2017 was a year full of highs and lows for PC gaming (and the industry as a whole).
We saw some excellent gems like Cuphead, as well as extreme flops, including Star Wars Battlefront II. It was also the year of loot crates and microtransactions. However, the new year is upon us, and I thought it would be fun to take a look at what we will likely see in 2018, and what we won't.
Esports is already a massive industry. The industry is expected to only grow more, and organizers are already working on ways to hold localized events, matches and increase exposure. Just a few years ago, it would be hard to imagine gaming would get as big as say, football, but that is a reality, or soon will be.
Games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, DOTA 2, and Overwatch are leading the pack with increasing prize pools, impressive live productions, and massive audiences. It's even coming to TV.
And in the UK, retailer GAME is already looking at new experience stores whereby esports plays a large part of the services offered to consumers. We'll likely see further progress made across the board in 2018. If you've yet to choose a team to follow in your favorite esports game, now's the opportune moment to do a little research, watch some match highlights, and stock up on merchandise.
More loot crates
Loot crates are here to stay, unfortunately.
Unfortunately, even with the backlash that occurred with Star Wars Battlefront II, we'll continue to see publishers work in microtransactions and loot crates into AAA-priced games. $60 is the bare minimum you'll pay for games. Sure, these companies may look to alter the way they implement such systems — clearly, EA missed the mark with the latest Battlefront game — but they won't go away anytime soon.
Games like Anthem are just around the corner, and how these titles implement such systems (they will have them) will be closely analyzed by the gaming community. It's a shame we have to deal with these practices, which were introduced on mobile platforms and brought across to AAA gaming by Valve and Blizzard, but until gamers cease supporting companies who implement loot crates we'll have to continue to fight back.
AAA is (sorta) dead, long live indies
Most publishers are no friend to consumers. Independent developers (those without ties to big corporations) are increasingly popular thanks to incredible levels of quality. Take Cuphead or Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. These are two incredible games that were created without the backing of Ubisoft or Activision. Other indie titles that have made history include Terraria, which remains a popular destination after six years.
The year 2018 will see these developers continue to attract more and more players, especially with the Nintendo Switch putting independent developers at the forefront. Indie games will also grow in size and scope. AAA games will continue to be churned out, but we'll likely see more indie titles be included in best lists, top seller charts and on wishlists of those who have just put together a new gaming PC.
Still no Star Citizen
This is a rather obvious observation, but Chris Roberts's multi-million dollar Star Citizen project is still underway. An alpha is playable right now with any ships you may have purchased, but we're still a long way off before the game is actually released. And by game, I mean both Star Citizen and Squadron 42. I'm personally still holding out hope for the game to be completed, regardless of what's currently going on surrounding the developer and Crytek, as well as the development process.
Chris Roberts and his massive team of talented individuals enjoy keeping the community up-to-date with happenings around the 'verse, which makes the whole waiting process easier to endure. If you've somehow never heard of Star Citizen, be sure to check out the website, watch a video or two, and keep tuned to available feeds if you're a space simulator fan.
Should you pledge your support financially? I have my Black Cutlass and game package at the ready for when the game is released, but this will not take place in 2018. In fact, we likely won't see anything until 2020 at the very least. In the meantime, we have games like Elite Dangerous to keep us all occupied.
Battle Royale craze
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) continues to amass more than one million concurrent players on Steam alone. The game is incredibly popular for one reason: the gameplay. There's no other game available that offers a similar experience, which is what many gamers crave: To be dropped on an island with a hundred others to battle it out and be the last man (or woman) standing. We've seen some attempts at replicating PUBG already, and 2018 will likely see the release of a few more.
Everyone wants to play in a Battle Royale.
I can't see developers and publishers simply sitting aside and allowing PUBG to continue taking advantage of this rather niche sub-genre. Fortnite had relative success, but I bet we'll see some new titles released in 2018 with similar experiences to PUBG. PUBG Corp. has been focusing on its Xbox platform release and while the PC version has gone gold, it's still far from perfect, as noted in our review.
Having some competition will likely incentivize PUBG to further perfect the experience and finally address its optimization issue. Let's hope so anyway.
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