While 2015 wasn’t the busiest year for Valve, we saw a couple major pushes in the industry come from them. The first of which being that Steam now offers refunds, allowing consumers to have the same freedom with their digital purchases as they would physical. Furthermore, we saw the release of Steam Machines, as well as the launch of SteamOS and Steam Link.
Steam has broken their own records over and over, boasting concurrent users of over 10 million. The steam community is growing and developers are surely watching this happen as increasingly we see games launch on both consoles and PC. While Valve hasn’t made the giant changes in the industry that some people were hoping for through its launch of Steam Machines, there is a lot of room for Valve to grow as support for the OS grows.
Shuhei Yoshida is the type of individual that every consumer facing company dreams of having. A nice-seeming, responsive, and forward facing person who, according to developers, can get down to business when that’s what is called for. His witty responses on Twitter allows for consumers to see that someone high up at PlayStation is actually listening and willing to participate in active conversation with those who want to talk.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that all Yoshida does is tweet. According to internal Sony developers, Yoshida is always strict with the studios he leads and is trying to make the best games possible, even if that means a few frowning faces. While there have been a couple missteps in terms of internal Sony development, at large, Yoshida and his teams’ dedication show in the games that are produced at Sony Worldwide Studios.
Emerging from the dark depths of Konami’s basement, Koji Igarashi announced and kickstarted Bloodstained: A Ritual of the Night. After producing one of the most beloved retro-titles of all time, Castlevania, Igarashi was reportedly shoved to the side due to changing tides within Konami. His games were not big enough to make Konami the millions that it was looking for, but Igarashi, his name, and the IP that he honed were not worth little enough to let go. Igarashi, however, was inspired by Keiji Inafune’s recent Kickstarter success after leaving Capcom, and decided to do the same.
What he brought with him is a beautiful 2.5D sidescrolling spiritual successor to Castlevania. The Kickstarter was fortuned with immediate success and Koji Igarashi is well on his way to making an awesome new Castlevania game for all the people who’ve been patiently waiting.
Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty (Kinda Funny)
Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty are some of the loudest, most influential voices in video games media to date. But that type of dedicated audience doesn’t come easily or quickly. They’ve both been core parts of the video game industry for extended periods of time and have used it to ultimately create Kinda Funny. Officially launching in Jan. 2015, Kinda Funny immediately captured the dedicated audience that they had gained through working at IGN, as well as a brand new audience.
Since then, they’ve gone back and recreated classic Podcast Beyond through its spiritual successor, PS I Love You XOXO. They have showed that they still command a vast part of PlayStation gamers, by being the only podcast at PlayStation Experience 2015 and filling the conference room in which the Keynote was previously held.
Greg Miller showed his thoughtful attitude during his acceptance speech for Trending Gamer 2015 at The Game Awards, making headlines throughout video games media websites.
Their coverage of media events and conferences are generally some of the most watched on Twitch because of the intense amount of loyalty and dedication that their fans have. Loyalty and dedication that especially shines through when you leave your securely paying job and create a media company through Patreon.
Game Designer, producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor, one time vice president of Konami and now currently founder and director of the resurrected Kojima Production studio are all titles of Hideo Kojima. None of these past actions are who he is as a person. At his core, Kojima is a dreamer and consumer of American pop culture. Often his inspiration is heavily referenced in many of his games, including in his ever popular Metal Gear Solid series.
Since his most recent game at Konami, the astounding Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, he is no longer part of the company. For the 2nd half of 2015 speculation on the details of his leave from Konami ran rampant through the enthusiast press. Not much was known of what his next step would be. Few had a doubt that this meant his future in the industry was going to be in question. An announcement by Sony would soon quell the curiosity: Kojima Productions will be going to work on an exclusive title for PlayStation. Kojima is now free of his cage and many wonder what he will accomplish with his new-found freedom. We’ll soon see but for now, 2015 marked the end of an era for one of the industry’s highest profile creators and game series. That is something none of us will soon forget.
Call of Duty is often the butt of many jokes when it comes to discussing annualization. We’ve long abandoned it to being the poster child for the yearly release. What’s hard to ignore is the fact that CEO and President of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick has found a way to keep the gaming giant in the black. At a time when financial issues seems to claim a new studio or publisher fairly frequently. Activision seems to be almost immune to such harsh realities. It doesn’t seem to matter how successful a game is these days, a studio or publisher involved appears to lay off many of its long time staff members. We all know that a lot of companies do this to save on overhead when many of those positions aren’t needed. Kotick and Activision has a found a way to keep the vast majority of its staff around.
Activision stable of successful titles (Diablo III, Hearthstone, Call of Duty, Destiny, etc..) has allowed for something almost remarkable in this day and age. Their abundance in resources has allowed them to bring back the Sierra name as a sort an experimental indie arm. A lot of gamers may think this is a problem, but this is the deal you strike with the devil to allow for both new franchises to mature and old franchises to find new life. Kotick’s leadership role may be more of a blessing than we think.
Few games shake the industry as well as Rocket League did when it launched on PS4 and PC last year. Rocket League captured the attention of every tuned-in PlayStation gamer and a ton of PC gamers with its fast-paced, nitrous-fueled, RC-car flinging, soccer ball scoring action. The game launched polished and was overwhelmingly fun and addictive. Not to mention that its strategic free release for PlayStation Plus users, immediately allowed the game to gain attention beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. While everyone over at Psyonix deserves a pat on the back along with all the success that they have received, Dave Hagewood, founder of the studio, definitely deserves some recognition as well.
Tsubasa Sakaguchi and Yusuke Amano
You probably don’t know who Tsubasa Sakaguchi and Yusuke Amano are, but you’ve undoubtedly heard of the game they directed, Splatoon. For all intents and purposes, Splatoon should have been a failure. It launched on a platform with waning support, it was a weird mix of esports and casual play, it was confusedly explained, and its controls are far from intuitive. But, it didn’t fail. In fact, it was extremely successful, Splatoon has sold 4 million copies to date, which means one in three people who own a Wii U owns Splatoon. Splatoon has been able to command a giant portion of the Nintendo audience by providing great, quality gameplay. Sakaguchi and Amano both deserve credit for the success of Splatoon and should be congratulated as such.
And that concludes our list of the 20 most influential people in games for 2015. What did you think of the list? Did we miss someone? Let us know in the comments below!