7th December 2009 - Despite the slow start to 2009, there were many highlights this year. Whether it was 'new' announcements or shifts in the old way of doing things, below is five things that changed the way we play.
1. Microsoft and Sony make good on their digital distribution and DLC offer
On the back of 2008, the year opened with more DLC than we knew what to do with. Furthermore, after last years promises of digital distribution and the increasing shift towards on-line content and exclusives, the drought was finally broken. It may have taken all year to see both systems embrace streamed movies but the shift to hard drive storage over the disc was clearly evident.
Count at least five DLC packs for Fallout 3, two for Fable 2, two for Tombraider and of course 2 new episodes for GTA 4 and even games like Shadow complex meant we weren't obligated to go outside and buy content on a disk. Ironically the popularity and size of some of this DLC meant that publishers went back to shipping this content on disks anyway; singular or in sets-just to maximize profit. Now, it’s almost expected that a game is to receive some DLC immediately after its release.
2. Microsoft announces 'PROJECT NATAL' at E3
Microsoft's best kept secret, no one knew just how big Natal was going to be or just how far MS was going to take it, until at E3 it all came out of the bag. In many ways announcing it and showing it as they did, brought things like 3D TVs’ to the forefront, meaning that 3D home theaters and entertainment is no longer a pipe dream.
Natal might actually still be a year off, but it is here to stay, openly challenging the way we interact and play our games. Like the Wii before it, a new normal has been created and Sony was quietly worried.
3. Sony responds with SLIM and a massive Price Drop
More practically and closer to home, Sony had an ace up their sleeve and ended up taking out the year, beating Microsoft for a few simple reasons. Cheaper prices, slimmer system, more integrated compatibility and larger storage. Sony also triumphed with a digital TV tuner/recorder called PlayTV. That said Sony falls flat trying to copy Natal with a supposed '3D' SISAX controller.
4. PlayStation 3 outsells XBOX 360 NDP for first time since launch; Nintendo doesn't care
This was almost a given, after the success of the PS3 Slim. In September the NDP sales of Sony were finally more than Microsoft's since the first time the system launched. Nintendo tends to have the highest due to the overwhelming sales of the DS and Wii, but it was Sony’s moment to shine as people started to question, just what the XBOX could offer.
Curiously Sony always seems to shoot itself in the foot taking one step forward and two backwards. The clincher to this whole deal would have been the announcement of Sony’s' new PSP GO! But at such a high price rate, an inability to brick/un-brick and a holely digital distribution plan, meant no one was willing to trade. It arrived, but couldn't find its way and hasn't been heard from since.
5. MW2 makes all the games late for 2010
At least Modern Warfare 2 was the success everyone was hoping for. That said was it worth so many games being pushed to next year just to accommodate a game that by all rights was better than it should have been? So close to Christmas, people are now looking forward to next year with early new year releases such as Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, Final Fantasy XIII and Splinter Cell. October and November saw the release of a number of high profile contenders, with a few hints at the future including 3D TVs and wireless motion sensitive skateboards.
The result? Sony played catch-up this year, and actually caught up while Microsoft tried to stay ahead of the competition. Microsoft realized that Sony was here to stay while Nintendo sat on the side line, happy to look on whilst continually raking in the sales. In a time where system exclusivity means little, more and more the games we play are being shaped by the systems we play them on, with concessions being made for achievements, downloads and controller interface. The dream of networking and 'accessing everything, everywhere at all times' is becoming a reality and I for one am excited about where this will take us next.
Article Written By Ian Crane