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The Gaming Landscape in 2015 and Beyond

A vintage year…

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Batman: Arkham Knight, The Witcher 3, Bloodborne, Life is Strange, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, PES 2016, FIFA 16, NBA 2K16, Forza Motorsport 6, Star Wars: Battlefront, Halo 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider. All of these games were released in 2015. Just let that sink in for a moment. Sure, you might prefer one over the other or not be into a particular genre, but it’s hard to deny that most (if not all) of these titles are noteworthy in the gaming world. Some have even been classed as the best games ever made by critics, including yours truly. Taking that all into account, it’s fair to say 2015 has been a vintage year for games. One that you’ll look back on and remember fondly – I know I certainly will.

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Thanks to these games and a few more that I’ve probably missed, it’s the year both major consoles have hit their stride one way or another. By that I mean the PS4 and Xbox One. At the time writing, Sony’s console has sold over 30 million units worldwide, beating PS2 sales during the same period of time with relative ease. It’s astonishing, especially as many “experts” and “analysts” predicted the death of console gaming this generation. How wrong they were, eh? The Xbox One hasn’t been as successful with its sales, with rumours suggesting it has sold around 15-17 million consoles worldwide. Yes, Microsoft’s console is way behind the PS4, but it’s still done well. It just looks bad when you compare the two. Looking at it on paper, with the likes of Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6 and Rise of the Tomb Raider,  the Xbox One has actually had the better exclusives. It’s just paying for mixed messages before launch and a now scrapped strategy that alienated gamers. That and Sony has marketed the hell out of the PS4, despite not having any standout exclusives. The ‘For The Players’ tagline and making third party titles seem like exclusives has worked wonders for them. That said, it’s ultimately us (the gamers) that have benefitted from it all. Whether you own one console or both, you’ve had some quality games to play.

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What about Nintendo? Well, the Wii U is struggling to keep up with the PS4 and Xbox One. The blue sky strategy paid off with the Wii, but that’s far from the case with their current console. It has some great games, but the lack of power (compared to the other two), pretty much no third party support and little to no online nous has hindered Nintendo greatly. 2015 has seen some decent releases, with games such as Splatoon, Super Mario Maker and Xenoblade Chronicles X keeping Nintendo fans happy. However, and I don’t mean to be harsh, but it’s probably fair to say the 3DS is their best system. At this point its life cycle the Dreamcast sold more than the Wii U, and look how that ended up for SEGA. I’m sure the same won’t happen to Nintendo (they’ve got too much money in the bank), but 2016 is a big year for the Wii U. A new Zelda is set to be released, but they need more. Plus, with a new console of some sort set to be announced, will people pick up a Wii U in the meantime? Hmm. I doubt it. Annoyingly, bundles still sell for anything between £250-£300 at most major retailers. It’s baffling. You can buy a PS4 or Xbox One for the same price or less! Come on Nintendo, 2016 needs to be better.

SMM

Elsewhere, PC gaming continues to flourish and flounder in equal measure, with developers either releasing games that fully take advantage of the system or are just plain broken. At the time of writing, the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight is still not completely fixed. It’s been months since it was officially released. If you’ve got a decent PC or the money for one, unless developers mess things up, it will be the best platform in most cases. However, for the majority of publishers and developers, it’s an afterthought due to piracy and the fact that more money can be made from console versions. You can’t blame them; they’re running a business after all. Sorry, but that’s the cold and harsh truth. PC gaming will always be present thanks to the likes of Steam and games that take full advantage of the system such as Metal Gear Solid V, Grand Theft Auto V and Fallout 4, but (again) it’s not the primary focus. Ironically, the community both hinders and helps it. Mods are most welcome, noticeably improving certain games, but piracy is still rife. No matter the denials from the PC community, it’s still present and a huge reason why most games come out after console releases or not at all. Anyway, given the advancement in technology, the capability of PC gaming will always push on, but whether or not support improves in 2016 is something that time will tell.

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And what does 2016 hold for gaming as a whole? Well, it’s an interesting one. I’m definitely looking forward to the likes of Uncharted 4, Far Cry: Primal and Gears of War 4, but I’d to see some brand new IPs too. There are plenty of talented studios out there, and it would be great to see them try something new. Above all though, I think VR will have a big part to play in 2016. I can see Sony pushing the PlayStation VR whenever they can, but I’m still not sure if it will take off and be a success. It will all depend on the price and the type of games or applications Sony release for it. They’ll need dedicated content rather existing games having VR shoehorned into them like a gimmick. Microsoft will probably try to take a piece of the pie too, probably taking advantage of the Oculus Rift rather than magically coming out with a headset of their own. I also expect them to do something with HoloLens, but nothing major apart from Minecraft integration (hope I’m wrong though). What about Nintendo? Easy. They’ll continue to do their own thing. Saying that though, if their next console (NX?) isn’t as powerful as the other two and stuck in the dark ages when it comes to online, I worry for them ever so slightly. With that said… Bring on 2016!

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If you want more, you can read mine and a few other games writers’ thought over on the Argos website. Games of 2015, underrated stuff and titles we’re looking forward to in 2016. Go go go!

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