2016 is a roller coaster ride of emotions when it comes to world events, and it was also true in the world of gaming as well. With new advancements in tech we have discovered a new method of enjoying interactive experience and challenge the traditional concepts we held for so long. News of games release is now a phenomena where we saw triumph over all odds with games long in development finally being released and also many, many large scale blunders.
Let’s dive a quick recap on what defines 2016 in the gaming context- and what we should be hopeful (and concern) in the future.
The Year Of Virtual Reality
It has been a long time coming. It started from the story of an upstart young genius figuring out how to do VR and has now spawned a new industry. VR was a pipe dream from the 80’s that proved that the technology to support more immersive experiences were just not there yet. But it’s now here. The indie darling company (later to be owned by Facebook) Oculus started with the Rift. Then comes Valve which collaborated with HTC to develop VR tech that gave us the Vive. Sony jumped in as well by providing VR on consoles with PS VR. This three formed the trifecta of gaming VR- the leading platforms and hardware to support this new ground-breaking technology.
While the hardware certainly works- issues of motion sickness the rifled earlier headsets have now mostly gone- the software side is a little lacking.
It’s not that there are not many games- there are a bunch of them on Steam- it’s just nothing that really captures the full use of the device. It’s more of a novelty rather than a true gaming experience, which many detractors of the technology has been saying so long. But will VR fall the same fate as many other gimmicks like 3D TVs and motion controllers? We will have to wait for what 2017 has in store for us.
The Year Where The Definition Of Console Gets Blurrier
Game consoles are simple. It’s designed to be, removing the hassles of running a game on PC (with different hardware configurations) with a simple box that mostly plays games when you put in the disc. You don’t really need to upgrade until the next generation kicks in, which should be a few more years than now. Last generation (PS3, Xbox 360) lasted for 8 years. So we have a few more years with this console generation, right?
Maybe not so.
Right from the start we saw the two big consoles, the PS4 and Xbox One, are roughly just as powerful as a mid-range PC on its launch. And they are clearly showing signs of age already. Hence the idea of a mid-generation upgrade. When the rumours first appear we were all both excited and afraid at what the implications will this mean. A new better console every year like the iPhones do? A special platform that will have their own exclusive games? A major jump in performance that rivals the PC’s top hardware?
The answer is a bit complicated. As we see Sony’s Playstation 4 Pro released, it just makes the discussion more complicated with not much to be gained for now. The improvements are marginal. It lacks the consistency of benefited performance on all games. Plus, we hardly have them in stock in Malaysia. So it was all ado about nothing.
We will have to wait until whatever Microsoft’s equivalent to the PS4 Pro (right now known as Scorpio) will fare any better. Also, don’t forget the wildcard that is Nintendo. The Nintendo Switch is poised to be both a console and a portable it seems, which will make the conversations next year even more interesting. Hopefully we will get more benefits from such changes on the console side of things.
The Year Of Shoddy Game Releases
The wisdom of “don’t buy games Day 1” and “Don’t pre-order games” rings truer in 2016. It’s not wrong to do both of them. It’s just not many are able to cope with what will happen if you ended up doing so for a shoddy game release. Just look at the conversations around No Man’s Sky- from questions of wonder or curiosity (what do you do in the game? Can I do this? Will it have That?) to critical questions on why it got hyped so much. That is another discussion for another day.
Then we have issues of games not working at all on launch, most prominently the issues that plagued Street Fighter V as it servers at the time could not cope with the load, leaving a lot of players a bad time. It’s the danger of having a lot of online components- the server side must be totally reliable or you will end up with many angry customers.
While most of games media’s function is to prevent such problems from happening, we too may fall into the hype train. So the smart way of doing things is to be selective of your pre-orders and Day 1 purchases. As for GamerMalaya, we will work hard on giving you coverage, whether it’s a full review or a few news pieces to keep you in the know of the most latest news.
The Year Gaming In Malaysia Starts Growing Bigger
Whether it’s game development or the culture of us gamers being gamers, we are getting to see it more and more in Malaysia. Local studios are getting big-time contracts in the latest AAA releases, and it’s interesting to see the game development scene is getting more attention from not just gamers, but the traditional press as well.
We saw a boom in content creators as well in Malaysia. Plenty of budding YouTubers and streamers are making names to provide you entertainment when you can’t just play those games yourselves. Shoutout to the local startup Fundeavour (which we collaborated for the weekly Gamer Of The Week articles) on helping them out. Maybe we will see a Malaysian equivalent to Pewdiepie in the years to come?
Then the other side of this is the gamers here. With various large-scale events, e-sports tournaments big and small, and even fan gatherings, it’s a good year to be a gamer in Malaysia. We will try to be there to cover and support more local events in the future- so if you are planning a gaming event do feel free to contact us (as well as other local gaming sites) so we can help spread the word.
Here’s To 2017
Let’s all hope that 2017 will be a better year for everyone. Here’s to more great games, less drama and controversies, and a better landscape for the Malaysian gaming industry and community. And thanks to everyone who are here with us along the way and enjoying the ride. Here’s to 2017!