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The Year in Review

Whether you're a fan of Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, PC, handhelds, or all of the above, 2014 has been a good year for gaming.

January: PlayStation Now Announced

2014's first big gaming news came during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January. During an impassioned address, Sony's Andrew House officially announced PlayStation Now, an ambitious, future-focused streaming gaming service built using the Gaiki tech it paid $380 million to acquire the year prior. Is it the Netflix of games? Not yet. But PlayStation Now is a big deal because it gives us a peek at the potential of our industry's fully digital future.

Other Big January 2014 Headlines:

February: BioShock Development Studio Is No More

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The first truly gasp-worthy story of 2014 came in February when BioShock creator Irrational Games announced, out of the blue, that it was winding down. The Boston-area studio founded by former Looking Glass Studios employees was closing down for good. As part of the move, most of the studio's 90+ employees were let go, save for creative director Ken Levine and a small group of others. They're now working on a "smaller, more entrepreneurial" unannounced endeavor for Take-Two, while some of the affected staffers have moved on to other Boston-area studios or have launched their own Kickstarter campaigns.

Other Big February 2014 Headlines:

March: Facebook Buys Oculus VR

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Virtual reality dominated March 2014's top gaming headlines, punctuated at the end of the month when social networking giant Facebook announced a $2 billion cash deal to buy Oculus VR, maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset created by Palmer Luckey. The announcement of the deal came just two weeks after Sony revealed its own VR headset, Project Morpheus, and it sent shockwaves through the tech and gaming sectors.

The announcement was not without its controversy, however, as some fans expressed concerns about Facebook privacy problems, while Minecraft creator Markus Persson canceled a Rift version of the popular sandbox game due to his ill-will towards Mark Zuckerberg's empire. (He later recanted that stance.) It's still early days for the acquisition, and Luckey himself says we won't fully understand why the deal makes sense until next year anyway. But one thing is for sure, Oculus now has ample cash, and it's been putting it to good use hiring, signing games, and growing the brand.

Other March 2014 Headlines:

April: Atari Landfill Dig

Did Atari, saddled with millions of copies of a failed E.T. game tie-in, actually bury the games--and others--in a New Mexico landfill in September 1983? That's what X-Men: Last Stand screenplay and The Avengers story writer Zak Penn set out to learn and chronicle in his Xbox-funded documentary, Atari: Game Over. If you don't know already, yes, they did find games in the dump--though, as you'll learn if you watch the excellent documentary--there is a lot more to the story. The thousands of games dug out of the landfill are now pieces of gaming history, and, like you'd expect, the dirty games are being sold on eBay for a lot more than their original selling price. Other copies of E.T. are in museums as far away as Rome. This was April's top story because it captured the hearts and minds of gamers across generations--how often does that happen?

Other April 2014 Headlines:

May: The Storm Before the Storm

Though the month leading up to E3 tends to be relatively tranquil, this year May proved to be a rambunctious month with leaked details on Halo: The Master Chief Collection, leaked footage of Battlefield Hardline, and the world premiere trailer of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (which, as par for the course, leaked early.)

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Then Microsoft, applying its war paint, singlehandedly triggered E3 season with the announcement that some Xbox Ones would be shipped without Kinect at an aggressively competitive price of $399. That bombshell was generally considered the final major u-turn for the Xbox One policy, in a sense cooling down its volatile relationship with the hardcore masses.

Surprisingly, the first details on Halo 5, felt a little muted in the shadows of the other major announcements.

Other May 2014 Headlines:

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June: Everyone Wins E3

Microsoft, still on the back foot after a stormy twelve months, showed off an exhaustive list of key announcements and reveals, from Ori and the Blind Forest, to Platinum Games' Scalebound, to a new Crackdown, to the next indie title from Limbo's dev Playdead. And, of course, there was Cuphead.

Sony didn't measure up in terms of quantity, but any company that announces an exclusive From Software action-RPG, as well as timed-exclusivity for No Man's Sky, is bound to have happy customers.

Nintendo, meanwhile, stole thunder with the awe-inspiring reveal of Zelda Wii U, which was the high-point of a well-received, recorded press conference that showed how entertaining a company could be if E3 press events were conducted off-stage. There were some surprises too, such as a new IP by the name of Splatoon, and the news that Miyamoto is getting his hands dirty again with a new Starfox game.

Other June 2014 Headlines:

July: The Summer Doldrums

The post-E3-pre-Gamescom lull, otherwise known as "the summer," was filled this year by various reports that school kids with idle thumbs had hacked and DDoSed various random targets for no apparent reason. Elsewhere, a spate of stories brought to light the less progressive and less inclusive side of the industry, with Ubisoft trying to explain why it was too hard to render females (which, following criticisms from numerous public figures, including the voice of Ellie in The Last of Us, clarified its position.)

That unfortunate turn of events followed even more bizarre news that a Hearthstone tournament had banned women from playing men (again, the organizer clarified its position later). Hearthstone developer Blizzard, meanwhile, was under fire for the portrayal of females in another one of its key games.

Other Big July 2014 Headlines:

August: As Cold as Ice Buckets

The hottest month of the year was punctuated by moments of real and metaphorical frost, with seemingly everyone in the world participating in the ice bucket challenge, and the PlayStation Network going down (or should we say "freezing") on several occasions.

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Microsoft's announced, to much commotion, that Rise of the Tomb Raiderwas an Xbox One exclusive, or, as it was later communicated, a timed exclusive. [Editor's Note: That's now come full circle, and it may be a full exclusive after all.]

Meanwhile, Sony chilled our blood with the sensational P.T. (an interesting experience that even won GameSpot's coveted Game of the Month). Even more incredible was the discovery, hours after its release, that locked inside was the world premiere trailer for Silent Hills.

Other Big August 2014 Headlines:

September: The Hype Machine

After a ridiculous amount of hype, the game from the creators of Halo finally arrived. Bungie's shooter, Destiny, was met with mixed critical reception, but Bungie urged players to not put too much trust in early reviews. However, the early weeks were plagued with a number of persistent online issues. Bungie eventually overcame those initial problems, and the game continues to see improvement, though opinions of the title remain polarizing among gamers. But early players will never forget their time in the infamous loot cave.

Other Big September 2014 Headlines:

October: Nintendo Reveals Over 50 Super Smash Bros. Facts

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In a rare instance of disclosure, Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. for Wii U presentation dropped tons of new information about the game in a relatively short span of time. Eight-player battles. How Amiibo work with the game. A stage creator. DLC coming to both the 3DS and Wii U versions in the form of fighter Mewtwo. It was an exciting set of reveals, many of which caught fans completely by surprise.

Other Big October 2014 Headlines:

November: Blizzard Branches Out Into Shooter Genre

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November's big focus may be on new game releases, a flood of reviews, and great gaming deals, but that doesn't mean the month was bereft of big news. At this year's Blizzcon, Blizzard announced their first new IP in 17 years: Overwatch. The multiplayer online shooter drew immediate comparisons to Team Fortress 2 from fans, but it introduces plenty of new mechanics and ideas to the genre as well. But can it live up to the hype? Players will get to find out first-hand when the beta launches sometime in 2015.

Other Big November 2014 Headlines:

December: New Experiences

The month has only just started, but the biggest headlines so far have focused on the PlayStation Experience. In addition to tons of new trailers, and exciting game announcements, Sony revealed that Street Fighter V would be a PS4 console exclusive at the inaugural Las Vegas event. That doesn't mean Microsoft is going to be left in cold, though; early reports indicate that the the Xbox One may have finally outsold the PS4 for the first time in the US in November. We'll find out whether or not that's the case soon enough.

Other Big December 2014 Headlines: