My name is Jared Whittaker, one of the hosts and Audio Chewbacca of the Super-Fly Podcast and PCW! Welcome to Game Changer, a weekly burning missive about all aspects of video gaming with a little bit of opinion thrown in for fun. Proceed with caution and tread lightly, gentle gamers. It’s going to be good time. Like the first time you saw Super Mario 3 good time.
2011 was another interesting year in video games. A lot of awesome things happened and a lot of not so awesome things happened. There were so many great games and announcements this year that most gamers were on the edge of their seats all year long. Seemed like even when big games were coming out, you were excited for the new game but in the back of your mind, you were getting ready for the next monster game. So, with that said, here are some of the Game Changer Awards for 2011.
Biggest D*ck Move in Gaming in 2011 – Winner: EA’s online pass/Turning off online game servers
There were a lot of bad moves and decisions in 2011. The whole PSN outage. Activision pulling the trigger on it’s master plan to further monetize the Call of Duty fan base by finally introducing their
paid stat tracker incentive membership package, Call of Duty Elite and Nintendo’s overconfident reveal of the Wii U to name a few. But the biggest d*ck move of the year was something that may have slipped under people’s radar. Earlier in the year, publisher EA, in a move to make a little more dough and strike a blow against the evil that is used video game retailer, implemented a new online pass system for all their games. Meaning if you bought the game new, you would be given a code to play the game online. If you sell the game, the next buyer of the game would have to pay for another code if they wanted to play online after the code was used by the original owner. On top of that, EA started turning off the online servers for their games that were two years old and beyond. Starting with the sports games and moving to all their games later in the year, if you like playing Madden 2k7 or Skate online, forget it. You’ll have to upgrade to the new versions of the game. Thanks EA. while I liked Skate a lot, I don’t like it enough to drop $60 every year just to it play online. If I pay for a game, I should be able to play it for as long as I want with ALL it’s original features. I know you’re starving, EA but d*ck move, EA. Just saying……
The “What the Hell Happened To….?” Award – Winner: Team Ico’s “The Last Guardian” for Playstation 3
For years now, Sony has been talking about the latest Team Ico game for the PS3, The Last Guardian. The first game for the “new” system had so many gamers excited to see what would come next from the makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. From launch, Sony has talked up how The Last Guardian would take gaming to the next level. Trailer after trailer came at E3 after E3. But this year, talk of the game’s release date came at the Tokyo Game Show as “Holiday 2011″. While technically Team Ico has two weeks left to get the game out, it’s looking like it wwill be ANOTHER year without seeing anything but pre-rendered video of the game. It’s not to say that the game won’t be great, but with talk of new consoles getting announced in 2012, it’s looking unlikely that we’ll get to play The Last Guardian on the PS3 anytime soon. It’s a damn shame.
Biggest Fanboy Flame War Topic Award – Winner: What’s better? Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3.
While within the Pop!ulation, this could have easily gone to Game of the Year: Batman: Arkham City vs Skyrim, (By the way, it’s Skyrim. Sorry everyone) but hands down it was the throwdown between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Both are amazing successes in sales. Both have rabid, to the point of obnoxious, fan bases. So when earlier in the year it was announced that both games would come out on the SAME DAY, internet gaming forums, gaming sites and social media site self-destructed. The publishers of both games, Activision and EA went crazy stoking fanboys into a frenzy during Battlefield 3′s beta and the 100 million dollar marketing budget for MW3. Of course, this was a moot point because both games were very good. But that said, without the battle of the fans, we wouldn’t have gotten this awesome track…
Biggest Bro-Fest Game of the Year Award – Winner: Bulletstorm
While there were a lot of contenders, and in a year were a Call of Duty game came out, there was no shortages of high fiving, bro games. But the biggest crotch grabbing, bear toasting, screen yelling manly man’s games this year had to be People Can Fly and Epic Games’ Bulletstorm. The makers of the Gears of War series won’t be mistaken for making a deep, story driven epics, but Bulletstorm didn’t even try. The game was too busy listening to the sound of it’s own dick slapping against it’s leg. With more grade school humor and dick jokes than a Korn/Skrillix concert, Bulletstorm beat you over the head with it’s Scott Steiner-like manliness. And this is the year that Duke Nukem Forever finally came out. The above video should be evidence enough. Before this game, the phrase “I’m going to kill your d*ck!” NEVER left my mouth. Thanks, Bulletstorm.
Best Trend in Gaming in 2011 Award – Winner: Games going Free to Play
In a economy where everyone is hurting financially, make every project count is paramount. Game production costs are at an all-time high. So a few games took the ultimate gamble in going Free to Play, meaning that the core game is free for anyone to play, but having extra items or features available if the player pays a certain amount. To listen to big wig types, if given the chance, the general public will steal products and never look back. But flying in the face of this mindset, Team Fortress 2 went Free to Play early in the year and the game is continuing to bring in revenue. DC Universe Online had a big opening, but when the game went Free to Play, it got a much bigger buzz around it. Towards the end of the year, more and more games started adopting the Free to Play model with varying results. (Looking at you APB Reloaded) And with more games trying to use the model to further it’s profile, (Super Monday Night Combat will be going launching Free to Play in 2012 after it’s predecessor, Monday Night Combat launched as a paid game) get ready for more and more games to try this approach. I say good on you. nothing make you want to buy something as much as someone giving you a quality product for free.
Worst Trend in Gaming in 2011 – Winner: Halo games every year
I’m not a Halo fan and I don’t any no bones about it. But Even I will admit that the series is wildly popular and people seem to like it. But this year was going to see the Halo series start to “Reach” critical mass. After Bungie left Microsoft, MS made no bones about there being more Halo games. Then it was quietly announced that MS has made a new studio, 343 Industries, to solely make new Halo games and that there would likely be a new Halo game “more often than every three years”. Then we got Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, an HD remake of the first Halo game. We got a teaser trailer at E3 for Halo 4 for 2012. Sounds like we’ll be seeing Master Chief again pretty soon. While the series is hot, making it a yearly “event” isn’t the move. MS trying to “Marvel” the fans of the popular series, might work for a while, but sooner or later it’s going to collapse under the weight of so many releases. See Guitar Hero/Rock Band and Tony Hawk. Unstoppable video game series that no one thought would ever go away. But, due to over-saturation of the market and dropping some mediocre titles can sink any successful game series. So, be excited now, Halo fans. You could be next in line to see your favorite game crash into a wall. It could happen.
Game Changer Game of the Year – Winner: Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
Elder Scrolls games are massive games and I get why people don’t dig them. I also can see why slightly more linear games are seen as better in some gamer’s eyes. But the sheer scope of the game is enough for me to call Skyrim my GotY. Sure, there were a lot of awesome games this year. Portal 2 (remember that?) was almost the perfect game, adding to all the things we all loved about the game in the first game and being more than just a puzzle game this time around. Gears of War 3 boiled down everything people liked in the series and refined it. The Call of Duty/Battlefield games made a big cinematic splash in it’s action movie-like, rollercoaster ride campaign. Arkham City made you feel more like Batman this time around. But, for me, Skyrim made the game about ME and what I do in the game. Some call it tedious. But if you don’t want to do the seriously huge amount of micro-managing you can do in the game, you really don’t have to. I like the fact that I can play the way I want to and get into the game as deep as I possibly want to. The feeling of freedom, that I admit some people don’t like, is what pushes Skyrim way over the top for me. And Hey, it’s my awards column. I can do what I want.
And that’s that. I realize that I’ve missed TONS of games, but next week, I’ll be adding more awards. So get ready for that.
Thanks for reading and keep gaming…..
Jared Whittaker plays a lot of games. Not as much as he’d like, but as much as time and money will allow. If you want to play some games with Jared, you can find him on Playstation 3; PSN tag: JFX. He is also on Steam and Battle.net as JFX316 and while he doesn’t have an Xbox 360, he has the coolest Gamertag in the world: Obiwan Jaborni. Feel free to add him as a friend or email him at JWhittaker@PanelsonPages.com. and on Twitter as JFX316