The 2014 Geekly Review

2014 was the first proper year of the new generation of consoles, we were treated to some massive AAA Blockbuster titles, and some quirky indie titles that captured our imagination. It wasn’t all about the games being released though as the console war hits its stride announcements from both parties were made. Other unexpected parties also making some odd acquisitions that we are yet to see the rewards of.

Here is a review of 2014’s biggest games, announcements and moments:

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The year started off with Sony bringing the first new feature to the fruition, it revealed its PlayStation Now service at the Consumer Electronics show. The idea of PlayStation Now is it’s a service used to provide games to PS4, Vita, PS3 and PSTV. It’d later be added to Sony TV’s and later on in the year Samsung TV’s. You pay for access to a selection of games that are streamed to the platforms listed. Many open BETA’s took place throughout 2014 and it will hit the UK in 2015. There are currently 200+ games available to stream.

Microsoft made some business transactions in January too, purchasing the Gears of war franchise from Epic Games. A good move to ensure that the game remains as an exclusive Xbox branded property in the future.

Noticeable Game Releases:

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition (PS4,XBO)
The Banner Saga (Win,XBLA,IOS)
Broken Age Act 1 (Win,Mac,Lin)
Halo Spartan Assult (XB360)

 

Feb

One of the smaller and stranger acquisitions of the year was Double Helix Games who were part of Killer Instinct development on XboxOne was purchased by Amazon.com.

February also saw the shutdown of Irrational Games who created the BioShock franchise.

Noticeable Game Releases:

Fable Anniversary (XB360)
OutLast (PS4)
Bravery Default (3DS)
Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze (WiiU)
Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare (XBO, XB360)
Thief (PS3, PS4,PC, XBO, XB360)
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)

 

Mar

The 10th gaming BAFTA’s took place seeing The Last of Us clean up with 10 nominations, winning 5 of those and picking up the prestigious Best Game award.

March saw the annual Game Developers Conference, but on this occasion Shenmue fans and PlayStation fans were in fits of hype as Yu Suzuki the man behind Shenmue was to hold a postmortem of the game with translation from Mark Cerny. This of course automatically meant that Shenmue 3 would be PlayStation 4 exclusive… That didn’t happen.

Sony’s next new feature that was revealed was Project Morpheus, Sony’s throw into the Virtual reality world, but while Sony was revealing this…Facebook acquired Oculus Virtual Reality technology for a fee of $2billion. Another one of the strange acquisitions of the year. 2014 the year of Virtual Reality? No not quite, but perhaps 2015 will be.

March was also the first month that the 2 new consoles got a really important IP launch on their console. Microsoft banking on Titanfall and Sony dropping Infamous Second Son. It was the first ‘important month’ for the consoles sales vs sales with many hopes for Xbox One on the success of Titanfall. It reviewed well but Sony’s juggernaut continued with Titanfall selling just under double the amount of what Infamous managed in its first week. The sales then fell 75% in 2nd week falling behind Metal Gear and Infamous. They did boost their respective consoles with PS4 sales improving by 106% and XboxOne sales up 96%. (Source: http://www.mcvuk.com/news/read/titanfall-vs-infamous-two-next-gen-exclusives-compared/0130069)

Noticeable Game Releases:

South Park Stick of Truth (PC,PS3, XB360)
Dark Souls II (PS3, XB360)
HearthStone: Heros of Warcraft (Win,Mac)
TitanFall (XBO)
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros (PS3,PS4,XB360, XBO)
FFX-X2 – HD Remaster (PS3,PSVita)
Infamous Second Son (PS4)

 

Apr
Not much newsworthy happened in April in terms of gaming. But I did get married and jetted of to Mexico for honeymoon. Here’s some of the more noticeable games that released:

Goat Simulator (PC)
Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
TitanFall (XB360)
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS4)
Trials Fusion (XBO, PS4)
Child of Light (PS4, WiiU, XBO)

 

May

Nintendo hit the headlines in May, but it wasn’t anything earth shattering, or it was if you only owned a Wii or DS. Nintendo discontinued their Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection servers for those 2 consoles.

It was also the launch month of 2 very highly anticipated games. The first next gen game revealed some years back in Watch_Dogs and Nintendo’s Wii U savior Mario Kart 8. Both did exactly as expected with Watch_dogs having the biggest launch of a new IP in the UK ever beating the previous record holder by more than half its sales. In one week worldwide it notched up 4 million sales. As for MK8, It had helped the Wii U console sales in UK by 666%. It sold 1.2 million copies worldwide in 4 days becoming the fastest selling WiiU game to date.

Noticeable Game Releases

Kirby Triple Deluxe (3DS)
Mario Golf: World Tour (3DS)
Peggle 2 (XBLA)
Wolfenstein: The New Order (Win,PS3,PS4,XB360,XBO)
Watch Dogs (Win, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Mario Kart 8 (WiiU)

 

Jun

It’s everyone’s favourite time of the year. It’s E3 Month. Everyone who showed up wowed us with game announcements and new features. Particular highlights being No Man’s Sky, Halo 5, Legend of Zelda, Uncharted 4, Rainbow Six Siege and PlayStationTV.

In a year where the gaming market was doomed to crash, the consoles continued to sell like hotcakes, but it wasn’t all good news for gaming studios and Crytek UK & USA has to shut-down their studio’s selling off IP’s. Koch Media acquired Homefront the Revolution.

EA shut down more than 50 multiplayer games servers in June too.

And Nintendo had a bit of a surprise hit on their hands with the launch of Tomadachi Life on 3DS. The game was was frequently high in the charts and in Europe alone surpassed 1m sales by the end of 2014. Not bad for a quirky new IP.

Noticeable Game Releases:
Murdered Soul Suspect (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Tomodachi Life (3DS)
EA Sports UFC
Valiant Hearts: The Great War (XB360, XBO, PS3, PS4)
Shovel Knight (WiiU, 3DS, PC)
Divinity Original Sin (PC, Mac)
July

One of the main new games from last month was barely a month old, when the developer Airtight Games had to shut-down their studio due to lackluster performance from Murdered: Soul Suspect

Noticeable Game Releases:
Sniper Elite III (PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Last of us Remastered (PS4)

 

Aug

During the baron summer months, 2014 was slightly more entertaining than most summers due to the gaming news that continued to break. EA launched EA Access on XboxOne which in turn has been quite the success.

In another odd acquisition Amazon.com purchased the streaming service Twitch for $970m.

Nintendo kept relevant in the summer by announcing a new model of the 3DS XL, which you’d need to buy if you wanted to play the newly announced 3DS port of Xenoblade Chronicles. Well played Nintendo, well played.

And perhaps the biggest news of the summer came from the back of E3 in that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be coming to Xbox One as an exclusive game. Message boards went frantic, it genuinely caused a ripple in the gaming community. Some months later it’s been revealed to be a timed exclusive for XboxOne holiday 2015, so PS4 should see it sometime in 2016.

Noticeable Game Releases:
Surgeon Simulator: Anniversary Edition (PS4)
Hotline Miami (PS4)
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (PS3, PS4)
Infamous First Light (PS4)

 

Sep

Microsoft again with the bombs in September, it announced that it had acquired Minecraft developers Mojang in a deal worth $2.5b.

The console war was well and truly heating up now as we approach the latter months of the year. The traditional time of the year for the blockbuster, and September delivered with Destiny and Shadow of Mordor being 2 of the highlights. It was Sony’s turn to bank on a big game with an exclusivity deal with Bungie in advertising and promoting Destiny. Microsoft picked FIFA 15 as its strategic partner and offered bundles of Xbox One and FIFA 15.

Destiny exceeded all expectations and took the crown of most successful new gaming franchise of all time. It was the biggest software launch for the PS4 since the holiday season of 2013.

In a frantic month of sales, Sony came out trumps again selling more copies of Destiny as expected, albeit not by as much as the advertising budget would have suggested it should. The oddity was that FIFA 15 was also selling better on PS4, despite the competitive bundle Microsoft had. We’re in for a brutal autumn…

Noticeable Game Releases:
Sims 4 (PC, Mac)
Warframe (XBO)
Minecraft (PS4, XBO)
Destiny (PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Disney Infinity 2.0 (All of them)
FIFA 15 (All of them excluding WiiU)
Hyrule Warriors (WiiU)
Forza Horizon 2 (XBO)
Middle earth: Shadow of Mordor (Win, PS4, XBO)
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
D4 (XBO)

Oct

Another month and more Microsoft in the press, this time it was introducing its latest price drop to the Xbox one in an attempt to win a month of sales against the PS4 which at this point was 10 months on the trot.

DriveClub the visually stunning PS4 exclusive arrived, and arrived in a rather unspectacular fashion. It did chart well initially, but was broken from day one in terms of online. This hurt the sales and word of mouth meant the game dropped from the charts quicker than developers Evolution Studios would have liked. It’s worth noting though that fast forwarding into December, it still remains in the UK top 10 selling games due to the sheer number of console bundles that include it.

Square-Enix riding high on the success of Tomb Raiders Definitive Edition release at the start of the year took another franchise and shined it up for a re-release in Sleeping Dogs. This however didn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the Tomb Raider re-release.

And finally one of the Xbox One’s big guns released in Sunset Overdrive. Giving it some space to sell before their other ace card they had planned for November in Halo Master Chief Collection… told you it was going to be a brutal autumn. As of end of October PS4 had still won every month.

Noticeable Game Releases:
Smash Bro’s 3DS (3DS)
Alien: Isolation (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
DriveClub (PS4)
Dust: An Elysian Tail (PS4)
Project Spark (XBO, XB360, PC)
Spelunky (PS4)
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! (PC, PS3, XB360)
Peggle2 (PS4)
Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (PS4, XBO, PC)
The Evil Within (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Killer Instinct Season 2 (XBO)
Bayonetta 2 (WiiU)
Fantasy Life (3DS)
Sunset Overdrive (XBO)

Nov

November was games, games and more games. If you had a set budget you had to plan out what you wanted. Nintendo Wii U finally got Watch_Dogs, but it of course bombed.

GTA5 stormed the charts, and again a little spoiler for December, but it’s still sitting pretty as Number 1 game at the end of December in UK.

But games aside, November was the month that Microsoft had been banking on. They lowered the console to its all time lowest price in October and hit gamer’s with Sunset Overdrive, Halo Master Chief Collection and Forza Horizon. Not to mention giving Destiny away for free too in their bundles. But they did it, XboxOne was the best-selling console for November. The domination had been broken. We now anxiously wait on Decembers figures which should hit around the start of January. We also need to see if Microsoft will raise the price of the console back up as it’s been rumoured that they will.

And finally Nintendo launched Amiibo to the world. Amiibo is Nintendo’s take on the Skylanders / Disney Infinity market of selling toys that will be compatible with games. So far Mario Kart, Hyrule Warriors, Smash Bros and Captain Toad can be used with Amiibo. I don’t quite think Nintendo expected quite the frenzy as they rapidly sold out on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It was then the real panic set in when Nintendo confirmed that certain less popular Amiibo figures would be discontinued. All hell broke lose and you can now pick up a Villager Amiibo for £40-80 on eBay. And it’s not stopped there as Wave 2 launched later into the year again some are less produced than others sparking mass pre-orders and scalpers buying all the stock they can. Nintendo are onto something that’ll print them money, but they shouldn’t discontinue figures or make limited numbers of some. Skylanders an Infinity are taking up more store space than games in GAME in the UK, Nintendo could be onto this, but are missing out due to the short production of them.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
The Binding of Issac Rebirth (PS4, PSVita, PC, Mac, Lin)
Assassins Creed Rogue (PS3, XB360)
Assassins Creed Unity (PS4, XBO)
Halo Master Chief Collection (XBO)
Dragon Age Inquisition (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Far Cry 4 (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XBO)
Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO)
Little Big Planet 3 (PS4)
Watch Dogs (WiiU)
Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
Smash Bros for Wii U (WiiU)
Amiibo Figures
Tales of the Borderlands (PS4, XBO, PS3, XB360)
Dec

And the final month of the year was quite the exciting one for PlayStation owners. Sony were to hold their own game conference to showcase just what they’ve got planned. There was so much hype building up to this with rumours that Shenmue 3 was on board, that Crash Bandicoot was back, that Final Fantasy VII remake was to be shown. Capcom dropped the ball and the news an exclusive game was to be shown made the rounds.

It was also to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation brand, and in celebration Sony revealed an incredibly limited edition PS4 console. Only 12300 of them are available.

Well the Experience was just that, an experience. Capcom did have an exclusive game for PS4. It’s Street Fighter 5. And the biggest bombshell was that Square-Enix was indeed bringing Final Fantasy VII to the PS4 exclusively. But it wasn’t to be the HD remaster everyone wanted. It will be a port of the PC version. You could hear a pin drop in the hall.

The end of December also saw the Halo 5: Guardians beta go live for 3 weeks on XboxOne.

Noticeable Game Releases:
The Crew (PC, PS4, XBO, XB360)
Game of Thrones: Iron From Ice (PS4, PS3, XBO, XB360)
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker (WiiU)
Lara Croft Temple of Osiris (PC, PS4, XBO)
Elite Dangerous (PC)

Aside from the games that arrived and the odd acquisitions that the likes of Facebook and Amazon made, there were a few more talking points in 2014 regarding games reliability. Many of the big games of the year launched in a somewhat broken state. Drive Club, Master Chief Collection and Assassins Creed Unity being some of the biggest culprits. DriveClub eventually was patched into a stable enough state to play and had seen a resurgence in sales since. Master Chief collection was almost impossible to get a multiplayer game on at launch, but again some weeks later it’s been fixed and become an enjoyable experience. Assassins Creed suffered what looked like a complete lack of UAT before launch with Ubisoft rushing out patches and eventually scrapping the season pass for the game. Customers that already had purchased the season pass were gifted a free game from one of their 2014 offerings.

Aside from broken games, the reliability of both Sony and Microsofts online subscription services were put to the test and ultimately failed as hacking group Lizard Squad brought down PSN and Live over perhaps their busiest times of the year during the Christmas period.

The Indie games have been a massive part of the year too with PC, Wii U and PS4 boasting a huge array of quirky, retro and mind blowing games with Shovel Knight, SteamWorld Dig and Valiant Hearts all leading the way. It brought up another big talking point towards the end of the year with Phil Spencer recognizing that some changes would need to be made on XboxOne’s stance on the Indie Parity Clause as it was just not working to how they’d imagined losing out on games to rival platforms.

I think that just about covers all from the gaming world in 2014, it was one heck of a year with some massive games finally seeing the light of day and some amazing games being announced for the future.

If you wanted a further re-cap of 2014, why not check out our picks for 2014 Game of The Year, Our thoughts on XboxOne and PS4 one year on from launch or a couple of our own GSRR original articles that sparked conversations here, here and here.

2015 looks like it’ll be an epic year for gaming too, we hope you have had a good 2014, and have a great 2015!

– Murr

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