One must never doubt Blizzard. The company has helped shape the video game industry with a masterful list of series (Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Storm) that have taken existing ideas and transformed them to into titles that have reached legendary status, amassing millions of devoted followers and generated billions for a company that started their journey by initially cutting their teeth on middling fare such as RPM Racing and The Lost Vikings. Even with a resume as packed with success as Blizzard, analysts were still second guessing the company when they debuted Overwatch to the world back at their self-created fan service showcase, Blizzcon in 2014. The game showed off glimpses of a team based first person multiplayer shooter (FPS) that showed promise but left many unsure just how big a dent Blizzard could make in this already crowded genre.
The FPS marketplace had already been inundated with scores of memorable and popular experiences dominated by the likes of Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield series and was looking to get even more crowded with more recent entries such as Star Wars: Battlefront, Titanfall 2, Doom and Battleborn all trying to vie for the same gaming space. Some were even questioning the sanity of both 2k (Battleborn) and Blizzard (Overwatch) that were releasing games with similar experiences just three weeks apart. Even though the game had tested well, no one was 100% sure what to expect on May 24th when Overwatch stormed onto retail shelves.
But lo and behold the gaming world once again underestimated the drawing power and the technical ability of this long standing industry giant. Overwatch was released to a flurry of critical acclaim due to its legion of characters and their diverse array of powers creating an easy to get into teamwork fast and a fun loot game structure that have courted players not willing to touch previous shooter entries while still finding a way to get seasoned players to dive in and find new and interesting ways to dispatch of their opponents. The simple fact that both staff members of Game Source, Pop Culture Cosmos and the gamers voting in our 2016 GoTY contest courtesy of our Retro City Games/Rob McCallum Films (with our lucky Grand Prize winner to be announced soon at the first “Game night” of 2017) overwhelmingly picked this game above all others is just a testament to how well Blizzard has managed to be able to delve into previously unfamiliar genres and still be able to strike a core with a mass audience.
Brilliant games such as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Pokemon Sun/Moon, Inside and Superhot have given gamers in 2016 a shot in the arm they so desperately needed. It’s also incredible to see in the video game industry a format that has been done seemingly to death get invigorated by the likes of Doom and Titanfall 2 masterful campaigns. But when looking at the year as a whole and what company was driving the gaming world’s biggest phenomenon this side of Pokemon Go in actuality it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Overwatch is our Game Source/Pop Culture Cosmos 2016 Game of the Year. Congratulations to the winner of this year’s award and to those waiting to speculate on their next gaming venture the lesson once again is this: One must never doubt Blizzard.
Honorable Mentions: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Pokemon Sun/Moon, Inside, Superhot, Doom and Titanfall 2.
2009: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)
2010: Mass Effect 2 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
2011: Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360, PC)
2012: Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
2013: Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
2014: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
2015: Super Mario Maker (WiiU)