#1 Posted by Leeroi (29 posts) -

It is getting near the end of the year, and I have started seeing posts on a few web sites about how 2012 is a pretty dire year for games. I believe in the article IGN wrote about this, 2012 is the worst year for retail games since 2006, which I don't remember being all that bad, but maybe I just wasn't paying as much attention. 60 dollar retail games were probably always a sketchy investment for companies to make, but in this market it seems like it is just a dumb investment. I am not saying anything new, I know.

Now I was looking back at the games I have been playing this year, and I think I might be part of the problem. I have bought and played exactly three games that were made this year: Mass Effect 3, Walking Dead, and Assassin's Creed 3, and Walking Dead isn't even a full retail. Instead of new games, I have been cheap, taking advantage of Steam Sales and GameFly for my gaming needs. What worries me is that if most people do this, the 60 dollar retail games that I eventually buy a year later for 10 bucks or less will just stop being made and we will live in a world where the only new games being made are cheap mobile and tablet games. I have tried em. I don't like em. Even the supposedly killer app ones like Horn or N.O.V.A. 3 are just boring, and difficult to control.

Personally 60 dollars is more than I have to spend on a video game. It is like how 20 bucks is more than I have to spend to take my wife and myself out to see a movie. I just can't justify the investment on more than 2 or 3 a year. I have bills to pay. I don't think I am the only one.

I know I missed out on some decent games this year. I will eventually get to them, when they are cheap and I have time, and since I have no real interest in multiplayer, I won't miss out on much getting to them late. Right now that well of interesting games that I have to dip into is at least half way full. What worries me is that well might dry up completely in just a few years.

#2 Edited by Dan_CiTi (3173 posts) -

2006 had Okami and Mother 3, soooooo yeah. Well the difference in going and seeing a movie is that once you see it, you have to pay again to see it, almost no matter what. Where with video games, you can play them again and again, I mean I still love Red Dead Redemption and CoD4's multiplayer to this day. Though I am the type of person who likes finding places like Angular Isle in The Wind Waker just because it looks cool and I like hanging around it.  
 
Also there's hella good downloadable games this year. Also maybe you should pick up a DS Lite and one of those notSuperkard DSTwo's. 

#3 Edited by Salarn (463 posts) -

If the article you're talking about is this one from IGN

It's based on the NPD numbers, which are less accurate every year. The reason is that they don't count digital distribution of any kind. So by NPD numbers, $0.00 was spent on steam last year, $0.00 was spent on XBL or PSN or eShop, $0.00 was spent on DLC, Subscriptions, or micro transactions.

The PA report had a good write up on the NPD being a garbage source.

Also talking retail sales by $ amount, the last NPD report does not include Nov. which has the WiiU launch, Halo 4, and CoD:Blops2

#4 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4676 posts) -

Not that this year is bad as there are several game I liked this year. The problem is that there are no really fantastic games like the last several had.

#5 Posted by NoobSauceG7 (1233 posts) -

The games this year are great. It is a shame that people are not buying as many games as they would in the pst I guess.

#6 Posted by megalowho (960 posts) -

It's been a pretty interesting year for games now that I can judge my personal list as a whole, more or less. Not a standout year for retail, big budget releases from traditional developers. Very good year for downloadable, creative and emotionally resonant releases from smaller teams. It's partly due to generation fatigue, but it also feels like a leveling of the playing field that's kind of exciting.

#7 Posted by stryker1121 (1345 posts) -

It's definitely a Catch-22, and you and I are very much in the same boat in our game-playing habits. I buy one or two more full retail games than you, but there are loads of mid-market titles (the ones that most need our help) that I'll wait until they're at $20 to pick up. The mid-market or new IP are in most danger of "drying up" as you put it. The big guns are still going to sell tons. AssCreedIII has already sold, what 3.5M copies? I just picked up Dishonored and am enjoying it quite a bit. I guess that's a big title, being backed by BethSoft and all.

I do want to support new stuff and mid-market devs, but I simply cannot afford to buy, say, Binary Domain or Spec Ops at $60. I always say a $40 opening price point for new games would be much more palatable for millions of folks like myself.

#8 Posted by TeflonBilly (4713 posts) -

Dude, spend some more than 20 bucks on your wife.

#9 Posted by Gizmo (5389 posts) -

So far this year, Journey and The Walking Dead are what have left an impression on me. DayZ however, which is the realization of the game of my dreams, is the real highlight.

#10 Posted by Little_Socrates (5675 posts) -

@Salarn said:

If the article you're talking about is this one from IGN

It's based on the NDP numbers, which are less accurate every year. The reason is that they don't count digital distribution of any kind. So by NDP numbers, $0.00 was spent on steam last year, $0.00 was spent on XBL or PSN or eShop, $0.00 was spent on DLC, Subscriptions, or micro transactions.

The PA report had a good write up on the NDP being a garbage source.

Also talking retail sales by $ amount, the last NDP report does not include Nov. which has the WiiU launch, Halo 4, and CoD:Blops2

Accurate, except it's the NPD, not the NDP.

That said, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that retail was hit hard this year. Most of its highest-profile games until at least Borderlands 2 (and, arguably, until Halo 4) were disappointments in terms of reception. Final Fantasy XIII-2 was a financial disappointment, Mass Effect 3 disappointed most people, Max Payne 3 disappointed financially and critically in comparison to most Rockstar games, DarkSiders II seriously disappointed financially, Borderlands 2 has been regarded with varying degrees of "don't fix what ain't broke," we all know what happened with Resident Evil 6, and Assassin's Creed III seems to be being regarded as a critical and audience disappointment as well.

Diablo III did well, of course, but that's also available through digital download and that's probably how most people purchased the game.

So, yes, retail was hit hard this year as the world of downloadables, PC games, indies, and mobile games became more and more appealing. But the only people being hurt by the numbers IGN is counting are console manufacturers and GameStop, and yet the biggest sales of the year for the console manufacturers are gonna happen this year with Halo 4, Black Ops II, and the launch of the Wii U.

So, uh, don't sweat it too much. The problem is that the biggest games were generally kind of disappointing for a lot of the year. That's not to say there weren't a ton of interesting and exciting games released at full retail; I love Mass Effect 3, and could shower The Darkness II and Rhythm Heaven Fever with admiration for hours, and I'm very much looking forward to next week's book on Spec Ops: The Line, Killing is Harmless. But the retail space is seeing a real challenge now, and that should be exciting, and it is. Don't worry about this year's NPD; let the companies involved figure out how to make supporting their cause more appealing.

#11 Posted by believer258 (11635 posts) -

You're not part of any problem. Companies tend to release a game at $60, suck all they can out of anyone who will pay that for it, and then lower it a month or two later to $40 and get a second round of people who wanted to play it.

For the record, I don't think I've spent $60 on any game this year, and I've bought more games this year than I know what to do with. Save your money. And spend it on your wife.

#12 Edited by RenegadeDoppelganger (406 posts) -
Digital distribution, free-to-play, mobile don’t get counted in NPD’s monthly numbers, and these are all areas that are booming. This is why we questioned that organization’s claim, back in September, that 12 million gamers have mysteriously vanished.

So a big chunk of the picture is missing (digital) and there's not even a mention of DLC which seems to be more prevalent than ever this year. I mean, this pretty much discounts all PC game sales entirely not to mention everything from XBL and PSN. Increasingly this is where people are buying their games. iPhone, Tablet, Free-to-play, and Facebook games were probably the fastest growing segment of games this year, not even considered.

In the gamasutra article this point is addressed in the last paragraph

Perhaps [year-over-year sales decline] is what it will finally take to encourage publishers and other outlets to begin publishing digital sales figures at least in the very modest detail we get for retail. Even if digital distribution revenue isn't keeping pace with the decline at retail, it would help soften the image of a physical market in freefall.

Also yeah, hardware sales suck in 2012. It's been 6 years, most people who wanted a 360 or PS3 or Wii have one already and within 12 months all of them will be replaced with new hardware (already happened for the Wii). They haven't really gotten a whole lot cheaper this year either.

As for new hardware: Kinect didn't do as well as MS hoped. Vita certainly didn't do as well as Sony hoped. 3DS had a rocky start, seems to be doing acceptable numbers now but it can't carry a whole market segment. Many developers are looking at mobile as being the new home of casual games and have begun to focus their efforts there.

#13 Posted by Phatmac (5721 posts) -

It's just been a year of duds for some big game like RE6 which would have made this year better overall. I do agree that it has been a weak year for fantastic games but I've played enough games this year. Some of my favorites like XCOM and The Walking Dead have made this year good overall. Next year should remedy our gaming needs for sure. Unless they get delayed to 2014. >.>

#14 Posted by TheHT (10887 posts) -

@Salarn said:

If the article you're talking about is this one from IGN

It's based on the NDP numbers, which are less accurate every year. The reason is that they don't count digital distribution of any kind. So by NDP numbers, $0.00 was spent on steam last year, $0.00 was spent on XBL or PSN or eShop, $0.00 was spent on DLC, Subscriptions, or micro transactions.

The PA report had a good write up on the NDP being a garbage source.

Also talking retail sales by $ amount, the last NDP report does not include Nov. which has the WiiU launch, Halo 4, and CoD:Blops2

wow, really? it's completely useless then. 2012 is probably the first year where digital purchases almost accounted for all of my game purchases. not even exclusively digital games too. games like guild wars 2, x-com, amalur, vanquish, or ps all stars would have been disc buys for me last year.

#15 Posted by EvilKatarn (465 posts) -

I haven't bought much of this year's releases either. Armored Core V and Dark Souls on PC were my big retail purchases. I also got Walking Dead during a Steam sale. 
  
Most of this year's big games look so incredibly boring to me. Max Payne 3 with its cover system was one of my bigger disappointments. I won't even go into drivel like Borderlands 2, Assassin's Creed 3 and Halo 4 which everyone seems to enjoy and yet I can't even muster up the interest to actually look at the entire Quick Look of. If I didn't know any better I might even say everyone's having fake fun with those games.

#16 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2923 posts) -

Nah, that's not how it works. Games will just use the sale system more in the future. This is how most products over 10 dollars work (i.e. Cars). In the past retail stores didn't have to offer better prices because there was no where else to buy games. It's always better to sell more of your stock for cheap then hold onto it because it won't sell at regular price.

NDP has been irrelevant for some time (especially PC) anyways.

Also, a sale is a sale. You think anybody is losing on Steam because millions of people are buying their games at reduced prices?

#17 Posted by OldGuy (1513 posts) -

Being really old (and grumpy) so that I remember back farther than the beginning of the decade I'm going to (once again) stick this here for the "games are so expensive" crowd: Games are cheaper than they have ever been.

#18 Posted by TekZero (2663 posts) -

I have bought the least amount of new games this year than I have any other year since I started buying games by myself.

The only games I bought this year that was released this year were Crusader Kings 2 and Darksiders 2.

#19 Posted by ExplodeMode (852 posts) -

The longer a generation goes -> the bigger the selection of good cheaper games gets -> the more a new game has to do to get your attention.

#20 Posted by laserbolts (5311 posts) -

Its crazy that at a retail level I can agree that this year has been a little lacking but man has this been a great year for downloadable games though. Probably the best ever.

#21 Posted by Ace829 (2083 posts) -

@believer258 said:

You're not part of any problem. Companies tend to release a game at $60, suck all they can out of anyone who will pay that for it, and then lower it a month or two later to $40 and get a second round of people who wanted to play it.

For the record, I don't think I've spent $60 on any game this year, and I've bought more games this year than I know what to do with. Save your money. And spend it on your wife.

Pretty much why I hardly ever buy AAA releases on launch anymore. The last game I've done that for is Mass Effect 3, and that's because I wanted the conclusion of my story from the first two games as soon as possible. So yeah, now I'm just buying games from Steam sales or used.

#22 Posted by Phished0ne (2482 posts) -

@ExplodeMode said:

The longer a generation goes -> the bigger the selection of good cheaper games gets -> the more a new game has to do to get your attention.

I pretty much agree with this. Late in the generation i have a feeling people are going to their backlogs a lot more. I havent bought many games this year, but i rarely ever buy games. The only AAA games(that were new) I bought were 2 copies of Borderlands 2, XCOM, and Darksiders 2. Although i did pick up FTL and some other indies. I wouldnt say it was a *Bad* year for games, it was just a middling year with no real standouts. The games that were, or had the chance to be standouts had some glaring issues or just under-performed. But there were a good few sleeper hits in all realms, indies and big name developer games, Dishonored comes to mind. The late generation years are always a little meh, because its harder to catch people's eye because people are itching to get a newer, more powerful box.

#23 Posted by bwmcmaste (838 posts) -

@ExplodeMode said:

The longer a generation goes -> the bigger the selection of good cheaper games gets -> the more a new game has to do to get your attention.

Excellent point. We have a glut of decent games out right now, and there's something for everyone - especially when you consider Steam's offerings.

#24 Posted by Blastroid (257 posts) -

I would say each year there are around 3-5 big games I do not mind spending $60 on. The rest are bin pick ups. For me this year did not feel different or IMO the lack of quality. It all depends on what type of games you like. If you like more types of games than others then there is more opportunity for the pool of games that year to have more big hitters. I like Steams summer sale as I tend to pickup a good 10-20 cheap games for the next year of gaming where I have lack of interest and need something new to me to play.

#25 Edited by Devise22 (202 posts) -

I agree with most of the sentiments that I lot of this has to do with a combination between gamer fatigue due to the longer generation cycle and digital distribution.

Games I have bought this year thus far that have come out this year at a retail outlet have been, Syndicate, Dishonored, Diablo 3, Kingdoms of Amalur, Mass Effect 3. That is it. I did far more purchased digitally, Dust, Mark of the Ninja, Journey, (Tons of stuff on PS + far too many to count for free) Hell Yeah!, Guild Wars 2. XCOM. Among others that I'm likely forgetting.

However I really don't think 2012 is a relatively bad year at all. I think the reason it feels that way is because last year was an amazingly fantastic year. We had good big releases pretty much every quarter if not almost every month. Just to list the majority of them. In quarter 1 you had Dead Space 2, Marvel vs Capcom 3, to a lesser extent Killzone 3, Pokemon Black/White which always sells, Crysis 2 which sold decent. Quarter 2 gave us Mortal Kombat reboot which was a great hit, Portal 2, LA Noire which sold due to it's originality even if it wasn't the best game ever, The Witcher 2 was a fantastic game and a big hit for PC users, Infamous 2 sold pretty good. Quarter 3 saw download hits Bastion and Limbo, Deus Ex which for all accounts was a good reboot that sold pretty good during summer, Dead Island peaked enough interest to see some sales, Gears of War 3, a plethora of sports and novel titles that occasionally did well in these periods as per usual as well. And finally we were hit with a crazy fourth quarter as per usual, but even this year crazier considering how many fantastic games from quarter 4 made their ways onto GOTY lists. We had Dark Souls, Forza 4, Skylanders which debuted and became a big hit, Batman Arkham City which was highly anticipated and was a great game, Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, MW 3, Skyrim, AC Revelations (which despite it's repetitive nature was still a playable title that managed to sell strong enough) Saints Row The Third, Minecraft came out proper at the end of the year, Skyward Sword and even the highly anticipated The Old Republic to close the year off.

The fact of the matter is last year was crazy. High quality big title releases were out that most gamers who have an interest in trying anything interesting or entertaining felt a need to play tons last year. The odd month a great AAA game didn't come out awesome downloadable games seemed to fit right in. Personally I think the fact that we were bombarded with a pretty much crazy year in video games last year specifically last fall that this year as a whole felt more like you wanted to play catch up compiled with so many overhead on games to play/beat that games you may normally buy for $60 or $40 in weaker months such as Ghost Recon or a Max Payne or a Borderlands/Darksiders most people are waiting until after the year is over when things get cheaper. I can say I am doing that for a lot of releases. I only picked up Syndicate recently when it went cheaper, I plan on doing the same for Spec Ops, Borderlands 2 and Darksiders. The only thing I bought with urgency was Dishonored. Even Assassins Creed 3 I plan on waiting till Christmas.

It isn't that we are at a lack of good quality AAA Games though. I mean Guild Wars 2, Diablo 3, XCOM, Dishonored, Mass Effect 3...all good to great reviewed games that sold pretty well. We still haven't seen any sales on Halo 4 or Black Ops 2. Those will sell through the roof though. We had two pretty well received racing games in Forza Horizon and Need for Speed Most Wanted. Torchlight 2 got solid reviews. And we still have a few more games coming. Still have Far Cry 3, Hitman and I'd even say Planetside 2. On top of any surprise hits.

Overall I'd say it's an average year in gaming. Compared to last year though any year would be a bad year for the most part. If you take the time to look at it as I've pointed out it was a crazy year last year for games.

Edit - Just as a point of reference. I went through and counted every Giant Bomb review (which isn't the end all be all of course) of every full retail releases last year and this year that scored a 4 stars or higher. In 2012 thus far we have had 25 of those. In 2011 there was 40. I think it simply speaks to the fact that in 2011 we simply had much MORE good to great games come our way which makes this year feel like less.

#26 Posted by Raven10 (1727 posts) -

NPD does ignore a fair amount of the industry as it doesn't include digital sales, but as a measure of retail health, it is still decently accurate and things don't look too rosy on that front. No matter how you slice it, the retail part of gaming has pretty much collapsed over the past couple of years. I think most of that comes from casual gamers moving on after the Wii and Guitar Hero craze. Sales aren't worse than they were when the generation started, we just lost all the growth that was gained from the casual market, which has moved on to smartphone and Facebook games.

#27 Posted by Breadfan (6589 posts) -

2012 may have been meh for traditional games, but it's been an awesome year for smaller releases. The Walking Dead and FTL are two of my favorite games this year, and from what I've heard, stuff like Mark of the Ninja and Fez were amazing.

#28 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

Sounds like either you have things you enjoy spending money on more than games or financial issues or just don't ever want to spend your money.

#29 Posted by Devise22 (202 posts) -

Just to add to my little rant there as well.

I decided to go through and run some numbers from last year in terms of sales as well. While the critical reception comparison is easily there thus far between 2012 and 2011 you would figure that sales for some titles would be down in 2011. Specifically early titles that came before the crazy fail. I went through and ran the numbers for all the AAA titles I listed for retail sales. Here is what we have.

Dead Space 2 - 2.69

Marvel vs Capcom 3 - 2.04

Killzone 3 - 2.36

Pokemon Black/White - 14.43

Crysis 2 - 2.83

Mortal Kombat - 3.25

Portal 2 - 3.50

LA Noire - 5.04

The Witcher 2 - 1.32

Infamous 2 - 1.28

Human Revolution - 2.66

Dead Island - 3.55

Gears of War 3 - 5.63

Dark Souls - 1.86

Forza 4 - 2.54

Skylanders - 4.10

Batman Arkham City - 7.51

Battlefield 3 - 14.59

Uncharted 3 - 4.86

MW 3- 29.41

Skyrim - 13.21

AC Revelations: 7.93

Saints Row: The Third - 4.42

The Old Republic - 2.51

Not a single "bigger" game from 2011 that was even slightly well received sold less than 1 Million retail units. This doesn't include any digital purchases so some games like Portal 2 and the Old Republic would have even more. It's crazy to think that a large majority of these games were bought by the same audience. That after buying retail games throughout the year, people would still go out and get Skyrim, Call of Duty and Battlefield in droves. Hell even a game like Crysis 2 which was far from perfect sold nearly 3 million units. I think this helps prove my point further. Gamer/wallet fatigue is in full effect this year. Sure Halo and Black Ops 2 will sell. But the constant good selling game after good selling game didn't happen. Syndicate was crazy well reviewed and sold close to 200K copies. Darksiders 2 didn't sell well at all, less than the first despite most thinking it was a better game. Consumers simply weren't going to pay for as many games this year as they did last year. They already had enough to play and have been saving for the big fall releases. Maybe some were saving to buy a new console as well.

#30 Posted by AlKusanagi (908 posts) -

This was more like the year of sequel backlash. There were several great games this year, it's just many peoples' perception of what a sequel should entail seems to have changed.

#31 Posted by BigSocrates (288 posts) -

This is about this console cycle lasting too long. We're tired of the same games on the same technology we've been playing. How many sequels this year were just more of the same, not just in the way sequels always are, but in terms of not getting more out of the hardware and not even being bigger and more exciting. Borderlands 2 was, according to Jeff, just more Borderlands. Need for Speed Most Wanted was just a less over the top version of Burnout Paradise. Skylanders Giants was just Skylanders. Giant Bomb gave out few five star ratings this year, but those games that did get them tended to be something new and interesting (Mark of the Ninja, Dust an Elysian Tale) or at least something not beaten to death this cycle (Xcom.) The biggest exception i can see is Forza Horizon and that A) Tried something new for the series and B) Is the least enthused five star review I can remember for quite awhile. Even the new Halo game which is very pretty and plays well is getting a reaction of fatigue. Oh. More Halo. This is why, I think, a janky and repetitive game like ZombiU can get Patrick so excited, because at least it's DIFFERENT.

Last year was the peak for these consoles and this year, and most of next, are just sort of a plateau coda. The generation lasted too long.