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Game of the Year 2009 Awards

Game of the Year 2009 Awards

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GamingHeaven’s Game of the Year 2009 Awards

A Short Retrospective

Well, here we are again. The year is about to end, the biggest titles have been raining down on us with the fierceness of a scorned woman and all us helpless gamers can do is to sell a kidney and oblige the industry machinery. But let’s be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

2009 was an odd year. If you remember 2008, you will recall that regardless of your genre preferences, you had plenty of great games to play. And with uncanny insight, we predicted that the year would be hard to beat. So we stand here, 12 months further down the road and nod at our predictions.

The biggest disappointment has to be the fact that there are fewer and fewer original games being released. There are no new concepts being pushed forward and it seems that the entire industry has stopped innovating. You can count original IP’s (Intellectual properties) on the digits of one hand and even the genre oddballs are mostly just rehashes of previous success stories.

On the flip side, the developers have gotten really good at what they do. The first person shooter games this year are without doubt a step forward for the entire genre, not to mention that it seems developers finally managed to figure out the CELL processor in the PS3. This and the fact that nVidia are heavily pushing the computational power of their cards means that AI and physics are finally stepping into the spotlight.

With gaming evolved beyond a niche market, it comes as no surprise that the economic crysis (pun intended) is affecting us gamers as well. Fewer games were released this year and with a few jarring exceptions, they didn’t sell nearly as well as last years hits. But there is a certain company in the tech world that is somehow beating the odds – Apple. What does the Cupertino giant have to do with gaming however? The iPhone and iPod Touch have both evolved into a gaming force to be reckoned with – out of the 100.000 apps that are available after only a year and a half of the AppStore’s existence, the majority are games.

With Apple’s backing of its platform and the general movement towards easy to grasp gameplay, casual gaming is the only part of the market that managed to grow. What does this mean for us hardcore gamers? At first glance, nothing good. Publishers are quickly realizing that Zuma and tower defense clones are selling like cupcakes, so they are all lining up with products of their own to serve to the hungry masses. The danger exists that this shift in focus could leave us, real gamers, out in the cold.

We however believe that there is no danger of that. For every 100 moms and dads that start playing these casual titles, at least a few try out WoW or perhaps one of The Sims games. And you can be sure no hardcore gamer is leaving FPS games behind to play Plants vs Zombies exclusively. So, as quickly as the casual market is growing, the hardcore demographic is slowly following as well and no publisher is going to ignore that.

Duke Nukem Forever still hasn’t been released, and with 3D Realms closing shop, it might well never get finished. We mourn the loss of one of the most iconic game characters of all time.

To finish this retrospective, let us glimpse ahead for a bit, and try to repeat our prophetic stunt from last year. 2010 will see the release of some huge games (Starcraft 2 springs to mind) and with the hopeful end of the economic crisis, gaming should once again pick up its pace. The two next-gen consoles will slowly get maxed out, which means developers will need to shift focus from improving graphics to improving game play, story elements and perhaps even make gaming a more emotional experience.

We believe that 2009 will end up being the calm before the storm that awaits us in 2010. That however doesn’t mean that 2009 didn’t see its fair share of lightning strikes.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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