2015 was a tremendous year in gaming, with Sony selling 32 million PlayStation 4 units, Microsoft gaining ground with its Xbox One console, and Nintendo gaining huge buzz going into 2016, between its new mobile plans and its rumored NX system.

Here are some of the biggest stories we reported in gaming for the year.

Activision purchases King and sets big eSports plans.

Activision had a number of big name sequels hits over the holiday season, including Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Guitar Hero Live and Skylanders Superchargers. However, it also made tremendous moves in the business world, too.

Its biggest move was purchasing mobile game publisher King for a whopping $5.9 billion, in a bid to establish a stronger presence in the smartphone and tablet market. There’s still no word on what will come out of this union, but chances are we’ll see the results from it in 2016.

In addition, Activision Blizzard also promised big moves in the eSports world. Along with creating a devoted tournament based around the Call of Duty franchise titled the World League, it also introduced a new division devoted to competitive gaming, which should make some big moves next year.

Activision also looks primed and ready to get into Hollywood with Activision Blizzard Studios, which will feature movies and TV shows based on its popular franchises, including Call of Duty (which it hopes to build a cinematic universe around) and a new Skylanders show which will debut next year.

Things are looking up for Activision, as it’s taking its momentum to new heights.

Star Wars hits with full force

With The Force Awakens dominating the global box office, making over a $1 billion in 12 days, 2015 is the year that Star Wars came back in full force. Not only did the film get a number of lucrative partners, but a pair of new game releases also made waves as well.

After much build up, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront was shown to fans during the Star Wars Celebration event this past April, and it lived up to the hype, with beautiful levels based on locales from the original film trilogy, as well as addictive multiplayer options. The game sold reasonably well throughout the holidays, and its energy should stay strong going into 2016, with plenty of downloadable content on the way.

The Force was also with Disney Interactive, as the latest version of Disney Infinity was mainly based around the Star Wars universe. Featuring playsets based on the previous films in the series (as well as The Force Awakens, which released earlier this month), the game has been a critical success for the company, and should continue onward in 2016 with new expansions, including a new multiplayer based Marvel game and more figurines.

Considering the success of the Star Wars franchise this year, we’re likely to see more game releases emerge sooner rather than later.

Sony leads the game market

Sony’s PlayStation 4 led the industry with a whopping 32 million units sold before the big holiday season, and sales should continue well into 2016 with major sequels to franchises like Uncharted and Ratchet & Clank waiting in the wings. However, Sony did much more for the industry beyond that.

The company will soon delve into the virtual world with its PlayStation VR tech, which expanded with each new trade show thanks to newly announced titles like Rez Infinite and Ace Combat 7. A release date and price weren’t given, but we will see it hit market next year and it’s likely to make a much stronger impact than the company’s PlayStation Move technology (although VR will use it in a number of innovative ways).

In addition to attending various trade shows, Sony also held its own for the second year in a row. The PlayStation Experience made its move to San Francisco this time around, but kept its momentum going with hundreds of first and third-party titles for attendees to try out. There were also panels and a special keynote with plenty of surprises, along with Capcom’s fighting tournament, the Capcom Cup, which closed out the show. No doubt Sony will bring it back next year, bigger and better than ever.

Finally, Sony has big plans for the future, with a number of new games in the works, AAA and independent alike, to help bolster the PlayStation 4’s growing library. Considering it’s the most popular division Sony has right now, that comes as no surprise.

Games take on a new reality

Video games began taking big steps toward adopting virtual reality technology 2015, with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR set to release next year.

PlayStation VR will play a big part in Sony’s plans for 2016, however, others have big moves in the works as well.

HTC unveiled its Vive headset in collaboration with Valve (the creators of Steam) at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year. This reveal was accompanied with the announcement of Lighthouse motion tracking technology, which allows users to interact with virtual reality. Although it was only unveiled in March, it quickly became known as a major rival against the Oculus Rift.

Not to be outdone, the Oculus Rift also made strides forward. After being purchase by Facebook last year, many were wondering what Oculus’ plans were. It answered these questions with a special press conference, announcing several new games, in addition the Oculus Touch technology for interaction. Furthermore, Oculus announced a partnership with Microsoft, making the Xbox One gamepad its official game controller, and one will ship with each headset.

Samsung brought the Gear VR headset to market. Developed in partnership with Oculus, the Gear VR uses Samsung smartphones to power its virtual reality experiences. It launch was accompanied with a games collection such as Land’s End and Eve: Gunjack, along with classic titles offered through the virtual Samsung Arcade, including Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog and a variety of favorites from Bandai Namco and Midway.

Virtual reality is set to make even bigger strides next year, with a number of new titles from each company, as well as advancements that will draw in more and more consumers willing to give the tech a try.

Microsoft gains speed

Along with introducing a number of highly anticipated sequels for the Xbox One, such as Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider, it also made big plans for the year that lies ahead. 

With the introduction of Windows 10, the company has a more streamlined approach to how it operates with games as PCs, Surface Pro tablets, and Xbox One gaming consoles all feature its technology. This is sure to expand into next year with more accessibility and features, including more ways for users to socialize.

Along with a number of exciting games in the works, including Scalebound and Gears of War 4, the company is also dabbling with augmented reality technology that will change the way people game. HoloLens had a stunning presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year that laid some great groundwork for the future, for games and other means across the board. We’re likely to see more of these plans unfold in the next year, with several apps coming into play.

Nintendo’s got a big year ahead.

While Nintendo’s Wii U console continued to lag in sales behind the competition, it still benefited from a number of original titles, including Super Mario Maker and Splatoon. But the company’s planning a major comeback in 2016, with some promising new developments 

Following the tragic death of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata earlier this year, the company went through a major reorganization and begun laying the groundwork for the future.

Part of that organization came with the long-anticipated arrival of the company in the mobile market. Nintendo announced its plans to team up with publisher DeNA to feature a number of its familiar characters, and the first title is set to arrive sometime this spring.

That’s not all, as the company also teamed up with Niantic to present a new virtual experience for fans of the popular Pokémon game series. Pokémon GO will enable fans to use the app to capture their favorite characters through their mobile phone. They’ll be attempting to “catch ’em all” when the game arrives in early 2016 for mobile devices.

While the Wii U will still see big games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD and StarFox Zero in 2016, Nintendo has already begun building a bigger and better console, which is expected to be unveiled sometime this summer. The rumored NX hardware is likely to have some sort of mobile technology built in, so users can play their games either at home or on the go. There are still several mysterious questions surrounding the tech, but we’ll get answers in just a few months’ time.

It’s an exciting time for the game industry, as we’re likely to see an even bigger and better year than what 2015 has offered.

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