It's common to hear critics bemoan the state of gaming by saying during the awards season that this year's releases were boring, but saying that for 2014 would be a stretch. Sure, the exclusives for PlayStation were somewhat disappointing and there were plenty of legitimate complaints and less-than-stellar sequels, but if our list of Game of the Year nominees serves any notice, we've had plenty of surprises as well.
Taking a step back to take a bird's eye view on this year in video gaming, Microsoft has made a significant comeback with its focus on exclusives, its handy price cut, and its detachment from the Kinect as a required peripheral. The Xbox brand has closed the gap to the PlayStation since the poor fan reaction to the Xbox One. With any luck, Sony will be testing Microsoft's strength with Uncharted 4 and Project Morpheus, as the company already has with the inaugural PlayStation Experience event in Las Vegas.
Nintendo didn't rest on its laurels, either. Though its third-party relations aren't its strong suit, apart from the surprising exclusive dark and sexy Bayonetta 2, its first-party relations are still markedly the best of the big three with Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., and its host of handheld titles that only bolster its dominance in the handheld market. We're still anticipating The Legend of Zelda and perhaps rumors of the next Wii console (if it's even called that).
And of course, we can't forget the indie scene with so many bite-sized games on Steam receiving an award, an Editor's Choice, and/or four or more stars in our reviews. The number of fresh IPs is almost overwhelming and, because of it, my stack of shame is growing. But surely, the holiday Steam sale will help matters.