2016 retrospective, transition and revolution hand in hand

2016 retrospective, transition and revolution hand in hand
2020 is almost over and, for us gamers, this is a great symbol. It is in fact the "last year" of the PS4 / Xbox One generation. Of course, the passage of the relay will be much slower and more gradual this time, with highly anticipated big games still coming to the older generation as well as the next-gen. Nonetheless, we can use the opportunity to look back and re-analyze the decade that has just ended. In this retrospective we are going to investigate precisely the year 2016.

Obviously, analyzing in detail every single game released and every single event of the year 2016 would be prohibitive, as well as extremely boring to read. Our goal was therefore to make a collection of the highlights, citing the most important games and the announcements that most marked those twelve months, positively but also negatively.


So let's start immediately with what most interests us gamers: games. 2016 was a busy year both for AAA productions, now in the middle of the PS4 and Xbox One generation, and for indies.

The AAAs you won't forget

We can mention a few great PlayStation exclusives such as Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, or the farewell (?) of Nathan Drake (but not of the saga, given the arrival of The Lost Legacy), but also the return of Ratchet & Clank with a remake of the first chapter (and a lot of movies) and the arrival of a game that for years had almost become a vaporware, The Last Guardian.

Xbox also defended itself, with Forza Horizon 3, but it is above all third parties that have placed weighty names on the market such as Persona 5, Overwatch and No Man's Sky, works that still now, at the end of 2020, are more than current between updates and new versions. How not to mention Dark Souls III, Miyazaki's massive work that has put a point on his most famous souls-like and has gained acclaim from all over. At the other corner, however, we find Final Fantasy XV which has caused heated discussions among fans and which probably still have not stopped.

Independent and winning

As mentioned, however, 2016 was also an important year for independent productions. The creators of Limbo are back with Inside which, in a much broader and more complex indie landscape, did not leave its mark like its predecessor but was still able to offer a unique and engaging experience. But let's also talk about Owlboy, which took nine years of development, but which has been able to give one of the best adventure-platform experiences in the entire panorama. Let's not forget, though, Darkest Dungeon, a merciless experience, and Stardew Valley, a single-person Harvest Moon-like that has sold more than 10 million copies (as of January 2020).

Pokémon GO: the earthquake

However, 2016 was above all the year of a great revolution: Pokémon GO. The beloved and hated game of Niantic and The Pokémon Company has landed the pocket creatures of Game Freak in Augmented Reality format, conquering the world. A lasting success given that, in 2020, Pokémon GO generated 1.2 billion dollars, obtaining the third position of the most profitable games. In 2016, however, the real achievement of Pokémon GO was to have turned the heads of all the big companies that have launched in pursuit, leading years later to the release of multiple similar works, such as Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

The same main saga, wanting to ride the wave and attract new audiences, will release in 2018 Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee !, which will mix the classic structure of the series with the simplicity of Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO is therefore the most significant game of 2016, especially due to the long-term consequences it generated.

The big events

Summarizing 2016 only through released games, important or not whether they are, it is obviously not enough. In fact, that year was marked by great events, not always positive ones. In this regard, there was no lack of sensational "behind the scenes" changes.

Corporate restructuring

2016 was one of the most intense years in terms of closure of development and restructuring teams. internal arrangements. Let's talk first of all of Sony which has closed Evolution Studios, author of MotorStorm and, in previous years, of Driveclub, a complex project that has put a strain on the team, forcing it to postpone it several times.

Even more painful, however, was the announcement from Microsoft: Lionhead Studios, author of Fable, closed its doors and canceled Fable Legends, probably a last attempt to give breath to the saga by transforming it into a more "work" modern "(focus on online and multiplayer). If the loss of the game didn't hit the hearts of fans, the farewell of a historic team like Lionhead symbolized Microsoft's weakest point of those years: the management of internal teams and proprietary IPs.

Above all, however, it was Disney's closure of Avalanche Software that heavily changed the cards in the industry. The company of the Mouse, in fact, decided not to produce video games internally, but to sell the licenses to external companies. EA, therefore, obtains total "control" of multiple Star Wars themed products that will lead to the birth of the Battlefront saga (with the media chaos of the microtransactions of the second chapter). A videogame universe dedicated to Marvel was born, albeit quietly and as a long-term project, which to date has produced the two Marvel's Spider-Man by Insomniac Games and the Marvel's Avengers by Square Enix.

Hardware: the end, the beginning and the promises

Also from the hardware point of view, 2016 was quite eventful. Microsoft, first of all, stopped production of the Xbox 360, its great success, three years after the arrival of the Xbox One. The new console also saw the arrival in August 2016 of a revised version, the Xbox One S. Sony was also very active, however: in September 2016 the slim version of the PS4 was released, while in November the PlayStation 4 Pro arrived, the first real "mid-gen console" that promised superior performance.

VR itself, however, had a lot to say. In March 2016, Oculus Rift was released, an expensive but powerful headset, immediately undermined by the HTC Vive, launched in April. The real point of access to virtual reality, however, arrived in October 2016 with PlayStation VR: the Sony helmet, in fact, despite having to sacrifice performance, was proposed at an advantageous price and started from an installed PS4 base already massive (while PC headsets required performing computers at the base).

October 2016, however, is also the month of the official and definitive announcement of the Nintendo Switch, formerly known as NX. The hybrid console from the Kyoto company was on the way but many details were kept secret: both the price and the technical specifications were announced a few months later.

E3 2016

Speaking of major events, it is obviously impossible not to mention E3 2016. All the big companies participated, but the real weighty announcements only came from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.

Microsoft focused specifically on Xbox One S, but didn't deny a small teaser for Xbox One X, all era still known simply as Project Skorpio. In terms of software, however, it was Sony PlayStation who announced God of War, the sequel-reboot of the Spartan's adventures, Days Gone, perhaps the less impactful title of the event, and Death Stranding, the return to directed by Kojima. In addition, a game dedicated to Spider-Man was also announced, at that time without an official name.

In a few hours Sony condensed a large number of first party announcements, creating a strong contrast with Nintendo which, in addition to some content for Pokémon Sun and Moon, he practically devoted himself to a single game: The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. What was surprising was not only the quality of the title and the clear change of style compared to the previous chapters, but also the fact that the work was also confirmed for NX (aka Switch) although previously it had been announced only for Wii U.

With the sole exception of the VR world, which in any case did not catalyze a truly remarkable number of players, 2016 was more a year of transition than of true innovation. PS4 Pro and Xbox One S did not represent a significant step forward and Nintendo had yet to return to the field after the Nintendo Wii U failed.

Fortunately, players, as we have seen, were not left empty-handed, with multiple thick games released throughout the year. The real winner (as always?), However, was the mobile market that dominated the second half of 2016 thanks to Pokémon GO, a mass phenomenon so impactful that it became famous even outside the gaming world.

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