What's new in 2012: Gaming

Jan 01, 2012, 09:46 IST | Shreyas Rajagopal

2011 will go down as the year video games took their place at the very top of the entertainment industry.

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It started in 2011

2011 will go down as the year video games took their place at the very top of the entertainment industry. The industry has been growing exponentially, but the astounding success of Activision's Modern Warfare 3, which grossed over 1 billion dollars in 16 days, beating Avatar to become the highest grossing title across any medium ever, made everyone stand  up and take notice. Even less fancied titles, like uber-geeky RPG Skyrim have grossed upwards of 500 million dollars.

This enormous success, however, comes with a dark cloud attached. The bestselling games this year -- MW3, Elder Scrolls V, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3 and even critical darlings like Dark Souls are all sequels. The need to exceed expectations has an ever-rising price tag -- these big budget titles have development costs of over a 100 million dollars. Rising financial stakes makes studios risk-averse, as they increasingly turn to established franchises and eschew new ideas in favour of iterative changes to a tested formula.

However, away from the giant studios, innovation thrives in a new eco-system. Digital distribution channels like Steam and XBOX Live give independent developers a great platform to showcase unique, experimental games like Limbo and To the Moon, to name just two, that push boundaries of narrative and gameplay in interesting directions.

2012 shall probably be the last of the current console generation -- the twilight years of every console are usually the best -- so gamers can expect more strain on their wallets in the new year what with blockbusters like Max Payne 3, Mass Effect 3 and Diablo 3 expected to launch. Anticipation for the next generation is already building in fan forums, but the true revolution, though quieter, may be happening elsewhere.

Big hit in 2012: Mobile gaming
Everyone is a gamer today. Mobile phones and Facebook have made us all gamers. If you play Farmville or Angry Birds, you qualify as a gamer. These games are simple, cost below 1 lakh USD to build and are consumed by a new breed of casual gamers. And the opportunity is very large -- Angry Birds has seen over 500 million downloads. The Mobile phone is the console of the future. It is widespread, social and it is always with you.
-- Rohith Bhat, 
CEO, Robosoft and 99games

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