Blimey, what a year it’s been. Love Island’s Dani Dyer and Jack captured the nation’s hearts with their rollercoaster love story (they broke up and got back together, obviously), Alfie Moon’s return to EastEnders had Twitter buzzing, Brexit loomed in everyone’s minds, and the most notable thing to happen in music was Phil Collins rocking the US during his Not Dead Yet Tour.
There were a few exciting happenings in the world of video games, too….
The start of the year was marred by controversy for Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream, with reports of a toxic working environment emerging via multiple French publications, including LeMonde and Canard PC. Reportedly, David Cage’s studio not only demanded long working hours from staff, and Cage himself purportedly did not consider the feelings of his female staff, and is allegedly known as ‘Daddy’ and ‘Sun King’ in-house. Racist and homophobic jokes have also been apparently thrown about within Quantic HQ, although Cage strenuously denied the reports.
I find it impossible not to mention Kaz Hirai without thinking about that meme-generating Sony E3 2006 presser, but to be fair that’s probably what a lot of people remember him for. That, and his amazing parody Twitter account. Awkwardness on stage aside, Kaz is a pretty likeable chap, and has seen the PlayStation brand through some of its most defining moments. Kaz stepped down on April 1, and is now playing family guy in California.
THQ Nordic’s IP-hoovering efforts kicked off earlier in the year, when it acquired Dead Island owner Koch Media for a whopping €121 million. This was an absolutely massive buy for THQ, as Koch owns Deep Silver, who in turn publishes franchises including the aforementioned Dead Island, as well as Saints Row. So, aside from bringing those IPs under its umbrella, THQ also nabs studios including Volition and Dambuster.
Things wouldn’t stop there either. THQ would go on to acquire a number of IPs as the year progressed, including Alone in the Dark, Carmageddon, and Kingdoms of Amalur, not to mention studios Bugbear and Coffee Stain. Not a bad 12 months, eh?
Boss Key Productions had a string of bad luck this year. Firstly, LawBreakers continued to pull in about as many punters as a Jedward gig, while founder Cliff Bleszinski accused former employer Epic Games of poaching his staff. Radical Heights then popped up, but it was a case of too little, too late. Indeed, the studio announced back in May that it had shut down, although Bleszinski said at the time he was simply going to take a break, but hoped to ‘make something new again someday.’ Somewhere along the way that changed, as he later confirmed he was ‘done’ developing video games. Time will tell if this was a heat of the moment thing, but for now, it looks like the guy previously known as Dude Huge has thrown in the towel.
Big Phil confirmed at E3 that a successor to the Xbox One is in the works, with reports soon following that it’ll be codenamed Scarlet. We’d later hear that Microsoft is apparently looking to release two versions of the new Xbox: a regular model and a Cloud-based version. The company has been more open than Sony about its next-generation plans this year, although it is widely believed that both will pump out fresh consoles around 2020.
By far one of the biggest reveals to come out of E3 was confirmation of The Elder Scrolls VI, although, predictably, all we got to clap eyes on was a logo and an admittedly pretty landscape. While it’s obviously a long way off, Bethesda’s Todd Howard later admitted that he’s privy to when the game is coming out – he’s just keeping mum. So, why announce it? Just to give people an idea of what’s on Bethesda’s slate, apparently.
Telltale winding down operations was definitely a shocker. At first it appeared that The Walking Dead studio was still continuing with a skeleton crew, although at the time development of The Walking Dead: The Final Season had been put on hold. While Skybound Games would later pick up Clementine’s zombie-mashing final – Episode Three is slated for a January release – Telltale did later clarify that the company would in fact be permanently closing its doors.
TimeSplitters was the dog’s bollocks once upon a time, although given the demise of Free Radical, and later Crytek UK, most people had probably given up on ever seeing the series again. Enter Koch Media, who announced in August that they had acquired both the time-travelling shooter franchise and the underrated Second Sight. Whether this means a remaster is on the cards or a new game is anyone’s guess, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
Sony obstinately refused to open the flood gates to cross-play until just a few months back, when it finally offered up the feature for ‘select third-party content.’ Unsurprisingly, Fortnite was the first game to take advantage of this feature, finally allowing PS4, PC, Switch, and Xbox One players to slug it out together. Took you long enough, chaps.
Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser’s controversial 100-hour comment originated from a chat with Vulture. The comment went viral as soon as the interview was published, and Houser then attempted to clarify his comments, although this did little to appease most. By this point, a number of current and former Rockstar employees chimed in on Twitter, revealing some pretty disturbing things about working conditions within the video game juggernaut. One individual spoke of a brutal crunch during development of Grand Theft Auto V, while another stated their contract ‘would have been terminated’ if they had not put in 80-hour weeks at the company. It’s not the first time Rockstar has been the topic of the notorious crunch, either; the studio faced similar accusations during the original Red Dead Redemption’s production.
SIE delivered a double-whammy this year: no PlayStation Experience in 2018, and no Sony at E3 2019. This is a pretty surprising move seeing as how E3 is historically the place you want to be flaunting your wares. You might argue that Sony doesn’t really have much out next year; Days Gone is coming and The Last of Us: Part II is due out, well, sometime, but other than that things are looking pretty bare. Maybe the folks at Sony are biding their time until they can chat about PS5.
Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian is the latest company to fall under the Microsoft umbrella, and sure enough, it’s busy chiselling away on its first project for the Xbox console maker. Not only that, but Big Phil and chums hoovered up DmC: Devil May Cry developer Ninja Theory earlier in the year, while Forza Horizon coders Playground Games are also now, officially, part of the Xbox family.
Now that we’ve taken you through the biggest stories of the year, why not have a gander at our other round-ups? We’ve got a handy rundown of the funniest gaming stories of 2018 as well as some of the forgotten stories of the year. Enjoy.