The video gaming year kicked off proper this week with something I doubt any of you missed: Sony's announcement of its new streaming gaming service, PlayStation Now. It's not that much of surprise if truth be told. Sony's hand was tipped when it bought streaming service Gaikai for the princely sum of $380m back in June 2012, so it was always just a matter of time. Although that matter of time has now become 18 months - and looks to be a good few months longer considering PS Now is going beta at the end of January.
I'm not sure about you, but I have mixed feelings about it so far. The service will kick off streaming PlayStation 3 games, which doesn't exactly get my pulse racing. My PS3 is still sitting happily under my TV, and the prospect of playing its games on PS Vita or a smartphone or tablet is of only marginal interest to me. Once the back catalogue of PSone and PS2 games start rolling out, it'll become a more compelling prospect for me - although just how compelling will depend on which games are made available. If it's all first-party hits, my money will likely stay in my pocket. But if the PS Now library becomes a comprehensive collection of near-hits, misses, territory-specific games we never saw, and cult stuff most of us didn't get to play the first time around, I'll be elbowing my way to the front of the queue.
Either way, what we're seeing here is the first major step towards a future predicted by many where almost all games are streamed, rather than bought from a store or digitally downloaded. While that does have its advantages, I'm also dubious about a world where all “my” games are stored down the end of a pipe, rather than on a shelf or a hard drive. I'd love to hear what you think about this prospect - and whether or not PS Now sounds like a winner.
First controversy of the year was the announcement that Titanfall's multiplayer cap is a dozen people. The kneejerk bandwagon was immediately fired up, and lo! There was much hand-wringing, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. I think this was mostly by people who haven't played it yet, because if they had, they'd know it's a decision that'll make the game even better.
Micro-transactions continue to be a hot-button issue, and that was nicely exemplified this week with Joe Danger on iOS showcasing how a fabulous game can be de-fabuloused when they are poorly implemented, and Bravely Default showing us how it can be done well.
We posted the final feature from our 2013 retrospective series, which covers last year's indie games we loved the most. The operative word here is loved - which is the reason why the list is packed with more traditional, “fun” games, rather than the brilliant, critically acclaimed, but more intellectual games that you tend to appreciate more than “love.”
January is usually a bit of a dead zone for game releases, but we did have an odd trio of reviews this week - Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (already a strong candidate for best game name of the year), the rather disappointing Dr Luigi, and the not-a-game-but-we-reviewed-it-anyway Wii Fit U. Which is actually really quite good.
Peering further into this year were three preview features. Cassandra and Mike talked about Everquest Next, Kat pondered what Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition says about the future of the series, and our Jeremy took an “airplane,” as he calls it, to England in the United Kingdom so he could spend some time becoming cautiously optimistic about Alien: Isolation.
And there we have it for this week. See you the next.
Jaz Rignall is editorial director of USgamer.net, a site that would be British were it not for that meddling war of independence.