2014 Has Been A Pretty Terrible Year For Video Games

2014 Has Been A Pretty Terrible Year For Video Games

Choosing your game of the year is a fun thing to do. Choosing your game of the half year is something that enthusiasts tend to do when July hits and we’re bored as hell.

So we went ahead and did it anyway because July (and now August) has been a complete wasteland when it comes to games. With nothing new to write about or discuss we did the obligatory, unofficial, non-committal ‘what are your favourite games of 2014 so far’ post.

And that was roughly the point where I began thinking to myself, ‘boy, 2014 has been a bit sparse on the old video games front’. Not just July. Not just August. 2014 in general.

Usually by July we’ve seen more that a few game of the year contenders. Last year we had Gone Home, Papers Please and Luigi’s Mansion 2 in stores/on Steam. By July/August it was already a pretty solid year by all accounts and we still had some massive releases en route.

But when I sat down to think about my favourite games of 2014 so far, I started drawing blanks.

All that immediately sprung to mind were mildly disappointing, albeit completely well-made, functional sequels — Dark Souls II, Trials Fusion for example – and Mario Kart 8. These are games I enjoyed to a point, but hardly games I expected to be in the conversation come December. Hardly games that you’d put in a game of the year list in any other year besides 2014.

Then I started thinking about the remainder of 2014. What was left to get excited about? What was tickling my fancy in the lead in towards Christmas.

Destiny? Hell yes. That goes without saying. Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Call of Duty? Sure, we’ll play those, but I’m sure I’m not alone in taking those games for granted. Their release is as sure and predictable as FIFA or Madden, I’m not sure those games are something we necessarily anticipate – more of an annual ritual we continually partake in (and enjoy of course).

There’s not even a Mario or a Zelda to look forward to. Or a new Halo. Sure the Halo: Master Collection is going to be a spectacular package – a ground breaking package even – but it is, ultimately, a collection of old games we’ve already played.

The point I’m leading towards here is this: is 2014 the worst year for video games in recent history?

I’m not sure, but I do know this much. 2014 has been a disappointment. The tail end of 2013 was also relatively weak in terms of new games, but we had the rush of new hardware to negate that – and the promise of great new titles in 2014. That promise, in my opinion, remains undelivered. Titanfall was a short-lived pleasure, Dark Souls II was a satisfying sequel and nothing more, Watch Dogs disappointed the vast majority of players who bought it.

And we’ve seen roughly 50% of our most anticipated titles move into 2015. The Order: 1886, The Witcher 3 and now Evolve have all been pushed to 2015. 2014 was supposed to be the true coming out party for next generation consoles, but it’s turning into something of a damp squib.

Don’t get me wrong; there are a number of high profile games waiting in the wings. We’ve already mentioned Destiny but Far Cry 4, Alien Isolation, Sunset Overdrive, LittleBigPlanet 3, the new Borderlands — all have the potential for greatness but are any of these really, really going to provide that kind of year defining experience that games like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V provided? I’d argue Destiny has a great shot, but I remember years where we had multiple games competing for those honours. In 2011, for example, Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, Skyrim, Uncharted 3, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Gears of War 3 all released within a couple of months of each other.

And that’s without mentioning your Call of Duties, your Battlefields and your Assassin’s Creeds.

Point being: we’re simply not seeing that volume – we’re not seeing those event games duking it out for top spot. It’s been a flat 2014 so far and this year’s holiday season most likely won’t change that.

It hasn’t been a year for the smaller indie style games either, like 2012 when games like Journey and The Walking Dead dominated the ‘game of the year’ discourse. Seriously – when 2014 is said and done, how will we define it?

I wouldn’t even know where to start.


  • I haven’t seen a year this bare in releases since the tech demo Tennis for Two back in 1958 😛

    • Is it though? Other than the yearly titles we expect to see (Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, etc.), is there really anything coming that’s going to blow us away? Most of the big name titles that were going to hit during the Christmas period have been pushed to 2015.

      • Well for me personally Hyrule Warriors, Destiny, Far Cry 4, Shadow of Mordor, Dragon Age. That’s enough to make me damn happy. Shame about Witcher 3 but oh well.

  • We’re still in the middle of a transition into the next-gen. Very little games are coming out (that are worth mentioning) and so we still have to wait until developers get used to the hardware.

    Probably why PC is getting an extra bit of boom with kickstarter projects opening up on Steam.

    • We can only hope this trend continues. Hopefully Steam Machines continue this well into 2015 and people start to wake up transition away from consoles.
      Then we can finally start getting proper “next-gen” games.

      • But Steam sales are going down because they did such a good job in the past that nobody has anything left to buy!

        • That’s why they need to pull in the console crowd so they can discover the wonderful world of Steam’s back catalouge.

          • And there’s no reason to not own both. Having a PC and a console has ya covered on both fronts. Its awesome to relax and lounge in front of ya console (consoles for us retro gamers) but there’s nothing like the feeling of maxing out your PC setup and a whole other multitude of games to boot!

          • Or just sit on the couch with a controller and PC connected to your TV…. You get the best of both worlds without a console =)

        • but wait a year or two and there’s a new set of games dropping down to the 66-75% off mark. ;P

  • The year of the 7’s.

    Most big titles have been a 7/10 (I frequent Eurogamer for reviews cause I find them less forgiving than say IGN). It’s gotten to a point were my brother and I joke that when a game gets a 7, you know it’s a next-gen game.

    “Guess what ‘So-and-so‘ got?” I’ll say.
    “It’s ‘next-gen, isn’t it?” My brother will say.

    2014 can go die in a hole -.-

  • With the exception of the fact that Destiny seems really short, I think it will probably be my favourite.

    • I think this perception is going to be Destiny’s biggest stumbling block. It’s positioned itself in many people’s minds as a Borderlands MMO type affair, whereas it’s really a mash of Halo’s multiplayer and Left4Dead, relying more on replayability than quantity of story missions.

      • Yeah but how much replay quality can you get vs a game like Borderlands that had much more variables involved.

        • I think the PvP will help there. It wasn’t great but with time I’m hoping they refine it into something I can just do when there’s nothing else to do.

          • Developer focus on, “Something I can just do when there’s nothing else to do,” is the reason I quit MMOs when I run out of actual content. 😛

            In the lead-up and hype, I was actually kind of hoping for more from Destiny. The beta sure put a bullet in the head of THAT idea.

          • Honestly I’m at the point where I’m nearly quitting DC Universe Online and MMOs in general due to the way they structure everything to try and take up all of a players time. I mean I really enjoy playing the game, but I’m currently annoyed with a few guild members who only show up in short bursts when new content is released (meaning they’re not in good enough gear to play the new content, but they expect to anyway).
            I don’t have any problem with them playing that casually, I love playing with them and they’re way better at the game than I am, but the game is essentially forcing me to say ‘hey guys, play even you don’t want to because otherwise everyone else has to work twice as hard to carry you’.
            I always thought I burned out on World of Warcraft because I was raiding on a hardcore schedule to min/max every possible variable, but now I’m noticing that even when your goals aren’t world firsts, even when the game is pretty easy, there’s still a constant pressure to run content every day just to enjoy new content.

            Although in Destiny I’m hoping PvP will be a little different. Strip out levels, unlocks and all that stuff and I can still play Battlefield for the sake of it. From what I played I don’t think Destiny will pull that off but I’m hoping they do.

  • Wolfenstien was surprisingly awesome… Watch Dogs must be the biggest disappointment. Still haven’t bought a next-gen yet, can’t think of a single reason to just yet.

    • I got Wolfenstien on a Steam sale so finally going through it. I think it is a great game, and I finished Watch Dogs. It wasn’t the best game ever, but I did enjoy it to a point. I think it has a lot of promise that got lost along the way. If it sells well I imagine they will dump out a second one that tweaks most of the faults away making for a decent game at that point.

    • I mentioned it on twitter I think… but if you’d have told me a year ago that I’d have preferred a new Wolfenstien game over Watch Dogs I’d have called you insane.

      • Yeah, same, I don’t even intend to buy it now… really can’t slog through another cookie cutter GTA clone – I’d rather wait and play GTA5 again on X1.

    • This is the only game I’ve heard that’s been universally praised. Everything else (MK8, DS2) is over-inflated with hype I think, so doesn’t count.

  • Divinity: Original Sin was a stand out for me. Hearthstone? Technically released this year, that seems to be massive. The soon to be released Wasteland 2 and Pillars of Eternity might turn around a pretty flat year otherwise.

    • Agreed. I actually just completed Divinity a couple of days ago – almost exactly 1 month after purchasing it. Utterly brilliant. I can forgive some interface issues (like a too small inventory window and so on) because it has delivered the kind of time-eating joy I recall from Baldur’s Gate 2. It was a big game, but not as big as BG2. Hoping for a big expansion.

    • Divinity: Original Sin is great. An instant classic among so many utterly forgettable titles. My personal GOTY. Highly recommend playing the campaign through in co-op with a friend.

  • Eh I even think Destiny will be meh. Yes I am getting it but just like Watch Dogs I think it will seem like a great next step till you play it and go “oh ok, just a sci fi FPS that looks like rage that shoots like Halo while getting loot like Borderlands”. It is all hype.
    Something like Witcher 3 should of been GOTY, so to offer an alternative I will go with hmmmm, umh, bahhh.
    Maybe Dragon Age, AC Unity or Far Cry 4 will scrape it in. Can’t think of much else with the scope?

    For the half year Divinity Original Sin or Wolfenstein New Order are GOTY for the mid year.

      • A huge number of people played Titanfall before release and loved it… but then come release that game just had no tail.

        • You only need to look at the flood of articles gushing over the bloody thing, which – thankfully – dried up after about a month.

  • “but are any of these really, really going to provide that kind of year defining experience that games like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V provided” it’s quite possible they will, Skyrim and GTA5 weren’t that great they were just decent sequels in well loved franchises, much like Dark Souls 2 and Mario Kart 8, of course they’re fun to play but nothing made them particularly special.

  • Funny that! Titanfall was a good game, we got A LOT of good indies! Star citizen got the Helmet! Wolfenstein new order was fantastic. I’d agree that watch dogs was the worst AAA game I’ve played!! Sucked so bad! But we have the Walking dead Season 2 to finish, Wolf among us was amazing, Assassin’s creed Unity is coming as well as Forza Horizon 2, Farcry 4, Driveclub, Sunset overdrive and a lot of cool games! 2014 is not a terrible year. Destiny is coming! and dare I say I’m excited for Call of Duty Post-Modern Warfare… Me and my PS4 and PC are very much On; cannot wait for November!

  • Civilization: Beyond Earth
    Dragon Age: Inquisition
    Shadows of Mordor
    WoW: Warlords of Draenor
    The Evil Within

    • I would like to add to this list:
      Next Car Game
      GTA:V / GTAO for PC (and new consoles I guess)

    • I’m also looking forward to Lords of the Fallen which looks like an indie studio’s Fisher Price My First Dark Souls.

  • 2014 gave us Transistor, which is my current GOTY.
    2014 will give us Dragon Age: Inquisition and Pillars of Eternity.

    Your argument is invalid, I think.

    • Pillars Of Eternity also got knocked back to 2015 like everything else. Yes I am also very bummed out by the news.

  • I’ve really been enjoying Titanfall but my favourite for the half-year has got to be Divinity: Original Sin! I don’t think I’ve even bought a console game this year tbh…

    EDIT: Transistor, The Wolf Among us and Walking Dead S2 were all really good as well! But definitely been a slow year so far…

    • :O I forgot about the Wolf Among Us, I guess I lost hype for it after I finished it. It was really interesting though. Can’t wait for TWD S2 finale.

  • Trials Fusion is “my” game of the year so far. Mainly because I only ever really played the trials flash games on the internet and missed out on evolution. Trials fusion was/is also a lot of fun! Fustrating but fun!

    Nothing else comes to mind when thinking about game of the year. I would say Battlfield 4 DLC if that counts? But that’s about it.

  • I agree with Lankwell about Divinity and Hearthstone. Two great games.

    Also, I think perhaps you’re looking in the wrong places for Game of the Year. Maybe this year we should be looking at mobile devices with a little less derision and contempt.


      Ahem. Just quietly though before we punt you out there door… is, uh… is there actually something good turning up on the mobile devices? My commute’s been extended a bit since I moved, see…

      • I did say maybe.

        I’m not entirely convinced Mobile is there yet, but there are some great games.

        Monument Valley is great, and I really enjoyed Smash Hit, despite or maybe because of it’s simplicity. I think Trials Frontier is fun if you’ve not played the console version of Trials this year, although a bit too money grabby, and Republique is good, although technically it came out last year, but the updates have been out this year.

        And there’s this silly little game called “Burger Barrage” which is quite fun!
        (Ok, maybe… I did work on it though so may be biased 😉

  • I get your point though I wouldn’t go as far as to actually call 2014 terrible, maybe a little dry, a bit sparse, but not at all terrible.

    I think 2014 will be looked back on fairly as the first year of the new consoles, where the release schedule was full of Cross-Gen titles, HD Remakes and new games trying to find their feet with the new hardware.

    It’s hardly surprising too, but what you should be doing instead of comparing 2014 to every other year, is comparing the new consoles first year with other consoles first years, and see how they stack up. I think those comparisons would be much more interesting.

    *edit: for what it’s worth, Dark Souls 2, Trials Fusion, Mario Kart 8 and Wolfenstein were all fantastic games, and deserve a lot more credit than they are given purely because they are just sequels. Also, Transistor, Luftrausers, Risk of Rain, Crawl and Super Time Force are just some excellent indies that come to mind. Plus, Goat Simulator came out…so…yeah.

  • Divinity, Transistor, Dark Souls 2. brilliant start to the year.

    Dragon Age, Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity. Rest of the year has got some decent stuff, too.

    sure not as much as some years, but there’s enough to keep me going.

    Edit: thing have noticed is that studios are putting a lot of time into HD remakes / next-gen ports rather than developing new stuff. hopefully that’ll be a temporary fad that’ll go away when the new-gen consoles are better entrenched.

  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. That would hands down be my game of the half-year so far.

    The next Smash Bros is launching later in the year and I’m definitely excited about that.

    There’s not even a Mario or a Zelda to look forward to.

    Super Mario 3D World only released late last year, it’s only been out for like 9 months. I only just in the past couple of weeks got around to playing it myself. I wouldn’t want another Mario game to come out this year tbh. And Hyrule Warriors is due for release in September – that’s more or less a Zelda game.

    You may notice that response is mostly Nintendo focused…and that’s because there’s nothing on the PS4 or Xbone to convince me to get one yet (and even my Wii U was only a very recent purchase). Alien Isolation looks good, as do the new Assassin’s Creed games. Most of the other games I’ve got my eye on have been pushed to 2015, so I’ll probably consider getting a PS4 or Xbone around this time next year.

  • Wolfenstein has probably been my favourite to play so far, South Park was good fun as well. Wasteland 2 to come out later this month, and of course Destiny as well as Civ Beyond Earth. But yeah, it has been slow. I’ve been finding myself playing games 3-4+ years old more than anything

  • Why doesn’t anybody remember South Park? Definitely my game of the half-year, and unless Alien: Isolation or Smash Bros knocks it off, it’ll probably be upgraded to full-year.

    Other than that, now that Evolve has been pushed back, there’s not much else in 2014 I care about. It’s the year of getting through the backlog, which I’m very okay with.

  • I guess Dark Souls II and Walking Dead Season Two are my picks. Mario Kart 8 is pretty cool too.

    But it’s been a pretty desolate year, that’s for sure.

  • “Watch Dogs disappointed the vast majority of players who bought it.”
    That’s a pretty open ended comment. From my own experience, the majority of negative comments regarding Watch Dogs have been from games journalists. This is something I’ve mentioned before on this site, it seems that those who were involved in the day-to-day reporting and rigmarole of WD from it’s 2012 E3 through to now, basically just had burnout from the moment they played it. Some reviews criticised it for things (like the shooting aspect) that work really well in the game. I know I enjoy it, all the people I know that own it enjoy it, and it’s one of the few Next Gen titles that seems to be a ‘must have’.
    I’m sure there’s plenty of people that dislike WD, but there’s always going to be plenty of people that dislike stuff, so how do you qualify that in this instance? This particular comment about Watch Dogs being disappointing “the vast majority of players who bought it.” doesn’t sit right with me, as it’s not that accurate. Maybe if there was a Kotaku survey or something you could reference, then fine, but certainly in my own experience, the disappointment has been from the reporters, not the average gamer.
    Love your work Serrels, always enjoy reading your stuff.

    • I think the biggest disappointment with Watchdogs was not the game itself but the expectation of what it should have been. It had potential, sure, but it’s biggest fault was not living up to everyone’s incredibly high expectations. It set the bar astronomically high and only reached the stratosphere…

      Watch Dogs did a lot of things wrong but most of them were not game related. Most of them were marketing fails. Bowing to console downgrading demands, players expecting a GTA killer, production delays, Uplay, connectivity/server problems etc…
      Even the mobile app was pretty good once it connected.

      In a vacuum, the game was pretty damn good. Even looked nice when people found how to unlock all the hidden PC settings. It’s not a perfect game, it’s probably nor even GOTY, but I’d say it’s far from “bad”.
      The only thing I’d say about the game itself is that it seems to get a bit repetitive in the same way that Assassins Creed does.

  • Maybe not very good in the AAA space especially on the new hardware, but if you’re into more niche stuff (especially if you own a Vita) it’s been pretty good.

  • My top 3 are:
    South Park
    Mario Kart 8
    If it were eligible I would say The Last of Us: Remastered but it isn’t…

  • Good. I’m playing catchup perennially, it’s time the studios gave me a break… 🙂

    • I don’t see why not. By all reports, Infamous: Second Son glossed over Infamous: Second Son. :/

  • Dark Souls 2 is my GOTY pick so far this year. Strong contenders are South Park, Wolfenstein. Looking forward to Divinity: OS (bloody internet), Valiant Hearts (ditto), Wolf Among Us and Walking Dead S2 (ditto ditto), Destiny, Shadows of Mordor, Alien: Isolation, Civ: BE and Dragon Age: Inquisition.
    Honestly, October and November look really promising, and June was a surprisingly big time for releases.

  • I liked Wolfenstein: TNO and South Park: SoT but ultimately once i finished them i immediately forgot them, i was in the middle of another play through of Wolf but i haven’t had the motivation to finish it. Thats the thing with games these days outside of multiplayer, games have little to no replayability.

    Watch_Dogs was alright but it’s the worst type of game, it’s not good nor bad it’s just mediocre, it’s nothing special which is a real shame because i thought it had potential to be a awesome. I got a cool statue though with the Ded_Sec edition.

    Q4 2014 should be awesome though, Alien: Isolation, Far Cry 4 and PC GTA V is what i have got to look forward to.

  • already got my list for the rest of the year so im happy…


  • If I could nominate Last of Us as game of the year again I so would… Such a breathtakingly epic game.

    It has it’s flaws but it is clearly outweighed by the amazing things in that game

  • Donkey Kong and Mario Kart 8 so far. Worth getting the Wii U just for those two.

    Titanfall was great for a couple days.

  • Im still liking Titanfall and still play it a few times during the week, just got another bunch of achievo’s for it just last night 🙂 I think the expansion pack breath some life back into it and we usually have enough of us for two teams…so finding matches isnt an issue.

  • -South Park was great, but only for fans
    -Wolfenstein was pretty good too, I enjoyed my time with it
    -Titanfall was fun for a little while, but the lack of content and decent context stopped me from having as much fun with it as I could/should have
    -Destiny Alpha and Beta were great.

    So far South Park wins GOTY for me, but there is no way that is the same come Jan 1st 2015.
    Still play GTA Online far more than anything this year. I don’t see that changing when I pick it up for x1 and pc.

  • Wolfenstein, wolf among us, infamous and titanfall are my favourite so far. If I had to pick one I will go with wolfenstein

  • I really think this is only an industry problem; it’s actually great for gamers!

    I’ve saved a lot of cash and been able to cut my pile of shame down to a size I’m almost proud of!

    • This! You know what 2014 has been really good I managed to start and finish Bioshock Infinite, start (and not finish) Dark Souls, and finish Assassins Creed II, Shadows of the Damned and I’m probably one long night away from finishing Red Dead Redemption!

      Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare was a great MP game on the 360 and now I own an Xbone I am blown away by how much fun Titanfall is and will soon get a Watch Dogs, Destiny, Sunset Overdrive and the Crew which a looks epic!

      This year isn’t as crowded as previous years but that’s a blessing; we’ve all got these incredible backlogs which keep expanding thanks to steam or all these free game programs, it’s nice to have some space between major releases – but it must be frustrating as hell for people who get to game all day long (ie: teenagers and game journalists)

  • This year I’ve been mainly into WildStar, Hearthstone, Watch_Dogs and Transistor. Played a bit of Wolfenstein too. Finding it hard to have enough time to finish things. I’m very close with Transistor, that’s been the standout game for me lately.

    Also been doing other not digital hobbies which have eaten into my gaming time. There hasn’t been any WoW or Skyrim type games this year (Even GTA5 blew over pretty quickly) but I think those are the type of games that come around once ever 4-5 years.
    I’m still looking forward to The Division.

  • Wolfenstein: The New Order has the nod for me, it’s a damn fantastic game and easily the most fun for me this year.

  • Ryse for me, loved it, eff the haters

    It’s been a normal year with some great next gen stuff, people are whiney and overprivileged, and must have short memories because there’s been far worse 3 quarter years in the past

  • Mario Kart 8 all the way.

    But seriously I have basically no time to play games nowadays and yet I am mainly just playing WoW, Hearthstone & FIFA which definitely says something about how rubbish the stuff that’s coming out is.

  • This will be considered trolling, but hear me out.

    Mark, I think it’s time to admit you just don’t like video games that much anymore. It’s apparent in your articles and especially ones like this and “What happened to the 3ds” etc.

    Apart from click-bait and YouTube videos, I really don’t see how you’re contributing any real opinions or ideas on video games these days. People will say “he played WoW for 12 hours” or “he’s not as bad as the the US writers” but really, they’re flimsy excuses.

    There’s too much hyperbole and links to other sites on Kotaku these days. I have no idea what games you have played recently and what your thoughts on them are.

    I get that we all need a job but I don’t feel any passion or opinion on actual video games coming from you anymore.

    My 2 cents.

  • Most years of recent memory have had shitty first halves. That being said, i fucking loved the newest Wolfenstein, and the hole left in my heart from Watch Dogs was filled and then some by Divinity: Original Sin. Also, Shovel Knight was also fun as hell.

  • Watch_Dogs and Wolfenstein were both underrated. You need to take your time with both and get balls deep into the experience to glean the most out of them and I think WildStar is absolutely brilliant.

    As far as indie titles go Transistor was spectacular and lets not forget the fine additions from UbiArt Framework such as Child of Light and Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

  • Remember back in April? – Child of Light! Still my GoTY contender as it was (quite literally) brilliant. Might have to update stance after Destiny and Civ:BE though. Been hanging for those for a while.

  • Yeah, I can’t think of anything that stands out…

    I’m a bit disappointed that the Halo Collection doesn’t have Halo Reach – I’d rather have that then Halo 4 (sux).

  • I’ve been saying this since January, and no-one agreed with me. LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE NOW.
    *triumphant, yet only slightly-evil laugh*

  • I don’t understand how people can still enjoy Assassin’s Creed games. I found it’s just the same game over and over again, with different character models and environments thrown in.

    • Try the pirate one, it’s bloody fantastic! You get to be a pirate n’that! Phwoar.

  • Most of the big games have been let downs or at least haven’t lived up the hype, and a lot of indie buzz is running out of steam, but I’ve found Shovel Knight to be pretty fun, as well as older downloadable games that keep getting updates. Minecraft, Team Fortess 2, DOTA, CS GO and Payday 2 have stolen a lot of hours of my life this year through updates 😛

    I’m hoping the second hgalf will be better, with Smash Bros 3DS/Wii U, Pokemon OR/AS, AC Unity, and Civ Beyond Earth! I have no idea how I intend to afford them all though 😛

  • I dunno what you mean, Mark. 2014 has been an AMAZING year for gaming! By which I mean catching up on the best games I missed of 2013.

  • 2014 has been (at this point basically *was*) the worst year for video games in a long time. I’m pretty sure it was the worst of this millennium. 2007 or 2012 was the best, 2013 the 3rd best, 2014… very possibly the worst.

    it’s gotten to the point where I think some people are postponing their releases until next year to avoid the stigma.

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