What The Biggest Games of 2016 Show Us About the Industry

What The Biggest Games of 2016 Show Us About the Industry

So far 2016 has brought about a staggering variety of games from different companies. Some have been of little consequence; Dangerous Golf might have been fun for a day or two, but it certainly isn’t one of the more memorable titles. Titles such as Pokémon Go, on the other hand, have made a huge splash.

If anything, 2016 has shown us that the gaming industry isn’t completely stagnant. There are still new spins and ideas to be implemented. There’s no sign that we’ll be stuck without something good to play. Yet what titles have had the biggest impact? How can we really tell?

Variety is the Spice of Life

For a while it seemed like the only releases of interest were catered towards the twelve-year-old mindset, but thankfully we are now past that age. Some of this year’s titles have begun to push the limits of what our hardware can handle, especially the new DOOM.

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Yet not every release has been a hardware push. Releases such as Pac-Man 256, Minecraft: Story Mode (various episodes) and Disgaea PC hardly require users to purchase more powerful components. That being said, they all seem to be doing well.

This range proves that the gaming community has grown tremendously. The industry has adapted to different means of delivering quality content. With an array of options and, users and developers make titles that appeal to all sorts of users.

Outside of Nintendo-exclusive titles, most games have been released on multiple platforms. It’s good for the industry due to increased sales potential and better for consumers since they don’t need to buy a bunch of different consoles just to play.

More of the Same

I’ll be the last one to say that a working formula needs to change dramatically. The upcoming release of Pokémon Sun and Moon is unlikely to shake up the Pokémon universe too much, and that’s ok. The formula currently works and it is what gamers enjoy. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for everyone in the industry.

Square Enix is walking the tightrope between each extreme. The release of Final Fantasy XV marks yet another addition to their longstanding main franchise. They also have multiple spin-off titles, including World of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy Explorers.

We also see “new” releases of quite a number of games that already came out, much like the aforementioned Disgaea PC. Others include a Resident Evil 6 re-release, Bioshock: The Collection, Skyrim Special Edition and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered. This sort of thing has been done to death since the days of the PlayStation and probably won’t ever stop, so it isn’t all that concerning.

What does raise an eyebrow are the titles from companies that have entered new arenas.

A Challenger Approaches

The most successful releases of 2016 to this point have come from unexpected places. Blizzard had never released an FPS until recently. Nintendo had never taken a part in the open mobile market (their 3DS platform is a different kind of device altogether). Despite that, they’ve both made waves that have shaken the entire industry.

Blizzard was first with the release of Overwatch, an FPS that functions similarly to Team Fortress 2 but improves on it in nearly every way. Blizzard’s combination of good gameplay, character design and general notoriety has pushed Overwatch to be a serious contender in the shooter world.

Even some pitfalls aren’t stopping it. Competitors are cutting the price of their games to make them more appealing to consumers. Blizzard has improved account security quite a bit over the years, but account theft is still a major concern. Users of Blizzard’s services are still recommended to use Blizzard’s authenticator app and a Virtual Private Network (Secure Thoughts has an explanation).

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Pokémon Go wasn’t technically made by Nintendo, but as they own all the IPs. It did something that no one ever believed Pokémon could do: it got real people to go outside into the real world. It’s been so successful that businesses have actually started catering to players in order to help drive business. People who drop lures are met with applause in public. One would think it absurd if one didn’t see it.

Not that Nintendo is without competition in the realm of battling monsters. Their supremacy on handhelds is being challenged by Yo-kai Watch, which is slated to have a sequel release in September. Earlier this year Europe received a release of the original title for the first time, so its popularity is spreading.

Japan is Top Dog in Consoles, But Not in Games

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One thing that 2016 sales have proved by the numbers is that as a whole Sony and Nintendo’s hold on the market is still firm. Sales of 3DS and Wii U titles total greater than those of the Xbox One. PS4 sales are doing better, even without Vita sales being considered. Most top-selling games have been for the PS4, although some are cross-platform (Overwatch is one such example).

Yet only one of the top 10 selling titles has been a Japanese game. Dark Souls III is a continuation of FromSoftware’s already successful and unforgiving franchise. Their departure from the norm has earned them a place in the gaming community long since absent. So far, their position has remained unchallenged.

Companies Still Release Unfinished Games

Reception is mixed on this topic, but 2016 has continued to see games go up for sale before they’re done and become available for play without formal completion. One such example is Ark: Survival Evolved. It seems like some people are ok with playing unfinished games.

The constant stream of DLC titles (Hitman, Minecraft, and The Walking Dead are all doing this) is a marketing ploy that relies on a similar idea. Rather than release a single game for full price, they’re releasing multiple pieces of a game over time (this is actually very different than traditional expansion packs). Yet it’s much easier to swallow now given the mobile market’s similar model.

On the Horizon

While Sony and Microsoft haven’t shown many signs of their next console release, rumors of Nintendo’s next release are all over the place. It’s no surprise, as the Wii U isn’t doing well, being handily outsold by 3DS. Depending on its official announcement date, the rumored NX could seriously shake up the gaming world. Nintendo is known for taking big gambles that sometimes pay off in a great way.

Are you anticipating anything big before the end of the year? Where do you think the gaming industry is headed? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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