The Big Three- Who Will Win 2015?

I take some of the most anticipated hits from games announced so far from each of the top 3 publishers and compare the publishers offerings for the year.

Each year all the publishers make an effort to push some of the best games they have to offer, while most are usually announced far in advance others are sometimes a closely guarded secret until E3. I picked several known games and some unknowns that will most likely release this year from the largest publisher/developer conglomerates in the industry, and dissect just what they have to offer for the year. Let’s jump in and take into context their past and presentation of their present strategies.

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Ubisoft

Potential Standouts:
  • The Division
  • Assassins Creed Victory
  • Rainbow Six Siege

The Division has got to be the biggest title currently under development by the French Developer/Publisher Ubisoft, even bigger then titles like the next Assassin’s Creed. With so much riding on this new title and its possible continuation as a series especially with the relative failure of last years The Crew and Assassins Creed Unity, one would have to wonder if Ubisoft has indeed learned from its past games.

The Division has a pretty interesting premise as it’s an apocalyptic scenario in the future based on a real world training scenario for biological attacks, called “Operation Dark Winter” which according to Wikipedia “was designed to carry out a mock version of a covert and widespread smallpox attack on the United States”. The scenario in the game is similar with sleeper cell agents who had launched a widespread biological virus that had killed most of the population in the U.S, the agency named after the game, is tasked with preserving what remains of the U.S and restoring order.

The games main draw of course though is in its multiplayer RPG and open world, this on top of a third person perspective and it’s teamwork/squad based gameplay make this title pretty unique in this age of first person and limited player count multiplayer games. Though it’s not exactly sure how expansive the multiplayer of the game will be yet. There is a possibility of a public alpha/beta coming and with the full release supposedly stated to be coming in October, and a potential showing at GDC 2015 it won’t be long before players can try out the world for themselves. This is definitely Ubisoft’s strongest competitor for the year.

V for Victory?

 Assassins Creed Victory comes following the unsuccessful launch of Unity, in which numerous bugs made the game unplayable for many gamers or just downright amusing and not in a positive way. While Ubisoft tried to make amends, offering gamers free games to compensate and I’m sure is trying to convenience everyone it won’t happen again, as they have handed development over to a new studio Ubisoft Quebec, but with the flaws seen time and again in the quality control of annualized releases, the analytical gamer would have a hard time taking them seriously

Rainbow Six Siege

Also formerly known as Rainbow Six PatriotsRainbow Six Siege is a reboot to the Rainbow Six series that has been dormant since Rainbow Six Vegas 2 in 2008. Rainbow Six Siege is similar to the new Battlefield Hardline in theme, with cops and stereotypical “Bad guys” fighting each other, but with a heavy focus on hostage rescue. The gameplay looks clean and polished. 

Retrospective: Those who fail to look at History are doomed to repeat it…

If you look at the games released by Ubisoft last year it’s clear Ubisoft was a little too ambitious in its attempts to make too many games too quickly. Watch Dogs for example was a much anticipated title and was the first major title to hit in 2014, But a failure to communicate to its fans that their games were simply too large and complex to attain the same level of visual flare, led some to believe the game was downgraded (something that was repeated with the “parity-gate” controversy in ACU), generic storyline, repetitive side quests and generally felt uninteresting characters especially in its main protagonist, it just didn’t feel like the game lived up to its promises or had much life in it to make it compelling enough for a lot of gamers. It still sold enough to warrant making a sequel most likely attributed to the amount of hype surrounding its release.

The Crew and Unity also highly anticipated and ambitious titles also suffered, but from more fundamental problems making them at times unplayable, though through recent patches these have largely been fixed. Yet, some issues still remain. It remains to be seen if Ubisoft understands how to fix these same repeating issues in their future games, given how they are still launching just as many ambitious titles this year. 

However, it appears they are moving in the right direction with titles like The Division with a recently discovered Public Alpha found disabled within the official sites HTML code:

Activision 

Potential Standouts:
  • New Call of duty
  • Tony Hawk reboot
  • Guitar Hero reboot
  • Overwatch

Activision/Blizzard seems to be in an interesting position this year, With Blizzard’s first new franchise in 17 Years, Overwatch coupled with Activision’s Destiny signal a notable change that could soon mean replacing COD as Activision’s main revenue drivers. Though the new Call of Duty release will probably still make up its main share of revenue this year. Supposedly set in World War 2, this new release has some old time fans excited for its return to its authentic roots especially with the last Call of Duty’s shift into a more story driven narrative in its campaign, old timers are desperate to relive the WWII days that made the franchise famous with a solid story and multiplayer, but for players like myself it just leaves me wondering how long will this franchise last before it is eventually replaced? Someone seriously needs to put this franchise out of its misery.

New Blood

Blizzard has been in an odd lull since it hasn’t really made any new IP in over 17 years, but that’s all about to change with their new FPS, Overwatch. A first in the traditionally MMO focused developers line up, Overwatch’s arrival as an FPS shows just how massively influential the genre has become as even the largest MMO maker is now trying new waters by releasing this new IP. 

 

Though this game started as something much more ambitious, under it’s previous title Titan, the game was supposed to be the first MMO-type shooter from Blizzard. A much more familiar territory for Blizzard the change proved to be too much, as the title was scrapped with no information given. But, a Kotaku article has through several unknown insider sources pieced together some of what the game was initially aiming to be “a science-fiction depiction of the world where mankind has successfully fought off an alien invasion. Players would join one of three factions waging a cold war over control of the planet. According to a source, Blizzard’s plan was to make the game world huge, and to keep adding areas with expansions in the years after launch.” This sounds suspiciously like Destiny, and the fact that even a renown MMO developer like Blizzard couldn’t pull off an MMO-like atmosphere shows just how difficult of a concept it still is to reinvent the FPS genre. And perhaps why Destiny launched as a somewhat smaller scale version of what many gamers anticipated it to be.

Rebooting Classics

Besides the typical Call of Duty release, two rebooted franchises may prove to make 2015 a somewhat interesting year for Activision. 2015 brings the official announcement of a new next-gen (and mobile) Tony Hawk game and the rumors of a Guitar Hero game surfacing, bringing back memories of a trend I may have not participated in, but surely remembered for its many iterations and expensive, but still wildly popular (for the time) peripherals.

“I don’t see the Guitar Hero/Rock Band music genre coming back strong,” independent analyst Billy Pidgeon said. 

But, at a gut level I feel these reboot games may not be entirely what Activision needs to compete head to head with the other major publishers, a sentiment shared by some analysts as Gamespot writes: “I don’t see the Guitar Hero/Rock Band music genre coming back strong,” independent analyst Billy Pidgeon said. “Success is possible, but expectations should be low, as while these games will sell again, the sales volume will be much smaller.”  This sentiment has apparently not traveled to Guitar Heroe’s Rival, Rockband who is also planning to remake their version of the guitar hero world. Still, I’d be interested to see what else Activision plans to announce at this year’s E3.

  Also on the horizon, fans of Destiny will have plenty of new content to look forward to as the last leak during in investor meeting about Activision’s plans for the franchise show players can expect a pretty lengthy year of updated content and hopefully more meaningful story put into the game.

 

EA

Potential Standouts:
  • Star Wars Battlefront 3
  • Battlefield Hardline
  • Mirrors Edge 2

I may a bit biased by saying this, since I’m a big fan of the Star Wars series, but I don’t think it would be too much of an overstatement to say that Battlefront may be one of the biggest hits out of all three of the big publishers. This game has such a following it’s only surpassed by Half Life 3 fans in hype. While no gameplay has yet been released, it’s a safe bet well see more from this title at this year’s E3 soon enough. But, because of the Battlefront series previous success, I think EA has the strongest portfolio so far for the year out of the big three.

 

 

Then there’s Battlefield Hardline. Its initial reception was met with less than flattering criticism, from looking like an expansion pack to Battlefield 4, to the fact that it was launching too soon, even before the final expansion packs to BF4 were done! This inevitably created trust issues that still linger as most Battlefield 4 players still remembered how the launch for BF4 went down. Some gamers and Youtuber’s are now seeing enough changes to the game that they have done complete 180’s from their initial impressions of the last beta and are now thinking of buying hardline day one. Though there are still a significant amount of gamers that will probably steer clear of this title all together. 

 

Mirrors Edge 2


The real life and parkour simulator is back, its orignial title was praised for its photo-realistic graphics, adventure and parkour that allowed you to go almost anywhere, the game had no real objective but traversal. Its sequel is listed on EA’s coming soon page for this year, though not much information is available.

Conclusion

Although, EA, Ubisoft and Activision all have a pretty bad history of releasing broken or half-done games, this year seems to have enough gems to keep these three behemoths of the gaming industry afloat, just a while longer.

What’s your opinion? Any other publishers you think should be on list? Let me know down below.

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