Even though we have had some good games this year, I think we can all agree none have been truly outstanding. We appear to still be catching up to what we used to get every year during the golden age of gaming in the late 1980s and early 1990s, before the large publishers decided all we wanted was Call of duty clones or hack and slash RPGs games made to a formula for the next 20 years.
In fact the last really great year for games was 5 years ago and that was 1 tiny island of goodness in 20 years of crap.
People tend to nominated the 1 new game they played during a year as their best game despite having nothing to compare it too. Technically that game is also their worst game of the year since it is their only new game that year and a game of year vote is not asking for the players worst game, but his best one for that year and that requires the player own at least 2 new games so one can be their best game and 1 can be their worst game.
The reason for this is gamer boredom.... they way the treble A games or Terrible A games as I like to call them are all made to the same formula and any thing that dares to be different simply does not get published is why that happens.
In the past when I let such results stand and a bad choice won the game of the year at TEG.
Come 1st Jan the following year, nobody could even remember which game won our game of the year.
But when a good game wins, like Mount and Blade Warbands did back in 2010, it not only gets remembered but the entire forum started playing it because of word of mouth alone. That was a real game of the year winner than most of the forum did not even know existed until 1 user talked about it when it first got released and kick started interest in it.
The thing is a game of the year should be the game you could not put down that year, a new game that you absolutely loved to bits. If your nominating a game that was merely okay to play, then you are missing the entire point of a game of the year vote. This is not a "most okay game of the year" thing, this is the best game of the year we are looking for.
I admit it is not easy to choose such a game when the standard of games has been so low for so long. The world is full of Call of duty clones and hack and slash games passing them selves off as modern RPGs (which they are not) because all the large publishers make them and we all call them Treble A games. Well been there done that, boring boring boring.... they cannot even implement decent controls in them so why should these Terrible A games even warrant a mention. There is nothing Treble A about them other than the £50 to £65 price tag for 10 hours of game play.
Before publishers got control of us by deciding what games got published on CD and DVD, small indie companies made niche market games like Simcity and Command and Conquer, the very sort of games publishers did not want to publish. Later those niche market games became the defacto main stream game standard and the large publishers brought them out.
Back then those standards changed every few years. Without publishers to control everything by saying what would or would not be published on disk, all sorts of great niche market games emerged and became main stream standards. After the Publishers took over and told us to like Assassins Creed, Dragon Age, Call of duty twice a year at £50 a pop, the standard stopped changing and games got made to a formula that only new gamers could love.
The ones that had played them got bored of them quickly and that has led to a situation where real gamers only buy 1 game a year today because the games being made are the same as the ones that got made in 1995 and they have played all those games todeath.
The niche market that changed the main stream standard every 2 to 3 years has been suppressed by the publishers who forced games to conform to their idea of a standard main stream game. It is like communism controlling fashion. Where once wild colours existed and changed every year, now we have the standard uniform EA and UBISOFT Grey for gaming.
It has created a shortage of original thinking indie devs and its only just starting to correct it self with the digital age allowing indie devs to sell directly to us if the publishers say no. So the publishers are now the dying breed, they either support those making games we want, or the developer heads over to kickstarter and makes the game anyway without them.
The trouble with the digital age is starting a new golden age for gaming is that whilst there 100s of great games being made by indie developers these days. There are 1000s of crap games being made too. You could waste a lot of money trying to find just 1 good game so people are more than ever likely to stick with the Terrible A games, sorry Treble A games because they know what boring piece of mundane "seen it all before" crap they will be getting for a vastly inflated price. Fact is could by 3 games for the price of 1 Treble A game most days.
Before 1995 most gamers played off line or over a lan. Most Gamers did not have forums and places to share news of cool new games and yet we talked about and enjoyed more great new games back then, than today's gamers do with the entire internet at their disposal.
The reason is 20 years of publishers making the same old crap to a formula means the "indie dev" has become some sort of low grade developer that cannot be trusted when in fact all the best games started out as games made by those indie developers. People have forgot that and they need to start remembering that all great games originally came from the small indie companies, not the big publishers.
With that in mind, here are some this years best games in my opinion.
Galactic Civ 3.... One of the first releases this year to require a 64 bit OS. Now all the consoles are finally 64 bit (10 years late), 64 bit gaming has arrived and it means greater number crunching abilities. So Simulations are about to see a new hay day dawn for them, as is reflected by some of the choices I make here today.
Satelite Reign, a return of an old favorite Syndicate style game.... I am loving it but it is a small game, not something your going to be playing for 100s of hours. Perhaps a tad over priced too, feels like an £18 game not a £22 game, but still a real winner for Cyberpunk fans and one of my favorite games this year.
Cities Skylines, another 64 bit game and believe me, city games are exactly the sort of games that take full advantage of faster and better processors. This one is a dream on a 64 bit machine. There has not been a good city sim like this for over 10 years, this is one of the niche markets that got abandoned and we have been playing light weight city games ever since. But that is changing and Cities Skylines is doing the changing.... a new defacto standard has arrived. This may not appeal to all gamers but these niche market games are important none the less. They are the driver of change in the game industry, who knows you may find the improvements in this game make the next GTA game you play a 1000 times better.
Wasteland 2 The Directors Cut, a vast improvement over the original Wasteland 2 release and one of the 2 squad based games in todays list. This is also a 64 bit game and another one of the types of games that disappeared when the large publishers standard controlling what got published thanks to their control of the CD market.
Just by looking at those, you helping the new golden age of gaming arrive, being more aware of all the games being made and not just the ones made by the Large Publishers is important and that is why game of year votes are important. It is a time when we can talk about what great games we played this year and tell our friends about them because that is how tomorrows classics are decided..... through word of mouth.... not tons of money and hype.
10 years from now the hype will have faded and most will not even remember the names of those over hyped games, but the good games... we will all remember those and we will not care if they where published by EA or some time indie company originally because that tiny indie company is likely to be a large development house by then.