It’s almost that time again. Video game publishers across the globe will be vying for your attention and your wallet, as they hope to stake claim to the prestigious Christmas #1 slot – in turn ensuring their coffers are lined for another festive period. 2013 is a crazy year that includes not only one, but two next-generation console launches.
Support for fledgling consoles is historically thin on the ground so soon after they arrive (just ask Nintendo) but we’ve had our appetites whet with a surprisingly action packed line up for both new platforms, as well as a smattering of quality current-generation titles.
While it might not be the most original release schedule we’ve ever seen, the emphasis on iteration and sequels should ensure a high level of polish and entertainment that keeps you occupied in to January and beyond. Without further ado, lets take a look at the ConsoleDeals.co.uk prediction for top 10 bestselling games for Christmas 2013.
10. Pokemon X & Y
Surprisingly Nintendo’s only entry in to our Christmas best-seller prediction, Pokemon has grown in to the second most successful video game franchise in the world (behind Nintendo’s other set of loveable characters, Mario & co.)
Originally created as a set of inter-linkable role playing games for the Game Boy, Pokemon has since spawned a multitude of television series, films, clothing ranges, toys and products – it’s no surprise that Nintendo want to revisit the series whenever possible. With X & Y (2 flavours of the same game, allowing Pokemon to “evolve” in to different mega-creations in the latter stages of the game) Nintendo have taken their tried and tested formula and brought it kicking and screaming in to the current generation of handhelds. It’s bigger in scope, brighter and more stunning in the visual department and infinitely more involving.
With Pokemon, Nintendo show the rest of the world how you can create a “collectible” action/adventure game without forcing families to fork out for each individual character and still becoming a critical hit release after release. Much like Animal Crossing and previous Pokemon entries before it, it’s an endearing masterpiece of a game for new and former Pokemon fans alike.
Nintendo’s powerhouse handheld console has yet again fended off all competition in the PlayStation Vita and has a ridiculously strong user base – many of which will be grabbing themselves either X or Y for sure.
9. Forza Motorsport 5
Release date: Nov 22
Platforms: Xbox One
Forza returns with a bang as an exclusive Xbox One launch title. Reveered by racing rans thanks to it’s authentic level of realism, cutting edge visuals and ridiculous levels of customisation, Forza promises to take what has made it so successful in the racing genre and crank it up tenfold.
Thanks to the power of next-gen, Forza looks truly stunning, with detail as far down as the type of paint that individual car manufacturers use and tight integration of the One’s new force feedback trigger system which will allow players to feel every minute bump in the road. One exciting new feature – Drivatar – allows you to play against AI incarnations of other players, adopting their own unique playing style as you race, which should offer a new level of unpredictability.
Whilst being quite a niche title, we think Forza 5 will ship enough units with launch bundles to warrant its spot in our top 10.
8. Grand Theft Auto V
The GTA hype train still shows no signs of stopping. You can’t read a gaming blog without weekly news of yet another record broken by the franchise’ latest installment. GTA V builds upon it’s predecessors in almost every way imaginable, offering a world almost 4 times the size of GTA IV’s Liberty City to explore.
With the main game now centred around 3 key figures, rather than 1 as in previous iterations of the game, the storyline is now allowed to shine through the mayhem – something often lacking before. GTA V is bolstered by it’s online counterpart – a first from Rockstar – released on October 2nd (not without a bump or two), which allows up to 16 players to simultaneously traverse Los Santos, take part in joint heists, races, or just have a leisurely game of golf.
We don’t think the fact that GTA V being released 3 months before Christmas will hamper it’s efforts to hit the festive top 10. The records keep tumbling and Rockstar constantly refine and improve their online offering which should keep the punters coming back for months yet.
7. Need for Speed: Rivals
Whilst there is always death and taxes, there will always be a new entry into the blockbuster Need for Speed franchise. With a next-gen release following shortly after it’s current-gen stablemate, and a movie set for release in 2014, Need for Speed has never been in such good shape.
Taking on the roll of either an illegal road racer, or member of the constabulary, Rivals once again pits the high octane adrenaline junkies against the cops with each having access to up to eleven upgradeable gadgets such as shockwaves, roadblocks and even EMPs. One of the most touted new features of the series is the seamless leap between single and multiplayer throughout the game. You could be fully focused on beating a sprint stage at one moment, before being flashed by another player the next, instantly starting a straight shoot out to the finish line for either cold hard cash or an invaluable pink slip. Just watch out for player controlled cops who will no doubt take great enjoyment in raining on your parade.
The more substandard Need for Speed titles of the past have usually faired well in the charts, but with a next-gen release, fantastic visuals and some genuinely interesting new features, Rivals looks to be a sure fire hit.
6. Disney Infinity
What do you get when you cross one of the most profitable, kid friendly franchises in recent years, and one of the one of the greatest universe of characters ever created? You get Disney Infinity, Disney’s Skylanders alternative. Infinity follows a similar vein to Skylanders, allowing kids to drop their favourite figurines on to a “portal” and place them within a virtual world.
How Disney’s release differs is that each character plays a unique game type in their own world, meaning Mike Wazowski and Sulley are available in the Monsters, Inc. play set, and Captain Jack Sparrow can set forth for some swash buckling fun in the Pirates of the Caribbean environment. Where Infinity really sets itself apart however is the Toy Box mode, where Skylanders meets Minecraft, allowing any character to be dropped in and used to craft obelisks of your child’s imagination. Blocks and features can be further enhanced by programming them with some basic AI, meaning you can literally invent and play your own games direct from the Toy Box.
Some of the creations we’ve seen range from a 2D Super Mario Bros. style platformer, and a Mario Kart-esque racer. Even though Infinity was released in Q3 of 2013, we still see it being a popular title amongst kids and families alike this Christmas.
5. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Another blockbuster franchise festive release this year see’s the Assassin’s Creed series follow in the afore mentioned Jack Sparrow’s footsteps and set sail for the high seas. With around 60% of the game set on dry land, players will have the ability to explore over 50 locations, ranging from fisherman villages, plantations, jungles, forts, islands and Mayan ruins.
And don’t think that the remaining 40% of the game is purely based on your pirate vessel. If you fancy getting your feet wet at any point, simply dive off the boat and begin exploring the deep below – or just swim to shore. Other enhancements offer the ability to wield up to 4 weapons at once (we’re not even sure how that works… toe pistols?), naval battles and ship upgrades. We’ve always enjoyed the mystique of Assassin’s Creed’s plot and Black Flag should be no different. They modern day portion of the game will this time centre around the player themselves, as they perform research in to the games historical sections.
This certainly looks like the most ambitious and epic Assassin’s Creed entry in recent years, and will surely spice up what could have become a stale franchise. One thing is for certain, it will deservedly sell by the bucket load.
4. Battlefield 4
The Battlefield series has always prided itself on user-generated moments of utter magic, that simply couldn’t happen in other games of its ilk. Anyone who’s participated in the Battlefield 4 beta can testify that these moments are still present, yet have been amplified in scale.
Imagine dropping yourself in to the top of a skyscraper with the rest of your squad to capture a command point. After a tough firefight you finally overcome the opposition and take the position, before realising that the enemy has dispatched another squad in your direction via the elevators and their tanks are currently pounding the very foundations of the building you’re standing atop of. You throw yourself from the top of the building, pop open your parachute and stare on in disbelief as the entire structure crashes down around you, creating a ground zero of rubble and debris – which then becomes a new command point for yourself and the opposition to fight over!
Battlefield 4 yet again brings ground warfare to land, sea and air allowing players to jump in to each and any scenario. With an improved Commander mode, a re-imagined Frostbite engine ready for the next-generation consoles, and improved statistics and squad capabilities, Battlefield is gunning for Call of Duty in a big way.
Will it topple Call of Duty in the sales list? Perhaps not, as Call of Duty is certainly a little kinder to newcomers, but there’s no denying that Battlefield takes it on sheer scope and ambition.
3. Skylanders Swap Force
Activision’s kid-friendly colossal gains it’s 3rd release in mid October, and nobody could bet against it challenging the top of the best-seller list come Christmas day. Unlike Skylanders and Skylanders Giants before it, Swap Force definitely has as much substance as it has style this time around.
The latest gimmick in the series see’s a new release of 16 interchangeable figures, who’s torsos and legs can be separated and mixed and matched with other characters to create a total of 256 combinations of zany heroes to drop in to your world. And the world this time is much more action packed, with further emphasis on collectibles, side missions and achievements for kids to work their way through.
Skylanders sales worldwide are already reaching behemoth status, and we’re sure many a kid will have added this latest edition of the franchise to their Christmas list.
2. Fifa 14
Lets just stop for a moment and take a look at the long list of available platforms Fifa 14 is available on. Not many developers could warrant developing a game in 2013 for the PlayStation 2 but EA Sports understand their market and realise that their users will shell out for the latest version of what many consider to be the definitive football experience – from a playing level at least.
Few could argue that Fifa ever experiences a true overhaul as a game, but that doesn’t stop people shelling out for it in their droves – usually keeping it at the top of the charts months after its release.
Maybe that’s a little harsh on Electronic Arts, as each annual edition usually features a whole host of upgrades and new features, many of which sit under the hood but ensure your experience is as fluid as it possibly can be. And this year is no different; Pure Shot see’s players adjust their stride intelligently to find the sweetest strike possibly. Precision Movement offers the player even more freedom of movement, no longer restricting you to set animation frames. Ball physics have also been upgraded to bring further realism to the movement of a football and the AI has been boosted with a greater degree of intelligence when trying to decipher what it is you want them to do.
Add to this the latest player rosters, improved Ultimate Team, a co-op Seasons mode and a brand new scouting system, and it definitely is the best Fifa yet. Although that’s almost irrelevant really – it’s going to sell like hotcakes.
1. Call of Duty: Ghosts
So the illustrious number one best-selling game of Christmas 2013 (in our humble opinion) goes to Call of Duty: Ghosts. Like many before it on this list, Ghosts isn’t by any means a unique IP in the broad sense of the term but Infinity Ward believe they can yet again reinvent a franchise by leaving the Modern Warfare series behind.
With Ghosts, Call of Duty hopes to recapture the essence that made the original Call of Duty titles so compelling – the strong squad based partnerships, more close knit relationships and general backs to the wall, “us against the world” mentality.
Much more emphasis has been attached to the main plot of Ghosts this time around, with Emmy, Golden Globe & Academy award winning writer Stephen Gaghan penning the script, it’s hoped that players will feel a greater level of immersion and a sense of attachment to the games primary characters.
The most notable new addition to the plot is that of a military trained German Shepherd named Riley, who will remain under the command of the elite team of “ghosts” throughout most of the game. Also featured is an overhauled version of the Modern Warfare engine, with which Infinity Ward hopes will scale to the next-generation of consoles adding greater visual realism and stunning frame rates.
Of course, Call of Duty wouldn’t be Call of Duty without a highly polished multiplayer mode and it’s no surprise that Ghosts multiplayer is looking like being one of the most well balanced and popular online games to date. Featuring new modes such as Search and Rescue, Cranked, Grind, Blitz and Hunted as well as a whole host of new maps and (much like Battlefield, but slightly less spectacular) deformable terrain that enables players to alter the map to their advantage mid-fight.
We’re sure Ghosts would take the top spot on current-generation consoles alone – but add the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in to the mix and Infinity Ward have themselves a sure fire hit that will no doubt be one of the most played online games until the next Call of Duty game hits the shelves.
So there you have it, our predictions for the top ten best-selling games of Christmas 2013. Notable omissions go out to Dead Rising 3, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Gran Turismo 6, Super Mario 3D World and Batman: Arkham Origins – we feel these just don’t quite have the selling power to compete in our top ten although will surely make their publishers a hefty profit in their own right.
Do you agree with our top 10? Have we ommitted anything obvious in your eyes? Let us know in the comments – we’ll be sure to reflect on this list post-Christmas to see how we fared!