2012 was a great year in gaming. While the typical big budget giants put out more successful additions to their top-selling IPs (to mostly positive reviews), some smaller studios put out games that were not only artistically beautiful, but gained acceptance and popularity in the mainstream. Games like Journey, Sound Shapes, Fez, and The Walking Dead all made major splashes in the gaming world this year. Now that the technical power of this current generation has been mastered, studios now must make sure to create a better overall gaming experience rather than simply a graphical one. I feel that these systems have a lot left to give and I think that the both the indie studios as well as the big guys are going to have to change up the formula to remain relevant in 2013. This is a wish list for what I would like to see more of in 2013.
1. For Nintendo to Get Itself Together.
If you’ve been paying any attention to Nintendo’s latest console, you know it hasn’t been met with the kindest of words. The Wii U had an awful launch which included a mediocre game lineup, a day one 5 GB patch, and poor product management on Nintendo’s part. Problems with international licensing and technical problems have slowed this console’s progress to a halt. However I would not be so fast to put this in the same category as their Virtual Boy just yet. Sure, their price point will have to come down if they have any wish to compete with Sony and Microsoft’s future (and probably more powerful) projects, but the Wii faced the same problem.
What made the Wii so popular was not its graphical capability, but its games and unique functionality. Even though both the Xbox and Playstation included a motion-gaming experience, none worked even half as well as the Wii. Nintendo must produce quality games that, while perhaps won’t be parity of the next console generation in terms of graphics, can offer an experience unique to the Wii U’s gamepad and related peripherals. I also feel that they need a new IP to act as a marker for the standard of game they wish to produce this generation. While new Mario, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, and Zelda games are always fun additions, Nintendo should try to find their new Pikmin or next Pokemon if they have any desire to remain relevant.
2. More Sony Support for the Vita.
Okay, sure, it might be a handheld that doesn’t have it’s ‘must-have’ game yet, but it does have a handful of really great games and something else which could easily become a gamechanger: innovation. From it’s veritable clown-car of awesome features and ways to interact to the more recent implementation of Cross Play, this system could easily become the Wii U gamepad for Sony. Making this more successful seems a little more complicated. This might be more a problem of marketing, both in terms of games and features. While there might not be any ‘must-haves’ on the system, there is a quality and expanding group of games that can easily act as a system sellers, but they really haven’t received as much of a marketing push as they should. The same is said about the system’s functionality, while it is correct for Sony to market it as a mobile console experience, it should also try to push its dual-touch and camera experiences. Surely if Sony puts in a bit more effort, they can easily offer the same experience as Nintendo’s Wii U.
3. More Indie Games!
2012 proved that indie developers can create successful artistic and commercial console experiences. Telltale have already promised a new season of their award-winning Walking Dead series, and Fez will soon be going multiplatform. 2013 should see more risks being taken on the part of developers and consumers. To the developers: take more risks and create more meaningful experiences. Journey has proven that the length of a game is not a hindrance as long as the price and experience are at the right level. The success of the Walking Dead also proved that both episodic and adventure game experiences are still relevant in today’s market and should be encouraged. To the gamers: take more risks and try out different games. If a demo is up for a lesser-known title, give it a shot and see if you like it. Indie games are often $15 or less and are great proving grounds. Don’t just play more games, but play more styles of games.
4. New Hardware Announcements.
Please hear me out. I think 2013 could easily go without the next new piece of hardware. Sony and Microsoft still have some great ideas left and games like Bioshock, GTA 5, and Tomb Raider show that there are still great games left for these systems. No, what I would like is perhaps a new hardware announcement. I feel like announcements might be more appropriate for 2013, or at most a holiday release. I’m more than excited to see what sort of magic boxes are coming our way, but let 2013 be an amazing last year for our beloved consoles.
So what will 2013 hold? Who knows? But I’m excited to find out. 2012 offered some amazing gaming experiences and I can’t wait to see what’s next.