PS4 v Xbox One: Second Round
Over Christmas, the epic showdown between PlayStation and Xbox saw PS4 come out on top as the UK’s No 1 console. This year, the gloves are off. PlayStation will hope to stay ahead with games such as DriveClub and Infamous. But Xbox believes it has the edge thanks to blockbuster shooters Titanfall, below, and Halo 5. It’s going to be competitive, with big advertising campaigns and major game reveals.
PC gaming invades the living room.
PC games giant Steam will launch its own console next year. Actually, it will release several consoles. These “Steam machines” are PCs that have been designed to play on the TV in the living room and will come with a specially crafted controller. This uses special touchpads, and if the early buzz proves right, it could become the “standard” gamepad for all PC games, allowing PC gaming to go toe-to-toe with Xbox and PlayStation this year.
The cost of games keeps on rising, and it’s the gamers who will have to pay. The price of blockbuster games in the hard-copy form is already increasing slightly, but there will also be more games that encourage players to pay real money to unlock items more quickly. Major Xbox racing title Forza 5, right, for instance, lets players unlock cars faster by paying, and these sorts of microtransactions will only become more prevalent this year. On the plus side, expect smaller, cheaper games, too.
Wii U to bounce back?
Actually, the answer’s probably that it won’t. Nintendo Wii U has sold so poorly in its first year that PS4 outsold it in just two days. But a price cut this year should help, as will several promising big titles, including Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Brothers.
New games, new ideas
Forget Call of Duty and FIFA; 2014 will be a year for entirely new games to come to the fore. There will be more new IP from major game makers than we’ve seen for almost half a decade. The team behind Halo is creating an online action game, Destiny; the developers of Call of Duty are preparing the aforementioned multiplayer shooter Titanfall for a March release, while the publisher of Assassin’s Creed will launch a sci-fi thriller called Watch Dogs in the spring. And that’s just scratching the surface of the new brands coming in 2014.
The rise of eSports
Overall, 32 million people watched The League of Legends gaming finals online (peaking with 8.5 million at the same time) on 4 October last year. That’s not Super Bowl or Champions League levels. Still, professional gaming (or eSports) is growing rapidly and attracting serious money from big-name sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull. Professional gaming is starting to take off in Britain too, and this could be the year when we see our first UK eSports superstar.