Year in review: Is it me, or the industry?

I don’t generally go in for year-in-review or ‘top games of the year’ posts, but there’s been something on my mind that kind of lines up with reflecting on the past year.

With December winding down the big ‘holiday season’ of game releases has come to a close. I get amped for this season every year, and I was amped this year too; until it got here. Then I found myself bouncing off of new release after new release.

So here in the ‘prime new game’ part of the year I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018), LOTRO (2007!), Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) and most recently, The Witcher 3 (2015). I mean I’ve tried new games like Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, Greedfall, Ghost Recon Breakpoint and The Outer Worlds but I’ve bounced off them all for one reason or another. The only new games I put any significant time into were Death Stranding, (and I’d probably play that a lot more if it were on another platform other than Playstation) and Gears 5.

Looking back over the year, this isn’t really a new trend for me. New games I played a significant amount of were Anthem (which, personally, I quite enjoyed) and Days Gone (which I not only finished but got the “Platinum Trophy” for). The rest of the year I was playing things like SWOTOR, FF XIV, ACO, No Man’s Sky, or noodling around with VR. Even Days Gone wasn’t “new” by the time I got around to playing it.

I’m not sure if this was just a weird year for me or if the gaming industry is moving away from the kinds of games I enjoy. Or maybe a little of each. In general I feel like I’m becoming more of a casual gamer. These days I rarely latch onto titles with a steep learning curve (back in the old days, the thicker a manual was, the more likely I was to enjoy the game) and I have absolutely zero interest in any kind of multiplayer experience. I guess my sweet spot is narrative-driven single player games and there aren’t that many of those.

I haven’t measured or anything, but I feel like I spend less time gaming now than I have, well, since gaming was a thing. I’ve been watching a lot more TV/YouTube and spending some time doing non-digital hobbies. Oh and I’ve been blogging a lot less. In fact I’ve been thinking about shutting the blog down completely.

But then there’s that light on the horizon: Xbox Series X and PS5. Whether that light turns out to be a warm welcoming campfire or the headlight of a train that it about to squish me, I’m not sure. Maybe one or both of those systems will get me excited again. Last year around this time I was getting back into PC gaming but that only lasted 6 months or so; I just still prefer the simplicity and comfort of console gaming on the couch, with Lola laying beside me keeping me company.

I guess until next fall things will remain pretty quiet. Any “hot” new games that come out for the Xbox or PS4 will probably be re-released in “Enhanced” versions for the new consoles once they launch, so I’ll wait on those versions. Even if they aren’t re-released, (and assuming MS and Sony make good on their backwards compatibility promises) the games will run better on the new hardware and be cheaper by then. So in either case I’ll wait to play this year’s big new games on next years fancy new hardware.

I guess 2020 is going to be The Year of the Backlog for me, which is OK; it’s cheap anyway!