Hey there, Hi there, Ho ho ho there Gamers with Jobs! You’re probably wondering what happened to The Week Ahead. Well, this being the last week in the year, everybody but me had friends and family to attend to, so I gave the gift of time to the rest of the crew (excepting our esteemed editor, who this week must do three times the work to edit this mess) and set my eyes firmly backward.
So, instead of the week ahead, let’s have a look at The Year Behind. Enjoy a selection of news highlights and lowlights from 2016, as filtered through the prism of “things that struck Greg as funny when they happened.”
Oculus announced that pre-orders of the Rift headset would cost $600. Combined with last year's release of the Rift’s minimum specs, that makes VR the most expensive way to wave your arms around like a complete fool since you knocked over Mom’s antique Hummel collection while trying to do a dragon punch with the Sega Activator.
3D Realms released a Duke Nukem game without Duke Nukem, called Bombshell. Predictably, the only person who liked it is writing this article.
The makers of Mighty Number 9 announced the release date for Mighty Number 9 would be pushed out to a time when they could find people who want to buy a copy of Mighty Number 9.
Actiblizzard bought MLG, the e-sports company, prompting a million gamers worldwide to say “aw crap, not esports again.”
Gamestop, realizing that it's not a viable strategy to be a pawn shop in a world where products will no longer have physical entities to pawn, partners with Insomniac to become a publisher. Three consulting firms were brought in to find a way to train employees to sell pre-orders even harder while also “forgetting” to ask customers if they want one of the thirty used copies sitting behind the counter instead of the new one.
Jonathan Blow released yet another highly artistic game that half of the people who played it couldn't stand. Unfortunately, Steam’s new return policy means that he only gets to keep the money from the people he didn't alienate. Naturally, the solution is more restrictive DRM.
Street Fighter V released on PS4 and PC missing half of its features, spawning a million Street Fighter Alpha jokes.
American Truck Simulator was patched to make traffic law enforcement in California less realistic, at the behest of the coalition to keep simulators fun.
Bethesda raised the price of the Fallout 4 season pass once it became clear that people were buying it as if it were a season pass.
HTC fired a salvo in the VR war, announcing that their headset would be $800. Inigo Montoya intimated that HTC doesn't understand how price wars are supposed to work.
Ubisoft, after 6 years of trying to decide whether they were making historical fiction or meta commentary about the video game industry, announced there would be no Assassin’s Creed game in 2016. Except for the one that released the week prior to the announcement that there wouldn't be any, and the one scheduled to release in April. But other than that, none.
The XBox network was taken down by a group of out-of-work security consultants who think digital terrorism is the best way to get a cushy job at a major multimedia corporation. When asked for comment, Microsoft replied “This is all part of our ongoing effort to make the XBox One into this generation’s PlayStation 3.”
Warren Specter announced that he would be working on System Shock 3. Millions of gamers party like it's 1999.
Microsoft, having thoroughly failed to learn their lesson after the whole “no used games” debacle that still haunts their NPD numbers, announced an attempt to eliminate a completely different benefit that consoles have over PCs, and said they were working to make the XBox1 upgradeable. In unrelated news, Sony’s stock climbed two points in the week following the announcement.
Microsoft decided the reason for flagging Xbox1 sales was the fact that there were just too many games for it. Naturally, their solution was to close in-house development studios LionHead and Press Play and cancel the games those studios had in development. In unrelated news, Sony’s stock price rose a dollar.
Meanwhile, Riot Games acquired Radiant and immediately canceled giant-robot brawler Rising Thunder, leaving Megas XLR fans to hope that maybe Cartoon Network would finally release the show on freaking DVD before the format goes defunct.
Sony announced that it did understand how price wars work, setting the price for the Playstation VR at $400. It also showed that it understood how marketing works, by not including controllers with the headset unless you bought the bundle that cost $600.
Someone at Microsoft realized that cancelling games and fracturing their own userbase wasn’t going to earn them new sales, and quickly announced that, theoretically, at some point in the future they might support cross-platform multiplayer.
Sony announced the PS4.5 to little fanfare and a slight stock increase. Microsoft immediately issued a press release that said simply “Oh COME ON!”
Sony announced that it was closing the studio that made DriveClub. The press release remarked that their competitive edge over Microsoft was the fact that it releases ambitious, unfinished games before closing their studios.
Someone used a 3D printer to create a mockup of Nintendo’s upcoming console, with the unexpected result of lowering the credibility of anything you see on the internet below where it already was.
Speaking of unconfirmed leaks, Nintendo was reported to be ceasing production of WiiU consoles as of this year. A representative of Nintendo immediately gave a press conference saying that the report probably wasn't not completely untrue. Either way, nobody really noticed.
The Oculus Rift actually released and shipped. I'd write a joke here, but I'm actually still kind of shocked. Insert your own joke, preferably one involving the terms “stereoscopic” and “weasels,” as those are funny words. (Also “mukluk.”)
Pax East happened and apparently sucked all of the oxygen out of the news, because nothing else happened.
Nintendo announced that it wouldn't be announcing anything about the NX at E3, and that the only thing they would be showing at E3 was a WiiU Zelda game.
EA announced that the new Battlefield game would take place in World War 1. The internet gave a collective sigh of ecstasy over finally having a new reason to be angry with EA. Apparently they are shocked, shocked, that anyone would make a game about shooting Germans in Europe.
Disney quietly announced that it would be discontinuing the struggling Infinity video game, leading to a strong journalistic probe into the question “since when was any Disney property struggling?”
Atari announced that it would be developing Internet of Things technology. I’m just going to go ahead and call it right now that by 2020 there will be a landfill completely given over to horrible refrigerators that were supposed to keep you from running out of groceries automatically, but which instead maxed out the owner’s credit card buying Reese’s Pieces.
E3 happened, and it was FARMING SIMULATOR 2017 FARMING SIMULATOR 2017 FARMING SIMULATOR 2017 FARMING SIMULATOR 2017!
Sorry, as I was saying there were a lot of FARMING SIMULATOR 2017 FARMING SIMULATOR 2017 FARMING SIMULATOR 2017!
Oculus announced that games sold in the Rift store would only be playable in a Rift. A week later they issued a press release that said, simply “PSYCHE!”
Pokemon Go hit iOS and captured the world for a month. Nintendo’s stock price surged until people realized that the game wasn't developed, published or released by Nintendo.
Nintendo announced a mini NES bundled with 30 games. Presumably they chose the thirty good games that came out on that system, but who are we kidding? We’re all going to buy one anyway.
Remember when people were saying “You can't even give Evolve away?” Turtle Rock Studios said “Challenge accepted.”
Valve announced that it was shocked, shocked, to find out there was gambling going on around Counterstrike: Go and DOTA, and sent out a salvo of cease-and-desist orders to sites that participated.
Leaked info on Nintendo’s NX console suggested the system was a handheld that docked to a system hooked up to a television. I considered changing my GWJ handle to “DoubtingNostradamus397.”
No Man’s Sky was released to a colossal wave of meh. Bruce Springsteen is rumored to be working with Buzz Aldrin on a theme song for the game, titled “57 quadrillion planets and nothin’ on.”
Nothing else happened because the internet was too outraged to do anything but send angry emails at Hello Games.
Sony debuted the Playstation 4 Pro at $399, which is a good price-point since it’s meant for 4K televisions that nobody has, for use with 4K games that nobody’s making or 4K blu-ray movies that nobody wants.
Also, The Last Guardian was delayed until December. Exactly one person seemed surprised, and that was the person giving the announcement.
You humble correspondent was invited to be a part of the GWJ conference call as a backup for when they couldn't find anyone more interesting to talk to. Whatever, I'll take it.
Nintendo continued to issue press releases to tell everyone there would be no press releases about the NX.
Sony announced that the break-out box for the Playstation VR would pass through 4K but not HDR. The internet had not yet discovered clowns, so it decided to be outraged over this.
Gearbox announced that Battleborn would be free to play. Nobody noticed.
Nintendo issued a video explaining that the NX was going to be called The Switch, and was a dockable tablet-thingie with tiny wiimotes and Skyrim. At that point Bethesda issued a tweet saying “ehh, maybe not so much with the Skyrim.” Either way, the internet was outraged.
Playstation VR was released to great enthusiasm and disappointment. The previous sentence can be applied to almost any major release this year by replacing the first two words with a random phrase generator. Try it: “No Man’s Sky was released…” or “The Nintendo Switch specs… .”
Nothing happened because everyone was playing either Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 or Call of Duty Infinity.
Seriously, 2016 is the year first-person shooters reminded everyone why they defined the industry for over a decade.
The Last of Us 2 was announced, and hopes were high that the game will actually be fun this time.
Speaking of sequels nobody asked for, Knack 2 was also announced.
No Man’s Sky had several updates that added base building, improved exploration and exactly zero new users.
Nintendo sold nearly 200,000 of those mini NES Classic Consoles. They could have sold more, but for Nintendo’s policy of never building a lot of anything popular.
Steam and Sony continued to fire shots across Microsoft’s bow, this time by announcing that the PS4 controller would function with a computer like any other bluetooth device. With the adoption of x86 processors, bluetooth and SATA hard drives, Sony is just one open-source flash-memory format away from becoming a real technology company!
Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite was announced. It’s nice to see game developers hopping on this trend of giving their sequels confusing numbers. I look forward to a game coming out with an appended π.
Presumably it would be something from Irrational. (mic drop)
Eurogamer reported that the Nintendo Switch would feature GameCube virtual console games. Reportedly, now a whole new generation can be exposed to Super Mario Sunshine. And somehow EA keeps getting called the game industry’s greatest monster.
And on that note, let’s close the books on 2016. I’m sure there was more to it than what I just presented. There was almost certainly less.
Here’s to another year of everybody losing their minds for no reason!