2017 is coming to an end, with us shutting the door on another eventful year for the gaming industry. While there were plenty of great games released over the past 365 days, there were also some pretty negative news stories circling around the medium, making it a year of both highs and lows.
With 2018 just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at all of the topics that got us talking this year. Here are the biggest gaming news stories of 2017:
Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s microtransactions
Without a doubt the most controversial topic of 2017, Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s pernicious microtransactions saw EA coming under fire from all corners, with the legalities of loot boxes now being questioned by US politicians as a result.
Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s progression system revolved around obtaining loot boxes, which could be purchased using real-world money, while popular characters were locked behind an extortionately high number of credits in order to convince players to fork over their cash. EA removed the ability to purchase in-game currency prior to Battlefront 2‘s release, but this didn’t stop the criticisms from rolling in.
While there have been plenty of microtransactions controversies throughout this year — Forza Motorsport 7, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and For Honor to name but a few — Star Wars Battlefront 2 was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Hopefully publishers will learn from EA’s mistakes this year, but we’re not holding our breath.
The rise of PUBG
If you would have told someone in 2016 that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds would become arguably the most popular game of the year and break records for PC gaming, they probably would have replied: “What’s PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds?”
PUBG came out of nowhere before quickly making its way to the top of Steam’s most-played list, providing an intense but rewarding spin on the popular battle royale genre and surpassing all of its peers as a result. The game recently passed 3 million concurrent players on Steam, the first game to do so since the platform’s inception in 2003, and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
PewDiePie, JonTron and YouTube’s controversial year
YouTube had a rough year in 2017, with poor moderation of “derogatory content” to a widespread advertiser boycott. In response YouTube issued various updates to its advertising policies, which in turn led to mass demonetization of videos hosted on the site, tanking creators’ revenue in the process. Not helping matters was the debacle surrounding Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, who came under fire following a Wall Street Journal editorial that criticized his use of anti-Semitic jokes in his videos. PewDiePie was subsequently dropped from the Disney-owned digital media company Maker Studios, and while the YouTuber admitted fault for his actions, he didn’t stray too far from the spotlight for the rest of the year.
In September, PewDiePie said the n-word live on stream while playing a game of PUBG, calling another player a “f***ing n****r” after being eliminated by them in the battle royale game. Following this incident, the co-founder of developer Campo Santo tweeted that the studio would be filing DMCA takedowns of PewDiePie’s Firewatch videos, preventing him from earning money on the content.
Then fellow YouTuber Jon “JonTron” Jafari also presented another controversy for the site, after appearing on a live streamed debate with Steven “Destiny” Bonnell in which he parroted white nationalist talking points.In the debate Jon claimed that “wealthy blacks commit more crime than poor whites,” argued for the US stifling its progression in order to maintain its racial identity, and said that “we’ve gotten rid of discrimination in Western countries.” Jon’s comments received widespread criticism, leading to Playtonic Games dropping him as a voice actor for Yooka-Laylee.
While YouTube continued to grow in popularity throughout 2017, it was also a year in which its most popular creators were incapable of preventing themselves from saying the dumbest shit. With advertisers falling away, parent company Google will be desperately hoping that its video makers will veer away from the racism in 2018.
Nintendo Switches up their game
Nintendo needed to bounce back after Wii U’s dismal sales, and they managed to do just that thanks to the unexpected success of the Switch.
The Nintendo Switch is arguably the best concept for a game console ever, smoothly combining handheld and home console functionality in a machine that you take on your morning commute and hook up to your TV. Combine this with an excellent launch year of games and the Switch has become the most interesting platform on the market, hooking in a diverse range of gamers and putting Nintendo back into the limelight.
“True 4K gaming” with the Xbox One X
Read More: Xbox One X Review – A Technical Marvel
The Xbox One had an odd year. On one hand, the console boasted very few exclusives and as a result slipped by the wayside compared to the PS4 and Switch. On the other hand, the Xbox One X is a terrific upgrade that makes improves the platform’s entire library of games.
If the Xbox One X would have been released at the tail-end of a year that saw more software released on Microsoft’s console, it could have been the kick up the backside that it needed. It’s uncertain just how much of an impact the X has made on Xbox One sales, but for those who play their Xbox One enough to justify making the jump, the Xbox One X is an impressive bit of kit. Not only that, but its inclusion of a UHD Blu-ray player and the recent release of Kodi makes it an excellent set-top box — it’s just a shame that there aren’t more games to play on it.
Mass Effect: Andromeda frustrates fans
EA had a particularly controversial year in 2017, and it was all kicked off by Mass Effect: Andromeda. Clearly rushed to release and littered with assorted issues, Andromeda was one of the biggest disappointments of the entire year, especially for the swathes of Mass Effect fans who had been eagerly anticipating its release.
BioWare produced patches to help fix many of the wonky animations and other graphical problems, but the damage was done. Compared to the original trilogy Andromeda was decidedly underwhelming, with a passable story and a comparatively dull cast of characters. Not a bad game by any stretch of the imagination, Andromeda was still a big disappointment and one of many reasons why EA became public enemy number one this year.
The Cuphead “debate”
This one got out of hand, didn’t it? Back in September, GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi uploaded a video in which he played Cuphead, the hard-as-nails run ‘n’ gun game from Studio MDHR. rather poorly. The video featured Takahashi failing to comply with clear instructions, struggling with the basics of the game and generally making a fool of himself for an online audience. However, Takahashi’s video somehow became “evidence” for a wider conspiracy which claimed that games journalists on the whole are bad at games.
The video of Takahashi playing Cuphead went viral for all the wrong reasons, with people contacting his place of employment and insisting that he should be fired from his job as a journalist. Takahashi, whose career in the gaming industry mainly consisted of interviewing high-profile figures on the business end of things, saw his name being dragged through the mud after over 20 years of tech and gaming journalism. The entire debacle was incredibly silly, with the controversy inevitably subsiding and Takahashi going on to not let a 26-minute minute video end a career that has spanned over two decades.