Now that the slog through the last 12 months is over, TheFeed is in a reflective mood, so we're asking the question that's on every gamer's lips: Was 2007 the best year in the history of videogames?
We asked X-Play host Adam Sessler, who responded enthusiastically in the affirmative. "Definitely," Sessler said, "Unless there was some year in the '90s, when I wasn't really paying attention that was better. But I seriously doubt it. With three consoles competing, and the technology as advanced as it is, gamers are having the best year in the history of videogames."
In other words, like Nirvana bringing punk to mainstream in the 1990s, 2007 is the year videogames broke. Here's why:
It would be nice to think that the driving force behind videogames is fun or creativity, but the bottom line is, as always, the bottom line. 2007 marked record profits for the gaming industry. Even in a year marked by consumer tepidness, one part of the economy that boomed was gaming. Total hardware and software sales through October was $10.5 billion, compared with $7 billion for the same period last year, and that's not even including the record-setting Christmas shopping season. Whether it was Nintendo constantly upgrading earnings estimates, the mergers of huge publishing companies, or retailers packing gamers into their stores, everyone involved in gaming got rich, and in the end, isn't that what it's all about?
Probably the main reason gaming was so great this year was the huge variety of game experiences available to anyone with a couple hundred bucks and a dream. The fight between the Wii, the PS3 and the 360 has resulted in an unprecedented variety of games. So if you want to a casual party game that total novices would like, Wii Sports was your title, and is may be the best casual game ever... where if you're a hardcore gaming fanatic, feel free to immerse yourself full in Call of Duty 4, among the best "hardcore" games ever made. If you want to get lost in a fantasy word, join your nine million or so new friends in World of Warcraft. Plus, the number of platforms were amazing. Consoles. PCs. Web Games. Handhelds. Mobile Games. The only year that even comes close to 2007 in terms of gaming variety is 1984, the middle of the first gaming boom, when your local arcade (remember those) was crammed with innovative, shiny games begging for your quarters or tokens. And that was only good if you were there... back then, 40 arcade cabinets and a hundred bucks seemed like an infinite amount of fun, but nowadays, you could play 40 games without leaving your bathroom.
The unprecedented media blitz surrounding Halo 3 was the biggest of what we're sure will be many, many massive game launches. It was hyped like a Hollywood movie, and everyone (even your mom) was aware of what Microsoft was dropping on gamers. It worked too. Halo 3 is already among the best selling, most profitable games ever made. With the sucess of Master Chief, gaming has probably forever left the geek-ghetto and entered the regular people's consciousnesses and living rooms. Looks for more massively hyped games and greater acceptance of gaming as a hobby in the future.
Oh, right. the games. No matter how much money companies make or how far of an artistic leap is made, if gaming ain't fun, it ain't happening, and 2007 is the year of the most fun games in history.
Largely absent are the complicated control schemes that used to plague too many console title. Most games released this year were easy to control, and intuitive in heretofore unknown ways. Developers have been honing their craft and learning from the past. And no lesson has hit harder than the lesson taught by the Wii. The Wii's message: If a total novice can pick up a remote and control a cute baseball player without a problem, they'll wait in really long lines to buy a Wii. While other console's game controls are by necessity more complicated, simple interfaces have definitely been a trend this year.
And the games themselves... hardware is nearing the point where anything a creator can dream of can be achieved. Look at the epic, undersea City of Rapture in BioShock. It would have been totally impossible ten years ago to create a game as nuanced as and beautiful as Bioshock, and the attempt would have resulted in tears and frustration for all concerned. But today, there it is.
Games are also showing a newfound maturity. As games go from attempts to imitate movies and toward their own artistic language, game producers are finding new ways to tell stories. Like Portal. There are no cut-scenes. There is no narrator. There is no back story. Everything is revealed through the gameplay and game mechanics, and cut-scenes are revealed as nothing but hold-overs borrowed from the old days of movies.
Like the movie industry in 1974, the number of amazing games that came out this year will most likely mark this as the beginning of a golden age in gaming.
- Call of Duty 4
- Halo 3
- The Orange Box
- Super Mario Galaxy
- Mass Effect
- Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
- Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
- Rock Band
We're sure we forgot many awesome titles, but that's the point: We could keep naming fun games all day long, which brings us back to 2007 as the best year in gaming history.
Of course, the "best year" might be the peak of a mountain or the lowest rung on awesomeness ladder we can only dream of. What do you think? Feel free to use our comment section to name a better year for gaming or argue about it all being hype.