There really has been something for everyone this year. I think we can all set aside our differences (just for once maybe), and take a look back and marvel at how jam-packed 2017 was with excellent gaming memories. I’d even go as far as to say 2017 has been the best year to be a gamer. Period. We all tend reminisce to the gaming glory days of our childhood, and view those pad-in-hand afternoons that never seemed to end through rose-tinted nostalgia-glasses. Myself included. Admittedly, 2017 has come with its fair share of controversies. The biggest of which being the whole microtransactions / loot boxes fiasco. But I don’t think there are many who would contend that 2017, a year where we’ve all been treated to a non-stop highs, probably tops any year that’s gone before.
And deep down, even if we’ve never been the biggest Nintendo fan (that includes me), we’re all really happy to see the Switch do so well. Nintendo has been flailing about ever since the WiiU, and despite any animosity felt towards Nintendo for dragging their heels, they’ve really stepped up their game with the Switch. This sometimes-harmonious and sometime-rocky marriage of home console and portable device has gone above and beyond what we expected it to achieve. Some said the idea was too gimmicky, bound to doom Nintendo to failure. But sales are skyrocketing month-on-month, and looking to achieve at least 3 million units sold in this December alone (source: Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter). This is simply crazy when you consider that since release, total sales at the end of November were 10 million. It looks like the Switch was on a lot of people’s Christmas wishlists!
But it’s not just about the sales. The Switch has recaptured our imaginations and our curiosity in a way not seen since the Nintendo 64. Instead of titles like Zelda and Mario being the only draws of a Nintendo console (even though the ultra-successful Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey have scored 9+ scores from nearly everyone), there are now a whole rafter of interesting indie titles, as well as very promising third-party support in the shape of Doom and Skyrim. As a long time Nintendo-skeptic, I have been whole-heartedly convinced that a Switch will be worth my time and money.
Even though the Switch held the spotlight for most of 2017, the PS4 and PS4 Pro had their fair share as well. Sony has gone from strength to strength with their flagship series of consoles, pushing the boundaries of 4K output with the PS4 Pro, encouraging more first party developers to make use of Virtual Reality, and (most importantly) delivering an incredible lineup of console-exclusive titles, the likes of which we haven’t been treated to since the PS2 era. Games like the eye-popping Horizon Zero Dawn, the ninja-themed slash ’em up Nioh, and the gripping RPG Persona 5. And there are so many more like that gracing the collections of PS4-owners across the world. Including myself, a long-time supporter of all things Xbox.
But that’s not to say Microsoft’s year has been terrible … well, not completely terrible. They’ve certainly had a late push for the finish line in 2017 with Cuphead storming the charts, as well as the release of what many are calling ‘The Beast’ – The Xbox One X; the most powerful console to date, a fair match for many PCs (maybe). It sold nearly as many consoles in its first week of release as the Nintendo Switch! So even though 2017 may not have been Microsoft’s best year, they’ve set themselves up to have a stonking 2018.
2017 has come after a series of years where maybe I would look forward to perhaps 2 or 3 titles. You can probably blame my lack of exploring the indie scene for not being satisfied previously, but the past 365 days has seen such an explosion of quality that it blows anything that’s come before out of the water. Graphics, narrative, multiplayer experiences – the list goes on. And stepping away from the hard facts for a second, I just feel like the gaming environment right now is mind-blowingly rich, and drenched in potential for future glory. A feeling that I haven’t experienced since my childhood.
Although, it seems like we weren’t supposed to leave the year behind without some uncertainty surrounding how games will look in the future. Microtransactions, with EA being the biggest culprit, have threatened our way of gaming in a massive way. Problems like this may deter you from my reasoning that 2017 has been the best year for gaming ever, but things like this are simply a by-product of the huge success of video games. The landscape of gaming has never been more lucrative, which means that companies will inevitably take advantage of it. But as long as we are always there to make a stand against such insidious practices, conglomerates like EA will always be kept at bay. Perhaps that’s just my naive optimism, but that’s really what I believe.
Because above all else this year, it’s the gaming community that makes 2017 stand out. Even back in the days of the PS2, there was never this sense of interconnectivity that the internet has given us, a platform that allows us to have a voice in opposition to injustice. Okay, injustice is a strong word, but it seems to me that this year, the community has come together in a way like never before, to both celebrate the glories of the year, and put a stop gaming’s greatest threats.