Welcome To The New Age: 2013′s Biggest Disappointments

This piece is a collaboration between Phil Hornshaw and Ross Lincoln.

God, 2013, what happened? We started the year with such lofty hopes. New consoles! Good games! Maybe even a tad bit of growing up for the gamer community at large! In a naive haze we expected a kick ass year from start to finished, and anticipated looking back on it with the same blissful hangover you get after a pub crawl on free beer night.

But then this happened:

This bit of derp is from the impressively execrable Aliens: Colonial Marines. Look at it. No, stop looking at the floor, LOOK AT IT. That’s how the year began, and it only got worse from there. Hype, more hype, then BS, then more BS, followed by broken games, dumbed-down stories, and totally avoidable embarrassments. The one word that most defines the last 12 months is “disappointed.” We’re very disappointed in you, 2013.

We’ll hold out hope for a much improved 2014, but before we can get to that, we really need to put this year to rest.


Welcome to the New Age

The 2013 hype train reached maglev speeds of marketing drivel when it came to the release of the Xbox One and the Playstation 4. Zillions of transistors, cloud computing that could send your TV to the Neptune, social whatsits to make sure your grandma can check Facebook and see how many newbs you’ve pwned — it’s all the cutting edge of console technology.

Except there are no games, and what games there are seem to be mostly the exact same as the games we already have.

Though the newest generation of consoles have sold, uh, coughhack million units each, they’re not without some serious problems between then. Neither the Xbox One nor the Playstation 4 really seems ready for prime time, and both are plagued by weird errors, missing features, and onboard software that’s sure to be patched and patched again before it really works the way both Microsoft and Sony said it would.

That’s okay, though, because the majority of anticipated games for the systems aren’t even out yet. The stuff we can play on our new consoles are things like Knack, Killzone: Shadowfall, Ryse: Son of Rome and Forza 5 — not exactly a jarringly amazing list of new titles. Oh, and don’t forget cross-gen games such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts. Welcome to the new age, indeed.

It’s not exactly the fault of console makers or developers, as, historically, no launch lineup has ever been that spectacular. But for a pair multi-hundred-dollar machines that are supposed to render our old machines obsolete (while not including backward compatibility), the PS4 and Xbone currently leave a lot to be desired. Yeah, it’s cool you can share gameplay videos on social networks, but we’re still waiting on mind-blowing experiences. I will say that the PS4 version of Netflix seems to be much improved, however. Then again, I kind of feel like I just paid $500ish for a new streaming gadget. And I already had three working ones.

Things did get interesting, briefly, when console makers managed to inspire players to pick sides as ardently as Twihards fell into #TeamEdward and #TeamJacob factions. As a result, said console makers (you know the particular one I mean) ultimately haven’t inundated us with intrusive DRM and awful, anti-consumer policies1, as seemed inevitable only five months ago.

But when you’re reduced to singling out “Things are not actively worse” just to find something to cheer about, you’re in a very rough spot. All the really exciting games for the new consoles won’t be out until mid-spring 2014. By then, maybe software updates and feature rollouts will have progressed to make the new consoles more exciting (and a more worthy investment), but until that time, well … I guess, the controllers are better. Whoopee.

1) Yet.

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17 Comments on Welcome To The New Age: 2013′s Biggest Disappointments


On December 27, 2013 at 2:46 pm

i didn’t think that aliens cm was that bad, and was planning on playing it at some point, but after seeing that clip (and falling on the floor laughing) i want to play it just to see how hilariously bad it is. why does it walk like an old person rushing to the bathroom!


On December 28, 2013 at 2:40 am

Back in the old days, you used to be able to take a guy like Kip Katsarelis out back and beat him with a hose. Now they’ve got their d@mned unions.


On December 28, 2013 at 3:42 am

Desperation is a stinky cologne.


Hope for a better 2014 then, a lot of spacesims/builds and whatnot coming, that might be a good thing.


On December 28, 2013 at 4:35 am

@kandori: That’s a xenomorph fart walk.

@Ross & Phil: I think that if the AAA developers don’t want to step up, they can easily be replaced by indie developers. I believe we’re headed that direction anyway. The games industry is in a bubble that’s going to burst at some point, and the game developers that survive will likely be the indie developers. The AAA developers will either just barely exist, or they’ll go the way of THQ, selling off most, if not all, of their IPs to indie developers that can actually breath life back into the franchises. We’ve been seeing the slow death of long-running franchises on life support for a few years now. Developers using intrusive DRM schemes, day-one DLC, “games as a service” setups, singleplayer microtransactions. All these things have been attempts at alternate revenue streams for games that have had varying degrees of success. The problem is a POS game is a POS game, and the savvy gamers are not going to keep dumping money into poor-quality games. We’ve been seeing the change in the gamer landscape over these past few years. A trickle here and there at first, but it’s now starting to reach the boiling point. AAA developers are going to have to sit up and take notice if they want to keep doing business, otherwise, they’ll vanish.

I’m going to be brutally honest here. Just a few short years ago, I really did not care for indie developers at all. At the time, I would not even consider buying an indie game. The past two or three years, however, when I look at various indie projects, I get the same sense of excitement about games that I haven’t had since before the release of the first Mass Effect. When I look at AAA developers, I don’t see much to be excited about. Next year, my AAA purchase list has only one game on it: Watch Dogs. Beyond that, I’m getting more and more excited about the future of indie game development. For the foreseeable future, that’s probably where my gaming dollars are going to go.

As far as addressing the social issues in the games industry, it needs to happen sooner rather than later. However, these social issues are a reflection of greater social issues around the world. You need only look at the news of the day to see that there are ignorant people (some willfully so) that are part of the problem.

The Clue Phone

On December 28, 2013 at 5:22 am

As usual, Ross continues to beat the decomposing horse that is this mythical one-way sexism that apparently exists in the videogames industry, yet completely refuses to even entertain opposing viewpoints and instead prefers to throw mud at these people with useless comparisons to “elderly relatives” and saying “you’re completely wrong” without explaining why. The arrogance of this man, who works for an all-male website lest we forget, is overwhelming.

The reason the industry hasn’t progressed as you want it to is because the majority of us don’t abide by your delusions of male-privilege that hasn’t been either relevant or interesting for at least ten or fifteen years now. It is, in fact, YOUR failure to progress YOUR unbelievably childlike belief system that is holding YOU back.

Still, come back with another tedious, self-congratulatory comment that once again ignores all of the infinite counter-arguments and relies on emotional rhetoric and skirting the issue to try and win the argument on false terms. I won’t bother replying because you’re too entrenched but I’m sure it’ll provide you with some sort of keyboard-spamming catharsis.

By the way, Phil Hornshaw wrote all the same crap about this in last year’s ‘biggest disappointment’ article. Yet more evidence that you’re just abusing a non-story to try and make yourselves stand out and feel better about yourselves while doing absolutely nothing of substance about this issue you claim to exist.


Big the Gangster Cat

On December 28, 2013 at 7:02 am

@Ross & Phil:
Every single game on here that was listed as bad I thought was good, what the hell are you looking for something to rival the Mass Effect franchise minus the crappy ending?


On December 28, 2013 at 9:39 am

@ Phone – You talk as if sexism ISN’T an issue in the industry. Let me go ahead and simply say, it IS an issue. You accuse Phil of “not listening to opposing view points”, were you living under a rock when Carolyn Petit was having some of the worst bile 2013 could summon thrown at her simply because she had the audacity to add a misogynistic footnote at the bottom of her otherwise glowing GTA 5 review?

Lets take an even bigger step back and look at it from a broader point of view. Anytime any woman brings up the fact that the gaming industry is still, to this day, a boy’s club that is all but missing a sign that says “no girls allowed” they are immediately labeled a “fem-nazi”. If its someone in journalism, then its they’re a “fem-nazi that is abusing their position and using the public forum to further along their political agenda”.

So yeah, this might be the same thing Phil brought up last year, but guess what? Every year is the same GD thing! The specifics are different, but the story remains the same.


On December 28, 2013 at 9:46 am

@The Clue Phone: You come on here everytime sexism and racism in the industry are brought up and speak intelligently and eloquently about how none of those things actually exist, and that any argument to the contrary is irrelevant because we live in a completely utopian society. But here’s the truth: you cannot make that claim. Every site that Phil and Ross link to show proof that this IS a legitimate problem. You are one of those willfully ignorant people Foehunter is referring to. You refuse to acknowledge the problem because it doesn’t fit your narrow, bigoted view of reality.

Quit trolling and go back to watching Duck Dynasty.


On December 28, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Penny Arcade is appallingly bad and full of idiots, the company does not even deserve mentioned.

The rest of the article is very good though, 2013 was full of surprising disappointments, not that 2012 did not have it’s fair share. But 2013 just seemed to pump out flop after flop, Rome II:Total War was an especially big let down for me.


On December 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Thank you, The Clue Phone, for calling out the author on his latest sexually-obsessed foray into Nobodycaresville.


On December 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm

The Clue Phone does have a point, Game Front staff do talk about sexism in the video game industry an awful lot even when the topic perhaps should not even include it.

Gaming and game development is a predominantly male pastime, this fact alone means sexism will always be present in some backward corner, just like anywhere else in the world. The only cure is getting more females involved and unfortunately gaming is simply a gender divide as it always has been. Most women are just not as interested in games as men apparently are, I chalk this up to human nature.

That all said I do think Game Front could get off their self righteous high horse and fire Ross to hire on a female staff member, how about it Ross? How strong is your conviction? What was that? You do not agree? Sexist!

So can we get back to talking about games now? I honestly do not care what sex anyone is.


On December 29, 2013 at 11:05 am

@aedelric You are half right. If Game Front is going to place itself on the front lines of the debate about sexism in gaming, it does seem their staffing should reflect that point of view. Your proposition, though, is more of the same fallacious zero-sum thinking that prevents us from embracing more women in more roles in all walks of life. It’s not just us or them.


On December 29, 2013 at 2:03 pm

I was being facetious Earnest, I have no us or them mentality, you just assumed that because you took my request seriously. I was being flippant to prove a point, Game Front talks about equality but is the epitome of inequality.

Ross complains a lot in his articles but is not really part of any group actively trying to address the situation. Personally I think people like him just bring up such subjects because of the controversy, the more controversial the more clicks and comments a topic will likely attract.


On December 30, 2013 at 3:18 am

@Aedelric – Actually, Ross and the Gamefront staff ARE doing something about sexism. They’re doing their *job* in fact. They’re talking about it. That’s what journalism is for. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for change. The opinions of journalists often seem to become the opinions of their readers. The issues they raise can be the only ones people think about. By both championing basic humanity and raising relevant issues, current issues, Gamefront’s journalists are both very active in making good things begin to happen and simply doing their jobs. Why ask for more from someone who’s *profession* is to help change take place? You can’t report current events without causing change too (see my points above)! Also, about the gender inequality in Gamefront’s staff- good point, but Gamefront is also hardly a dudebro self-congratulatory sexism-fest. It’s actively championing everyone’s point of view, and everyone’s quality of life (in so far as our fine hobby affects it).


On December 30, 2013 at 9:14 am

They are not doing anything beyond criticizing others yet not actively including women inside their “brofest” fold.

Gamefront is essentially the definition of a hypocrite, their really is no defense for that no matter how convoluted an argument you make. I am personally for equality but you can not call out others when the company you work for does not actively address the situation in its own ranks.

I admit I never really been a fan of the articles Ross and Phil create, they somehow always come off as complete tossers. That aside they are occasionally right but they are self righteous and often force their agendas into articles even if the article does not warrant it. For an example an article about gaming’s biggest disappointments, it should be about games. A separate article should have been about sexism and inequality, it is a serious issue not something to be tagged on at the end of an article for the controversy.


On December 30, 2013 at 10:36 pm

Dear gaming industry: THIS IS WHY I DRINK.


On January 5, 2014 at 11:30 am

“the indie scene absolutely flourished, ably showing the triple-A guys how it should be done”

Well, when you don’t have to put 80% of your budget into a game engine and the best digital artists on the planet you can focus more fleshed out an dlonger stories to make up for your crappy retro art school droput graphics. You also don’t have publishers oing “we don’t like get rid of it and replace it with this because the 200 peopel we did a focus group with tells us the millions of ga,mers out there want it.”