Gamer Matters
Delivering Gaming Info Across Asia

2017 In Gaming

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2017 is a fantastic year to be playing video games, no matter what platform you choose. There’s plenty of great games big and small that were released this year and boy were they great. Most of them, at least. The current generation of consoles are maturing, now that both the PS4 and Xbox One having a beefier counterparts (PS4 Pro and Xbox One X). Nintendo is stronger than ever with the Switch. PC gaming had the spotlight thanks to a certain battle royale game. The mobile space is now filled with MOBAs, for better or worse.

This year saw some great trends in gaming to appear in the early months, before ending with some unfortunate mishaps and controversies. Yet still, when we look back in the next few years, it’s hard not to say it was one of the best times to be a gamer.

Here’s some highlights of the biggest trends we saw thus year.

The Year Of Great Japanese Games

At the start of the year, the consensous were all saying that the Japanese developers have finally caught up. Thanks to a strong start from the release of Gravity Rush 2, Nier Automata, Nioh, Resident Evil 7, the English release of Persona 5 and Yakuza 0 plus the carry-over hype from last December’s The Last Guardian, it’s easy to see that the land of the rising sun still knows how to make good games. Add that the only good release from a Western developer early in the year was Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn, some outlets are calling it the year where Japan takes over the industry again. Of course, this is a bit exaggerating, considering there are more good releases from Western studios later in the year, but the start of the year leaves many of us to see that quirky Japanese games should still be released worldwide.

Also, shoutout to Bandai Namco for continuing to support these Japanese games with English subtitles for Asian regions. It’s rare to see Asia (particularly Southeast Asia) getting a special treatment, and they keep on doing such releases even for next year.

Related Articles: Persona 5 Review

The Year Of The Switch

Nintendo finally laid rest to the unfortunate Wii U and switched things up, big time. The reveal early in January left many with hype but also skepticism, all due to the push for gimmicky motion controls and “HD Rumble” still in the portable console’s plans. But it works. Not only Nintendo supported the launch year with two Game Of The Year Contenders (Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and Super Mario Odyssey), 3rd parties were also on board. Bethesda ported not just Skyrim (for the umpteenth time) but also Doom, with Wolfenstien II coming next year. EA, Capcom and Rockstar also experimented with a release or two, but so far the signs of 3rd party support is strong. The Switch has sold 10 million units in just 10 months iand wll easily outsold the Wii U soon.

The late Satoru Iwata must be smiling right now.

Hopefully we can get one of these consoles soon for proper game coverage. It is still expensive around these parts of the world.

Related Articles: This Is The Nintendo SwitchNintendo Switch, What We Know, Nintendo Switch Surpassed 10 Million Units Sold

The Year Niche Genres Came Back

With more games coming out this year, we saw the revival of many otherwise niche genres. First is the rise of the platformers. Yooka-Laylee, the spiritual successor of Banjo-Kazooie did not ushered in the platformer revival as most might have though coming from 2016, but we had many to choose from since. From the indie side we have Poi and A Hat In Time doing fine work. The Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy tapped into many Playstation kids’ nostalgia which brought the genre (and its “difficult as Dark Souls” comparison) to the limelight. 2017 is the year we got not only a good Mario game, but a good Sonic game too thanks to Sonic Mania, a 2D platformer that also saw a resurgence together with indie darling Cuphead.

Special mention goes to Sumo Digital’s Snake Pass, a platformer where you cannot jump, which brings in a lot of fresh idea into the genre.

Not only platformers got a resurgance, sim racers on consoles got some love too. We saw the release of both a new Forza and a new Gran Turismo (plus a new Project CARS) all in the span of two months. Fighting games continue its comeback with a strong title lineup as well, and the announcements of outlandish guest characters brought the hype back out of just the fighting game community, but regular fans and gamers too.

Dark Souls may have ended but souls-like games are abundant. Nioh and The Surge carry the torch well, and there are enough games out there that carry the inspiration to start question whether the Soulslike deserved to be its own genre now.

If you love these niche genres, you should be grateful that 2017 delivered all these.

The Year Of Battle Royale

While niche genres came back, a new genre of games is also birthed in 2017: Battle Royale. While the concept has been floating for some time, It takes PUBG’s meteoric success as a janky, Early Access title (that reaches 1.0 just before the new years) to make it a household name. PUBG eclipsed Dota 2’s record consecutive players on Steam, a record that was held for years, and is a mainstay on Twitch. It has now spawned many games and game modes inspired by it (including Epic’s Fortnite Battle Royale) and also various copycats.

That’s the sign of success. And it will only get bigger.

Related Articles: PUBG Announced, Beta Test, PUBG Breaks Steam Consecutive Players Record, PUBG Hits 1.0

The Year Of The Great Loot Box Fiasco

And now we move into the more muddy stuff. We wished for less dramas and controversies were not granted.

2017 sparked the great loot box fiasco. It started with the double whammy of Shadow Of War’s inclusion of loot boxes in a single-player game and an outcry from Star Wars Battlefront II’s progression system gated by loot boxes. While Shadow Of War exits the zeitgeist quickly after release, the fans of Battlefront exploded with upheaval, as the promised changes to the loot boxes were still terrible in practice. The outcry was so loud that government agencies from around the world have started to look into the issue.

The repercussions could be disastrous for game publishers as games will have to abide to more restrictions. The system popularised by Overwatch, to the point that fans joked about it as seen in the comic above (source here and here), have gone poisonous. What a shame. Now, not having loot boxes (or the removal of them) and micro-transactions are a selling point.

Related Articles: Shadow Of War Has Loot Boxes, Star Wars Battlefront II’s Fan Outcry After Lootbox Change, Belgium Gambling Commission: Loot Box Is Gambling, UK Gambling Commission: Loot Box Not Gambling

The Year EA Fall From Grace

But you know who should be most ashamed for this year? EA. None of their big games this year are a hit. Mass Effect Andromeda was supposed to be a great new start for the sci-fi RPG series, ended into a mess that saw the developers being scaled down again. They messed up their easiest and biggest revenue maker, Star Wars Battlefront II, Need For Speed Payback, while OK, is not that much better than Need For Speed 2015 despite taking a break from the annual release schedule last year.

They also killed of Visceral and the single-player Star Wars game, like EA usually do but bought Titanfall developers Respawn Entertainment shortly after. Their best bet right now is Bioware’s new IP Anthem and their constant annual releases of sports games that continue to do well. Right now, EA’s is this year’s Konami, being the punching bag of various industry jokes.

Related Articles: Mass Effect: Andromeda Review, Need For Speed Payback Review, EA Mocked At The Game Awards 2017

But it’s not all a bummer, the most important highlight of the year has to be:

The Year Gaming Continues To Grow In Malaysia

Gaming is getting bigger in Malaysia, and we all should be excited about it. We played host to the first Playstation Experience SEA, which attracted tons of crowd. Comic Fiesta this year had a bigger presence of gaming.

If you thinking about getting into the gaming industry, there’s tons of opportunities now. Streamline Studios, which we managed to pay a visit to this year, is continuing to expand. Lemon Sky Studios and Passion Republic continues to do great work, including contributing to Uncharted The Lost Legacy. MDEC continues to support more developers with its incubator programs and its annual game dev conference, Level Up KL.

Esports continues to get pushed here. We saw various tournaments, from the budding Fighting Games Community tournaments that attracts to the usual Dota and Mobile Legends getting their own league. The Ministry of Youth and Sports are paying attention to the esports scene here to prepare for the Asian games.

Related Articles: PSX SEA ’17 Coverage, Comic Fiesta ’17 Coverage, Streamline Studio’s Feature

And of course, for all the gamers in Malaysia, there has been an influx of gaming portals and news sites coming in, all to serve you to find the right games to play. We at Gamer Malaya and Gamer Matters welcome such friendly competition (and possibly future collaboration opportunities), but that also means we will all work harder to serve our readers and visitors. Expect us to grow stronger and get better next year, but do drop some feedback on what could we improve on.

Here’s to a another great year for video games!