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- 36 Action and Adventure titles
- 4 Fighting Games
- 5 MMOs
- 1 Music game (surprise!)
- 37 RPGs
- 9 Shooters
- 3 Simulation
- 11 Sports
- 6 Strategy
…for a total of 112 titles in this sample compared to 114 titles on last year’s list.
- 52 titles have edged their way into the original IP camp
- 36 sequels ranging from Dark Souls II to Earth Defense Force 2025 are also on the list compared to 48 from last year’s list
- 5 can can be considered reboots such as Carmageddon: Reincarnation and Thief.
The rest don’t quite fall into those bins such as a standalone title that is part of an ongoing series like The Elder Scrolls Online or an expansion/enhancement such as Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.
RPGs and Adventures
One interesting change is in seeing 52 titles compared to 41 from last year’s list that can be considered original IP. A large bulk of these are partly due to 2014 looking to be a banner year for RPGs with titles such as Child of Light, Age of Decadence, and Pillars of Eternity marking new ground being broken by their respective developers. March is going to be a particularly busy month for the genre with South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dark Souls II, The Witch and the Hundred Knight, and the new expansion for Diablo III, Reaper of Souls, due out then.
Action and Adventure titles will also have a big showing next year with original titles ranging from The Evil Within to a few high-profile indies such as The Witness. If you’re a fan of either genre, 2014 is going to be an exciting year with a wide distribution of these genres across the PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and especially the PC.
At the same time, Nintendo’s release schedule for next year reflects 2013’s in being relatively light compared to what is coming out for either Sony’s or Microsoft’s platforms with developers like Bethesda citing the hardware as a major issue back in August.
But as the wild critical success of Super Mario 3D World has demonstrated, quality bombshells help gloss over the lack of quantity. Handheld-wise, Nintendo will likely continue to dominate that market with a number of new RPGs and adventure games, especially if they’re anything like The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Then there’s the low-cost 2DS salvo that Nintendo is bringing out.
What didn’t make the list (but I’d mention them anyway)
Halo and the next Call of Duty aren’t on here because there’s really not a whole lot on either game, only the suggestion that we will see new iterations of these games at the end of 2014. The same with Homefront 2. We know Crytek gave it to their UK studio to work on and that they’re making ‘great progress’, which really isn’t much more than what we had already been given.
Rayman Legends for the PS4 and the Xbox One was also knocked off because it’s only a port. HD titles like Assassin’s Creed III HD and Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix also didn’t make the list because they’re largely HD ports of titles that had already come out. And Black Wing Foundation’s Scivelation? Vaporware pushing at a little over five years in development hell right now.
Precursor Games’ Shadow of the Eternals should have been on the list given the amount of info on it, but it didn’t resonate with enough people to be successfully Kickstarted leading to an “indefinite hold” for the game. Star Citizen, like last year, wasn’t on this list either because it’s tentatively scheduled for 2015 – but it sure looks pretty. Starbound from Chucklfish also didn’t make the list though that technically did come out this year as an early beta that anyone can buy into with a final, official release assumed to be sometime in 2014.
Borderlands 2 for the Vita and La Mulana 2 could be awesome – and that’s all we know about them. Mario Golf is coming out for the 3DS, too, and other than an announcement earlier in 2013, it’s been pushed all the way into sometime in 2014.
There were also these:
- Sunset Overdrive: Guessing it might come out in 2014, but there’s really nothing else to go on
- Trials Fusion: Another case of not enough information aside from being mentioned as a potential release
- Hyrule Warriors: Said to be Zelda mixed in with Dynasty Warriors and tentatively set for a 2014 release, but little else is known about it outside of its Nintendo Direct announcement
- NASCAR ’14: There’s a NASCAR game coming out in 2014 with Toby Stewart on the cover. And that’s about all there is on this
- Devil’s Third – Valhalla Game Studios have the rights for the game which was the last piece of news to emerge for it. Since then, there hasn’t been a whole lot to go on.
2014 – The Year of…the Last Gen?
Neither the Xbox 360 or the PS3 have run out of gas, at least if 2014’s anticipated release schedule is anything to go by, with both continuing on as if it were business as usual. As for the first ‘next-gen’ shot from Nintendo, the Wii U, it’s still marching to the sound of its own exclusives-only beat and shrugging off the new challengers by focusing on their own audience.
Both Microsoft and Sony’s platforms from the last gen are going to get highly anticipated mega-titles such as Destiny, Dark Souls II, Watch Dogs, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Even something such as EA’s new Middle-Earth RPG, Shadow of Mordor, is going to be on both the Xbox One and PS4 as well as their predecessors unless it changes. In comparison, the Wii U even has a better lineup than the PS4 and the Xbox One simply by the virtue of being out longer.
PCs are also going to get a piece of most of that and then some in addition to the massive indie community behind it continuing the same kind of practices that founded big names like Origin (not to be confused with EA’s online service) with Richard Garriott’s ziplocked floppy disks.
The PS4 is also subtly flexing its indie muscles by filling its schedule of releases for the next year with Galak-Z: The Dimensional, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Hohokum, and a port of Outcast. For multiplayer, it’s also going to bring out Final Fantasy XIV and EverQuest Next for that fantasy fix if you’re tired of getting shot at in the NYC of Tom Clancy’s The Division.
Still, the PS4 is going to be left out PS3 exclusives such as Persona 5 and three more fighting games such as BlazBlue: Chronophantasma. Ultimate Street Fighter IV is also slated to kick its way onto the Xbox 360 and the PS3 next year making the best advice for PS3 owners transitioning to the PS4 to hold onto their old console.
The Xbox One will be getting most of those big titles, too, such as Destiny, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and MGS V, making the argument of which platform your friends will be on an important one again along whether a few standouts like Titanfall, a new RPG called Lords of the Fallen, D4, and Kinect Sports Rivals will convince potential Xbox customers to embrace Microsoft’s ecosystem in the same way titles like Infamous 2 will for PS4 fans.
Then there’s Microsoft’s ever expanding cloud-based solution, Azure, that titles created for their platform can opt into in order to enhance their respective worlds such as what Ubisoft is intending to do with the Xbox One version of Watch Dogs and which Titanfall will also be banking on to improve its own experience. It’s like Skynet doing low level grunt work behind the scenes, though how well that will come together will be tested year ahead.
Still, like PS4 fans that might still have their old consoles lying around, Xbox One owners might not want to get rid of that Xbox 360 just quite yet.
If there’s one negative thing that I can say about a number of Kickstarter projects on this list, it’s that delivery dates are hard.
Titles such as Broken Age, Jane Jensen’s Moebius, and Hero-U are well past their estimated delivery dates but continue to live on in development. And for every few that is pushed into next year, there are ones that have made it out in some form this year whether it’s because of Steam’s Early Access or that they’ve completed what they set out to do such as in the case of Shadowrun Returns or Broken Sword 5.
As an interesting factoid, the nineteen Kickstarter projects on this list have earned close to $15 million USD in contributions (not counting donations made outside of Kickstarter via services such as Paypal). A number of these projects have also stormed well past what they were initially asking for such as The Banner Saga which made a little over seven times what its $100,000 pitch had asked for.
|Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse||$771,560.00||$400,000.00|
|Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey||$1,538,425.00||$850,000.00|
|Jane Jensen’s Moebius||$435,316.00||$300,000.00|
|7 Days to Die||$507,612.00||$200,000.00|
|Divinity: Original Sin||$944,282.00||$400,000.00|
|Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption||$409,150.00||$400,000.00|
|Pillars of Eternity||$3,986,929.00||$1,100,000.00|
|The Banner Saga||$723,886.00||$100,000.00|
|War for the Overworld||$345,725.36||$245,362.88|
Pounds (£) were adjusted to USD where applicable
But the biggest takeaway is the continuing story on how developers have leveraged the Kickstarter model into independence.
Some AAA games today have budgets that swell well past $15 million in development costs with a small army of developers adding to the worry that budgets will continue to spiral ever upwards with every new generation. In an interview with Xbox: The Official Magazine, Volition’s Jim Boone explains his own view on the psychology between the $60 price point and the massive budget bets companies make on trying to justify it, something that Kickstarter projects have also bucked.
In the end, there are nineteen projects each with a slice of that $15 million pie are still moving quietly along, interacting with their fans, and giving the audience a front row seat on how they actually make the magic happen. It’s something to think about as more developers from all walks of life from newcomers to professionals take a look at Kickstarter as a viable way to fund their dream projects.
2014 is going to be another exciting year
With lots of RPGs, adventure games, and “last gen” support to look forward to in 2014, it looks like it will be an exciting year or a waiting game for players depending on their focus. We haven’t yet heard too much about either Microsoft or Sony’s plans for OnLive or Gaikai, respectively, which could accelerate what their next-gen platforms could offer their audiences, but indies are having a field day with tons of releases still in the oven slated for release next year becoming an increasingly significant factor that saw indies join Sony on stage in their PS4 reveal earlier in 2013 as a part of their aggressive push.
PC gaming is just as exciting for many of the same reasons, defying worries that it’s “dying” when it, like consoles, are experiencing a period of transition into new things while leaving older methods behind.
Indies’ voices are growing louder and louder every year, joining AAA titles on the same virtual shelves in greater numbers. The kind of fearless experimentation that a number of big-time publishers today used to boast in 80s and 90s has become the basic tenet for indie devs the world over creating a fascinating renaissance of creative examples that titles such as M.U.L.E., Archon, and Hacker did decades earlier.
So will 2014 be the last year for the Xbox 360 or the PS3? That’s hard to say and even harder for publishers to ignore, though as adoption numbers continue to ramp up for the PS4 and the Xbox One and as devs get used to the hardware, we’ll eventually see more titles taking exclusive advantage of the greater power both platforms offer. As for how long that might take, 2015 could be the year when the new consoles really begin strutting their stuff.
Yet no matter how you cut it, whether you want to roll with what you have or add a flashy new console to your living room, 2014 is set to be another fun year for many gamers..