Over the last 12 months, we've seen virtual reality hit retail to a response that could be best described as mixed. We saw Sony and Microsoft try to sell us a debatably more powerful box of hardware, and we saw the likes of Nvidia and AMD making PC gaming all the more affordable. Between all this, there were a lot of other interesting developments that took place, which helped set the tone for 2016. Here are the six biggest moments that made 2016 stand out.
The PS4 Pro showed off the future of console gaming
After almost a full year of leaks, the PS4 'Neo' was finally announced as the PS4 Pro. With improvements such as 4K resolution and enhanced VR support, it was obvious that Sony planned for this console to take on PC gaming. And while there are challenges as to ascertaining the exact set of benefits the new hardware brings (as they differ from game to game), the PS4 Pro is a sign of things to come. Much like PCs and smartphones — regular increments to console hardware are the future. It also means cheaper hardware — the PS4 has become a whole lot more affordable ever since the PS4 Pro came out.
How Sony balances the expectations and needs of its existing PS4 owners with those who bought the PS4 Pro will be a point of interest - and all the more so for Microsoft, which plans to do the same with Project Scorpio next holiday season.
AMD launched the most hyped GPU in recent times
It’s rare to see a single PC component be announced amidst such fanfare as the RX 480. After all, the $199 price range while being the sweet spot for many a PC gamer, hasn’t see too many standout entries of late. The RX 480 changed that, promising affordable PC gaming at full-HD (and in some games, beyond that) and VR too. Which is why it’s all the more tragic that in emerging markets like India where demand skyrocketed, the company botched up launch plans. AMD claims it will improve upon this, taking feedback from fans to heart for upcoming graphic card launches, hopefully setting up 2017 to be one of the more eventful years for PC gamers.
Microsoft India finally decided to bring the Xbox One offline
Months of denial from Microsoft India’s top brass finally came to a head when Gadgets 360 reported that many a local offline retailer across the country had been stocking the Xbox One officially. And while it hasn’t come close to matching the PS4’s install base, the Xbox One has seen some positive traction since. Although the company has remained mum on the Xbox One S for India, sources claim it will bring the smaller, more efficient console once GST is implemented in the country.
Everyone played Pokemon Go, some still do
The (pocket) monster hit of the year, Pokemon Go took the world by storm. It’s one thing to read about mobile game getting this level of attention in other regions and another thing to see it for yourself. From school going children to adults, it seemed that almost everyone was looking to catch Pikachu, take over gyms, and venture out of their homes during odd hours for a chance to snag rare Pokemon - all that was before the game was officially even in the country, something that changed recently. And while the hype has died down considerably since launch, developer Niantic has done enough to swell the tide with consistent content updates.
Online sales made a mockery of game prices
With Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon offering rock solid deals through the year, things came to a head with the Diwali sales. Prices on popular titles such as Doom and Uncharted 4 dropped as much as 40 percent while brand new games such as FIFA 17 saw a price cut too. If this wasn’t enough, there were generous discounts on Black Friday with some big releases like Titanfall 2 sporting rockbottom prices if bought digitally.
And with critically well-received games such as Watch Dogs 2, Dishonored 2, and Titanfall 2 not performing as well as their publishers would have liked, it’s obvious that the games industry has reached a tipping point — the $60/Rs. 3,499 price tag is easily beaten with a small amount of patience. It will be interesting to see if publishers try to curb discounts in some way in 2017 no matter how unlikely. Or try to find new ways to nickel and dime you out of your money as we’ve seen with titles such as Street Fighter V sporting not just a single season pass, but yearly season passes worth of content ensuring you pay not just for the base game, but $25 each year for new characters, levels, and the like.
Steam finally decided to take India seriously
Quite possibly the biggest move of the year, you can now use cash to buy games on Steam, the largest PC game digital distribution platform. Sure there are some bugs that need to be ironed out, but it’s a huge leap forward, allowing many an Indian gamer to finally buy games on PC instead of, well, pirating them. It’s too early to tell if this will impact PC game sales in any manner, but its a step in the right direction.
These were our favourite gaming moments in 2016. What were yours? Let us know via the comments.