As 2018 draws to a close, the video game industry has seen significant moments from studio closures to tragic incidents to disappointing announcements. There’s nothing like that moment when a major video game developer enthusiastically announces a new game that quickly gets booed by its core fans, or when an industry leader decides to snub one of gaming’s most prestigious conferences.
To round out the year, here are the seven moments from 2018 that had a strong impact in the gaming industry as a whole. These events highlight the major moments in the gaming industry that stunned the community and left some people to wonder whether these actually happened in real life.
7 Microsoft’s Acquisition of Several Game Studios
The gaming industry is no stranger to big publishers acquiring smaller studios to create exclusive games. However, Microsoft’s purchases this year have raised eyebrows, as the company revealed that it has acquired five studios to work on first-party titles for the Xbox.
The announcement was made during E3 2018, Microsoft revealed a new studio called The Initiative with an unknown project in the works. In the same announcement, Microsoft revealed that it has acquired Undead Labs, known for State of Decay, and Playground Games, the makers of the Forza Horizon series. Also joining the Microsoft family is Ninja Theory, the developer that brought Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice to life, and Compulsion Games, which released We Happy Few last August. Last month, Microsoft also revealed that it has acquired Obsidian Entertainment, most known for RPGs such as Pillars of Eternity and Neverwinter Nights.
While it is surprising for Microsoft to be shopping for multiple studios in one year, this move is widely assumed to be the company’s push to generate more Xbox exclusives. Sony has been leading the console market for quite a while now due to its massive player base, thanks to its vast array of PS4 exclusives, but Microsoft is looking to change that narrative.
6 Sony Finally Relents to Cross-Platform Play
Ever since the rise of multiplayer gaming, console owners have dreamed of cross-play. This feature would enable a gamer on one console to play their favorite games with their friends who may be on a different platform. While other consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One have previously made cross-play available in certain games, Sony has, for the longest time, resisted the demand of players and has since received backlash for not supporting cross-play on the PS4.
Now, in a surprising announcement a few months ago, it seems that Sony can no longer ignore the demands of gamers as the company revealed that it will soon begin to support cross-play on the PS4 at a limited capacity. The new feature is already available on Fortnite for the PS4, which is the first game to have the feature on the console. Sony’s CEO John Codera explained that allowing cross-play for the PS4 is a significant policy change for the company and it is “now in the planning process across the organization to support this change.” While some developers are already looking into this new feature on the PS4, it will be exciting to see which other PS4 games allow cross-play in the future.
5 Major Backlash During Diablo Immortal’s Announcement
When Blizzard revealed that a Diablo-related announcement was slated for BlizzCon 2018, fans expected the studio to announce either Diablo IV or a Diablo Remaster. Unfortunately, neither titles were revealed at the event, and fans were left disappointed when Blizzard announced a new Diablo game for mobile devices instead.
During the event, Blizzard enthusiastically hyped Diablo Immortal, but fans were not pleased with the studio’s announcement. In the Q&A portion of the press conference, several fans shared their anger, with one even asking the developers whether the announcement was part of an out-of-season April fool’s joke. To make matters worse, principal designer Wyatt Chang was even booed by the audience when he revealed that Blizzard has no current plans to release Diablo Immortal on the PC.
Immediately after the fiasco, a petition was started by some fans demanding the mobile game to be canceled, leaving Blizzard stunned by the negative backlash the announcement received. In a separate interview, Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham admitted that nobody in the studio expected this level of hate for the mobile game. However, Adham also acknowledged that they were aware that their fans are passionate PC and console players. But given the rise of mobile gaming and the success of some titles such as Fortnite in the mobile platform, it is no surprise that Blizzard wanted to enter the mobile market. As of now, the company revealed that multiple Diablo games are in development, but does not want to show anything until it is ready.
4 Sony Ditching E3 2019
Ever since the first E3 conference 24 years ago, Sony, being one of the leading console manufacturers in the industry, has always been a part of the event. But in an unexpected announcement this year, Sony revealed that for the first time in its history, the company will be skipping out on E3 for 2019.
In the announcement, Sony revealed that the company’s desire to “innovate, think differently, and experiment with new ways to delight gamers,” has been the primary factors that led to its decision to ditch E3 2019. While its explanation is vague and does not provide a clear reason for its absence, it is speculated that the company will either keep a low profile next year for a big comeback in 2020, or it is possible that Sony wants to use its own events such as the PlayStation Experience to announce its plans and new releases moving forward. Microsoft was also quick to join in the conversation as it sent out a tweet saying that it can't wait to see fans on the upcoming event, immediately after Sony's surprising announcement.
3 Mass Shooting at Madden Tournament
2018 also marked one of the darkest days in the video game industry when a mass shooting took place at a Madden tournament in Florida. A few months ago, the GLHF Game Bar in Jacksonville Florida was hosting a qualifying tournament for Madden NFL 19 when the terrifying shooting started. Reports revealed that the shooter opened fire during the event, killing two people before taking his own life.
Authorities were quick to respond to the situation and began securing the location. The shooter was later identified as David Katz, an attendee of the event that reportedly lost a match early on.
2 Telltale Games’ Sudden Closure
Another shocking moment that transpired during the past year was the sudden closure of Telltale Games, the studio behind popular story-driven titles such as The Walking Dead, Back to the Future, and Jurassic Park. Telltale’s demise began when news broke that the company had laid off the majority of its staff.
While the fate of Telltale Games surely is a sad tale, players were left wondering about the status of some of its games, most notably The Walking Dead. Luckily, Skybound Games revealed that it would pick up the series and will give players and the game’s protagonist the proper closure they deserve.
1 Fortnite’s Soaring Popularity and Dominance in the Industry
Last on the list is the ever-growing popularity of Epic Game’s shooter, Fortnite. Ever since its release back in 2017, Fortnite has managed to captivate a broad fan base from the most dedicated gamers to casual players and even celebrities. But Fortnite truly exploded when singer Drake played the game with Ninja. The game's popularity even reached the radar of television when popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres invited Ninja to teach her how to play Fortnite.
Aside from its growing popularity, Fortnite also proved to be a financial success, as Epic Games reported that the game's mobile versions have raked in a whopping $300 million in revenue in less than a year. As Fortnite’s success soars to new levels and continues to dominate the industry, several other studios have released similar titles, which begs the question of what Epic Games plans to do to ensure Fortnite's continued dominance in the future?