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And it's goodnight from her: the 10 biggest news stories of 2014

Console sales, online abuse, exclusives, broken games and buyouts. What were the biggest news stories of 2014?

2014

Since VG47's inception in January 2008, there have been 89,885 news and feature submissions posted on the site. In 2014 alone, as of December 11, there have been 11,591 news and feature articles posted on the front page.

With such a vast number of articles, it was a rather onerous task trying to whittle down just 10 stand-out stories of the year, so while your mileage may vary when it comes to what was a big deal and what was small potatoes in your eyes, these are the stories which were at the forefront of our collective minds in 2014.

That being said, below are the 10 of biggest news stories to hit the site in 2014, and in no particular order.

Rise of the Tomb Raider announced as an Xbox exclusive

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While we later found out the next game in the Tomb Raider series' exclusivity to Xbox consoles has an expiration date, the initial announcement was met with shock, awe, and in come cases, rage.

It was indeed a surprising announcement considering the core Tomb Raider series had never been released as exclusive to any one format, excluding games developed specifically for handhelds.

Luckily, the game will eventually be released at some point for formats other than Xbox. While Microsoft was recently announced as both publisher and development partner for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions, Square Enix reiterated the deal was a timed-exclusive, reassuring PlayStation and PC fans that eventually they too will be able to play Rise of the Tomb Raider at some point beyond holiday 2015.

New-gen consoles plagued with broken AAA games

oh the fucking horror

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have only been on the market for a year, so it's easy enough to assume developers aren't 100% familiar with the hardware just yet. However, it doesn't excuse the absolute rubbish being released onto the market just to adhere to a release date predetermined by suit-wearing bosses sitting in leather chairs in their top floor offices.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection, DriveClub and Assassin's Creed: Unity are just three of the most high profile and anticipated games for both consoles to have been released in 2014;  and each released with major issues instead of being left in the oven a bit longer to cook.

While there were quite a few things wrong with the big Halo release of the year, the biggest issue which plagued The Master Chief Collection was severe matchmaking issues, causing 343 Industries to temporarily trim down the playlists. Various patches have been released to combat the  issues, with the most recent released on December 8.

The ambitious racer DriveClub also experienced issues with the online components, causing Sony to delay the PS Plus Edition due to a myriad of server problems. Various updates seem to have quelled the majority of issues getting online, and to make amends, Sony handed out free content to all users of the game. Sony took the scolding over the server issues in-stride, admitting fault yet stating  it's hard to "effectively test [having] 50,000 - 200,000 users" hitting your online servers despite pre-release testing. Its probably right, but still, more stress testing could have helped matters.

A month post release, Ubisoft is still releasing patches to fix the sheer number of issues surrounding Assassin's Creed: Unity. The game's launch would have been considered borderline comical if not for such a vast number of ridiculous bugs and glitches found within all formats - things which more testing would likely have eliminated. Between various crashing issues, framerate drops, bugs, and that crazy-ass "no face" glitch, Unity's release was a laughing stock despite the decent review scores. Even the market was dumbfounded by such ineptitude: shares in Ubisoft fell 9.12% the day after the game released. Luckily, Ubisoft learned a valuable lesson with Unity  and will give its studio in Montreal “more time” to develop future games in the series.

Facebook plops down $2 billion for Oculus VR

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Of all the companies in the world to purchase Oculus VR and the tech behind its Rift headset, no one in their wildest dreams would have expected it to be Facebook. What in the world would a social media network known for over-sharing and FarmVille want with virtual reality tech and why would it spend $2 billion to get it? We still don't know exactly what Mark Zuckerberg and co. have planned for Oculus Rift, but the site's founder has some ideas, starting with making the world more "open and connected."

"Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible," he said regarding the company. "Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home.”

Zuckerberg said that Oculus VR would continue operating independently within Facebook, but it remains to be seen how long that will last; especially if the tech doesn't become a “meaningful computing platform” by selling somewhere between the 50-100 million mark.

Minecraft studio bought by Microsoft for $2.5 billion

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When rumor of Microsoft buying Mojang first surfaced, many people were left scratching their heads as to why the company's founder would sell such a lucrative business venture. I mean, come on: 17,452,515 people have purchased the PC/Mac version alone, not to mention the number of copies sold on Android, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. There was a method to Markus "Notch" Persson's madness, though: he wanted to preserve his "sanity".

That's as good enough reason as any, and Microsoft didn't walk away with the studio and Minecraft IP for cheap either. As of November 6, the Xbox maker officially owns the company and those who purchased Minecraft on rival platforms won't be left out in the cold.

Microsoft plans to keep Minecraft available for rival products - in other words its is honoring Mojang's current contracts - but don't expect future games in the series to be released on PlayStation platforms.

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Twitch bought by Amazon for $910 million

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2014 was the year of billion dollar acquisitions, and Twitch being bought by Amazon was no exception, despite the $970 million price tag being just shy of the mark. That's still more money than any of us will ever see, and it is hoped that Amazon will be a much better company than Google, which was previously rumored to be eyeing the streaming channel. Microsoft was also rumored at one point to have been part of the bidding process.

Twitch CEO Emmett Shear assured fans that being part of the Amazon family was a good thing, as it would allow Twitch to "create tools and services faster than we could have independently." Hopefully, the company's original vision will remain intact and videogamephiles can stream their curse-laden gaming prowess and not so great prowess unhindered for many a year to come.

PewDiePie and the continued rise of YouTube

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Let's Play videos became even more popular in 2014 with the continued rise of Twitch and YouTube, allowing many a streamer to became famous and reap the benefits. There have been questions raised about the access and positive coverage some give to publishers, but that's largely been swept to one side by a young audience that doesn't seem to care. This is new media, not boring old written words on a website.

King of YouTube is Felix 'PewDiePie' Kjellberg who made $4 million in revenue through YouTube the year before. With over 32 million followers and growing, the Sweden native has become so popular he has even guest-starred in a two part episode of South Park.

Even switching off the ability for his followers to comment on his videos hasn't quelled his popularity, and thanks to Kjellberg and other YouTube personalities, EA has issued reprints of its glitchy Skate 3 game.

PewDiePie launched his channel in 2010 with Let's Play videos, and has since expanded into vlogging, humor and silly animation and photoshop fun at Kim Kardashian's expense. He's not going to stop anytime soon and his popularity will only grow futher.

PlayStation Now announced

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Back in January during CES 2014, Sony announced that its Gaikai-enabled cloud streaming technology for PlayStation 4 would furthermore be referred to as PlayStation Now.

The service allows folks to stream PS3 games on PS4 as well as Vita, PS3, PSTV, and BRAVIA televisions. PlayStation 4, PSone and PS3 titles are possibly coming in the near future. At present there are over 150 games available to stream via the open beta in North America and saves transfer across all the devices.

Sony announced it would be buying the Gaiaki service in July 2012 after rumors surfaced earlier in the year. The company revealed that it had bought Gaikai for $380 million from company founder Dave Perry, who still heads up the service. It's been a long time coming, then, but Sony is finally showing the reality of streamed games content across your home.

Kinect no longer forced on Xbox One customers

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After stating time and time again that Xbox One would not be released without the Kinect camera, and going as far as to put its foot down on the matter, Microsoft finally relented and started offering its shiny new console without the device on June 9.

It was rather big deal considering how adamant Microsoft was on the matter, but the company played this off by stating it had been "listening" to its fanbase on the matter. This is probably true, and Microsoft made good on its promise to Xbox customers with this decision.

Announcing a Kinect-less Xbox One was just another step in the company's far reaching effort to gain lost ground with consumers. In 2013 the company also made a u-turn regarding its "always online" policy which turned many a consumer off to the new console, not to mention the fact the bundle itself was rather expensive due to the inclusion of the camera

Much to the market's relief, Xbox One's price fell by $100 once the camera was no longer in the box. Kinect was offered as a standalone device as of October.

In 2014 Microsoft also promoted its former Microsoft Studios VP as its new Xbox boss Phil Spencer, replacing the division's former boss and now Zynga CEO Don Mattrick, who left the firm in 2013. Along with the policy changes, Spencer's promotion, and the various Xbox One options available on the makert, the Xbox division has become more  attuned to the needs of its customers, and that is a good thing indeed.

PS4 leads US console sales for 10 months in a row

kaz is pleased

It would be easy for Sony to claim current-gen market dominance in North America going by NPD figures. From the start of January 2014, the console outsold its competitor, Xbox One, every month through October. Finally, in November, Xbox One knocked the crown off PS4's head.

NPD figures for November proved knocking $50 off the console's price in time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday was a smart idea on Microsoft's part. Come January 2015, not only will Christmas figures be released, but so will the full year-end report and the numbers will undoubtedly be very interesting.

While Microsoft topped the charts almost every month during last-gen's heyday in North America, Sony was the favored console in Europe. That being said, lifetime sales for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are neck-and-neck as of 2014: both have sold over 80 million units each worldwide.

Unfortunately, both Microsoft and Sony have stopped reporting individual consoles figures in financial reports so we may never know the exact figure. With sales roughly even between PS3 and Xbox 360, we expect something similar with this console generation. Xbox One will correct itself in the market as times goes on, but no console is likely to ever top PlayStation 2 as king of all consoles: 155 million units sold worldwide (give or take) is tough to beat.

Nintendo? As of October 2014 its current-gen offering has sold 7.29 million units since it was released in 2012. Wii U's predecessor, Wii, sold 101.23 million units worldwide, spanking both PS3 and Xbox 360 and making them sit in the corner for a time out.

#gamergate tore video games apart

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Where to begin? The #gamergate hashtag attracted and amplified so many extremes. It was (is?) a hate movement against women, a complaint movement against video games, a giant accusation that established games media is inherently corrupt.

The industry tried to stand up to it, calling for more diversity in games, more politics and discussion, more critical thinking. But all that was crushed by the sheer noise of the #gamergate hashtag. There were violence, rape and bomb threats on a weekly basis. Whatever intentions were buried in it were swamped by the anger.

It made headline news outside of the games press, and once again the mainstream entertainment industry looked at video games with disdain. What are these idiots (everyone, not just anyone hijacking a hashtag) fighting over? Video games.

Just video games.

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