It’s been a strange year. In many ways, at least for the mainstream, 2012 could be seen as the year the industry adopted a holding pattern, with the next generation a heartbeat away. There’s a sense of the biggest players catching their breath and cautiously waiting as they watch Kickstarter circumventing them, social games appear to falter, and fortunes being won and lost faster than they can keep up with.
It’s also been a year of looking back to older generations. Storied developers offered to remake their past glories, and publishers plundered their dustiest IPs and design philosophies. In the cases of XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Dishonored – the latter looking back to Thief and Deus Ex – the results were fortune and glory. But it’s also been a year of diminishing returns, of heavy investment in sequels such as Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed III that, despite wealths of polish and content, didn’t have the same impact as their beloved forebears.
Then there were the indies, and 2012 was their year. The wild range of new styles and forms they’ve yielded has been extraordinary, exhibiting vast ambition and a quality of execution that has seen such games bearing at least the same significance as the products of the mainstream industry. Videogames as a whole have been made profoundly richer as a result.
We’ll be publishing the winners and runners up from each category over the coming week, and will add links below as they go online: