2013 Year in Review

Valve unveils Steam machines and Grand Theft Auto 5 dominates the consoles

Year in Review: GTA 5 lived up to the hype by delivering an mind-boggling large open world for players to explore, and the Steam Machine reveal had gamers wondering if Valve was making a potential "console-killer."

This is the third article in our four-part year in review. You can also read: Part one, covering the reveal of the next-gen consoles and other beginning of the year events. Part two: Covering the biggest news from E3 and immediately after.

With E3 out of the way and a long wait to go before any of the exciting new hardware would become a reality for most people, but that doesn’t mean news in the gaming world slowed down.

Sony offered some clarification as to why the PS4, like the Xbox 360 and Xbox One would require a paid subscription to PlayStation Plus in order to play multiplayer games online. President of Sony worldwide studios Shuhei Yoshida said, "Considering the cost, to try to keep such a service free and consequently lower the quality would be absurd. We decided that if that's the case, then it would be better to receive proper payment and continue to offer a good service." Services for the PlayStation 3 were not similarly affected.

And following Microsoft’s post-E3 policy reversal, some gamers called on the company to reinstate their abandoned ideas. Garnering over 28,000 signatures, a petition was organized to get back the console “promised at E3.” The petition read: "This was to be the future of entertainment. A new wave of gaming where you could buy games digitally, then trade, share or sell those digital licenses. Essentially, it was Steam for Xbox. But consumers were uninformed, and railed [sic] against it, and it was taken away because Sony took advantage of consumers [sic] uncertainty."

Ultimately, the petition was unsuccessful, although Microsoft has recently hinted that some programs (such as family sharing and the loaning and trading of downloaded games) may make a return in 2014.

Following in the steps of Microsoft, EA was reported to consider an offline option for SimCity. A survey in July, and then a follow-up in October revealed that developer Maxis had “a team specifically focused on exploring the possibility of an offline mode.” However, the game currently remains online-only.

But soon, most gamers’ attentions were focused firmly on Rockstar’s long-awaited open-world adventure Grand Theft Auto V. The game was GameSpot’s Xbox 360 game of the year, and a nominee for overall game of the year. Despite being “politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic,” reviewer Carolyn Pettit also said GTAV “raises the bar for open-world mission design in a big way and has one of the most beautiful, lively, diverse and stimulating worlds ever seen in a game.” The game earned a 9, but with all of the praise and controversy surrounding the game, it’s easy to forget that it got off to a rocky start.

First assets of the game and its music accidently leaked on PS3, prompting Sony to issue an apology. "Regrettably, some people who downloaded the digital pre-order of Grand Theft Auto V through the PlayStation Store in Europe were able to access certain GTA V assets. These assets were posted online," wrote a Sony representative in a statement.

But that’s relatively minor compared to when Amazon accidently broke the game’s street date and started selling GTAV a little early. Rockstar responded saying, “We are in the process of investigating early 'sales' to determine how and why that is occurring.” Then just before the game’s launch, Rockstar issued a statement to Xbox 360 purchasers recommending not installing the game’s Play disc (separate from the Install disc, which was a required installation). Apparently, installing the game to the hard drive would lead to minor performance problems versus running the game straight from disc.

Shortly after GTA V's launch, Rockstar introduced a massively multiplayer online add-on for owners of the game, but server issues prevented the game from working properly for everyone. Rockstar temporarily disabled the game’s microtransactions while they “worked around the clock” to resolve the games issues. Affected players were sent a stimulus package $500,000 of in-game currency for their troubles, but the payout hit a few delays as well before landing in players’ coffers.

Regardless, Grand Theft Auto V went on to break sales records, netting $1 billion in just three days (the Avengers movie took 19 days to reach the same milestone) and earning a place in the Guinness book of world records for a number of achievements including best-selling videogame in 24 hours and highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours.

Grand Theft Auto V is still exclusive to PS3 and Xbox 360 with no official word on a release to other platforms, but rumors have circulated that the game will come to PC sometime early in 2014. Over 600,000 people signed a petition asking for the game to come to PC. Analysts predict GTAV will come to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as well sometime in 2014

Around the time of the GTAV launch, Valve had their own announcements to make: Steam OS and the Steam Machines. The Steam Machine is a standalone box that connects to your TV and allows you to play Steam games running on the Linux-based Steam OS. Beta versions of the device have already gone out for 300 users to test and the operating system is available to download now.

But Valve’s plan, unlike Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, is not to be the sole console distributor. Instead, any company can make and distribute a Steam Machine, and as we’ve seen from the reveal of iBuyPower’s $500 model and Digital Storm’s $1500 version, they come in a variety of prices and configurations.

The most unique part of the system will be the haptic feedback controller, which is being provided by Valve. The Controller will reportedly work with all past, present, and future games on Steam, including those that were not built with controller support. Dual circular trackpads replace traditional thumbsticks, and the entire surface will be clickable. We’ll have even more information on how all of these parts tie together, and how much potential the entire project has during the full reveal at CES 2014 in the beginning of January.

Nintendo meanwhile introduced a new version of their handheld console: the 2DS. Created primarily to introduce a cheaper entry-level option, the system also addressed concerns that the 3D on the 3DS was potentially harmful to younger players. Nintendo clarified that the system’s lack of 3D didn’t mean they were abandoning the feature, however. "It doesn't mean that we are not committed at all to 3D and that we don't think that's a really valuable, unique eye-popping feature for a lot of gamers,” said a Nintendo representative. “We just wanted to continue growing the installed base and needed to find a way to get to a price point that was more accessible for a broad swath of consumers."

Continuing the upward momentum of eSports, the US government officially recognized League of Legends players as pro athletes. The process took a lot of back and forth between developer Riot games and the government, but the landmark decision adds further legitimacy to the sport of gaming.

And finally, we got a closer look at the female character Quiet for Metal Gear Solid V following remarks from director Hideo Kojima that he wanted to make “more erotic” characters to encourage cosplay. Quiet’s incredibly skimpy outfit sparked the ire of a Microsoft developer who called the design “disgusting.”

Kojima later tried to clarify his remarks saying, “Maybe the phrase 'erotic' wasn't really [the correct word for] what I was trying to say… What I'm really trying to do is create unique characters. One of those is, of course, Quiet. She's a really unique character. I wanted to add that sexiness to her. It wasn't really supposed to be erotic, but sexy.” The actress providing the motion capture for the character of Quiet added, “Mr. Kojima has his reasons for deciding why Quiet [is] wearing what she's wearing” and that it “fits in the Metal Gear universe.”

Discussion

131 comments
BlazeKingz
BlazeKingz

No one who buys consoles will buy a steambox. The only poeple exited about the steambox are steam users who are all pc gamers who dont need the steambox at all.

Mark Cianciosi
Mark Cianciosi

yeah it will. youll see. just like animefags like you

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

How can they call the Steam Machine a "Console Killer" when it IS BASICALLY A CONSOLE that can only do Steam DLC?  lol  While real consoles will be getting all the exclusives, Steam Machine owners will have dropped over a grand for lame ass, emulating PC gaming rig that isn't worth the hardware its made with.

snipez10
snipez10

gta on pc i will buy. as long its the lates one

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

Anyway, regarding Rockstar and GTA V on PC, maybe they should work on a PC release FIRST since thats what they use to DEVELOP it on! THEN port it TO CONSOLES. Geez maybe Red Dead Redemption HD Version for PC while you're at it?

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

Hey GameSpot, get the facebookers out of our comments!

Kryptonbornson
Kryptonbornson

I never hear anyone mentioning GTA V anymore, which means the hype died down rather fast. That's more important to me than how reviewers overrated the game.


Saint's Row IV was actually perhaps the most fun open world game this year alongside Dead Rising 3.

Sosuke Aizen
Sosuke Aizen

That won't happen anytime soon, my friend. In fact it will never happen Lol

Ronnie Yim
Ronnie Yim

Multiplatform games don't count as "owning the consoles". That's like saying that Steam "owning the consoles" because of major sales. -.-

gamerno66666
gamerno66666

I've been watching some youtube videos of the controller and i gotta say it's good. it works with most of the games.

megakick
megakick

PC in the living room is not a new idea don't know why VALVE thinks this will big hit all of a sudden... Valve would have better luck if they made a smart TV with STEAM.

karmaortiz
karmaortiz

"This was to be the future of entertainment. A new wave of gaming where you could buy games digitally, then trade, share or sell those digital licenses. Essentially, it was Steam for Xbox. But consumers were uninformed, and railed [sic] against it, and it was taken away because Sony took advantage of consumers [sic] uncertainty."

They wanted you to stay connected 24/7, and if you weren't you had an expensive blu-ray/cable box remote. Not at all like Steam(<333) which has an offline mode, totally unlike MS's previous policy which even extended to disc-based games. And MS has a Steam-like store called....the XboxLive Store(previously XboxLive Marketplace) which you have to pay annual fee to access, unlike Steam which is free to create an account and start buying and sharing. MS could implement a simple update, but instead holds those features hostage, and blames us for not wanting their actual policy. The "uninformed" are still misinformed.

Mark Cianciosi
Mark Cianciosi

im just glad last of us will die out in peoples memories eventually

iloveyourface
iloveyourface

i'm still confused on where valve thinks they can fit... somewhere in between PC and Consoles.... but it's still going to be a PC. but then again, consoles these days are PCs.... *head begins pulsating* just good luck, valve. remember: make an initial loss to receive a permanent gain. sort of like the humble will become the righteous. except with electronics.

David Chang
David Chang

Well, with a game like GTA V, PC ports gonna take time, if Rockstar is a good porter, they need to optimize it, get the extra resolutions, the low & high settings, mod support, online support, UI, and controls.... and all that stuff...

Kevin Speir
Kevin Speir

Yawn... what, what's that....wake me when it's over and it's done.

Xbox Fans
Xbox Fans

At least, rockstar isn't a gold digger that has to launch anually games like ubisoft, GTA V manage to sell very vey well on 2 consoles and AC IV in 5 plataforms.. And GTA V will be on PC next year perhaps

Chard Reyes
Chard Reyes

So true. Rockstar only care about console not PC gamer while AC4BF care for them all.

Miguel De Carvalho
Miguel De Carvalho

Sony Fanboys Like TLOU and Xbox Fanboys Like HALO! Is there any problem? #sarcasm

Anthony Pungitore
Anthony Pungitore

Sony fanboys only like Last of us maybe if they brought it out on xbox then i might've like it too but they didn't so Assassins Creed 4 it is for me

Miguel De Carvalho
Miguel De Carvalho

Oh did you read what I said? THE LAST OF US way more better! Game not sales and industry records, and own opinion :v

WarGod667
WarGod667

@BlazeKingzdepends, if i can put windows on it, i might opt for a steambox instead of of building a pc again. AAAAnd im an avid xbox gamer.

Penguinlord1
Penguinlord1

@Gravity_Slave PC has many exclusives that console will never have, the games are extremely cheap compared to console with constant Steam sales, and of course superior graphics, and smoother performance is also always nice. Long as Valve markets their system properly, I think they have a lot going for their platform compared to their competitors.

iskeethunters
iskeethunters

@Gravity_Slave  You are so wrong. The Steam Machine is basically a gaming PC adapted for living-room use. Unlike consoles (and alike PCs), it comes in various models with different tech specs and pricing. It's top of the line models come with a GTX Titan which absolutely destroys the PS4 and Xbox One which have average components when compared to a gaming PC. Also, while it has it's own, console-like user interface, the SteamOS also can switch to a Linux Desktop. Judging by how much you despise PCs, you've probably never used Linux. "So what?" you may ask. Well, for example I'm a Computer Science student and Linux means I can do my work on it (Java, C++, C# coding) and you can also modify it as you wish. Linux is open-source. So far Valve have achieved greater performance on it's SteamOS than on Microsoft Windows and it the future, just like it is on PC at the moment, various people will develop unofficial mods, patches and updates for games. Some people have actually optimized and improved games better than the games' own developers. 


So is the Steam Machine closer to a PC or a Console. Just because it uses a controller and is rigged to a TV (PCs do that as well) doesn't mean it's a console. 


As for "it can only do Steam DLC" ? Please feel free to go check Steam's store. And while you're at it, check the 50-90% sales. Yeah, that's how cheap we get games. And there's tons of them. While you will be getting exclusives on your consoles, we will get exclusives for PCs and Steam Machines as well. We just don't brag as much about them as you do. I'll admit, some exclusives are indeed great. I would have loved to play TLOU, Halo series, inFamous and GTA V - but the latter is most likely going to come on PC (and therefore Steam Machines). Now, these games have received a lot of hype (maybe they didn't even deserve it - I wouldn't know), but hey, I'll just settle for the moment when Valve will announce the next installment in the Half-Life series which will most likely be accompanied by Portal 3, Team Fortress 3 and Left 4 Dead 3. All running on a brand new, next-gen, Source Engine. 


About PCs and the SteamBox being expensive - yes, I'll give you this one. They are. But such great hardware will last for a while and will run games at higher resolutions and with more details than consoles, just like it has always been (as I've said before, the 'next-gen' consoles aren't exactly cutting-edge technology). However, if you consider the fact that you can get extremely low prices from Steam and HumbleBundle, in about 6-8 years (which is how long a generation of consoles and games lasts) you'll save enough money to cover the huge difference in price between a console and PC/Steam Machine. Consider it a long-term investment. Let's say you buy 12 games per year. You don't buy them all on steam sales, so let's say you'll save an average of about 20$ per game, compared to the console users. In 7 years, that equates to 20 * 12 * 7 =  1680$ saved from using a PC instead of a console. Now that's enough money to buy you a brand-new gaming rig that will last you for the next gen. But maybe these numbers are exagerated. Even if you save half, that's 800$ that will upgrade your old PC. Or maybe you'll sell your old PC and combine the money to get a new one. 


Sadly, selling a console means all your old games are useless. New consoles don't have backwards compatibility. PCs do. And all your games are safely saved in your Steam-library, ready to download with one click. 


So, in conclusion, the Steam Machine does everything a console and a PC can do. It's not a console, nor a PC. It's something new that fills the gap between them, combining both systems' strengths. So far I'd say it has the potential to kill consoles. So stop being a fanboy and do some research before hating on it.

Twiztid-Maddox
Twiztid-Maddox

@Gravity_Slave With Valve not making games that are exclusive to SteamOS or Steam Machines and having cautioned third-party developers against making games exclusive to the platform, you gotta wonder why anyone would want Valve's "console"! 

Metallicwolf29
Metallicwolf29

@Kryptonbornson GTA has been a hype fest as of late. Dont get me wrong it is a great game but it gets really boring after about 10 hours in imo.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

@megakick 

I know what you mean, usually you PC gamers have to drag your PC towers into the living room and set up.  Most rational gamers prefer to buy a cheaper console that can do most of the same things but better.

Dan11223344
Dan11223344

@karmaortiz And if you look at the Live store there are 3 year old games still being sold at £50. Games that you could buy on disc, day 1, for £40... Steam on the other hand have sales frequently, that often offer 50%-80% off.  

jay_wired9
jay_wired9

Yeah its like, PLEASE just do a good optimization job!

ddom7777
ddom7777

@iskeethunters @Gravity_Slave while i didnt read ur whole post i did get to the part about linux running games better than windows. which is fine, lets see more games on linux then do a test, and lets see what a game adopted version of windows would do (as this is a game adopted version of linux) before we say whats what. specs aside, parts aside, titan this, intel that, its pretty much a console. what makes a pc a pc is that its a pc and pc's are not designed around gaming, they just can game and there are parts to improve the performance of them doing so essentially turning them into gaming devices (which run mspaint!). so to say they get better performance off of linux than windows is possible sure, but that only makes me wonder how much of a "pc" this steam box thing is. after all the last of us and grand theft auto V run on 256mb - 512mb of ram (depending on who u talk to) and no linux, windows or mac gaming pc could do that with such a few amount of resources. case and point, when u have a dedicated OS and for the most part dedicated non-changing hardware, u change the game entirely. and thats what consoles do

Penguinlord1
Penguinlord1

@Gravity_Slave@megakick Have my PC tower set up right next to my television, never moved it once. It uses Steam Big Picture at start-up so I rarely have to touch my wireless mouse and keyboard. Nope, no lugging around necessary and with a superior experience compared to console when it comes to multiplatform games to boot.