Last year I made a post laying out all my predictions for the 2012 year. I always like to look back and see how I did. Overall, my predictions for the winners were wrong, but my predictions for the runner-ups were usually pretty close.
Predicted Winner: BioShock Infinite
Actual Winner: Halo 4 / Max Payne 3 (tie)
I predicted Bioshock Infinite would release in 2012 and win this category. Unfortunately, it was delayed for a second year. The next two games on my list were Halo 4 and Max Payne 3. I mentioned that Halo 4 was the conservative prediction under Bioshock with Max Payne 3 the possibility of stealing it. Well, both of those came true. Halo 4 scored better than Black Ops 2 and was generally considered the best Xbox 360 action game. On the other platforms, Max Payne 3 was the top action game.
Predicted Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
Actual Winner: Journey
Just like Bioshock Infinite, Grand Theft Auto 5 was pushed back into 2013. Not only that, the next game in line, The Last of Us, also did not release in 2013. Luckily, the third in line, Journey, did actually release and to rave reviews. It did not have a huge impact on the average gamer, but most everyone that played it had good things to say about it. It is one of those games that truly feels like a work of art.
The other games pretty much fit my predictions. Resident Evil 6 tried to do too many things and failed at doing any of them well. Darksiders 2 like the first game in the series, did not get much coverage from the press or players and, according to THQ, sold lower than expectations. To me that means it was not profitable. The game itself was pretty good, but it is hard for new IPs these days to get a following.
One game I totally forget about in this category was Assassin’s Creed 3. This did not seem to make a difference as AC3 did not end up being a top game of the year. Most players liked it and critics gave it “good” reviews, but it was nowhere close to Journey.
Predicted Winner: Mass Effect 3
Actual Winner: Borderlands 2
There were a lot of games in this category. A lot of them I did not know much about when I made my prediction, so my ordering of the games was far off. I still think Mass Effect 3 was number one other than the horrible ending. The heavy criticism and EA/Bioware’s response really hurt the game’s marketing and eventually, its results in end-of-year awards.
Mass Effect 3 actually scored higher than Borderlands 2 on average, but it is impossible to ignore the actual players in this. They were not happy with Mass Effect 3’s ending, and the “extended cut” DLC did little to change their minds. In the end Borderlands 2 satisfied both critics and consumers, so that is why it was the number one this year.
Impossible to ignore is Diablo 3, but it too faced serious problems. All the critics of always-online proved to be right when the game on day one was pretty much unplayable. The servers could not handle all the players. Without an offline single player mode, players were left with a useless $60 box for a couple days. Even more, the game just did not have the longevity that everyone expected. It was very fast to get to the max level. Then, there was just endless grinding for better loot. The game industry has moved on from grinding, and most players switched to other games within a month.
Expected Winner: Command & Conquer: Generals 2
Actual Winner: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
There was one bad omission when I forget about Fallen Enchantress in the Strategy category, but it ended up not scoring well. Most players agreed it was much better than its predecessor, Elemental: War of Magic, but outside of hardcore strategy gamers, it did not receive much interest.
Another one of my predicted winners was delayed here. Command & Conquer: Generals 2 is still in testing behind closed doors. That left it up to XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dawn of War 3, but Dawn of War 3 was also nowhere to be seen, with Relic working on Company of Heroes 2 instead. So in the end, XCOM: Enemy Unknown won this pretty much by default. It was also helped by being one of the few strategy games released multiplatform.
Now there were a lot of expansions this year, but as I predicted, expansions never get the same recognition as the base game. None of the expansions won any awards other than exclusive ones like Best Expansion. Total War: Shogun 2 – Fall of the Samurai scored higher and was generally more popular than Civilization 5: Gods and Kings, but it was very close. Victoria 2: A House Divided was only released online digitally, preventing it from getting any attention.
Expected Winner: Guild Wars 2
Actual Winner: Guild Wars 2
Finally, my predicted winner actually won. Guild Wars 2 with its innovative buy once, play forever model did very well. It was also a great game, with more realistic combat system that stresses active dodging and targeting. At launch it was easily as good as any other MMO, and yet, they did not require any subscription fee. A lot of MMO players now started feeling a little ripped off by their MMO of choice with Guild Wars 2 being so much more consumer friendly.
As for the other MMO releases, TERA was more popular than The Secret World. This is what I predicted, but neither of them made much impact in the genre. TERA had just as good of a combat system as Guild Wars 2, but the subscription kept players away. Due to this lack of interest, both were forced to switched their business models away from subscription. TERA switched to a free-to-play model, and The Secret World switched to Guild Wars 2’s buy once model. Dust 514 was delayed into next year.
Planetside 2 also came out this year, but a few changes made it turn out better than I expected. First, they made it free-to-play. Planetside 1 required a subscription, and Sony Online Entertainment made no indication that Planetside 2 would be different until near release, but another thing also happened. Activision got rid of the subscription on their Call of Duty Elite service. Now all those shooter fans have extra money to spend on Planetside 2. Despite its success, it was not as groundbreaking as Guild Wars 2.
The only expansion I had on my list was World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. This is because it is the only expansion I thought had a chance at winning awards. My prediction was right about it not scoring higher than 8.5 — it currently stands at 8.2 — but there were a few other expansions this year. Lord of the Rings Online, Rift, and Eve Online all got new expansions this year. Among the expansions, I would say Rift’s Storm Legion did the best, even better than Pandaria. This is the first year that a WoW expansion did not make an impact.
Overall Game of the Year
Expected Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
Actual Winner: Journey
In a lot of ways, 2012 felt like a bigger disappointment than 2011. Grand Theft Auto 5, my pick for winner, was delayed, but so were many of the games in my list, including The Last of Us and Bioshock Infinite. Then we move on to Mass Effect 3 and Diablo 3, which both suffered from bad design decisions.
So between Halo 4, Journey, and Guild Wars 2, it was Journey that won the most awards and scored the highest. It is a fine example for the “Are Games Art?” debate. At the same time I think Guild Wars 2 has a lot more players than Journey. It is more of a gamer’s game, a game made for and played by hardcore gamers. On the other hand, Journey is one of those games that anyone can play whether they are new to games or a veteran. Veterans may want more complex game mechanics, but all can appreciate the art.
For me personally, I would enjoy Guild Wars 2 more in the long run, but that does not mean Journey does not give me the same fun for as long as it lasts (1-2 hours).
As for my predictions themselves, I made a prediction that only 60% of my predictions would be correct. It looks like I actually did worse than that this year. Only one of my predicted winners actually won for a measly 16% predictions correct. However, some of that was from delayed games. I still think Grand Theft Auto 5 and Bioshock Infinite will win their respective genres when they release. In a few weeks I will be writing another post about my predictions for 2013. Expect some of these delayed titles to be in the running again.