Personally, 2017 was a very tough year for both myself and my wife after losing our son Luca in January. We are still grieving and with his upcoming birthday on the horizon, we know that the next few weeks will be hard, but we intend to celebrate his life and can see light at the end of the dark tunnel we have been navigating through this year.
From a games perspective, 2017 has been illuminating; we’ve seen the resurgence of Nintendo with the Switch that has been home to two of the most celebrated releases in recent memory, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo are the heart and soul of this industry so it’s important that they remain healthy and continue to thrive – creativity and gameplay should be at the forefront of games development as these are the two foundations that this medium was built on.
Another resurgence we saw earlier in the year was that of a strong Japanese presence on PS4 with titles such as Yakuza Zero, Nioh, Nier: Automata and The Last Guardian (although the latter is technically a 2016 game) garnering much deserved critical acclaim. Like Nintendo, it’s important for the industry to have a successful and thriving Japanese arm; in recent years, we had seen a decline in quality titles being released from the far east with some of the region’s foremost developers/publishers either moving away from triple A game development (Konami) or releasing unfocused, below par titles (Capcom).
Here’s hoping that Japan uses 2017 as a point of reference and continues to deliver great games that are built on the core fundamentals of what makes Japanese gaming so special.
Over here in the west we too saw some fantastic releases; Guerilla Games’ Horizon: Zero Dawn on PS4, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus, Deck 13’s sci-fi “souls-like”, The Surge and as has become the standard, a steady release of great independent games. We also saw a western developer (PagodaWest games/Headcannon) take one of Japan’s most celebrated gaming icons and deliver the finest entry in the series for almost 30 years with Sonic Mania.
Despite the lootbox and in-game purchase phenomenon that has plagued many releases this year, 2017 has been a vintage one in our industry and with the negativity that surrounded the aforementioned blemishes, let’s hope that in 2018 publishers have a better perspective of what us as gamers genuinely want from our games.