2014 retrospective: the break-in of PS4 and Xbox One

2014 retrospective: the break-in of PS4 and Xbox One
2014 was the break-in year for PS4 and Xbox One. The two consoles had just arrived on the market (we talked about them in the 2013 retrospective) and the position of both was not yet well defined. Xbox One, however, was already showing the first cracks, due to the unfortunate launch organized by Don Mattrick, whose "multimedia" philosophy should still be slightly re-evaluated after so many years, since the market has shown that it then went in the direction it had. predicted.

Let's say that with hindsight it is possible to say that Mattrick's mistake was that of wanting to force the arrival of that future that all operators in the sector knew was inevitable, annoying the core gamers who, like you know, they are old beguines who struggle enormously to digest the news. An error that at the time cost Xbox One a very slow start and a lot of criticism, although the line up of games was certainly not inferior to that of PS4.

2014 was also the year in which the inevitable fate of Wii U was understood, a console that has never really managed to take off. The release of great games like Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8, to which we will dedicate a final note, did not save her from the subdued sales oblivion into which she had fallen. Considering what was said at the time of Nintendo, with many who saw it close to bankruptcy or about to leave the hardware market, it comes to smile to think of the success of Nintendo Switch in 2020, which appears to be first in sales in all. the world, as well as the absolute dominator of the Japanese market, at least of the traditional one, where it has swept away every competitor.

The Gamergate

In terms of facts, the 2014 of the world of video games was above all the year of the Gamergate, the immense campaign of mud and harassment, which resulted in real persecution, organized against independent developer Zoe Quinn (and other women in the industry), accused of sexual corruption of a videogame journalist, Nathan Grayson, to obtain favorable press for her new game, Depression Quest. Everything was born from the detailed account of his alleged betrayals on the internet by his ex Eron Gjoni, which led a large group of gamers to plumb the woman's life in search of useful elements to destroy her ... and in case there were none, to invent them from scratch.

Unable to declare that the subject of contention was Quinn, as well as the emergence of a feminism critical of video game content, embodied by Anita Sarkeesian, the Gamergate tried to broaden its focus by claiming to fight for have a greater ethics in videogame journalism, starting from the facts that also involved Grayson. Too bad that, despite the large-scale investigation, no article written by Kotaku's editor post-affair with Quinn emerged. The only discovery was an old special of hundreds of lines devoted to the event in which he and Quinn met, and in which Depression Quest was quoted for three lines, as part of the general account. So there were no rapturous reviews, genuflect previews, or dedicated articles. Unfortunately, the gamergaters did not want to hear reasons and continued their senseless war, which in large part continues today, although it has expanded, taking on a more political matrix and revealing its far-right nature (think of the controversy surrounding The Last of leaks. Us 2 ... the matrix is ​​that).

With hindsight we can consider Quinn as a simple casus belli that unleashed a group of people unable to accept the evolution of the video game market, that is, its expansion to previously ignored demographics. If you are interested in learning more about the subject, at the time we dedicated a long special to it. For a specific study on Quinn's case, we refer you to another report of the time.

The break-in of PS4 and Xbox One

In terms of video games, 2014 was a year of passage. Being the first of the next-gen, there were no particularly relevant new launches among the exclusives, which did not offer great ideas. There were certainly some good games, as well as some very important third party titles that we will talk about, but the then next-gen couldn't flex its muscles. Paradoxically, the best was seen on Wii U, which as mentioned was a console already half dead.

In terms of exclusives Microsoft did better than Sony by launching Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive and Titanfall (the latter was published by Electronic Arts), three high-level titles that also included two new intellectual properties. Sony responded with The Last of Us Remastered, certainly a masterpiece, but still a modernized PS3 game, Driveclub and InFAMOUS: Second Son, the latter particularly problematic in terms of stability and unfulfilled expectations.

It was fixed from patch to patch, but nobody noticed it and today it is difficult to find it mentioned even in the circles frequented by extremist fans of the PlayStation world. In general, there was little essential between the exclusives for the two consoles. They were all produced from the beginning of the generation, especially for ambitions, so much so that they left no big traces.

The year of Destiny and the rise of the GaaS

The third parties did much better. Many, perhaps too many, elected Dragon Age: Inquisition as the game of the year, the third chapter of the Dragon Age series, characterized by more than a hundred hours of gameplay for an endless amount of filling missions that betrayed its nature as a re-adapted MMORPG. Despite its extreme repetitiveness, Bioware's game was very popular with players who still remember it fondly.

The biggest hit of the year was certainly the Xbox One and PS4 versions of GTA 5, a game that still earns millions of dollars thanks to GTA Online, but which originated from the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation. Hardly anyone at the time could have predicted what it would become over the years and that Rockstar Games would launch just another great game over the course of the entire generation.

In terms of importance, 2014 was definitely the Destiny year. The Bungie game, published by Activision at the time, seemed to have to revolutionize the market, between a pharaonic development budget and promised support for ten years. Things went a little differently, given that the release of Destiny (and subsequently of The Division) significantly changed the perspectives on similar games (for better or for worse it is still to be written), making games services, o GaaS, central to the entire industry. Unfortunately, the marketing campaign and the immense expectations did not translate into the hoped-for masterpiece, but only into a good title with many, perhaps too many, problems, some of which not even resolved with the sequel.

Many third party games

In terms of quality, the best of 2014 came from unexpected directions. The world of horror was shocked by Alien Isolation, one of the titles of the genre still most appreciated today, despite the poor sales (players often do not reward what they say they appreciate) born from a software house specialized in strategic (Creative Assembly). Monolith and Warner Bros. launched Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, a majestic open world set in Tolkien's world, which seemed to mark the birth of a new sub-franchise, but whose success was partially thwarted by the sequel. released a few years later. Fromsoftware launched Dark Souls 2, highly appreciated at the time, but over the years revalued negatively by soulslike fans, who consider it the worst chapter of the trilogy, as well as one of the worst titles among those of the Japanese developer, among those post Demon's Souls. Bethesda and Machinegames launched Wolfenstein: The New Order, the chapter of the revival of the series born by Id Software, frustrated by the last episode (one day we will write about how the hunt for GaaS has destroyed several series, but not today). For Bethesda it was also the year of The Evil Within, the debut of the master Shinji Mikami under his wing.

Other very important titles released during the year were Divinity: Original Sin, the classic role-playing game that saved Larian by simultaneously launching one of the most popular series of recent years, at least by fans of the genre. Blizzard instead attacked the casual free-to-play market with Hearthstone, at the time blessed by critics and the public, today reinterpreted more acidly in light of the evolution of Blizzard itself. Of course, there was no shortage of annual series like FIFA or Call of Duty, but who do you really want to care about?

Sad, lonely y final: Wii U

As mentioned, the best of the year came from Nintendo with Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Bayonetta 2 for Wii U, two titles that in their own way made history, then returning to the Nintendo Switch in expanded versions and most successful. If you like, the quality of Nintendo's games for its ill-fated console is proof that exclusives alone are of little use if the hardware itself is being frowned upon. Wii U was a misunderstood console, an unfortunate heir to the Wii philosophy that was not received by the very public that made it successful.

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