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[Gamesbriefers] What was the most interesting game of 2012?
What do you think is the most important, influential or interesting game that was released in 2012, and why?
Without doubt: CSR Racing. It did a number of things that broke conventional wisdom: It had traditional core theming and look and a pretty clear fail scenario. Yet it still maintained short core loops, sessioning, collection goal systems and limited resources from older F2P archetypes. I think it will be seen as a turning point in the history of gaming as F2P matures and the diversity of demographic grows.
I think Whale Trail is interesting also: Flip-flopping between free and paid is not a way forward. Pick one (paid is still viable for some products) and make the best of it.
Neither was necessarily my favourite game of the year. That would go to the game I had to delete: New Star Soccer. Super Hexagon is a notable mention also.
I can’t decide between CSR and Clash of Clans… so instead I’ll go for HellFire. Its the least well monetised game I know but perfectly fills my time with its combination of a card-game model and ‘Paper Toss’ gameplay.
Console-wise Skyrim gave me tennis elbow after 200 hours of play… it was that great. But FarCry3 may well take its place in my heart.
Special mention should be made of Halo 4’s Infinity. Episodic release of free to play DLC may prove to be a huge influence in the coming year.
I’m with Will on the favourite game being New Star Soccer in a ‘had to delete it’ way. That and Fluid Football together showed that even in the most seemingly-locked-up genres (football) indies can come through on smartphones and tablets.
But for most significant… I’d make a case for Angry Birds Star Wars, in that it’s the first mobile game that had a bunch of mums and dads at the school gate chattering the whole week of release. The sort of word-of-mouth buzz that’s completely beyond our games/geek industry circles.
I think Angry Birds’ status as one of the first (and maybe THE first) entertainment brands that children love is vastly underestimated by the likes of us, because what children are connecting to are the characters rather than just the games. When my son asked me ‘Daddy, why does the Angry Bird have a sparkly sword?’ in Angry Birds Star Wars, it hit home what the more familiar brand was in that relationship, from the standpoint of a child.
I couldn’t stop playing TripleTown this year either – that with New Star Soccer is my actual favourite game on any device (console included) for 2012.
My favourite game is New Star Soccer. I have played that game for hours and hours and absolutely love it. Yes it could be better and yes it could monetize far better than it does, but that’s not the point. It is fabulous.
But you asked what the most important and influential game of the year, is and for me without doubt is CSR Racing. It has reset the game as far as mobile games go and shines the light on the huge potential at the end or even down the track (sorry !). Hats off to Boss Alien and Natural Motion. Disney’s loss is their gain.
CSR Racing for me. Outstanding quality and a merciless pursuit of player cash – good and bad points there in equal measure.
I believe the most influential game was Clash of Clans, as it accommodates the short- and long-form gameplay experiences extraordinarily well by scaling seamlessly to the larger tablet screen. It also monetizes subtly yet effectively. To my mind, CoC has set the high water mark in terms of F2P implementation.
I’m going to buck the trend and speak from the heart. Hotline Miami was the game of the year for me, and it’s not so much because it has a beautifully tight play loop (although it has) or because it is extraordinarily satisfying to play (although it is) but because it has something to say about what games are and why we play them. It’s not a business success story, nor does it teach us about how to make games, but it does teach is something about who we are.
For me it’s a tie between Black Ops 2 (because for many gamers, and the public more generally, it’s still the 800 pound gorilla of the Western games industry) and Clash of Clans (because it’s a great, well-designed f2p game which shows what a very different 800 pound gorilla of games could look like).
Honorary mention for Skyrim for its quality, surprisingly wide public appeal and its marketing ubiquity. Although advertising on TV/cinemas/public transport/newspapers isn’t new, I suspect Skyrim did it more than any other game this year.
Interesting question because although we are in a field that moves very fast it is difficult to say how “important” or “influential” one particular game is with only a few months retrospect. On that basis I would say that 2012 has been the year the endless runner went mainstream. From Canabalt in 2009 it took a while (relatively speaking!) to get Jetpack Joyride and Temple Run at the end of 2011. Then this year we have started seeing a lot more games based on the formula e.g. Whale Trail and Rayman Run. Everyone now wants a slice of endless running! I have one branded runner nearly finished and another at the pitch stage. The interesting thing is that when I pitched a game that would now be considered part of this genre at the end of 2010 and no one was interested: “is it a platformer, is it a racing game? It looks very confused to me” was the response. So 2012 represents this shift to me.
If I had to take further guesses of games that may prove to be seeds for the future…
- Dear Esther: To me this game proved that there is an emerging niche market for interactive entertainment that drops the OTT for an understated *arguably* less juvenile, presentation style. Take as second to think about that as it is actually fairly significant. Will this area grow or will it die out like games such as Myst did in the 90’s? Time will tell. If someone successfully mixes this with actual gameplay and it sells then I believe these tropes could diversify gaming in a big way.
- Curiosity & Journey: Simply because they have proven that parallel play with a light & causal level of cross-interaction is something that can work very well. It is conducive to mobile & tablet play too, so maybe we will start to see more of this as connectivity becomes ever more ubiquitous whilst true MMO’s and synchronous play stays risky.
- CSR Racing: It’s proven that you can tune core tastes to a non-console platform with a new business model.
CSR came out of nowhere. Great console team with a brilliant pedigree… and they smash the freemium world apart.
ZombiU for mainstreaming the lessons that Dark Souls taught us, and proving the WiiU/second screen gaming can offer new fun things very well thanks.
The Walking Dead for saying ‘I don’t care I’m not a ‘real’ game because I’ll make you cry and stay with you for weeks’ which has never happened with any ‘gamey’ game I’ve ever played.
From an F2P business angle, I 100% agree with CSR Racing – it’s the game I talk about most often when talking western F2P successes.
As a player, Super Hexagon. Played that more than I’ve played anything in years. And I’m better at it than Will Luton, at least according to Game Center, which means a lot. He will now play it again and trounce me, but at least I’ll know I was ahead, just for a little while.
I’ve been reflecting on this for a couple of days, thinking on how the most important game of the year should reflect all three, and after much thought my answer is Draw Something. Why?
1. Draw Something was the first real “Tablet first” iOS game. It was mostly only fun on the bigger screen, and it showed off the power of what a larger canvas could do if you put your mind to it. I’m of the impression that it was the most viral game of 2012 as a result.
2. Draw Something also probably had the most interesting game mechanic of the year: Drawing. While certainly not the first game to ever use art or drawing, or even the first of its type, it was the game that brought collaborative drawing to everyone. It was also very interesting in the way that it arranged players in teams to help each other achieve a greater score. While this has many issues common to turn-based games (mostly orphaning, occasionally cheating) it did lead to a lot of emergent conversation between players of a type that you don’t normally see in games. From a designer’s perspective, it was very interesting.
3. Finally, Draw Something was the precursor to the business story of the year: the meltdown of Zynga and the general retrenchment of the formulaic social game model. Zynga bought OMGPOP very quickly after Draw Something came out, as a clear land grab for users, only to see it deflate significantly (which many designers sort of suspected it would, given it was turn-based and somewhat limited in scope). This forced Zynga into a humiliating write-down a few months later, which was one of the events in a series of losses and share slumps, and gave a clear signal that Zynga had gone right off the rails.
I am going for skylanders. They have really shaken up the business model – I know it technically was 2011, but I think they really have nailed it this year.