Game of the Year Awards 2013
We pick out the best titles from the past twelve months
2013. This was always going to be a transitional year.
The new wave of home consoles has been on everyone’s minds since the off. We started the year with whispers of Orbis and Durango, the then codenames of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Throughout the remainder of the year we waited for them as information slowly trickled out. And now they’re here, but a lot of other things have happened this year too, and last gen has refused to give up yet with many of the best games of the year still residing on the older systems.
However, things haven’t been as strong on the Wii U (which arguably kicked off ‘next-gen’ at the end of last year) and yet still hasn’t found its footing. Nintendo’s machine started the year badly and continued through most of 2013 with dire sales figures, mostly due to the extremely limited release schedule. However, November’s Super Mario 3D World was a pleasant surprise and a much-needed system-seller for the flailing console.
The Kickstarted Ouya also launched this year (to little fanfare) and has struggled to become relevant to the larger gaming conversation. And rivaling that head on was the rumours and eventual confirmation of Valve’s Steam Machine – something that could potentially rock the industry at large, bringing the company’s much-loved gaming platform and distribution service into the living room.
But getting back to the games: there were many big ones, with much anticipation hanging on their shoulders, that finally launched in 2013, proving this to be a year that was a culmination of everything last gen has been leading up to. We had early heavy hitters such as the darker, grittier reboot of Tomb Raider that surprised many, and the eventual localization of Level 5 and Studio Ghibli’s Ni no Kuni, a beautiful and lively JRPG that managed to balance freshness and tradition. We then moved on to goliaths such as Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us, before finally moving on towards the fall season with the likes of the exhaustive GTA V and the franchise-reinvigorating Assassin’s Creed IV. And those were just some of the bigger games!
Downloadable games have continued to take large chunks of the market too, with many of the most innovative games such as Papers Please, Gunpoint, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Monaco, The Stanley Parable and Gone Home emerging digitally, often from teams of just a few developers.
2013 was also a year of stories, some starting, some ending and some being reborn. We saw the demise of the much-loved Lucas Arts and the promising Star Wars 1313. Sim City had an abysmal launch that put many gamers off. And next-gen’s poster child, Watch_Dogs, slipped into 2014, leaving the new consoles with a rather large hole in their launch lineup. But amongst these tales of woe, there was a surprise happy ending with Square-Enix’s MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which completely overhauled the original into a game that is almost unrecognizable. They managed a U-turn that many thought impossible.
Despite all the hype and the waiting, then, 2013 has been a year about games, and not consoles. Not yet. The PS4 and Xbox One have only just arrived and have a lot of potential, but we anticipate them to start delivering on the idea of ‘next-gen’ in 2014. There’s still a lot up in the air with the cheaper Wii U finally gathering some momentum, as well as Valve’s Steam Machine on the horizon, which as said, could be a game changer. Only time will tell.
And so, without further ado, here are New Game Network’s Game of the Year Awards for 2013.