In a typical Microsoft move the response came quickly…They backpedaled and dropped the requirement and Orth quietly slipped away to pursue his career elsewhere. Of course Sony seized on the opportunity and made light of Microsoft’s troubles with their own PR campaign highlighting their contrarian stand on used games and always-on connections for their console. In shot, if Microsoft said something stupid, Sony was there to take advantage of it.
When it came to actual games it was all about the shooters. EA built up the hype for Battlefield 4 starting from Christmas of 2012 with early access to a closed beta for those unfortunate enough to pre-order the ill-fated Medal of Honor:Warfighter. Call of Duty:Ghosts was the spotlight game of the XBOX 1 reveal which spawned hundreds of YouTube videos poking fun at 20 minutes of gameplay featuring a dog and a TV tuner.
SimCity and Diablo 3 made news but not for cutting edge graphics or groundbreaking gameplay. Instead we saw a troubled launch day for SimCity with server outages and Diablo 3 developers finally admitting that their new marketplace had essentially ruined the game.
Battlefield 4’s launch went so badly that it’s first DLC packs were delayed by 2 weeks and in a rare move EA actually offered refunds to disgruntled pre-order customers.
In a related story EA is being sued in a class action lawsuit but not by its customers as you’d expect but rather by its shareholders. The suit alleges that EA misrepresented the serious issues with Battlefield 4 to drive up its share price.
Call of Duty: Ghosts was Activision’s entry into the 2013 triple-A launch wars but aside from the comical focus on a dog was little more than a halo console release for both Sony and Microsoft. That makes sense since unlike Battlefield 4, Ghosts was little more than a minor franchise release akin to Battlefield’s Bad Company series. It relied on an updated but still long in the tooth graphics engine that paled in comparison to Battlefield’s Frostbite 3.
There were other releases that should have made more news like Crysis 3 and Need for Speed: Rivals but spectacular launch failures and constant console hype drowned them out.
Hardware news was less than exciting for gamers as the graphics wars cooled. Both AMD and Nvidia chose to refresh current designs saving their newest stuff for the end of the year. AMD’s new volcanic islands was launched leading to the flagship R290X. In contrast, Nvidia’s 700 series cards still hold reign while the 800’s won’t be seen till Q1 2014 at the earliest.
CPU news was a bit more exciting with the long awaited 4th generation Intel processor, Haswell, launched in the summer and powering the long awaited refresh of the Mac Pro. With better onboard graphics the pendulum for mainstream computing moved closer to the elimination of discrete graphics cards.
AMD followed suit with its Fusion APU designs powering both next generation consoles and offering the best integrated graphics in the industry. Based on AMD’s 6000 series of graphics processors the platform is capable of supporting entry to mid level gaming without the need for a discrete GPU.
We had weird stuff too. Nvidia decided to make the handheld Android gaming device, Shield, an actual product. Still largely regarded as a solution in search of a problem it remains to be seen if it survives till the 2014 holiday season.
dependent on graphics vendors and game publishers to follow suit. As of now the jury is still out.