The year is almost over and everyone is making GOTY lists, but let’s take time to look back at some of the year’s most controversial gaming moments. Who could forget GTA Online’s rocky launch and the Xbox One’s anti-consumer features? Here are 2013’s biggest gaming debacles.
VGX was a train-wreck. It showed that the gaming industry still needs to mature. Spike ditched the game show format from years past for a more informal awards show. This sounds okay on paper, but someone thought Joel McHale would make a good co-host. Now, I love McHale, but he obviously didn’t want to be there, and Geoff Keighley felt the same way. Keighley is cool, but he’s a PR mouthpiece, and McHale is a lovable douchebag. They’re like water and oil — this partnership was doomed from the start.
VGX’s failure can’t be blamed on its mismatched co-host, though. It was just boring. The biggest reveal was No Man’s Sky, a game about exploring procedurally generated planets. I have nothing against NMS, but gamers tuned in for AAA reveals. And there were none. No Uncharted, Fallout, Mass Effect, etc. Is this the same awards show that revealed The Last of Us two years ago? It set the bar really high, and then just walked away.
GTA Online promised us the world, but it stumbled out of the gate, and never fully recovered. GTA V‘s online component had a disastrous launch. Connection problems, lost characters, exploits, a broken economy, and the 16 player limit undermined the game’s potential. Rockstar released a few patches, and offered us a hefty stimulus package. But it was too late — the dream was dead.
The release of the PS4 and the Xbox One was the final nail in GTA Online‘s coffin. Rockstar should quietly kill it, and try again when the inevitable PS4, Xbox One, and PC version comes out.
The Let’s Play community will never be the same. YouTube is cracking down on video game footage, and passing out copyright notices like candy on Halloween. The videos aren’t being taken down, but it’s becoming harder for Let’s Players to monetize their content.
Now you may be saying — who cares? It’s easy to dismiss this, but YouTube is one of the largest sites online. These videos contribute to game sales, and if they stop the gaming industry could take a hit. Where do you go when you’re on the fence about a game? Do you read a review, go to YouTube, or seek advice from a gaming forum? Reviews and forums are fine, but sometimes you just want to see the game in action. Sure, you could turn to a trailer, but trailers are just highlight reels.
This is why Let’s Plays are so popular. They’re videos of normal gamers playing games. No PR, no agendas — it’s discovery in its purist form. They can push you over the fence or make you climb back down. It’s free marketing, and most publishers know this. They aren’t even the ones sending in the claims, it’s the music companies and other copyright holders. YouTube isn’t backing down so we’ll hear more about this in 2014. Hopefully the publishers can get the copyright holders to back off. After all they did have to get the rights to use the content in their games.
EA isn’t the worst company in America (seriously guys), but they are one of the worst companies in gaming. SimCity launched with a controversial always online requirement and gamers revolted when they couldn’t play because of server issues. This is acceptable for an MMO, but SimCity is traditionally a single player game so it’s always online requirement made no sense.
Maxis tried to spin it, but it was obviously just DRM. This proved that always online requirements were a bad idea. This leads me to my number one pick for the biggest gaming debacle of 2013…
You knew it was coming. This is the biggest debacle (and comeback) of 2013. Microsoft turned a few heads when they announced the Xbox One. Used games were out, the console would require daily online checks, and Kinect 2.0 was mandatory. Do you want to play offline? Stick with the Xbox 360. Microsoft wanted our money, but they wanted to treat us like trash. They were like “Fuck you, pay me!” and gamers said, “No, fuck you — I’m buying a PS4!”
I’ll never forget walking into Microsoft’s E3 2013 booth for the first time. Everyone knew it — the PS4 was headed towards an easy win. It was cheaper, more powerful, supported used games, and it didn’t need an internet connection. No one looked happy. It was like a car crash — everyone was there out of morbid curiosity. “So, that’s the Xbox One?” Meanwhile Sony’s booth was lively, everyone looked happy to be there, and the lines were long.
Microsoft made a mistake. So they did the right thing and dropped most of the Xbox One’s unwanted features. This was a huge victory for gamers, it proved that we’re the ones in charge, and the Xbox One benefited in the end. It’s still less powerful and more expensive than the PS4, but at least it stands a chance now. This will lead to a more exciting console generation.
There you have it– the biggest gaming debacles of 2013. What did I miss? Tell me in the replies.