The big trends that defined 2013 in games

The big trends that defined 2013 in games
James Batchelor

By James Batchelor

December 23rd 2013 at 10:00AM

From the PS4 and Xbox One, Supercell to mobile, 21 industry professionals tell us their highlights of the year

2013 has been a landmark year for games.

Mobile has continued its astronomic rise in the games space, creating billion dollar companies such as Clash of Clans developer Supercell and Puzzle & Dragons outfit GungHo.

We've also seen new consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony in the shape of the Wii U, Xbox One and PS4, ushering in a new era of console gaming and inspiring renewed optimism in the market.

We asked 21 game industry professionals on what they thought of 2013 in games, and what they felt defined the year for the sector.

The Year of next-gen

“I loved the rapturous reception that the launch of two new consoles received, at a time when many industry pundits were predicting the death of consoles.”
Phil Gaskell, director, Ripstone

“We knew PS4 was going to be clever and make the right noises, had no idea it was going to have such a convincing lead over XBone as it seems to, so far. I’m also impressed by the impact Shahid Ahmad has had.”
Stewart Gilray, CEO, Just Add Water

“Sony and Microsoft reinvigorated interest in the console market.”
Nick Gibson, founder, Games Investor Consulting

“The arrival of the new consoles! Having lived and worked in games through many console cycles this is the battle I’m looking forward to most.”
Ian Goodall, managing director, Aardvark Swift

The Year of Supercell


“Supercell’s valuation was my highlight!”
Gareth Edmondson, CEO, Thumstar

“The Supercell $1.5 billion transaction showing the real potential of that market.”
Darren Jobling, CEO, Eutechnyx

The Year of Mobile

“2013 is the year of the mobile gaming giants emerged. Supercell's acquisition by Gung Ho, and King's ascent. I think Candy Crush is the biggest story in gaming by a longshot. More people play Candy Crush in a day than will ever own a PS4 or XBOne combined.”
John Earner, CEO, Space Ape Games

“We really saw a leap in mobile phone power and performance over the last 12 months, bringing them almost to a par with the outgoing PS3 and Xbox 360 consoles. The rapid development of mobile hardware, and the arrival of new consoles gives devs large and small a great excuse to create some truly innovative games. I also think the twists and turns in the mobile and tablet markets have been fascinating to watch with a change in fortunes for established players and new entrants coming into the market.”
Harvey Elliott, CEO, Marmalade

The Year of Digital

“2013 was the year when digital distribution crossed the Rubicon and became the major way we sell our games. Also being able to self-publish on Consoles at long last.”
Jason Kingsley, co-founder and CEO, Rebellion

The Year of the Indie

“I am very impressed by the success of indie games this year. Not only did we have indie games like The Room and The Unfinished Swan win at March's BAFTA awards, but we saw some new amazing titles too, like Ridiculous Fishing, Gone Home and Papers, Please.”
Sophia George, co-founder of Swallowtail Games and games designer in residence at V&A Museum

“This year, the number of games I played made by indie and small studios overtook the number of major triple-A games I played. But I realized the number of triple-A games I play hasn’t decreased, it’s just easier to fit in these shorter but highly impactful experiences.”
Wesley Adams, marketing specialist, Autodesk

“It felt to me like the year that Indies took over, certainly in the amount of my personal game time. Played some truly inspired games across many platforms, and love seeing people that haven't realised they can’t do what they are doing. My game of the year? Papers Please!”
Nick Button-Brown, studio head, Improbable

“The hardware manufacturer top-trumps game of who had better indie-friendly points was a distraction for what was really happening: a genuine grass roots upswell of indie teams feeling that anything was possible. That brought with it a maturing of approach as those same developers realised that success still requires hard work, business acumen and a commitment to learning a wealth of new skills outside their dev comfort zone, but many indies have embraced those challenges and are positioning themselves really well for a successful 2014.”
Natalie Griffith, owner, Press Space PR

“There was a fundamental sea change in the way that the platform holders are communicating with indie developers, and the community as a whole. I would never have dreamt that I would be able to start a relationship with Sony, or Nintendo or Microsoft simply through the power of Twitter. It's remarkable to see how open these companies are becoming. It's not all smooth sailing, but it's significantly better than say five years ago where I would never have imagined a small team of developers could release a game on a major platform.”
Andy Esser, lead programmer, Zero Dependency

The Year of Naughty Dog

“The best moment in gaming for 2013 was the release of The Last Of Us. Naughty Dog silenced critics predicting the end of console gaming with an honest, innovative, and totally fresh IP. The Last Of Us was a great reminder that console gaming can still swing big and take players to places they’ve never been before. Bravo.”
Ryan Payton, founder, Camouflaj

“2013 for me was all about story telling, the best games have all told a story, whether it's one that is scripted out for you like in "The Last of Us" , one that you have an influence over "The Walking Dead" or one that you create "Journey." I feel like the developers that have got this right have learned how to make games a real emotional experience and I look forward to seeing how that can be enhanced even more in the future.”
Mark Baldwin, community manager, New Star Games

The Year of Transition

“There was a sense of transition and nothing really culminating. Next gen was muted, VR devices are building momentum, big titles were delayed. Still, I have high hopes for next year!”
David Osborne, RuneScape senior narrative designer, Jagex

“We saw the vast adoption by the general public of F2P - particularly Candy Crush. At the other end of the spectrum you have GTA V selling 28 million copies! And the game is staggering in its scope and technical accomplishments.”
Philip Oliver, founder, Radiant Worlds

The Year of Surprises

“2013 was a year which just kept bringing surprises. Uncharacteristically funny additions to big brands like Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. Refreshing takes on game storytelling by new IPs like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Games created by a single auteur like Papers, Please touching me on a very personal level (I grew up on the other side of the "Iron Curtain"). And of course our amazing players still make me laugh with the Surgeon Simulator 2013 videos they make.”
Imre Jele, founder, Bossa Studios

“I loved the revealing of No Man’s Sky. It’s a bold step forward for the sci-fi genre, having a massive procedural universe that can be explored to its very depths.”
Daniel Da Rocha, managing director, Mudvark

“2013 was absolutely crazy from seeing Minecraft hit 23 million+ sales, Phil Fish getting, in my opinion, undeserved shit and quitting twitter, Supercell becoming billion dollar beast and then the amount of little studios popping up doing great things, I guess the way I would round it up is that 2013 in video games has highlighted how unpredictable this industry is.”
Aj Grand-Scutton, founder, Dlala Studios