A missed opportunity can mean many things. Maybe it's that one missed call from some trying to reconnect, or that potential employer you've been waiting to hear from. Maybe it's that time you just had to use your Kinect to chat in Mass Effect and missed a Renegade event. Whether it be in our everyday lives or while we are gaming, missed opportunities usually aren't worth dwelling on too much. But we however are not a bunch of hotshot videogame companies with deep pockets; we are just regular ol' Joe Gamer. So when the largest companies in the industry squander an opportunity for success, it hurts, and often leaves us wondering 'if only' and 'what if". While only a quarter of the way into the new year, we have already seen some major chances blown by some very reputable gaming companies. Let's have a look at the Top 5 Missed Gaming Opportunities of 2012 – so far.
5) Say a Prayer for Prey 2
Ah, Prey. What a wonderfully delightful FPS. Not nearly enough gamers cared about this franchise as they should have when it was released, but after collectively blowing the gaming community away at last year's E3 with the unveiling of its sequel, Prey 2 easily became the follow-up to watch. But after a super-slick reveal – with just about the most mesmerizing sci-fi look we've ever seen – Prey 2 quietly disappeared from the public eye. No one really questioned it though, leaving gamers to assume the folks at Human Head Studios were hammering away at the sequel under a cover of complete silence. That was until last week when rumors surfaced that Prey 2 had been canned by Bethesda. Normally such news would be taken with a grain of salt what with Bethesda having gone on record many a time defending Doom 4's existence. But in Prey 2's case Bethesda has been sticking by a no comment policy which does not bode well for FPS sequel. And that's a damned shame considering that Prey 2 looked to have what it takes to stand out in a genre flooded by generic wanna-be's and copy-cats.
4) Nintendo Blunders on The Binding of Isaac
Life was simple for Isaac, that is until the day Nintendo pegged his soul too corrupt to be released on the 3DS. It seems that little Isaac has a whole lot more to worry about than just his mother trying to carve him a new one with the sharp end of a kitchen knife, as the adorable lad fell from the Big N's graces earlier this year. With 'questionable religious content' to blame, Nintendo passed on what would have been a big opportunity to push the 3DS and earn the support of the indie gaming scene. But instead, Nintendo sought to judge what was best for its audience (the same Nintendo that tried to convince us last year that it was 'hardcore') and blocked Isaac's 3DS debut. Boo. Hiss.
3) Playstation Vita is No Game Changer
Where do I begin with this one? The Playstation Vita has had a bit of a underwhelming launch to say the least. With its pricey games, proprietary memory cards, short battery life, and not-so-friendly user experience, the list of issues goes on and on for Sony's new portable. Dual analog stick controls and quite literally the sexiest screen ever designed (seriously, have you seen it?) should have allowed Sony to knock this one out the park. But in an era of customers expecting a lot more from their portable devices, Sony would have been wise to let this one sit in the oven for a bit longer before serving it to the public.
2) BioWare Empowers the Whiny Gamers of the World
Haven't we all heard enough about this company already? No? Alright, then. Without a doubt Mass Effect is one of the most poignant and well written videogame series of recent memory. The bar Shepard and his fun-loving gang on the Normandy have set in terms of interactive storytelling is nothing short of amazing. So when BioWare releases a statement vowing to take the rather vocal gamer complaints on Mass Effect 3's ending into consideration to create future 'content initiatives' as they are being called, this not only diminishes the creative work of the team and their overall vision of how Shepard's journey concluded, but it also empowers gamers with the notion that the intellectual property belongs to them. The reality, gamers, is that developers like BioWare owe us nothing. If this was how BioWare's team sought to end Shepard's tale (not Mass Effect as a whole, mind you), then who are we to challenge them. BioWare had an opportunity to stand by their narrative and not be strong-armed by what they refer to as their 'most loyal fanbase' into making up for what many actually believed to be a satisfying conclusion to a fantastic trilogy – you just can't hear them over all the entitled churls that are out there raising hell (like filing FTC complaints). When you feel so passionately about a project, it is easy to crumble under the weight of criticism. How ever all of this comes to pass, BioWare has certainly set a precedent with its decision, and never again will a major videogame series go unchanged without complete approval from the screaming masses of the gaming population.
1) Torchlight II Overshadowed by Diablo III
With its spotlight stolen by Diablo III's recently announced launch date of May 15, Torchlight II now has some pretty stiff competition to consider. Though you wouldn't have guessed it by the way Runic Games has responded to Blizzard's announcement, the reality is that so many of us were drawn to Torchlight because of how lovably Diablo-esque it was. Torchlight debuted at a perfect time and reminded us all why we love the crap out of looting so friggin' much. And with Diablo III suggested to sell 5 million units in its first year, one wonders if Torchlight II missed its opportunity to shine. Personally, I am looking forward to Torchlight II the teeniest bit more than Diablo III and remain optimistic that the sequel's window hasn't entirely closed.
With so much of 2012 left ahead of us, who knows what other gaming companies will let us down and how! Maybe Sony will finally come forward and announce that The Last Guardian just isn't happening. Or maybe the Wii U will turn out to be a huge disappointment. Whatever the case, one thing is certain: the industry is capable of just as much heartache as it is joy.