You have to take the good with the bad. In gaming, that means you can have your Dragon Age: Inquisition, but you’re also going to have some crashing bugs as well.
We had plenty of bad stuff happen in 2014, but certain kinds of crap resurfaced enough times that we can only call them a trend. With all of the holiday cheer surely still overwhelming your system, let’s take a moment to dwell on the negative.
Here are the worst trends of 2014:
Here are some huge releases that came out and didn’t work in one way or another:
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection
- Assassin’s Creed: Unity
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
- The Crew
Halo’s multiplayer matchmaking only just started working recently. Assassin’s Creed had catastrophic bugs and performance issues. Driveclub’s online features were so broken that Sony had to turn off features to get it working. People who bought Call of Duty online had trouble installing it for a few days. And now player who bought some of Call of Duty’s in-game content have had to wait more than a week to get access to it. The Crew had several problems maintaining an online connection despite the racer’s heavy reliance on that functionality. Destiny’s networking prevented it from working on any console connected to the dorm-room Internet at colleges around the country.
Publishers were obviously taking their products out of the oven before they were finished.
But it’s not like we haven’t seen broken games before. We have; it just seems like every major release had something wrong with it this year. Hopefully, this is a trend that is less obvious in the future, and that’s possible. As developers get more familiar with the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hardware, we should see more stable releases.
If you’re unhappy with something, you know what you have to do: pretend that a conspiracy is responsible for everything, attack anyone who disagrees with you, and embrace any bum who says that you’re really the victim.
Gaming (and especially women) had a pretty rough August, September, and October. That’s when GamerGate, the hate group disguised as a “consumer revolt” that sent death threats to women, surfaced within the culture of gaming. Ostensibly, GamerGate claimed it was worried about “ethics in games journalism.” In actuality, GamerGate is a reactionary group of people who are concerned about progressive ideals seeping into a space that has traditionally catered to white men and only white men.
Nearly all of GamerGate’s concerns were explained away. Nearly all of its evidence has been debunked. Its members constantly conflated criticism with bullying, and the only thing the group has really accomplished is frightening people who say things they don’t like.
And yet, the people who compose GamerGate demand that everyone take them seriously. It was exhausting and demoralizing for every decent, thinking person in the games industry. Now that it has died off, it feels like gaming is broken — and people who love this hobby are left trying to figure out how to repair the damage.
Stagnation in mobile gaming
Guess which two games grossed the most money on iOS and Android in the U.S. in 2014. The answer? Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga.
Guess which two games grossed the most money on iOS and Android in the U.S. in 2013. The answer? Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga.
Mobile gaming is growing into a $21 billion industry, but a huge chunk of that money is floating to the top. And the top is almost always the same games. Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga have dominated the top two spots on the grossing charts since 2012.
Having a successful game gobble up a lot of money isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it’s the kind of thing that could cause a wider stagnation in mobile gaming. Have you noticed the number of games that look and play a lot like Clash of Clans? That’s for a couple of reasons. First, developers want to copy what works, but it’s also because some venture capitalists and people who invest in mobile gaming put their cash into more of the same.
Even big popular games like Hearthstone don’t make a dent in the top 10. Viral hits like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood can shoot up the charts, but they typically top out at No. 4.
With no movement at the top, it feels like great games are coming and going while the same old releases continue to suck in more money.
Steam overrun with shovelware
Valve’s game-distribution service Steam has long dominated PC gaming, but it is now at a point where developers are almost releasing too many games.
The problem is that Steam is relaxing its rules for submitting games while, simultaneously, more developers are porting their works from mobile to PC. In previous years, Steam would get a handful of new games every week. Now, you can easily see several dozen new releases clogging up the schedule.
Valve has tried to address the problem by giving everyone a custom front page that features friend’s favorite games as well as the people you follow.
The problem is that developers who used to get a bump from appearing as a new release on Steam are now also lost in the shuffle. It feels like growing pains for the service, but it also feels like we lost something that was good about Steam in the process.
Cyberattacks ‘for the lulz’
We’ve clearly now entered a time where hacking is part of international war. North Korea allegedly hacked Sony Pictures as part of retribution for the film The Interview. But gaming companies have gone through a number of hacks or cyberattacks from groups that seem to only want to cause mayhem.
The following games have had their online services interrupted or knocked offline and hacker or cyberattacking groups have taken credit:
- PlayStation Network
- Electronic Arts
- Xbox Live
- League of Legends
These groups, one known as Lizard Squad, have never really explained their purpose or goals — and yet they have repeatedly knocked games offline.
Over Christmas, a group known as Lizard Squad took responsibility for bringing down both PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. It knocked each offline for more than a day (several in PSN’s case). Now, Lizard Squad says it will offer up its services to anyone for a very low fee.
The FBI is investigating the cause of the attacks.
As technology and black market tools make this easier, this is a trend we’ll likely see continue.