism and game development, and it’s allowed me to see plenty of things in a new perspective. As a journalist, part of the job is finding issues with games and reporting on them—but as a developer, a lot of these issues are obvious mistakes and I can sympathize with developers for making them. Then, as a gamer, there’s certain expectations that I now understand can never be met—a world free of DRM, DLC, or overpriced games is a nice dream, but completely implausible. Along with these little revelations, paying close attention to the gaming community has made me realize just what a wonderful place it is. Full of various opinions, intelligent conversation, and a common goal of enjoying games, gamers rarely go up in arms against each other (as long as the console wars aren’t being discussed). 2012 may have had fewer blockbusters to go down in gaming history than previous years, but there’s still a lot to look back on.
This was the first year that high-profile ‘indie’ games really sold. Developers from major companies and games were behind Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, while the critically-acclaimed game Journey received significant funding from Sony. Major developer Double Fine Productions announced a Kickstarter (codenamed Double Fine Adventure) that broke the record for most-funded gaming endeavor on Kickstarter—at least until the OUYA game console surpassed it by over $5,000,000 in funds. While these games may not count as independent, they all carry a similar goal—to put more power into developers’ hands and to extend gaming into unexplored territory. Visual themes for games this year varied widely, but they were all incredibly fun to play. Even exempting high-profile ‘indie’ games, there were still amazing games like Fez (which still hasn’t been solved properly), Sword & Sworcery, Dear Esther, FTL, Sound Shapes, and the Unfinished Swan.
There was plenty of unrest this year, though. After moving to Rhode Island to secure an obscene amount of loans, 38 Studios ended up folding and the state was out $78 million dollars. Diablo 3 had an incredibly terrible launch despite the positive hype surrounding it, and its Metacritic scores plummeted accordingly. There was a lot of uproar from the Senate and religious leaders about violence in video games after the tragic Sandy shooting. The year’s been a chaotic road of twists and turns that has finally smoothed out into 2013.
There’s already several amazing rumors and releases lined up for this year—the rumors surrounding the launch of the next Xbox and Playstation are the most exciting of them. I’m personally looking forward to playing Tearaway (my Vita’s starting to collect some dust) and hoping for more news on the Last Guardian. Seeing games made out of the amazing engines that were shown last year will also be exciting, although I wonder if high-quality games can be made within the span of a year any more… In any case, with news and announcements of new games, studios, and consoles, it’s time to part with 2012! Happy New Year, to all you readers.