Compared to the heady heights of 2011, 2012 was a hit 'n' miss year for gaming. Perhaps we were just spoiled by a year that gave us Portal 2, Skyrim, Dark Souls, Arkham City, The Witcher 2, Uncharted 3 and Saints Row: The Third, but nonetheless we found ourselves frantically reaching for our wallets less than we did the previous year.
Fortunately, 2013 is shaping up to be a year that's more unforgiving on our bank accounts. We've detailed five reasons why this year is going to be so exciting for the gaming world.
The Xbox 720/PlayStation 4 are likely to be revealed at E3.
Now that the Wii U is finally popping up in living rooms worldwide, the focus has quickly shifted towards Microsoft and Sony and the inevitable announcements regarding their next home consoles. It has been heavily speculated that both companies will use E3 as the platform to unveil their new hardware, with this rumour being fuelled by Microsoft's Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb, who posted a countdown to the annual gaming convention on his personal blog. If 2013 is to be the year that we are finally introduced to the as-yet-unnamed Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 successors, then it will undoubtedly be one of the biggest years in gaming history.
Grand Theft Auto V will be released.
The release of a new GTA game always generates a ton of excitement, and as GTA V looks set to be the most intriguing entry in the series thus far, interest in it has never been higher. Featuring an open-world even larger than the one seen in the massive San Andreas, GTA V has already positioned itself at the top of many prospective game of the year lists.
The Wii U is going to show us what it's capable of.
The Wii U is a fantastic console, but it has unfortunately been somewhat overlooked on its release. While its sales haven't exactly been poor, they have been disappointing when compared with the original Wii. But Nintendo will be looking to rectify this throughout 2013. With Pikmin 3 and Rayman Legends already lined up for release in the next few months, and a new Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. still hidden up their sleeves, Nintendo could quite easily steal this year away from its competitors.
Steambox and Ouya seek to open up the console market.
With Microsoft moving closer towards emulating Apple's disregard for Steam with Windows 8, Valve is counterracting by releasing a console/PC hybrid that will run Steam in customer's living rooms. Valve's Big Picture mode, which made Steam accessible through TVs, was very well-received by users of the digital distribution service, and Steambox could prove to be another huge success for the Half-Life developers. Steambox shares similarities with the cloud gaming platform OnLive, but whereas OnLive suffered from a lack of third-party support, it's likely that Valve's sway in the gaming industry will grant them better fortunes.
Elsewhere, the Android console Ouya will also be hoping to compete with Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony, after its Kickstarter campaign pulled in an extremely impressive $8.59 million. Similarly to the Steambox, the Ouya will also feature open software, but unlike the Steambox its hardware will be fully upgradeable. While its difficult to imagine a world where any companies can rival the "big three" in the home console department, it's nice to see others trying and continuing to blur the lines between console and PC gaming.
Games released at the end of a console's life cycle are always the best.
Somewhat depressingly, it seems that consoles typically release their best games just before they take their dying breaths. It's no surprise that this is the case – developers are more likely to have figured out how to best utilise the hardware the longer it has been on the market – but 2013 in particular seems to be a year that will make us preemptively mourn the deaths of our Xbox 360's/PlayStation 3's. The Last of Us, Watch Dogs and Beyond: Two Souls (to name but a few) all look set to be games that will push their respective consoles to their very limits, and we cannot wait to get our hands on all of them.
Paul Tamburro is the UK Editor of CraveOnline. Follow him on Twitter @PaulTamburro.