2017 had many amazing games come out and I didn’t get to play all of them. So many choices, so little money. Instead of breaking it down into a top ten, I’ll mention several things I thought were great in the video game industry. It was a good year for games despite industry bullshit (more on that in a later post). All right, let’s get down to business!
Japanese Developers Return to Prominence
Japanese developers had an excellent year. The last generation and the early part of this generation were not kind to Japanese developers. It was a struggle to appeal to an international audience while staying true to their roots. Unfortunately, they seemed to play a guessing game as to what Western gamers wanted. Trying to appeal to a wider audience often leads to a game that’s not meant for anyone. 2017 was a turning point for Japanese games. Capcom brought the Resident Evil back to its survival horror roots with Resident Evil 7. Square-Enix released Nier: Automata, an existential crisis disguised as a video game. Sega’s passion project, Sonic Mania, brought Sonic back to his 2D roots. Not to mention the gorgeous pixel art. Oh yeah, the Nintendo Switch came out. Japanese developers and publishers realized that there is an international market for JRPGs and visual novels. Sure, it won’t make Call of Duty money, but will make money none the less. Japanese publishers spent much of the last generation trying to hard to appeal to Western audiences that they abandoned their roots. Leading to a mess of ideas attempting to be games. I’m looking at you Resident Evil 6! Capcom and Square-Enix finally learned that they can make money by doing what made them famous in the first place.
Nintendo is Back Baby!
After a year and half of anticipation, the Nintendo Switch arrived in March, and its been a resounding success. Nintendo let its younger developers take creative control over the direction of the Switch. The Switch launched with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was a critical and financial smash hit. Super Mario Odyssey might be the absolute best 3D Mario game yet. One of the most imaginative platformers to date. The hat capture mechanic was a touch of genius. It brought back the awe and child-like wonder I felt when turning on Super Mario 64 for the first time. Nintendo gave us a steady stream of releases every month. Something the Wii U sorely lacked. We got a couple of Wii U ports like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Pokken Tournament DX. Hopefully, more ports will be on the way. The Switch was also home to a carefully curated selection of indie titles. Steam and PSN could learn a thing or two from Nintendo. Nintendo has been able to strike a balance between innovation and practicality. Console games on the go was a brilliant idea on Nintendo’s part. Who knew people wanted games like Skyrim and Doom on the go?
Single Player Games are Alive and Kicking
Once again, the industry has been proven wrong. Single player games are alive and well. Atlus gave use Persona 5, an immersive JRPG where you are a student by day and Phantom Thief by night. Stealing hearts and saving the world. Also, an excellent selection of waifus! Horizon Zero Dawn showed how to do an open world game properly. Actually giving players things to do, not just busy work. Take note Ubisoft. How badass is it fighting robot dinosaurs? I already mentioned many other great single player games (Mario, Zelda, Nier). No microtransactions in any of the previously mentioned games. No bullshit, just pure gaming bliss.
Senua’s Sacrifice Cuts Out AAA Bullshit
Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was released without a publisher and proved how unnecessary they are. No longer was Ninja Theory forced to listen focus groups or being stuck with the $60 standard price tag. More and More developers are striking out on their own to escape industry bullshit and make the games they want to make. Great games don’t need outlandish budgets and unrealistic sales expectations. Imagination, artistic vision, and smart business practices can go a long way. While the AAA industry is filled to the brim with douchebaggery, indie developers are here to fill the gaps in the market.
PC Gaming on the Rise
While home computers are on the decline, gaming PC sales continue to soar. Once seen as a niche hobby, PC gaming has evolved into a multibillion-dollar industry. It is easier than ever to build your own computer. Digital storefronts like Steam and GOG have seen their user bases increase substantially over the past few years. Such stores provide many great, cheap games compared to consoles.
Well, that’s all for the best of 2017. It was a fantastic year for games. Here’s hoping 2018 will be just as good! What were some of your favorite things about 2017 in gaming?