As is now the norm, it’s been a rollercoaster year for the gaming industry. There have been highs and lows, whether that’s concerning hardware, software or industry moves and announcements, we’ve had plenty to talk about, play with, and be excited for. But let’s take a look at who I believe have been the winners and losers of 2016. If you missed our Game of the Year awards, check them out here!
The computer giant has made a massive push this year on all fronts. We’ve had updates to it’s console lineup, games library and the excitement building around it’s Augmented Reality hardware, the Hololens. Coming in to 2016, Microsoft had launched Windows 10, the latest iteration of their PC operating system. It’s difficult to fathom the lack of oversight regarding it’s clear privacy issues. PC users have a difficult enough time keeping other threats to their personal information and security at bay, it doesn’t help having your own OS being one of those threats! Despite there being workarounds, it’s counter-intuitive. One of the great reasons for Windows being the most popular OS’s out there, has been it’s historic ease of usability. Something that Microsoft has to accomplish in 2017, is the reworking of Windows 10’s privacy issues. I don’t want Cortana knowing my dark secrets!
The Xbox One has been lagging behind Sony’s PS4 since launch. Microsoft has made it very clear that they intend to rectify the mistakes of the past. With the launch of the Xbox One S, and the announcement of their 4K console, Project Scorpio, Microsoft have injected life back into their console division. The Xbox One S was contending with the PS4 Pro for top spot on many people’s Christmas lists. They’re now combining the most reliable online network with the most attractive console lineup since the Xbox 360. It’s difficult to imagine what Sony can do to counter Microsoft in the coming 12 months. The advent of Oculus Rift support would be the cherry on top, however it’s price point is some deterrent. PSVR has proven effective, and cheap. Microsoft need to capitalise on the VR market before it’s too late.
PC users have a difficult enough time keeping other threats to their personal information and security at bay, it doesn’t help having your own OS being one of those threats!
Overall, I think Microsoft have become winners this year. Their strong games library, top notch online service and incredible console lineup are promising. To continue their success into 2017, I’d like them to finally integrate Oculus Rift within their console division. It’s also important that they continue to support the Xbox Play Anywhere platform, as well as finally release that big juicy Scorpio we’re eager to see.
Team Blue have made strides with the VR market. The PSVR headset has blown everyone away. People can’t quite believe the quality of the device, despite it’s low price point. There’s clearly some juju going on in that extra processing unit. For all the work VR has done for Sony, their latest console, the PS4 Pro has undone. The 4K ready console has largely polarised the community. Some users are hailing it as “the console to destroy PC gaming”, others claiming it has been a huge flop.
Sony are pandering to a crowd of 4K HDR TV owners, an incredibly small percentage of the userbase. This would be fine, if they had remembered to include 4K Blue-Ray support! What a goof. For a company that has supported Blue-Ray from day one, I cannot understand the idiotic decision to leave this out. The Xbox One S has managed to include this feature, and it’s not even supposed to compete with the PS4 Pro! Include some disappointing performance, lack of true 4K, and inflated pricepoint. Well, that’s the recipe for failure.
If I were to decide if Sony were winners or losers, I’d have a tough time.
Meanwhile their mobile phone division just hasn’t been able to keep up with the likes of Apple, HTC and OnePlus. Shares in Sony have fallen over the last 3 months. The Xperia lineup is no longer cutting edge, and feels like it’s being forced rather than improved. It sounds like it’s all doom and gloom for Sony. But they can rely on their ever-growing library of incredible indie games. It’s annoying to see that Remasters of old games are popular, but it works for Sony.
If I were to decide if Sony were winners or losers, I’d have a tough time. But when you compare them to Microsoft, the last 6 months have definitely chucked them in the loser category. Nobody would have expected this coming out of 2015, but here we are. Losers! In order to right their ship, I think Sony need to take a look at offering a “step-up program” for users with older PS4s. In doing so it would allow them to consider PS4 Pro exclusive titles, without alienating too much of the userbase. If the PS4 Pro is to be considered the most powerful games console, it needs a deep library of visually incredible games to go with it. That hasn’t really happened yet.
Who wasn’t blown away by the Nintendo Switch?! Nintendo continue their attempts at revolutionising the home console market. This hybrid console has been the talk of the town since it’s launch trailer in October. I firmly believe that this release will put Nintendo in good stead for a while. They needed this after the Wii U had flopped. Despite their incredible games library and house franchises, nothing could save that mess of a console. Shortly after the Switch announcement, production on the Wii U was halted. See U later. People have all-but-forgotten the Wii U’s failures, instead looking to the future. The ol’ Switch-a-roo.
Nintendo continue to dominate the handheld market. Smartphones posed an issue for them once mobile gaming became big money. Pokemon GO managed to excite everyone for Nintendo (despite them having no involvement in it’s production), and the 3DS range has held strong. Big titles such as Pokemon Sun & Moon, Yo-Kai Watch and Super Mario Maker have ensured that people return to the dual-screened device. Not only that, but they have entered the mobile market with Super Mario Run. It released for iOS devices on December 15th, and climbed the App Store charts instantly.
People have all-but-forgotten the Wii U’s failures, instead looking to the future.
The old boys at Nintendo are going to kill it in 2017. New 3rd party developers being added to the lineup, remasters (ugh) and the continued dominance of the 3DS will ensure this. Nintendo definitely won in 2016, and I’m so glad to see it happen. Nintendo have pretty much set themselves up for a great year already. Their January news conference will be a telling tale of how the rest of their year pans out, but so long as they nail the most important features of the Switch, I can’t see how they can go wrong.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
There isn’t enough time to cover everything that occurred in the past twelve months. It was a fantastic year with incredible innovations, releases, teasers and more. 2016 may have been a tragic year politically (depending on which side you gravitate towards) and even in gaming. Many studios were forced to close. Games did not come to fruition, or even meet expectations. One thing is always certain, 2017 will do it’s best to build upon the previous year, pushing gaming ever further into the forefront of technology. What a time to be alive!