Top News Stories of 2016
Well, 2016 is almost a memory, and it has been a big year in gaming. We saw huge launches, amazing reveals, and some spectacular crashes by some massively-hyped projects. And we at COGconnected were there, covering the top stories in gaming every step of the way. Let’s take a look at the Top 5 stories that captured more of our attention than any others this year.
5.) The Rise and Fall of Pokemon Go
In July, mobile developer Niantic released Pokemon Go, an augmented reality game for iOS and Android, and the world was instantly caught up in Pokemon Go fever. Some regions, such as Australia, got it before others, causing many desperate fans to download illegal versions – for which they risked the wrath of Niantic, who threatened to perma-ban them.
So many people were playing Pokemon Go at first that Niantic boasted $1.5 milllion per day in revenue from the game’s microtransactions. It seemed to move beyond the level of a game and became a full-fledged cultural phenomenon – people were using it to find dates, get exercise, and some even claimed it changed their whole outlook on life. One man actually quit his job to play Pokemon Go full time.
The throngs of Pokemon Go players crowding city sidewalks presented problems, as well. It became almost common to hear of distracted drivers crashing while playing the game. Even more worrisome, the frantic search for Poke Stops exposed some younger players to criminals and even sexual predators.
But, alas, the popularity of Pokemon Go was to be short-lived. In hindsight, maybe the first bad sign was when Donald Trump used it to make fun of Hillary Clinton. Niantic also didn’t do themselves any favors when they shut down Pokevision and other Pokemon-finding apps, which angered many fans. Whatever the reason, the game’s fan base began to tumble in late August, signalling that the fever was cooling. By September, the game had lost a whopping 79% of its peak player base. A Halloween Event in October did breathe some new life into the fan base, but the heady days of the game’s early success, when it seemed that the entire world was playing, were over.
In the end, while Pokemon Go may not have had the staying power its developers had hoped, it did make a lot of money while it lasted – and probably helped the Pokemon franchise gain new fans, if the strong sales for Pokemon Sun and Moon are any indication. And its popularity, however brief, also showed that mobile gaming is here to stay – something we are seeing once again with Super Mario Run.
4.) Battlefield 1 Cheered; Call of Duty Jeered
Call of Duty has been an institution in gaming for years – the premier war FPS series, it has counted on fans coming back every few years to the franchise with certainty. But this year, cracks started to show in that unquestioned dominance. Case in point, the Reveal Trailer for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – the series’ latest installment – was not received very well, actually getting 3 times more “dislikes” than “likes” on YouTube. Ouch.
Fans seemed to be growing tired of the same-old-same-old formula that CoD had relied on for years, and it didn’t seem like the franchise was evolving enough, other than putting CoD in space. It wasn’t that the game was bad – it actually looked pretty damn good in any footage that was shown – it’s just that it wasn’t fresh, and people didn’t seem excited. Evidence of that apathy came when Pre-Order sales figures were released in June, and they were alarmingly low.
It also didn’t help that Call of Duty’s old rival – Battlefield – was having a great year. For a long time the second-banana in the FPS space, Battlefield’s latest title Battlefield 1 was garnering a lot of positive buzz. The game’s decision to go back to World War 1 was a brilliant shift that caught a lot of gamers’ attention, and the footage from the Launch Trailer shown off in May looked fan-freakin-tastic.
As fans scrambled to get into Battlefield 1’s Beta, it became clear that Battlefield 1 was shaping up to be a huge success while Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was facing an uncertain future. Even the Infinity Ward team behind Infinite Warfare praised their rivals for a job well done. EA grew excited, expecting huge sales for Battlefield 1 ahead of launch, and their expectations were definitely fulfilled, with the game becoming the biggest launch in DICE’s history. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, on the other hand, debuted to disappointingly-low sales of just 1.8 million units in its first week – far below what previous CoD installments had brought in.
The fans definitely made their choice this year, but what about the critics? Well, they seemed to agree, mostly. Overall, Battlefield 1 got better scores in Reviews than Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. That doesn’t mean Infinite Warfare was horrible, though – it had its fans, including our own Trevor Houston, who loved it. No matter how you look at it, though, 2016 was the year that CoD stumbled, and Battlefield took the lead.
Click on through to PAGE 2 for the next big stories of the year…