2015 has been a great year for the games industry and the community; it’s seen huge titles such as Fallout 4 and Metal Gear Solid V, it’s seen new IPs like Until Dawn and Dying Light and it’s seen returns to some of our favourite and long running series like Batman: Arkham Knight and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. In this article, I hope to identify the biggest trends of 2015, look at what went well and what went wrong, and discover the upcoming trends for 2016.
So what was 2015 like?
It was a year of exploration. From start to finish, 2015 showered us with open world adventure games from every major IP available; Mad Max, Fallout 4, Witcher 3, Bloodborne, Batman: Arkham Knight, the list goes on. This focus on adventure meant that most players were forced to ‘pick a side’ as it is hard to play two or more open-world adventures at a time without the immersion being lost upon jumping in and out of different worlds. Thankfully, the games of this genre were released regularly throughout the year, rather than being released at once towards Christmas.
2015 also saw a heavy reliance on sequels from major IPs, with the big three making their regular annual release; Assassin’s Creed, Halo and Call of Duty.Those IPs that release regular iterations didn’t do as well as those who release every few years, with the top 5 games coming from properties that rarely develop sequels; Bloodborne, Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Star Wars Battlefront and Metal Gear Solid V. The success of these titles may rely on their slow release as the longer a successful franchise goes without producing a game, the more the community wants one. That, or the regular formulas adopted by the regularly developed games has become stale, and the gaming community are looking for something fresh or something not over-used.
Other things identified during the year includes:
- One-Mode-Multiplayer games, like Evolve, that focused on a single game-mode struggled this year, suggesting that Rainbow Six Siege may have similar results after its launch.
- Many games like The Order:1886 and Dying Light held the limelight up until they were released, good examples of why games shouldn’t be over-hyped else the audience will expect too much of the game and will inevitably be disappointed when it’s released.
- Super Mario Maker, despite being a new kind of game for Nintendo altogether, had a reasonably small community footprint, which may be down to Nintendo’s strict restrictions for user content that includes reference to their properties.
- 2015 saw a number of interactive dramas, including Tales from the Borderlands, Until Dawn, Minecraft: Story Mode and Life is Strange.
So what can we expect from 2016?
It is hard to determine what sort of genres will become popular in the new year, but from looking at the games announced for 2016, we can see that there is a large burst of new IPs from lesser known developers, such as ReCore by Comcept, Cuphead by Studio MDHR and Unravel by Coldwood Interactive; this is a great sign as it means that we can expect to see whole new stories and experiences from games.
With new IPs come new attempts to change the games industry. A number of the new games set for 2016 attempt to tackle new genres, narratives and game mechanics; Unravel uses a knitted character to explore the world and use string to overcome puzzles, but must ration the string else become unraveled, Cuphead uses a 1930’s cartoon art-style to create a fun classic run and gun game and Quantum Break involves freezing time to manipulate the world around you in order to save lives and solve puzzles.
In turn to new IPs, we see a return to older IPs that have gone many years without a new installment; favourite franchises such as Crackdown, Doom and Kingdom Hearts will all receive new games during 2016, with many more IPs having sequels, remakes and spin-offs. We can all expect to see the regular players in the next year, but it is nice to see that before the year has even started, the gaming community have a little diversity in games to play.
2016 already looks like an exciting year for the gaming community, and hopefully has a few pointers for current or future developers. I personally am looking forward to Doom, Total War: Warhammer, Deathwing, Battlefleet Gothic Armada and Crackdown 3, tell us in the comments below the five games that you are most looking forward to in 2016.