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The 5 biggest disappointments of 2012 Exclusive
The 5 biggest disappointments of 2012
December 11, 2012 | By Christian Nutt




Gamasutra features director Christian Nutt continues Gamasutra's annual year-end roundups series by looking back at biggest disappointments of 2012.

This was a hard list to write, for a lot of reasons. Of course, I have my own personal disappointments -- where the hell is the U.S. version of Bravely Default? -- but they don't necessarily stop the industry in its tracks.

There's also something unpalatable about reflecting on disappointment. One's mind wants to bounce over the surface of the emotion, like a rock skipping on a pond, without diving in. And trying to think back and remember what was disappointing is an odd experience. Can you?

Some things, though, simply stood out to me, and once I gave in to the feeling, it was easy to come up with a list of letdowns.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Almost a year ago, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched amidst tremendous fanfare and confident projections from publisher Electronic Arts about its commercial potential. Astute observers had noted signs of trouble for years; many had questioned whether or not BioWare's strength in single player storytelling would translate to an MMO; whether too much money was being spent on the game's development; whether the subscription model still worked, and other concerns.

Well, things went just about as badly as they could have, in the end. Yes, the initial sell-through was strong, but that was the last good news about the game. The Old Republic's design was panned as uninventive; the player population dwindled precipitously when subscribers reached the end of the game's scripted content; by the middle of the year, EA had already announced plans to take the MMO free-to-play to shore up its sagging server populations. For what's reputedly the most expensive game ever developed, this is not a good outcome.

PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita is the most capable dedicated handheld gaming device ever launched -- and apparently the most undesirable. While Sony made sure that the launch was supported with an outing from the Uncharted series and a host of other games across various genres, software support has since been anemic the world over, and sales of both hardware and games have followed in kind.

Japanese gamers are content to stick with the PSP, which continues to be the favorite system of die-hards, or migrate to Nintendo's 3DS, which has become a resounding success in that territory over the past year. Western gamers are essentially avoiding the system altogether. Insider reports of the sales of what should have been the system's flagship Western holiday title, Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, are commensurate with its Metacritic score (31, as of this writing.)

The top game for the system -- in both Japan and the U.S. -- is Persona 4: Golden, a port of a four year old PlayStation 2 game. That is a sad condemnation of the system, quality of the game aside, and an indication that Sony never understood its audience of hardcore early adopters, widely missing the mark with its software lineup.

No matter how problematic it may be this lineup, apparently, is something Sony seems to -- for some reason -- have little interest in anymore. E3, Gamescom, and Tokyo Game Show went by with a single outstanding title revealed -- Media Molecule's Tearaway, which will be a very lonely game indeed.

With Call of Duty all but assuredly a failure, the Vita's outlook for 2013 is extremely muted. What Western publisher will touch a system that Call of Duty can't save? With Japan ignoring the system -- it has no announced Final Fantasy titles, a first for a Sony system -- what will those Persona 4 Golden fans move on to?

E3

We've already written about the turning point this year's E3 was for Gamasutra's staff, among others. I won't recapitulate that here. But the show failed on other levels, too.

E3 feels dated. The show, originally launched in 1995, has essentially remained unchanged -- except for two years of flirtations with new formats in 2007 and 2008 which were, if anything, worse.

Think back to those years. The show's management, recognizing that it had become a ridiculous spectacle, hideously expensive and inefficient, scaled back wildly to restrict the expo to the press and those who had real business to do.

Fast forward to 2012, and the show is just as huge and loud and tacky as ever it was; it's just as choked with retail employees and others who have no actual business to conduct at the event. In fact, more games than ever are now exclusively behind closed doors, a tacit acknowledgment of how many unwanted civvies are getting in -- which is also reflected in how all the booths have been completely reduced to tacky spectacles, with a focus on booth babes, aliens, cars, celebrities, and other distractions.

But also look at the swelling attendance of Gamescom and Tokyo Game Show, which let in the masses in an honest way -- and manage to separate the business and public aspects of the show very effectively. Look at PAX, which is a wholehearted celebration of games for gamers, with the community gathering to enjoy its hobby together. E3 is simply a showcase for the biggest, loudest, most crass and most powerful forces in the core game business, and without indies and other players outside of the triple-A console space, doesn't represent the industry as it really is.

Where's the vibrancy of the game industry we know and love? Elsewhere, it seems.

Steam Greenlight

The pitch was fantastic: Indies having trouble? No problem. We don't have the time to deal with this problem internally, so we'll crowdsource a solution. The result, though, was severely problematic at launch, and still isn't quite right.

The original problem with the system -- the fact that Steam users could downvote games they weren't interested in, which lead to lots of partisan bashing of innocent titles -- was quickly fixed. But good games by serious indie developers, like Incredipede, are getting overlooked in favor of irredeemable trash like Postal 2. It has quickly devolved into a popularity contest, and what's popular is -- turns out -- not always great.

Now, games that are very far from release are getting into the voting, confusing its purpose. Is it meant to be a gateway for new games, or a way for the Steam community to vote on what it thinks might be interesting?

There's no doubt that Greenlight will become a valuable part of Steam, but it hasn't gotten there yet, leaving many of the people it was devised to help wanting more.

It's Mega Man's 25th Birthday and Nobody Came

When Keiji Inafune, Capcom's head of R&D, stepped down a couple of years ago, inside sources say that the franchise he created -- which was once the flagship property of the company he'd worked for since the 1980s -- was vanished. Games in development, both announced and unannounced, were unceremoniously killed. Mega Man was put on ice.

But 1987 was the year Mega Man was born, and you would have expected some meaningful acknowledgment of this from the company. Few publishers have vibrant, appealing franchises that date back to the NES days -- or ones so ripe for a reimagining, ones with such a passionate fan base.

Not so for Mega Man. So far we've seen the release of the (so far) Japan-only Rockman Xover, a social RPG for phones -- tenuously connected the anniversary at best -- and Street Fighter x Mega Man, a fan-made hack given legitimacy by Capcom USA's marketing department, desperate to stamp the otherwise unused Mega Man 25th Anniversary logo on something this year.

This is a sad testament to how politics can actually kill a beloved character; how we, as an industry, still suck at celebrating our past; and how potentially powerful franchises are left on the vine in the search for the next big thing.

More Gamasutra 2012 roundups:

The 5 trends that defined the game industry in 2012
The 5 events that shook the video game industry in 2012

The 5 most significant video game controversies in 2012


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Comments


Jeremy Reaban
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I think you are giving Sony a little too much credit for the Vita's launch. Sure, it had an Uncharted, but Sony Bend instead of Naughty Dog (who refuses to work on the Vita), and while capable, simply weren't at home with the IP, which apparently caused some problems (you did a feature on this) and they missed out on multiplayer, so Uncharted was quickly sold back to Gamestop or put on ebay.

Beyond that, they closed down several studios after shipping Vita games.

And worse, one company that has actually expressed interest in putting their game on the Vita, if Sony ports it (or pays to have it ported), Sony has completely ignored. Gearbox and Borderlands 2. Borderlands 2 could be a killer app on the Vita, or at least something big, but Sony just doesn't want to help.

If Sony isn't going to support their own device, who do they think will? As a Vita owner, I have a lot of regret. Even Playstation Mobile seems to be very poorly handled.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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I'd honestly be shocked if they put Borderlands 2 on Vita, even if Sony showed interest. GB said they wouldn't put it on the Wii U because they couldn't come up with a mindblowing way to use the touchscreen. Assuming that wasn't total BS, they'd have to come up with mindblowing uses for a touchscreen (which they've already said is impossible) AND back touch, gyroscope, accelerometer, etc.

Eric Geer
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"GB said they wouldn't put it on the Wii U because they couldn't come up with a mindblowing way to use the touchscreen. Assuming that wasn't total BS, they'd have to come up with mindblowing uses for a touchscreen (which they've already said is impossible) AND back touch, gyroscope, accelerometer, etc."

As a gamer and not a developer, I find it mind blowing that devs won't put a game on a system because they can't use ALL of the tech found on a particular device. This is something that players, PLAYERS, have been complaining about forever---be it the Wii. PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, Move, Kinect, ....developers find the NEED to shoehorn shitty functions into tech just because they can, not because it helps the game but because it is offered. Why not just use the the tech you want to use and leave the rest to be used on another game that has a need for it? GB could have ported Borderlands 2 to the WiiU and just used the classic controller pro as the default. If you can't find a compelling reason to use all of the tech, then don't, use what you want or need.

Mark Kilborn
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Eric:

I can't speak for Gearbox, but I'm betting it's not that they can't use all the tech. Their thought process is probably more along the lines of: "How do we use this new tech to make this version so mindblowing that people pick it up despite having already acquired it for another system?" The people who were excited to pick up Borderlands 2 already did. In September. Before the Wii U launched. And there's costs associated with the new hardware. Dev kits. Time spent porting the tech over to the new system. Optimizing for the system. Etc.

Porting a two month old FPS to a new console with limited install base (~500,000 in the US last I heard) isn't a very appetizing prospect unless you can do something so amazing with it that people will be driven to pick up a second copy, or trade in their older one to get the new version.

I'm not saying it wouldn't be cool. I'm saying I can understand (what I believe is) their thought process: if we can't make it so amazing that it feels like a dramatic improvement over what was shipped already on 360/PS3/PC, it's not worth it.

I'd put money on Borderlands 3 appearing on the WiiU at launch though. By then the system will be established, someone else will have done the heavy lifting of getting Unreal over to the WiiU, and they will be able to launch it simultaneously with the other platforms (so customers will have a choice that doesn't involve waiting for two months to get the game).

Mark Kilborn
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Btw, Arkham City: Armored Edition was a much stronger candidate for this treatment. The game was roughly a year old when the WiiU launched, and they were able to put together a GOTY-style package with lots of bonuses and extras. Gearbox are still developing DLC for their initial release of the game.

Brian Kehrer
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@ Eric - as a developer, the decision to use features is almost never up to the software developer. Hardware manufacturers require you use as much of their tech as possible, or they won't accept your title. Especially for small or midsize shops, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are simply awful to work with.

The problem is they ultimately care about pushing their hardware, not the end user experience - or their marketplace, as in steam. Which is why including things like achievements are not optional, and ruin the experience on consoles. It's a 'branding' opportunity for these guys.

Eric Geer
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@Brian

"as a developer, the decision to use features is almost never up to the software developer. Hardware manufacturers require you use as much of their tech as possible, or they won't accept your title. Especially for small or midsize shops, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are simply awful to work with."


Thanks for passing this on. I was unaware of this stipulation of hardware manufacturers. It's really a shame because my guess is that this was implemented on the two FPS on the Vita,(CoD and Resistance), which really killed the games(don't know personally--watched and read reviews) I would have been more interested in resistance but because they added in a bunch of useless touch screen motions, it make the game unnecessarily complex on a formula that has been tested time and time again. Anywho. Thanks!

PS--Achievements and Trophies are the worst things that have happened to gaming IMO. I wish there was a way to turn them off(at least on PS3--don't own a 360)

Justin Sawchuk
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So who is running greenlight, its the community, if the community is not willing up vote your game good look getting them to buy it. Rather than having a curator handle it, looking at how many units it sold they are now getting feedback from the community, you wont find anymore tiny troopers which sells for 99 cents on IOS but sells for $10 on steam, highway robbery.

Nikki Wardhana
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A bit correction that Vita has an announced Final Fantasy title--Final Fantasy X HD for both PS3 and Vita. However we see nothing of the game beside the announcement itself.

Christian Nutt
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That's actually true. But it's also a port of a 10+ year old game that has also, as you say, disappeared. It also has the PS1 versions of old FF titles, too! XD

Ben Lewis
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Final Fantasy Type 0 has also been slated for a Vita release since its details slipped in 2011.

http://www.1up.com/features/top-psp-vita-games-2012?pager.offset=
1

Keith Thomson
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Christian: Not only that, but it has PSP ports of some old FF titles too. FF3, FF4, and FFT are all much better in the PSP version on the Vita. Of course, the only one that interests me is FF4, as I've finished the other two.

J K
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"With Japan ignoring the system -- it has no announced Final Fantasy titles, a first for a Sony system -- what will those Persona 4 Golden fans move on to?"

The Tales series is just as popular, if not more so, as Final Fantasy in Japan (They've already got two reimaginings of Tales mothership titles on Vita). On top of that, Phantasy Star Online 2 also went into beta recently for the Vita. I'm just irked that Namco Bandai probably missed their chance to localize Tales of Innocence R, a game I'd been looking forward to since the original DS game was announced. Seriously, people aren't giving the Vita enough time.

Christian Nutt
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Also, Namco has made absolutely no move toward localizing ToIR. Maybe they will given the success of P4G.

WILLIAM TAYLOR
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Pretty good year if the biggest downers were E3 being a huge event, a game series that hasn't been good for like a decade not getting a sequel, and something clear cut designed to be a popularity contest being a popularity contest.

Seriously though, I remember people saying they wanted E3 to be small so it shrank. Then they all got on podcasts like, "E3 is small, it's dead. Game over, man." Now it's big again and the same folk are like, "E3 is big, it's dead. Game over, man." Seems like people just like saying E3 is dead, regardless of what reality might be. Kinda reminds me of how people always say TGS is on a quick death... despite reality being that attendance is increasing year over year.

Also, Steam Greenlight was always supposed to be a system where people vote for what they want to see on Steam and the most popular titles get green lit, right? I don't understand the big shock that it turned out to be exactly that.

David Paris
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I'd nominate Guild Wars 2 for this list. Guild Wars was a really good game, with interesting PvP, an intriguing and unique PvE skill unlock system, and a whole lot of all around fun. Guild Wars 2 is a horribly dated feeling generic MMO. It has its moments, but largely it simply isn't worth the time, and it is really unworthy as a successor to the original Guild Wars.
rn
rnGive me something that feels like Guild Wars, not this generic WoW wanna-be.

Ryan Durel
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I have to agree with you there, I definitely hyped that game up more than I should have. It really does feel more like a generic MMO with clever ways of hiding it (Dynamic Events!).

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Erin OConnor
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Agreed. It seems like all of the aspects that made GW such a great game in the first place were abandoned when they made GW2.

Kyle Redd
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Steam members have never been able to downvote any Greenlight game they did not like. There is absolutely no practical difference between the "thumbs down" button that was there initially and the "no thanks/not interested" button that replaced it. It's just a different image with the same impact on the game. No developer on Greenlight has ever been negatively impacted by getting a downvote from anyone, so to refer to it as "partisan bashing of innocent titles" is absurd.

august clark
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Save your breath. Nobody listened back when this was explained by Valve the first time, nobody will listen as you explain it for what will not be the last time.

The bashing was a real thing though. While the down vote button didn't actually harm the games progress to approval, the comments sections of several games were besieged by jerks of all stripes as they dumped insults and negative comments on games that they felt deserved it.

Kyle Redd
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@august

Yeah, I also read the wailing editorials about the trashy Greenlight comments section as well. Except that, much like the concept of serial downvoting, juvenile comments have never been a real problem either.

All devs with projects on Greenlight have always had the ability to delete comments at will, for any reason they like. There isn't even a placeholder that remains (like Youtube's "comment removed" notice); they simply vanish from the page entirely. This allows the devs to leave nothing but fawning praise in the comments section if they so wish, and many of them do.

E Zachary Knight
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Megaman gets to hang out with Samus for a while then. Nintendo pulled a 25th anniversary for just about every franchise it owned that was old enough for one except Metroid. That was a travesty. Sega however has no franchise that old except Megaman which has suffered quietly for years. Why would we expect them to release something this year? Could they have? Yes. And it would have been awesome. But really, the fact that they didn't isn't a huge surprise.

With Old Republic, I think that just shows that the large scale subscription based MMO is dead. WoW was the last of its kind. Sure smaller more indie style MMOs will be able to survive, but nothing that is based on the idea of 10s of millions of people playing and paying each month.

Ian Uniacke
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I'd just about guarantee that if Blizzard released a new subscription MMO it would be successful. I think there is a future there it's just not for everyone.

Maria Jayne
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Surprised Mass Effect 3 wasn't mentioned, quite a lot of people who were looking forward to ending the story seemed to be disappointed with how it was ended....so much in fact that they tried to change that ending.

Paul Marzagalli
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Yeah, I would have included that on the list. From an industry perspective, there's lots of different reasons to be disappointed depending on your vantage - whether it was the quick push out the door, the inclusion of multiplayer, the original ending, or that Bioware relented and included an extended ending. All in all, not a great year for Bioware at all, unfortunately.

Jason Withrow
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Mass Effect 3's ending was on the Controversies list, however, and I bet Gamasutra's editing team is trying to prevent overlap, even if you have other issues with the game.

Ian Welsh
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@ Anthony

You can't say that, since you have no reliable polling data. Over reach.

Maria Jayne
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@ Anthony "just a vocal minority"

Such a minority they spent time and money changing the ending. You can call them a minority, but it doesn't mean they are.

You have more faith than me if you think EA would ok funding for such changes to a shipped game for a minority.

Ian Welsh
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@ Anthony

Fair enough.

Here are some other numbers: no Bioware game that has telemetry has ever had the majority of the players finish. This is true at least since DA:O, the devs have confirmed it repeatedly on the boards. I could as easily say that the fact that most people didn't finish the game means they didn't like it enough to bother finishing it, so we now know that more than half of people didn't like the game (that wouldn't be true, but it's coherent.)

But the # of people on the petition can't be taken straight up. Anyone who has ever run cusomer service or sales will tell you that most people who are unhappy don't say anything about it. They just move on. The rule of thumb in most businesses is 10:1. For every person who complains, 9 other people are unhappy.

Further, making your most vocal and passionate fans/customers, who will badmouth you to the world from then on, unhappy, is really really bad business.

And, while it's not for the current conversation, I took some time to read EAs annual statements. They are making a lot of really basic business mistakes.

Thom Q
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Another list with negative things..

When is the "Best things of 2012" coming? :)

E Zachary Knight
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It depends on how you look at it, but this article on the 5 Defining Trends could be good or bad, but seems to be mostly positive:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/182954/The_5_trends_that_defin
ed_the_game_industry_in_2012.php#.UMdEaJPjmn8

But really, all these could be seen as good if you are willing to learn a lesson from them.

Thom Q
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True, but I meant specifically the 3 articles at the top of the front page right now.

Was 2012 all bad? Don't we have any Good / Positive things? ( Trends don't really say whether their positive or negative of course)..

E Zachary Knight
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Well, we still have 3 weeks till the end of the year. So there is time. Or you could take matters in your own hands and write one yourself. I did that a couple years back when Gamasutra wrote a "Most anticipated Games" article for every game system but the Wii.

Leonardo Ferreira
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Yeah, I was thinking the same thing... So many good stuff and great games, and we're still focused on the misoginy-immaturity-corporate evilness triumvirate. I mean, i like discussing and reading about these topics as much as the next guy, but since it's the fourth day, I'm getting a little tired.

But I'm sure the final top ten is going to be as awesome and surprising as always.

Thom Q
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E Zachary: I was actually thinking about writing a piece, but since English is not my first language I've been hesitant..

My list would include at least the Rise and dominance of Minecraft, and what this could mean for the future, both for game development, as for publishing.
I personally started playing this year, and I found it to be an amazing experience. In the weeks before Black Ops 2 was released, Minecraft was even the most played game on Xbox Live, more then Fifa, Modern Warfare 3, and a whole slew of other AAA games.. Now that's what I call a major positive achievement :)

Another positive experience for me is DayZ. How a mod of a not too popular game gained so much popularity that they are now working on a standalone. But, much more important then the financial success (at least to me), is it's Unique gameplay.
The way people interact with each other. The impact killing and dying has in the game. The folklore surrounding it, even the rise of hero's like Dr Wasteland, who like his name already says, goes around healing people in a game that's all about being suspicious of any player to a point of paranoia, or Villains like the black Widow. The interaction between players in DayZ is truly a very informative sociological study, much more then any "walled-off" MMO has ever been able to come close to.

I could go on, but I think I might just wright a blog about it after all.. :P

Cant wait to read what positive points Gamasutra's staff is going to come up with

Kris Graft
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Hey folks,

I disagree that our roundups have been all negative. But in any case, don't worry--we're saving the outright celebrating of our favorite games and developers for later this month.

Luis Guimaraes
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That's because the best things of 2012 were delayed to 26th March 2013.

Cary Chichester
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Resident Evil 6
Ninja Gaiden 3
Street Fighter X Tekken (where more time at character select is spent cycling through hundreds of gems instead of actually choosing your character, as seen during the finals last weekend).

Christian Nutt
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I already wrote an entire article about why SFxT sucks:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/171041/Opinion_The_many_reason
s_Street_Fighter_X_Tekken_sold_less_than_expected.php

James Margaris
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"The Old Republic's design was panned as uninventive;"

SWTOR won "Best Online Game Design" at the GDC Online awards. As well as best tech, best visuals, and best new online game.

Hmm.

Thom Q
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Yeah, I don't put too much stock in awards too, even less so for Games.. Did you see the VGA's?? :D

Cary Chichester
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@Anthony

Isn't the decision based on community voting? Not sure if that counts as them getting it right.

James Margaris
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In this case Gamasutra heavily promotes the awards and correct me if I'm wrong but the same organization is behind both.

It's a little strange to see pieces like this one or ones bashing Zynga then see that the awards Gamasutra promotes are largely centered around SWTOR and Zynga games.

Seems worthy of explicit examination or at least acknowledgement.

Luis Guimaraes
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Most of the VGA awards we're spot on.

Thom Q
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I love Telltale, ever since they started making Sam & Max. Walking Dead game of the year is a bit questionable though, but good for them :)

I was talking about the VGA's as a whole, I'm not a big fan of corporate circle-jerk events, and the VGA's feels and looks like one of the worst :)

Ian Welsh
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The storylines were amazing, but the rest of the game was essentially WOW in terms of mechanics. The real problem is that they misunderstood the appeal of their own game, and didn't have much more story content pipelining into the game. (Maybe that's impossible, though I don't believe it, but if it is, SWTOR, which is about story/story/story was never going to work.)

Ian Welsh
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@Brion

I'm not so sure. I know no one has managed to do it (though Rift has come close) but I'm not sure it can't be done. I would have hired some people who used to work on soap operas and tried to streamline the tools/process so I could have new story coming out every 6 weeks, max. All the VO/Writing can definitely be done fast enough, TV does it all the time. It can be done. The question is the levels/art/etc...

Maybe it can't yet be done, but it is what HAD to be done to make SWTOR work. Almost everyone I knew who quit loved the story and left when it became clear they weren't getting any more for months. Story is Bioware's core competency, they spent most of their money on it, then they expected people to stick around when it ran out?

The job was to figure out how to pipeline enough story. If they couldn't do that, they couldn't make the game work, especially since the mechanics were almost pure WOW (and please, no one tell me otherwise, I played WOW for years.)

Steve Badley
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SWTOR hasn't met commercial success expectations because WoW set them. WoW was a shooting star and we'll likely never see its equal in that regard. But compared to the list of MMOs that have been released since, SWTOR is at the very least holding its own.

Servers are filling back up, new content is being released regularly now, and the gameplay mechanics have stabilized. The game doesn't feature the best aspects of every MMO ever made (like some were foolishly expecting) but then no MMO ever will. At least not until back offices and rendering farms are plugged right into the backbone and client systems are all HAL9000s.

Perfect? No way. Playable? Absolutely. Enough to sustain long term viability? Who knows. The game has its feet back underneath it, so I wouldn't bet against it. But in the same breath I also understand that no MMO will ever hit - let alone sustain - 10 million active subscribers again. If that's what it will take for the market outside of WoW to survive then it's dead already, and we might as well pound on Blizzard to release a World of Starcraft.

Nathan Mates
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What about Gamespy's new owners (GLU Mobile) canceling Gamespy Open -- an excellent program for indie and pro developers, and then shutting off MP support for some older games? That's a big disappointment in my book. Yes, some people love the latest and greatest. But, when people are enjoying something, turning it off is not fun. It's like a major GPU vendor arbitrarily cutting off DirectX 6 (or 7 or 8) support w/o warning for some games.

Second post, as the first one had URLs in it and may have been caught in the spam trap. Look on RockPaperShotgun, December 12th, for 'The spy who went into the cold' or Slashdot's games section, December 7th, both stories related to gamespy.

Disclaimer: I'm hardly an uninterested 3rd party here. I've been patching Battlezone 2 in my spare time (with permission) since 2000, and we were one of the first games to get shut off from Gamespy, months ago. It's only when bigger titles get the axe that this even makes it to major sites like RPS or Slashdot.

Chris Hendricks
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"This is a sad testament to how politics can actually kill a beloved character; how we, as an industry, still suck at celebrating our past; and how potentially powerful franchises are left on the vine in the search for the next big thing."

While this was a great article, I found this statement a little surprising. I thought the game industry had the opposite problem – milking old franchises until they were dry. I guess you can only milk so many of them at once.

E Zachary Knight
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You are partially right. The games industry has the ability to milk popular franchises that are popular now. However, as a whole, the industry lacks the ability to successfully suport and celebrate its legacy.

Chris Hendricks
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OK, fair enough. The only old franchises that get special anniversary treatment are the ones that are still making money now through new games.

Mike Motoda
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Well, we do get Mega Man x Street Fighter next week for free, so we'll at least get something very cool to celebrate the Blue Bomber's 25th.

Jarod Smiley
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Instead of talking about why Vita this and why Vita that, people just need to support the darn system...Gravity Rush, Persona 4, Sound Shapes, and upcoming titles like Soul Sacrifice, Tear Away, and re-playing an HD FFX look good for me, so I go and buy the system. Monster Hunter, Kingdom Hearts, a "GOOD" COD game, FF, and Dragon Quest are never gonna come to the platform if people don't actually support it. lol...

Gamers are waiting for the big games to come to support good hardware..

Game makers are waiting for gamers to buy the system first for a decent user base...

It's just silly, Sony's WWS do need to step there game up, but gamers need to support things early on as well so 3rd parties get involved more quickly.

Thom Q
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I think your points on why the Vita isnt selling could have some merit: target audience seems to be male 18-24. That market is heavily gaming on their smartphones, far more so then a few years back with the PSP. Whether or not is because of a lack of blockbuster titles to draw them in, the price of the Vita, the Size of the Vita, or just the wrong product at the wrong time aimed for the wrong people remains to be seen.


I personally think Sony underestimated their targets audience wallet, pocket size (not wanting to carry around more then 1 or 2 devices), and competion in that market from smartphones & tablets. Because the market is so split-up, I don't think that Big Titles could entice a large mount of customers; the biggest & best mobile games are already available for android & iOS, and the big console titles already on console.

I hate to say this, but I'm beginning to think that if/when one of the big three fails after the next generation, Playstation has the biggest chance. Their poor Vita sales are one thing, but if they fail to see the PS3's shortcomings, and incorporate them in the PS4, it'll only weaken their position..

Patrick Davis
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It's hard to support a system that seems to push you away from day one.

Cost of entry being the biggest factor. $299(3G) for a handheld is hard as hell to swallow. Then you get to pick up a Sony branded proprietary memory card. $100 bucks for 32GB? Really? So, after those two things, plus a game, you are looking at around $400-450 bucks just to get started.

Next, is the game selection. Considering that the library consists of mostly rehashed and remakes of games people have already played, this is not going to make people buy an expensive handheld like this. There are maybe 2-3 original games on the console I'm excited about. Considering how support is waning already, there isn't enough on the horizon to warrant a $400 purchase.

Last off, we have the Sony PSP UMD to Vita transfer. Sony provided a service to convert your old PSP UMDs to digital so they would work on the Vita. This was a free service provided by Sony. A good way to give people an easy way to move over to a Vita and let your old PSP go. Great right? Not if you don't live in Japan. This service was never available to the rest of us. What a great way to show loyalty to the rest of the world. If Sony doesn't care about me enough to provide these services, why should I care about Sony?

Overall, the handheld seems on point. I played Gravity Rush at a store and it is a nice piece of tech. I might pick one up after a major price drop, but not before at this point. Sony still has this high and mighty stance of thinking that people will buy their overpriced gadgets just because it says Sony.

Christian Nutt
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Virtue's Last Reward and Persona 4 are also good reasons to own a 3DS and a PS2, though. XD

Keith Thomson
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Patrick Davis: $450 is pushing it. That IS what I paid for my system + memory card with the early adopter bundle back in February, but you'll pay nowhere near that now. You don't need the 3G version, and it's only useful for a very tiny subset of things. Also, the 32 gig cards do not cost $100 anymore. The price curve on the Vita is actually much more reasonable than other devices that you might substitute for it.

Without sales, the Vita at Amazon for 4 through 32 gig units are $250 - $276 - $298 - $331 (You can get the 4 gig card for free with $250 bundles as well, along with a game.)
An iPad would cost $500 for 16 gigs, $600 for 32 gigs, and $700 for 64 gigs. Talk about expensive memory upgrades... It's only $33 more for the Vita to go from 16 to 32 gigs, but $100 more for Apple products to do the same jump.

Christian Nutt: The Vita version of VLR is far superior to the 3DS version though. Also, when I play games on my 3DSXL, I end up wanting to chuck it out of the window because of how much it makes my hand cramp up with its overly stiff circle pad. It's the most uncomfortable portable system I've ever used, which is why it generally sits at home plugged into the charger, rather than being carried in my pocket. The PSP analog nub, for all its faults, was more usable than that monstrosity.

Pascal Belanger
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I wish that kind of editorial didn't appear on Gamasutra of all places...

I always felt that Gamasutra was better then this kind of sensationalist stuff...

Now, can we stop with the negativeness and talk about what went well during 2012?

Groove Stomp
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Not to mention the awkward phrasing and typos present in this article.

Jarod Smiley
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True...@ Patrick Davis

I picked mine up, on Amazon for $170 plus 2 free games...if not for that deal, I would've likely not have jumped on...With 3DS, it's just easier to get started day one. It's a better gift, a better package, easier on the wallet etc...

The one thing I'm hopeful for though, is that many articles like this were floating around on the web about PS3 after it's first year. MS has certainly made it's brand loud in the U.S, but world-wide, PS3 will likely be the number 2 console this generation when it was supposed to burn and die according to websites. Sony completely turned around PS3 with great software, and judging from there PR, seem to be confident to do the same with Vita.

I agree though, the biggest factor isn't lack of games, because there's actually a good amount of content or even the demographic, teenagers might be playing with smartphones, but gamers aren't occupied more than a few minutes with stuff like Angry Birds. It's that friggin price of entry. System+Memory stick+1 game is just too steep a price to get started.

I think if everyone could buy a vita like a did on black friday (Vita+4gb memory stick+AC:Liberation and Playstation all stars, +3 months of plus for $170) many would impulse buy the platform. Because it's a beautiful machine.

Overall though, it's just not a good vibe for websites to keep saying it's dead, Dreamcast was doing better, etc etc...3DS sucked at its $250 price-point as well...just let Sony do there thing, most of there WWS haven't put anything out on it yet.

One thing I would fight for if I were Sony is Monster Hunter..makes no sense whatsoever for Monster Hunter 4 not to be announced for the platform yet.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jake Shapiro
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Nobody remembered Metroid's 25th birthday either :(

Christian Nutt
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That's very sad too, no doubt. They're all just flying by with the most minimal fanfare.

Ian Uniacke
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I actually kind of disagree. If we start having 25th this, 25th that it kind of dilutes the importance of celebrating something big. Same as how every damn game has a "collector's" edition now.

Craig Hauser
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I'd just like to say that I recently picked up the Vita and don't get why it hasn't been very popular in the US. It's an awesome piece of hardware.

Joe McGinn
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Great article, cannot disagree with a single item or reason for them.

Ron Dippold
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If Sony would just swallow their ridiculous pride and open up the Vita they'd sell tens of millions. Sure you'd get a lot more piracy, but you'd have orders more magnitude systems out there, systems in the field that beget more development, and even with piracy people still buy games for open systems (PC).

The hardware is fantastic. I'd love to run emulators on it, custom apps... and yeah, I'd like to buy Gravity Rush. But there's no way I'm paying that much money for a portable completely dependent on Sony, since I know it'll be another (tiny) boat anchor.

And with all that extra content to put on it Sony could sell a lot more of those outrageously overpriced custom memory cards.

But, like MS, they can't admit they're not Apple.

Jarod Smiley
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that's interesting...is it really feasible for them to do that? I think I'll even post it on the PS Share blog...

Keith Thomson
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They already opened it up to a great extent with Playstation Mobile.

My 32 gig card is already completely full, I've had to start deleting things.

Luis Blondet
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I knew this article was going to cause problems :/

Keith Thomson
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What are Vita RPGers going to play after finishing P4G? Well, aside from the fact that P4G is going to suck up another 160 hours minimum for me, I still have Disgaea 3 where I need to finish the postgame content and grind up through level 9999. Then there's Gungnir, Growlanser 4, Eliminage Original, Unchained Blades, Lunar Silver Star Story, Ogre Tactics, Valkyria Chronicles 2 and all of the other thousands of hours of PSP games I've never finished yet and that play much better on the Vita than the PSP. Then there's thousands of hours of PS1 titles that I never finished. I still have to do a second and third pass through Persona 3 Portable as well. Just what's already out should last me through the end of 2013 even if nothing else came out. If I get desperate for content, I can always pick up Ragnarok Odyssey as well.

I'm sure by the time I get through all that, there will be plenty of new Vita games coming over, like Ys Celcetta, and possibly a new Legend of Heroes game. There's a new Dragon Fantasy game already announced for the Vita as well. The Vita has sucked up 60% of my gaming time, while the 3DS languishes at home because it's just not as much fun to play. You have to remember, the first 2 years of any console in the US is a major drought for JRPGs. They not only take a long time to develop, but they also take a long time to translate. I'm not concerned just because there's only 4-5 native jRPGs and Visual Novels right now, and they're mostly ports. That's actually high for a system in its first year.

Isaiah Taylor
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So games they've already played before and [a handful of] new JRPGs of questionable quality. Gotcha.

Keith Thomson
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I'm sure not every RPG fan has played all of those games before. Aside from P3P and Disgaea 3, I didn't even list the games that I had already finished before. If you tack the ones that I have finished onto the list there's probably piles of good games they (as in other RPG players) haven't already finished...

The newest portable systems are still in the early stages. You're not going to see great, original RPGs on either the 3DS or the Vita in the US until at least late next year, maybe later. Whining about the lack of good original native RPGs on a console that launched less than 2 years ago is one of the more absurd things I've ever seen.

We're at the start of the console cycle, and JRPG fans should have realized by now that there's always a drought of new native titles at the start of a console cycle. I imagine we'll get more original PSP title stragglers before the new Vita titles really start rolling out.

John Flush
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Greenlight is doing exactly what it was suppose to do. Bring out games people wanted to see. The problem is the industry doesn't like the fact people want more of the same - either upgraded or with a slightly different take.

And mega man has had more fanfare than it needed leading up to it's 25 year reunion. It is nice people still remember the blue robot that could, but capcom has essentially killed him. Something usually only Activision or EA could pull off.

I also find it hard to call Star Wars a disappointment - like the article mentions, most of the world knew it was coming. I would put this under 'fulfillment of prophecy' myself - it was under the disappointment column years ago for me when I saw the direction it was going.

E3 has been a disappointment for the last few years, so I guess it can stay on the list, as well as the Vita. I guess not everyone wants a portable console instead they wait for the day when phones, which are socially acceptable to haul around, finally get to the development level and provide it instead.

Bob Johnson
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Don't forget that this year's top 5 surprises are early candidates for next year's top 5 disappointments.

Thomas Happ
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I second the E3 sentiment. Maybe the next generation of consoles will help spice it up.


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