2015 is coming to a close, and it’s been a great year for Video Game releases in 2015. It’s time to celebrate the developers that excelled over the course of the year. Here’s a brief look at why we chose the five developers we did, and also, our winner for the best developer of 2015.
This year saw the swan song for Konami’s Kojima Productions in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. What Hideo Kojima didn’t know was that he was about to face his own phantom pain. It wasn’t a sweet break up with the visionary and Konami, but that shouldn’t detract from the work that the company did.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a phenomenal game. With dozens of hours of content, numerous side missions, online multiplayer and more; MGSV was the complete package. Sure, it ends a little abruptly. I’m sure fans would’ve liked more closure to a story that’s been building up since 1987. That being said, Kojima Productions has crafted a game that will be remembered for ages. We’re pouring one out for you, Mr. Kojima.
What a year for Psyonix. While not a relatively new studio (been working on projects since 2000), this was Psyonix’s breakout year. Rocket League has taken the world by storm. It fits the sports game mold perfectly. There’s an incredible balance of skill, strategy, and technique. Oh, there’s also a little luck thrown in there. We’ve all screamed at our televisions this year as an opposing team scored a goal on us with seconds left in a match.
It’s tough getting “casual” gamers to really take to a sports game, and Psyonix did it so well. The free-offering on PlayStation plus didn’t hurt them either. The Developer is currently working on both free (and paid) DLC for the game as well as an Xbox One version that will launch next February.
Telltale Games has had an interesting year. Continuing (and finishing) two games based on larger franchises. The first was the fantastic Tales From The Borderlands series. Telltale did something admirable. They took a world rich with lore and known for its over the top writing, and made it accessible for the masses. I know a lot of people who couldn’t care less about the Borderlands universe and were actually put off by the writing in Borderlands 2. However, they found that Telltale did a great job fine tuning the balance of humor and drama with TFTBL. As always, the developer crafted some phenomenal characters. Gordys, Fiona, and Loader Bot are a few standouts.
The other game they completed was their freshman season of a Game of Thrones. Based off the novels (and television show) of the same name, a Game of Thrones had a lot to live up to. Telltale even set the bar higher by breaking their usual five-episode mold and making A Game of Thrones a full six episodes. Do all of them work? No, but for the most part the series did a great job putting us in the shoes of the Forresters. It’s an unwinnable situation, where you know bad things are going happen, but Telltale compels you to see the journey to its end.
Currently, Telltale games is also working on Minecraft: Story Mode.
Oh Blizzard, how do you continue to do it? Releasing two games this year and launching a beta for a third, Blizzard has had an incredibly busy year. In June, the developer officially released their take on the MOBA genre with Heroes of the Storm. A much more casual MOBA, Heroes does a brilliant job guiding players through the many intricacies of a MOBA. It also does some unique things. Besides the multiple maps, each with their own special twist, Heroes introduces a bunch of interesting characters. Take Cho’gall for instance. That character is played by two human players. How cool is that! Heroes is a great entry-level MOBA for anyone who wants to check out the genre but is too intimidated by games like League of Legends and DOTA 2.
Blizzard also released the exceptional, Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void. Completing the trilogy that began way back in 2010, Blizzard brings together all of the series favorites in an explosive conclusion. Legacy of the Void brings with it an epic campaign, it’s patented Starcraft multiplayer, and even brings something new to the table. In Legacy, you have the option to partake in co-op missions with another buddy. These are fun challenges where you need to work together as a team, or you will fail .. as individuals. Great stuff. Here’s looking at you “Master Raynor.”
Blizzard also recently launched a limited-access beta to their upcoming first-person shooter, Overwatch. While initial reactions have been positive, we’ll wait till the game’s official release before we start giving it accolades.
CD Projekt Red
CD Projekt Red did something incredibly impressive this year. They made one of the best RPG’s of all time in The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. The final chapter in Geralt of Rivia’s epic story, Wild Hunt blew everyone away. With it’s incredible narrative, breathtaking open world, and enough content to keep you busy until Rapture, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an incredibly impressive game. Not only that, but for a franchise notorious for scaring off its players in the opening hours of The Witcher and The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings, Wild Hunt does an incredible job easing the player into the world.
2015 has seen a lot of shady post-launch paid content snafus. From MGSV’S paid F.O.B. situation, to a $50 season pass for EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront, developers are continuously finding ways to get more money out of its consumers. The most egregious of this might be “paid easy fatalities” that Mortal Kombat X offered its players. $5 for 20 of them. Gross. CD Projekt Red took a different approach. They offered their users 15 free pieces of DLC over a couple of months post-launch of The Witcher 3. These weren’t just horse armor either. These were new missions, quests, Gwent cards/challenges, weapons, skins, and more. They also offered a New Game + mode that fans were requesting. Add on top of this that CD Projekt Red is continuing to support the game, (they just released the fantastic expansion, Hearts of Stone) is no wonder to see why consumers fell in love with them.
I remember playing the first Witcher game. It was incredibly dense and I don’t think I made it farther than a few hours in. Fast Forward to 2015, and I’ve spent 100+ hours with the Witcher 3. CD Projekt Red has grown so much as a developer. It’s also phenomenal to think how well they marketed this game. Being the third entry in a series where a majority of players probably haven’t touched the first two games, CD Projekt Red got everyone on board.
All of these developers did great work this year, but it’s because of these reasons that Victory Point believes CD Projekt Red is the best developer of 2015.