It is time to look back and see how I did on my 2013 predictions. My results this year were a little better than last year. A couple of my picks for top games were correct. In the other genres, my 2nd or 3rd game in the list was usually the top game, but I my predictions were particularly bad in the Strategy genre. Some of this was because of games being delayed, but a few games did much better than I foresaw.
Predicted Winner: BioShock Infinite
Actual Winner: BioShock Infinite
I think my prediction for BioShock Infinite was correct. While it did not live up to all the hype, it was still far better than the other action games released this year. The gameplay was seen as nothing new, but the story and world the developers created was praised. Many thought it may have been better as an adventure game or role-playing game with exploration being the focus instead of shooting. It did not have the longevity of other action games (no multiplayer), but most players had a lot of good to stay about it.
My order for the rest of the games was pretty far off though. Several games were not even announced when I made my prediction. Others turned out better than I expected. The next two games had to be Metro: Last Light and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Both games scored roughly equally high for different reasons. Metro: Last Light, which I did not think would release in 2013, was praised for its atmosphere and setting. If it had more polish it may have been a contender for best action game this year. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance was praised for being a refreshing take on the Metal Gear world, while the developers of Metal Gear 5 get some time to make it a polished game.
Gears of War: Judgment, ARMA 3, and Crysis 3 all got average reviews. I kind of expected that with Gears of War: Judgment. The story was over with Gears of War 3. Judgment felt like a retread, with no new gameplay unlike Metal Gear Rising’s refreshing gameplay. I did not expect ARMA 3 and Crysis 3 to score so low though. ARMA 3 did not have enough content at launch to satisfy most players. Crysis 3 had a weak single player campaign, which was surprising given its pedigree.
I totally forgot about Dead Space 3 when I made my predictions, but it also had a flaw. Many of the horror elements were replaced with more action, causing the game to lose some of its identity. There was also controversy about the single player microtransactions, which felt like a cash grab to many players.
I wrote down Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4, but the next game in the series ended up being Call of Duty: Ghosts. Players seem to finally be getting tired of Call of Duty, as its sales were lower than last year’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. I expected there to be slightly lower sales, but not such low review scores. Usually, the single player just gets a pass. Players have so much fun with the multiplayer they do not care about the campaign. This year they were tired with the campaign, and the multiplayer felt like the same old thing. Battlefield 4, which had not even been announced when I made my prediction, seemed to be a mirror copy of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Few people liked the campaign, so everything was dependent on the multiplayer, which was pretty much the same as Battlefield 3.
Aliens: Colonial Marines turned out exactly as I predicted. It was a licensed game. Licensed games are almost always bad. Aliens: Colonial Marines was a bad game. Sega was able to really hype up players while delaying the release of reviews to get pretty high sales numbers. Pretty soon disappointment stories from the players started appearing everywhere.
Predicted Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
Actual Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
It was a breakout year for Action/Adventure games. No other genre had as many original IPs launch this year. Grand Theft Auto 5 was definitely a top game, but The Last of Us was also a contender. Grand Theft Auto 5 was a fine game in every way. I think it lived up to the hype and more. Also the violence did not get criticized as much as usual. The superb acting made it more like a violent movie, which conservatives seem to be more accepting of. It is pretty easy to make a prediction on GTA games. Rockstar Games almost always makes a great game these days.
The mainstream would vote for Grand Theft Auto 5, but I think critics and industry insiders generally considered The Last of Us to be their action/adventure game of the year. The Last of Us had a more personal story with a father-daughter vibe that has not really been touched by games before. With a lot of those industry types being male and starting families, they connected with The Last of Us a lot more than Grand Theft Auto 5. I wrote there was a possibility for one of the original IPs to steal the award, and The Last of Us was it. I still consider Grand Theft Auto 5 to win this category, but you could make a good argument that The Last of Us was the winner.
None of the other original IPs were able to do much. Well, Watch Dogs was delayed, so there is still a possibility there. However, neither Beyond: Two Souls or Remember Me did well. This is always the risk when creating new IP. Beyond: Two Souls was criticized for having a disjointed story and little meaningful gameplay. In fact, many reviewers stated it would be better as a movie than a game. Remember Me simply lacked gameplay depth. Most of the game involved entering rooms and bashing your way through waves of enemies. It quickly become repetitive and boring.
Tomb Raider and God of War: Ascension mostly fit within my predictions. Both did better than Beyond: Two Souls and Remember Me but not amazing. Tomb Raider had respectable gameplay, but players did not seem to like the story or setting much. God of War: Ascension may have suffered the same fate as the Gears of War series; people just want another epic trilogy, not side stories.
Bayonetta 2 was unfortunately delayed, and now I have heard rumors (Spanish) it might not even make 2014. Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs turned out as I expected. It got okay reviews but, being an indie game, did not get many sales. Hopefully, they sold enough to stay in business.
A notable omission was Saints Row 4. For some reason I did not think about it when I made the prediction. It turned out very good though. I would put it just below The Last of Us, for a third place spot. I do not know exactly what I was thinking a year ago. Maybe I did not expect it to release in 2014, or maybe I just thought it would not live up. I should still have mentioned it though.
Predicted Winner: South Park: The Stick of Truth
Actual Winner: Path of Exile
It was not the best year for RPGs. There were no real big hits like prior years. My prediction, South Park, was unfortunately delayed. My runner-up Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was the critical darling but was not able to attract much attention after a few months. I think it was because the game was a PlayStation-exclusive. Not enough people were able to play it. Just a shame as it was so nice to see a Japanese RPG actually be good. It reminds me of the old Squaresoft days on Super Nintendo and PlayStation 1.
The next games I had down were Grim Dawn, Path of Exile, and Marvel Heroes. Grim Dawn was not even released. Of the two remaining, Path of Exile was by far the winner for RPG of the Year. It was the crowd favorite, but also got very good reviews across the board. It was seen as the true successor to Diablo 2 with a wealth of gameplay depth to keep the veteran Diablo players happy. It also had a very generous free-to-play model. Marvel Heroes got very bad initial reviews. The developers have done a lot in the following months since launch, but too many players got a bad taste to keep playing. They still have a large core of superhero fans, so I expect the game to last for many years.
Of the two indie games I listed, Divinity: Original Sin was delayed. The Dark Eye: Demonicon did get released, but got pretty bad reviews. A lot of people were hoping for a game of Baldur’s Gate’s quality using The Dark Eye campaign setting. While reviewers liked the story, the game mechanics were very weak. Having a good setting is only part of making a good role-playing game. The “game” part needs to be good as well. This is why RPGs are so hard to make well.
Expected Winner: Company of Heroes 2
Actual Winner: DOTA 2
My predictions were pretty bad in this category. Company of Heroes 2 was made into a free-to-play game. If I knew that making the prediction, I would have placed it towards the bottom. Total War: Rome 2 ended up being really buggy at launch and in some ways limiting compared to the original Rome. I also could never have expected Sim City to be online-only and have tons of connection problems for months. Command & Conquer was cancelled outright.
The big surprise was DOTA 2 doing so well. Not only did I think the MOBA genre was too full, I also thought other, more original strategy games would do better. Those other strategy games all had problems. DOTA 2 has not passed League of Legends in player numbers but has found its niche. DOTA 2’s eSports scene could potentially replace League of Legends some day; The International 3 was a massively huge and successful tournament. DOTA 2 easily surpassed Starcraft 2 as the runner-up eSports game. Add in extremely high review scores, and you have the 2013 Strategy Game of the Year.
The rest of my predictions were generally right. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm being an expansion did not get much attention. Pikmin 3 and Europa Universalis IV both scored well, but did not have the player numbers to make them top games. World of Warplanes so far is not as popular as World of Tanks, as I predicted.
Expected Winner: The Elder Scrolls Online
Actual Winner: Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn
I was a little better in this category than the Strategy category but still wrong in some areas. The Elder Scrolls Online did not release, so my prediction was impossible. They announced that it was coming to next-gen consoles, so I think it was delayed to have its PC release closer to the console versions. Neverwinter was pretty popular at launch, but the interest did not last. I thought the Foundry feature that allowed players to create their own dungeons would be more popular. I will look to Everquest Next: Landmark next year to see if player-created content in a MMOG finally becomes popular.
The real winner this year was Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. Square Enix successfully rebooted the game. I do not know if player interest will last for years, but it is still doing great right now. To me the game was a typical themepark MMORPG, but they really nailed the polish. Because you repeat a lot of the same things in MMOs, the game needs to be polished to a mirror shine to keep people logging in every day. When you find a good MMO, you potentially want to play it for several years. It is not like a single player game that you can just put up with annoyances for a few weeks until you beat the game. A MMOG is always ongoing.
Defiance and Dust 514 pretty much turned out like I predicted, but neither have closed down. I believe Dust 514 still has a lot of players since it has almost no free-to-play competition on the PlayStation 3. I think it will have a very tough time lasting after Planetside 2 comes to PlayStation 4. (You can be sure CCP will be porting Dust 514 to PS4 eventually.) Defiance is slowly meandering along. Since the TV show got a second season, I think the game will last at least that long. It seems to be on its last legs though, with many people on the developer team being laid off.
City of Steam was definitely at the bottom. When I first wrote this, I still believed it had not even released yet. I never saw any news about its launch, or any impressions from players about it. It turns out player interest was so low, the publisher forced the game to shut down. The developers were able to retain ownership and later relaunched the game as a browser-based MMO. In my prediction, I put this game in the middle of the pack, but it looks like they had a hard time even finding a niche audience. Hopefully, they can improve the game and find their place in the MMO space. Other MMOs have done well as browser games.
Overall Game of the Year
Expected Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
Actual Winner: Grand Theft Auto 5
This year I believe I got the Game of the Year correct. It was Grand Theft Auto 5. The wait was long, but it was all worth it. This game got both amazing reviews and amazing sales. It singlehandedly lifted the game industry into the black during the month it launched. Few games can claim that. A lot of critics and a percentage of the players probably preferred The Last of Us, but overall, GTA 5 was the Game of the Year.
It was a much better gaming year in 2013. All those great games that were delayed finally got released. There were some good games delayed this year, but not at the same level as last year. It was truly “the last hurrah” before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 released. The older consoles will still have those delayed games to play next year though.
Now, the top games here are based on a combination of review scores, sales numbers, and player sentiment, but they are not necessarily my personal top games. For example, I liked Beyond: Two Souls. I can understand all the criticism it got. I just would not mark it down as much for those criticisms as the average reviewer or player did. I would not consider it the Action/Adventure game of the year, but I would place it towards the top around 2nd or 3rd.
As for my 2014 gaming predictions, I hope to get that done by the end of the month (January). I have already started doing research into all the big games coming out next year and what people are saying about them, but there is a lot more work to do before I can start writing.