2019 was jam-packed with notable moments in gaming that rippled not just across certain fandoms, but throughout the culture at large. A few, in particular, were exceptionally memorable though, and that’s why we made a list of the 10 biggest gaming moments in 2019 that shook the world.
Apex Legends Gets a Surprise Reveal and Launch
It’s not every day that AAA publishers and developers make a surprise announcement of a new IP, let alone launch it in the same breath.
And yet, that’s exactly what happened with EA and Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends. Following a sudden teaser for the game the day before, the first-person shooter battle royale title was unveiled to the world sans the usual hype building so common to the industry.
Prominent streamers like Ninja were brought on to play the game in its first days of availability to show people what the title had to offer, and to top it all off, players could dive into the experience immediately after the game was revealed.
It was a huge break from the usual strategies used by gaming companies to market a game. And yet, when the dust had settled, it proved effective in a way few could have predicted, giving rise to one of the most prominent names in the battle royale genre to date.
Google Unveils the Stadia
Given how much gaming has transitioned from analogue to digital in recent years, it was only a matter of time until someone took the plunge into producing a fully digital gaming console.
Enter Google and the Stadia. Officially revealed at GDC 2019, the new hardware was touted as being a streaming platform as opposed to a traditional console. With it, players could play games, stream them to viewers or watch other streamers on most any type of screen with little to no hassle.
To top it all off, the new hardware had the backing of major publishers and developers like Square Enix and Ubisoft, with notable titles from the companies available on the platform at launch.
It was a huge step forward on two accounts. On one hand, Google had finally thrown its hat into the video game console ring, bringing all of its resources and pull throughout the tech world with it.
On the other hand, it also brought the gaming landscape forward in a big way. Successful at launch or no, the introduction of a fully digital streaming platform for games brought with it major implications for the gaming industry, many of which will reverberate throughout the industry and culture for years to come.
Reggie Fils-Aimé Retires
Reggie Fils-Aimé was and is a man whose name is automatically associated with the Nintendo brand, and for good reason.
Over the course of two decades, Fils-Aimé represented the company as the president of Nintendo of America with the kind of tact and grace few could emulate.
He matched the excitement of fans when new games were revealed; embraced the jokes and memes made regarding the company and its announcements; and oversaw some of the company’s American branch through some of its highest highs and lowest lows.
He became the face of Nintendo for many, and was an icon of what the businessmen running AAA game companies could be like.
It was for these reasons that when he announced his retirement, people were both heart-broken and supportive. They didn’t want to see him go, but at the same time, next to no one could say he hadn’t done his duty and earned some down-time.
It was a moment few wanted to admit was coming, but one which many were happy to embrace as the end of something special.
Breath of the Wild Gets a Sequel
Though the Legend of Zelda series has a plethora of entries, next to none of them are direct sequels to one another.
Each tends to see players embark on a familiar journey through a different land, with little more than references to past games littered throughout.
That’s why the moment when a sequel to Breath of the Wild was announced came as such a shock. Not only were the versions of Link and Zelda from the first game still readily identifiable, but the world itself looked to be the same one which players had spent hundreds of hours in, coming to know and love its every detail.
It was the kind of moment that fans couldn’t help but be excited by. For the first time ever, they would be able to step back into a version of Hyrule near and dear to their hearts for another adventure; and, if all went well, might be able to look forward to more numbered sequels in the series moving forward.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Sees the Light of Day
Given the Final Fantasy VII Remake’s history, it’s no surprise people were ravenous for the chance to finally see some game teased and previewed in earnest.
Following years of being teased with tech demo trailers, the title was officially announced to be in development back in 2015. In the years that followed though, news was scarce at best, with little to no substantial reveals to speak of.
That all changed this year. From May onward, the game received trailers, screenshots and gameplay reveals which stoked fans into a frenzy of excitement.
There was debate on what moments would be like in the newly remastered story, elation at the introduction of iconic characters’ touched-up looks and, following the reveal that the first episode of the game was set to launch early next year, widespread excitement and anticipation.
It was a series of moments that brought gaming culture as a whole together. They showed how integral the game is to gaming’s history as a whole, and previewed just how big of an impact the Remake could make once it finally drops.
Ninja Leaves Twitch for Mixer
For years, Ninja was a symbol of Twitch’s dominance in the game streaming business.
Millions tuned into the streaming website on a daily basis to see the gaming celebrity play titles like Fortnite and Apex Legends.
This in turn provided Twitch with massive profits from advertisers eager to reach even a fraction of the millions of people watching the company’s golden boy; who, thanks to his popularity, made a fortune of his own from streaming with Twitch over the years.
Most believed it a rock-solid partnership that couldn’t be broken, and that Twitch would continue to reign as the de-facto streaming platform for years to come.
Or at least, they did until the moment Ninja departed from the website to stream exclusively on Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer.
In an instant, Twitch lost one of its most lucrative streamers, while also losing its definitive foothold at the top of the game-streaming website pile. It marked the end of an era, and heralded changes that are sure to come in the following years.
Fortnite Goes Dark
Given the international popularity of Fortnite, it’s little surprise its supposed end got the entire world talking.
Following the appearance of a meteor and its impact on the game’s map, the title’s servers went dark. Players could log into the game, but all they were greeted with was a nebulous black hole and the option to play a Space Invaders knock-off.
To be sure, it was all a cleverly disguised server maintenance period before the next season, and if people went digging they could find proof that the game would be back in a matter of days.
And yet, while the biggest game in the world was gone, the buzz around exactly when it would go back online was a topic of heavy discussion. Epic had created a juggernaut of a game that transcended gaming culture, and the idea that the company could choose to end things on top had more than a few people blown away.
It was the moment that most people realized only Fortnite was big enough to pull off such a stunt, and that they likely would never see such a feat again.
Blizzard Stifles Opinions on the Hong Kong Protests
Given how prevalent the Hong Kong protests have been across the globe, it’s little surprise opinions on the struggle would leak into facets of gaming. Even more surprising, though, was how Blizzard handled players of their games who had opinions on the matter.
Following a statement made by Ng Wai “blitzchung” Chung in support of the Hong Kong protesters, the company rescinded his winnings from the Hearthstone Grandmasters Season 2 competition and banned him from competing professionally for 12 months. Shortly after, they fired the casters who were interviewing Chung when he made the statement.
This led to heavy blowback from within and outside of the gaming community. Many were shocked and appalled by the move, especially given that Blizzard had built itself up as a company of diverse views and opinions over the years.
Blizzard did eventually reduce the ban and return Chung’s prize money, but they also put a six-month ban on the US collegiate Hearthstone team AU for holding up a banner supporting the protesters.
The end result was that irreparable damage was done to the company’s image. Even after a public apology was made, many couldn’t help but realize where the company’s priorities lied in regards to free speech, and that maybe the company wasn’t as accepting of certain opinions as it once seemed.
Half-Life: Alyx Resurrects the Long Dormant Franchise
To say people had been waiting eagerly for the moment when a new Half-Life game would be announced would be an understatement.
Since the release of Half-Life 2 Episode 2, fans of the series have had their hopes for a new entry in the series rekindled and dashed several times over. For every hint of a new game being developed by Valve, there was the news that it wasn’t a Half-Life title.
For every leaked bit of info on something related to Half-Life 3, there was the realization that it was story beats from a scrapped version of the game.
That’s why the reveal of Half-Life: Alyx came as such a refreshing change. Sure, it was a VR title set before the events of Half-Life 2, but it was an honest to goodness new entry in the series developed by Valve and its crack team of developers.
It was a moment years in the making, and one which fans were glad to finally get after years of being left scrounging for hints of the series’ continuation.
Microsoft Reveals the Xbox Series X
Everyone knew that the reveal of the next generation of consoles was coming. It was only a question of who would be the first to reveal their new hardware and start the race to the next generation.
As it turned out, the company to do that was Microsoft. During the 2019 Game Awards, a trailer showed off the potential of the new console in all of its glory. Alongside it were brief glimpses of games which would be released alongside it, including Hellblade 2, the next installment in the Halo franchise and more.
It all culminated in a reveal of the console’s appearance: A black, monolithic tower reminiscent of PC hardware, standing tall over a controller.
It was everything one would expect from a new console reveal – a flashy display of what could be, and what Microsoft hoped to provide through its hardware come the 2020 holiday season.
And yet, it was also the moment when this generation started to approach it’s end, making way for the next era of gaming.