5 Gaming Trends We’re Thankful for This Year

It's Thanksgiving, and instead of focusing on the horrible things that have been going on in the industry lately, like loot boxes, and net neutrality repeal, we're looking back at five of the trends we're happy about. In spite of all the bad things going on, 2017 has been an excellent year in gaming, and we're blessed to have gotten to play some stellar titles.

So, if your gaming cornucopia is running over like ours is, and this year has doubled your backlog, join us for some holiday cheer as we look back at the excellent gaming trends of 2017.

1. Nintendo Got its Groove Back

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo never really lost its touch when it came to making awesome games. The problem was, with the Wii U selling so few consoles not many people got the chance to play the fantastic Nintendo-developed console games that came out from 2012 to early-2017.

The release of the Nintendo Switch has introduced new vigor in the company, and this year we were able to experience some of the best games that have ever graced a Nintendo console. Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey qualify for consideration as some of the best games of all time on any system. Additionally, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, and the upcoming Xenoblade Chronicles 2 round out Nintendo's homegrown line-up to make for one of their highest-quality years to date.

2. Huge Indie Successes

Stardew Valley

The indie gaming market has grown from a small flame to a massive wildfire in the last few years. This year we've seen independent developers put out games that out-sell and out-review AAA powerhouses. Thanks in part to Steam and growing encouragement from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, players have a real alternative to big-name publishers.

We've seen success stories with games like Rocket League, Undertale, Stardew Valley, What Remains of Edith Finch, and Golf Story hitting the top of digital marketplaces. So, even if individual companies (EA) are engaging in practices that are anti-consumer, we have more choice in games than ever before from an ever-increasing amount of avenues.

3. HDR and 4K Content

PS4 Pro and Xbox One X

PC gamers could play games in 1440p or 4K for a while now as long as they had the monitor and hardware to do it. The PlayStation 4 Pro opened the door for 4K console gaming late last year, and we got to see a ton of great titles in higher fidelity than we could have imagined a short time ago.

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With the recent release of the Xbox One X, both Microsoft and Sony offer highly capable consoles that allow for some absolutely beautiful games with incredible detail. In my opinion, even better than 4K is HDR. Now, we can actually see a sunset in a game that can match the color of the real thing. "Uncanny Valley" is an overused concept, but I think we're finally starting to actually get there with the tech in this latest hardware generation.

4. More Imports

Yakuza Kiwami

Anyone that played games in the 1990s can remember how sporadic import titles were. Not only have we seen an influx of niche titles making it across the Pacific the last few years, but they're making it here faster. Sega, Atlus, and Bandai Namco are three significant contributors to Western fans getting a chance to play games that may not be bestsellers but are still impressive in their own right.

I have to especially give kudos to Sega for bringing over both Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza 0. These are two great, uniquely Japanese games that rival anything out there for pure fun factor alone.

5. Great Ports

Doom VFR

Both the Switch and the PC have received some awesome ports this year. Japanese studios especially have been bringing games to PC that I would have never thought I'd see on Steam. Now those who play exclusively on computer can dive into some of the great RPGs they'd otherwise miss out on.

Bethesda has also stepped up their port game, bringing Skyrim to Switch and PSVR and Doom to Switch. Soon PSVR will get a unique twist on Doom with Doom VFR. With great games like these, I always jump at the chance to play them in new ways.

What gaming trends are you thankful for this year? Let us know in the comments.