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As part of our ongoing Theme Week for January of 2016, we are looking back at some of the good and bad things about 2015. Now we look at some of the gradual changes, the trends, that came into a bit more prominence in 2015. What is currently happening in gaming that we need to pay attention to because it may be something bad, and what should we maybe highlight a bit more because it is something good. Here’s what some of our writers thought.

The game at times can look rather nice, especially when seeing the entire city.

Don Parsons
Worst: Raising Prices of Season Passes
It wasn’t that long ago that you hadn’t heard of the term season pass in regards to video games, but now they are everywhere. What was once set at $20-30 is now getting a bloated $40-50 price tag, and there isn’t being much more added to it or a notable increase in quality often. Some games, like Mortal Kombat and Evolve even try with multiple season passes to make you pay more of the premium price charge to keep you going, while other games don’t include all their DLC in the Season Pass.
Let’s be frank here, ordering a Season Pass is the same as saying “I’m Pre-Ordering the DLC,” Only, unlike preordering a game, you know even less about it generally speaking as companies that detail it well are the exception and the quality level tends to be, not always but often, lower in DLC. While a few games deliver good DLC in quality and value such as The Witcher 3 or Dying Light, many titles add meaningless frills that do little for the game at a premium, such as Batman: Arkham Knight‘s season pass. 
The Season Pass concept needs to be reworked some, much like early access, and provide clearer communication of what will be in it, when you can expect it roughly, and how it adds to but is not subtracting from the core game. Additionally, developers need to stop putting their B teams on it—you are charging as much for the DLC as the game itself nearly now, start acting like it.
Best: Rise of Launch Bonuses
Pre-Order bonuses have long been a contentious issue because of the way they are arbitraily set and seemingly punish consumers for waiting to get more information. However, 2015 showed a marked rise in games that had a bonus you got not only if you pre-ordered, but also if you were an early adopter, buying it in the first month or so of release giving you it for free before it became paid DLC. This rewards and creates urgency to buy early but also still lets people get more information and decide if it is a game they want to invest their money in. Overall, this type of practice is the best compromise on pre-order bonuses we can hope for.

Minigames, now with health bars

Rise of the “meh” Game by Wyatt Hnatiw

2015 was a solid year for video games. It wasn’t revolutionary like 2007, or a mess of controversy and crap like 2014.

2015 had some great games release. Bloodborne was an excellent entry for the SoulsBorne franchise, which tread some really unique ground for story and may be the best Lovecraft inspired game of all time. The Witcher 3 came out of Poland like a hurricane and showed American developers how good a story driven RPG can be. Undertale was a unique gaming experience that united the gaming world in almost unanimous praise.

These bright points just make the rest of 2015 look more like what it was, and that is a big bland pile of unflavored paste. The big, spectacular, lets build an entire kiosk and hire 10 models for E3 games were just … okay. Call of Duty Black Ops III, Mario Party 10, Rise of the Tomb Raider, The Sims 4, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, The Order 1886,  Evolve, Star Wars: Battlefront even Fallout 4 were all just alright. 

Okay, not terrible, not bad but definitely not great. They pushed no envelopes, broke no boundaries, and blew no minds. Gamers have been arguing for years that AAA releases are just the same thing over and over again but in 2015 it feels like we hit a saturation point. Maybe it’s the great, unique experiences that came out this year making the vanilla fare that filled November just look egregious by comparison.

Splatoon was a brand new IP that turned shooting gameplay on its head with a unique approach to online multiplayer. Pillars of Eternity and Cities Skylines were bold revitalizations of dying and stagnated genres. Metal Gear Solid V was a broken mess from a story perspective but was maybe the best stealth action game ever. The Witcher 3 was just simply head and shoulders above any other RPG, and it’s hard to overstate how dramatic an effect Undertale, the little game that could, had on the industry.

It’s a disappointment because after the massive leaps the industry has taken in the last decade or so, it just feels like AAA publishers are satisfied. Satisfied that with annual entries like Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed they’ll make billions or satisfied that they made an acceptable game rather than an extraordinary, satisfied that the Internet isn’t yelling at them any more, right Ubisoft? 

I hope I’m wrong and that AAA gaming had a off year, but maybe this is just the year that I took my rose-tinted glasses off. I was just disappointed with how much filler there was this year. 

Impress me in 2016 games industry, my body is ready.

Dragon's Dogma Dark Arisen Screen2

Valve and PC Ports by Alex Santa Maria

Valve’s hands off approach to its Steam business has been a talking point for years now, but it feels like it came to a head in 2015. Even if you disqualify the Christmas issue that caused users to lose their personal information, you had a year of poor decisions and a lack of progress on many of the issues that have plagued Steam for far too long. We’ve seen Greenlight go from a joke of a service to an opened floodgate, letting anyone and everyone publish on the premiere PC gaming storefront. This has led to everything from games being published without working executables to game storefronts being vandalized by disenfranchised developers to user revolts against remasters and broken game launches using arcane preloading systems. Valve lost a lot of trust in 2015, and considering that they consider Gabe Newell Simulator a perfectly fine use of their image, I don’t see things getting much better any time soon.

Of course, there is always a bright side to things, and Steam’s open gate has also attracted quite a few new developers and publishers to work on the PC platform for the first time. Japan has finally seen the light of a new marketplace, and games such as Dragon’s Dogma, Sonic Lost World, and Final Fantasy have been preserved on the eternally backwards compatible PC format. Even Sony and Microsoft have been more lenient, letting some of their smaller published titles appear on the Steam storefront. No one could have guessed last year that Helldivers or a new expansion to Age of Empires II would be released, but here we are. We can only hope that this trend continues and some of the missing games from the 360/PS3 era can be brought forward and improved by the PC’s higher fidelity. If we see another year go by without Vanquish or Shadows of the Damned showing up in 60 FPS, I may just start to lose hope.

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.

  • webkilla

    Lets hope 2016 sees some positive trends

  • vonSanneck

    The PC platform is frankly a mess at this point, I just hope things work out.

  • Year Zero

    Na. The PC platform has never been in better shape. Quality games fall from the sky (aka Steam, Origin etc) on a daily basis.

  • vonSanneck

    Steam is a semi-monopoly with almost no regulation and has a 1 person customer support.
    Origin has bloated DRM that they do not wish to change say:
    – Bulletstorm still has GFWL despite being dead and I live outside of its support. May be ways of making it work properly, but why do I have to jump through hoops of fire again?
    GOG is a lot better, but it has its own problems, mainly some games that are poorly optimised and configured wrong. Also companies have started making certain games GOG Galaxy bound which I am not happy about.
    There are also optimisation issues which modders have to fix products by companies who gave no effort; which is laughable. This is about the same as when Lamborghini & Ferrari had a fallout over fixing a car with tractor parts.
    Support for old games is a mess of its own and CD Projekt should not be the sole fixer of this.
    There is virtually no software controller remaping support, but that is an industry problem. Also this seems to happen to keyboard & mouse sometimes which drives people up the wall, I surely am not alone there.
    New hardware is gated off with Windows 10 & DirectX12 which most PC development is going. Thanks monopoly.
    The software sizes are getting outlandish and not everyone has a limitless cap on their internet, that’s also if their speeds are acceptable or it might take hours to days to download. This is mainly why some people would like to still have physical media to install their stuff and not the internet (MGS V: TPP Windows PC edition).
    I have loads more to add, but I have already dumped a sizeable chunk of my grievances.

  • Year Zero

    Good points. Compared to 10 -15 years ago the PC games landscape looks much better.
    And yes Microsoft is trying to lock everyone in with DX 12. Nothing new there. They’ve been trying this stunt for well over a decade. Fortunately Valkan’s a viable alternative to DX 12. And most game devs hate vendor lock-in too.

  • Hobo-Tobo

    Attributing GFWL to Origin requires a special kind of cluelessness.

  • vonSanneck

    Yet they added that in anyway. And not removed from it yet so Steam cannot offer me it.
    If you want to check the pcgamingwiki page on it you’ll see what I mean: most offer this via Origin, Steam offers an Origin key and all require GFWL.
    I would buy it on Origin if it removed that restrictive tumour that is GFWL DRM.

  • Hobo-Tobo

    “most offer this via Origin”? What does this even mean? The game comes with GFWL on both Steam and Origin, this has nothing to do with Origin itself.

  • vonSanneck

    Most online retailers offer it via Origin storefront* A fail on that part of not explaining it. Here’s the chart of what I mean: