- 37 Action and Adventure titles
- 6 Fighting Games
- 8 MMOs
- 20 RPGs
- 16 Shooters
- 7 Simulation
- 9 Sports
- 12 Strategy
…for a total of 115 titles in this sample. A sharp decline from the 157 titles on last year’s list.
- 41 titles can be looked at as original IP
- 49 can be considered sequels
- 7 are reboots
The rest don’t quite fall under those picks such as a standalone title that is part of an ongoing series – such as Namco Bandai’s Tales of Xillia.
As I’ve mentioned last year, the large number of sequels shouldn’t surprise anyone. Last time, I had listed 157 games for 2012 and 40% of those were sequels. For 2013, about 43% of the list are sequels. Nearly all of them are from big publishers such as EA or Capcom.
One improvement was Sega. Sega had something of a weaker lineup on last year’s list — Anarchy Reigns’ and Aliens’ releases were pushed into 2013, but their 2013 stable is seeing a stronger “original IP” publishing hand with DoubleFine’s The Cave, Platinum Games’ Anarchy Reigns, and Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Even Namco Bandai’s collaboration with Digital Extremes for the new Star Trek game continues the trend being followed by others such as Capcom and Square Enix in courting Western talent to diversify their portfolios yet maintain the distinct and exotic flavor of internally developed titles such as Final Fantasy XIV or Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.
Forget the year end holidays…again
Based on this list, 2013 will get off to a soft start with Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs expected out that month, Ninja Theory’s Devil May cry, Platinum’s Anarchy Reigns, and Namco Bandai’s Ni no Kuni. Then the avalanche begins.
February and March expect around 37 games to hit shelves with a large number of them highly anticipated hits.
In February alone:
- Dead Space 3 (February 5)
- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (February 5)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (February 12)
- Crysis 3 (February 19)
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (February 19)
- Rayman Legends (February 26)
And then March continues the wallet thumping with:
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (March 5)
- SimCity (March 5)
- South Park: The Stick of Truth (March 5)
- Tomb Raider (March 5)
- MLB 13: The Show (March 6)
- God of War: Ascension (March 12)
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (March 12)
- Gears of War: Judgment (March 19)
- BioShock Infinite (March 26)
- Metro Last Light (sometime in March)
And May will kick off the summer drought with two last punches to your paycheck:
- The Last of Us (May 7)
- Remember Me (May)
Add to this the number of TBAs and Q1s that will float around like vultures, and the first half of 2013 looks to be about as busy as the last half of 2012.
What didn’t make the list
A few ports such as Resident Evil 6 which is coming out for PCs in 2013 were shaved off from the list which lightened the load though others, like Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, were included because of the platform specific additions that seemed to contribute more to the gameplay mechanics. Collections, like the Hitman HD collection coming out in January, were also omitted because, well, it’s an HD collection with little new news behind it.
I’ve also not counted other games, such as Star Citizen, because of they have no firm date, though sometime in 2014 has been thrown around. And games like Team Bondi’s Whore of the Orient is tentatively rumored for a 2015 next-gen console date.
Every category saw a slight decline across the board. Instead of the 26 shooters I had listed last year, only 16 made this list. Of the 50 action and adventure titles from last year, only 37 fill it now. RPGs, though, saw a slight increase with +2 added for 2013.
It’s also no secret that the last few months of 2012 have reported declines in traditional video game sales among consoles and that trend might spread throughout next year, at least after the first three months, with what appears to be a lighter schedule despite the number of standouts. The past year also saw the release of the Vita and the Nintendo Wii U with a number of exclusive games for those as well as a winding down of releases for the Wii. Mobile gaming has also continued to accelerate with a growing lineup of developers eager to tap into the giant pie that it has become.
A few others, such as Aliens: Colonial Marines and Age of Decadence have tentatively pushed into 2013. Others are simply in limbo such as Prey 2 and The Last Guardian, both of which are assumed to be still in production, but with little new news other than that they exist in some form. And as the Wii U continues to gain steam, more titles are inevitably going to end up on it either as ports from other developers or brand new games from the House of Mario.
Exclusives (almost) Everywhere
Last year, Nintendo wound down the Wii and delivered a healthy number of ports to the Wii U. In 2013, Nintendo is hitting back with a strong lineup of unique games such as Platinum’s The Wonderful 101, a new Animal Crossing, Pikmin 3, and Game & Wario.
Handhelds will also get a nice chunk of exclusive titles as they always seem to do. The 3DS will be getting exclusives such as Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity and Unchained Blades and Sony’s Vita will be getting Soul Sacrifice and Killzone: Mercenary along with a few potential tie-ins such as Dragon’s Crown and MLB 13: The Show. It would be nice to see more action on both of those fronts, however.
Sony continues to show a strong publishing hand as they did last year with new IP whether it was Journey, Gravity Rush, or Papo & Yo. In 2013, they maintain that position boasting unique exclusives for the PS3 such as Beyond: Two Souls, The Last of Us, and Dust 514, and Until Dawn.
PC users will also get another healthy helping of unique games whether it’s from AAA publishers or one-man indie studios. Despite declining PC hardware sales, Planetary Annihilation, Total War: Rome II, or unique CRPGs such as Underrail, Grim Dawn, and Shadowrun Returns will still make being a PC gamer as fun as it has ever been in 2013.
Cross platform titles continue to clean house on the Xbox 360 with few exclusives to its name other than State of Decay or Gears of War: Judgment. That hasn’t stopped it from topping the PS3 in US sales, however, by huge margins on Black Friday. Even in an industry suffering from its own mini-recession and with their consoles arguably facing their last year or two, Microsoft’s and Sony’s systems continue to draw in impressive sales numbers in North America.
Though some might categorize the crowd-funding model as the equivalent of being on the street with hat in hand, another argument can be made in saying that it’s the next logical step to using social media in sourcing donors willing to contribute to IP otherwise overlooked by mainstream publishers and their focus groups. Activision or EA would proably never pick up something such as Barkley 2. But a lot of players with spare change might – and have – to see it become a real thing. In addition to Barkley 2, about twelve other games on the list were driven by Kickstarter and all of them are expected to drop next year.
Kickstarter has also become a channel for relatively free publicity and a useful tool for gauging how interested people might be in an idea, providing immediate feedback such as in the case of the CRPG, Shaker, where a common complaint focused on its generic pitch. Both Tom Hall and Brenda Brathwaite ended the drive for the same reason. I’ll admit, I wasn’t that impressed by their pitch, either, despite the experience both have in the genre.
One thing overlooked in all of this Kickstarter brouhaha is that it could also foster a different kind of versatility between studios that jumps the red tape rope.
For example, Chris Avellone, working over at Obsidian on Project Eternity, will also be contributing his talents to inXile’s Wasteland 2 thanks to a funding milestone, lending the whole process the feel of two garage developers on the same block finding the funding they need from selling lemonade and then exchanging ideas by checking in next door to see how they’re doing. So what’s next for it in 2013? Lots and lots of new projects.
On October 4th, 1991, a company by the name of Mediagenic filed for Chapter 11 with a pre-packaged bankruptcy deal. Eventually, they came out of this period stronger than ever in the years since.
They also reverted back to their original name in 1992 – Activision – and with the help of Bobby Kotick and a number of other investors, have become the multi-billion dollar empire they are today. Seeing what they are now, it’s hard to believe that at one point, Activision was scraping the bottom. Though for some, what it is now seems to be far from the kind of company that David Crane and a group of others had envisioned in the early eighties.
On the surface of that, it might not be too farfetched to think that THQ won’t be able to pull off the same stunt avoiding the fate of Midway or even Acclaim.
THQ’s schedule, unsurprisingly, is pretty light for 2013. For now, they’re not going anywhere having had an injection of nearly $40 million dollars to keep things running. Their filings have even revealed a few working titles for games in development.
One big question is what the developers are going to be working on going forward after their projects for THQ are finished. THQ has a solid library of IP behind it and top developers creating them, so it could also become more of a question of who is willing to pick them up if things head south.
Ubisoft has recently made the rounds in expressing interest, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see if someone such as Square Enix, Capcom, or even Namco Bandai continue to diversify their Western alliances with a number of select studios or individual developers from the THQ stable. It’s going to prove to be a very interesting year for the troubled publisher.
A 2013 in Transition
Perhaps the biggest rumors swirling around focus on what the PS3 and the Xbox 360′s replacements will be like and when Sony and Microsoft will finally unveil what gamers already suspect.
Social services are expected to be packed in with the new systems to push the argument made between them in 2005 and 2006 to the table again — which world will you and your friends adopt first? If this list shows anything, it only underlines how similar the capabilities of both Sony and Microsoft’s boxes really are making me wistfully nostalgic for the simpler days of when libraries of titles could only be made for specific consoles such as the TG-16, Sega’s Genesis, or the SNES. Nearly every A-list title in the coming year that the PS3 will have will also show up on the Xbox 360. Hardware isn’t enough anymore so one can count on Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to keep layering their silicon with the kind of social or interactivity icing that a killer app can make the most of while consistently delivering support for them.
The release schedule for 2013, with fewer titles compared to last year’s bonanza, is still filled with exciting stuff. The fewer numbers could also represent a cooling off period as developers quietly ramp up production for the next-generation of consoles. Or are cautiously cutting back, or too busy to put out anything at least in the first half of next year.
It could also reflect the growing importance of mobile gaming as casuals and “on the go” travelers increasingly turn to their smart devices for a little respite. Coupled with declining PC hardware sales and video game sales on consoles, it’s not too hard to see the effects.
And believe it or not, as this June interview on Gamespot reveals, Origin is posting respectable revenue making it a successful venture by any measure. It still has a ways to go to even think of contending with Steam, but it’s also another revealing look at just how well an online service can do.
Puzzles or dungeons, mysteries or survival…it’s all still coming out in 2013
Despite Sony’s internal troubles, it wears a brave face with the PS3 though it would also be nice if more of that exuberance would also rub off onto the Vita. Nintendo has a new console to support with quality games, the 3DS continues to gain ground, and the Xbox 360 shows no signs of wavering as another solid destination for everyone to jump aboard especially if their friends and the social services you want are already there. PC gamers, at least in the Windows world, will have a lot to play with for the same reasons. But so will Mac users thanks partly to Kickstarter funding projects such as Jane Jensen’s Moebius and Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption.
Unless you’re looking at specific titles, traditional gaming among the usual suspects still can’t go wrong with whatever you go with. There might seem to be not as many games to pick from in 2013, but many of the ones on this list are still worth waiting for despite whatever platform you might be on.