Bold Predictions 2009
As writers in the game industry, we spend most of our time looking at what has already happened and taking to it with hammer and tongs. But once a year on Gamers With Jobs, we like to put on our funny hats and predict what will happen in the upcoming year in gaming -- putting our reputations on the line and potentially angering publishers in the process. How did we do in 2008? See for yourself. Read on for our Bold Predictions and feel free to add your own!
What's that? You want a taste of my predictive genius? Brace yourself!
- Alan Wake? Yes. Finally.
Shawn "Certis" Andrich
- Due to the struggling economy, game journalists everywhere will be so grateful that AAA games even exist that they will reach new heights in salad tossing. Game review scores will average higher than usual.
- Nintendo will take the next step in the development of their brand, selling software and peripherals targeted directly at schools, hospitals and community groups.
- Microsoft will succumb to the siren call that is Steam. Unfortunately, they won’t have many new PC games to add to the library. GFW will continue to lurch along.
- Sony will refresh and re-launch the PS3. A new, lower-priced unit with fewer added features and a fresh focus on Home will set the tone as Sony tries to keep the PS3 in line with cheaper Blu-ray players. It will take on a smaller form factor and a less ostentatious gloss.
- Three major AAA game projects will be canceled. Rockstar’s L.A Noire will be one of them.
- Much like last year being all about sequels, this year will be all about new franchises geared toward sustainable, ongoing development. Microtransactions, expansions, download packs and ad-supported free play will be strong on the PC and more prevalent than ever on consoles.
- Duke Nukem Forever will be released this year.
Michael "Zonk" Zenke
- Age of Conan is in for a rough ride.
- Warhammer's numbers will gain some serious pickup starting in Spring.
- SOE's Free Realms is going to be a really, really big deal.
- None of the following games will be released this year: Champions, The Old Republic, The Agency, DC Universe Online, Star Trek Online, Lego Universe, Stargate Worlds.
- Jumpgate Evolution will release this year, and faces big challenges in informing players about its hawtness. NetDevil has a great product on their hands, they just have to get the word out.
- Microtransactions 'won' in 08. Expect a lot of pro-MT announcements in 09' as other companies fall in line.
- Free-to-play MMOs are going to be big headlines this year, especially titles launched in 08' to little fan fair and developed overseas. They're making huge headway in the US.
- There will be no new WoW expansion released in 2009.
Julian "rabbit" Murdoch
- iPhone game numbers become available, and the top games are revealed to be selling as well as average PSP games.
- Browser-based and free-to-play games (MMOs especially) become legitimate and financially viable.
- Lego Rock Band is officially announced.
- A new, high-polish print magazine is announced (likely by Future). Despite wanting it to succeed, Rabbit will still submit articles for consideration.
- Several high-profile yet unaffiliated gaming websites will merge.
- Valve will drop a surprise game on unsuspecting gamers.
- Brutal Legend will ship, and sell OK. A separate soundtrack will be released, that will sell very well.
- PC game DRM will start eroding, with companies adopting a "frequent content" model, or just giving up and joining Steam.
- In a budget move, the D&D Online Tabletop will be canceled, as will Magic: the Gathering Online.
- LittleBigPlanet will have a surprisingly consistent year, as frequent, game-themed content packs draw new fanbases to the platform.
- PlayStation Home will be canceled.
Colleen "momgamer" Hannon
- Duke Nukem' Forever will slip yet again.
- Final Fantasy XIII will slip several times before shipping to much hype and fanfare right before Christmas.
- Nintendo will continue to prove they're the only company in gaming who can manage to pick manure up from the clean end by continuing to ship quirky niche games at irregular and infrequent intervals and still making money hand over fist.
- Peter Moore will open his yap and insert foot to the knee again.
Cory "Demiurge" Banks
- This will be the year Guitar Hero-style rhythm games will lose their audience. Too many GH titles and not enough changes in Rock Band, along with other companies jumping on the bandwagon, initial cost of bundles, and too many plastic instruments, will drive consumers away.
- Lego Rock Band will never happen.
- Diablo 3 will ship before Starcraft 2.
- Mac gaming will finally start to gain some ground as developers follow EA's lead and start porting with Cider. More companies will launch simultaneously on OS X and Windows. Valve will not, and will continue to mock Mac "gamers."
- There will be 50% fewer sequels released in 2009 than 2008. The industry will continue to make immense buckets of money.
- Certis will grow a beard. Surprisingly, it will be fuller and richer than any other GWJ staffer. We will, in turn, grow to hate him even more.
- GamersWithJobs.com will be bought by UGO. 3/4s of the staff will be laid off, leaving only Cory "Demiurge" Banks to fill front page content. Repeated stories about "How pretty Princess Peach is" and "That new game where you press the buttons" will strike a nerve with GWJ's new mainstream, dumbed-down audience. Stock prices will soar.
Alex "Spaz" Martinez
- UGO will keep the 1up brand on life-support, inject some funky-fresh new talent to oversee the new "TOP TEN SEXIEST GIRL GAMERZZ" division, then slowly transition it into UGO proper.
- In the wake of the EGM vacuum, G4 will experiment with an e-ink print run. The resulting magazine will be a mix of Maxim and Edge and update, for a fee, from G4's webportal. Additional "subscriptions" will be available to Kindle e-readers.
- iPhone gaming will see more fantastic "boom" cases involving dudes making an app, then retiring on profits. Commence the iPhone App Bubble.
- E3, reopened to the general public, will wrestle with an economic downturn, an uninterested audience, tightened advertising budgets and the loss of games-enthusiast media interest. E-For-All effectively dies.
- Screwattack Gaming Convention will see a very modest success, giving fans less incentive to care about E3/EforAll, and strengthening the perception that a proper gamer-convention is best run by fans, not companies.
- XBL Community Games spend the majority of the year sucking.
- Microsoft will announce that it will bring Steam functionality to its next next-Gen system.
Lara "KaterinLHC" Crigger
- EGM's demise will be the final nail in the coffin for American print gaming mags. While other full-color glossies might appear, none will stick around for more than an issue or two.
- There will be a proliferation of more mature gaming website starting up throughout the first six months of this year.
- Lego Lord of the Rings, Lego Harry Potter, Lego Twilight, Lego Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants ... .
- This will not be the year iPhone gaming becomes hot. If it ever does. It will be lucky to survive the year.
- Facebook will be the new hot medium for casual game hits. PopCap will naturally be the breakout star. We'll soon start seeing popular Facebook titles migrating to the DS and PSP.
- No Alan Wake this year, either.
- This will be the year I see a Wind Waker shirt in the "ironically nostalgic" section of Hot Topic. It will make me sad.
Sean "Elysium" Sands
- While the industry sees a new record revenue total in 2009, it does not see record growth. The words "video game bubble" or some variation thereof will begin to creep into the conversation.
- Electronic Arts will be seen to be for sale, though it will not be purchased or acquired. However, there will be numerous departures of key EA executives.
- Starcraft 2 will ship late 2009.
- Games that will not ship this year: Alan Wake, Final Fantasy XIII, Diablo 3, Duke Nukem Forever, KOTOR MMO.
- No hints or announcements regarding next gen consoles in 2009.
- Valve will announce and release a new IP.
- 2009 is considered uneventful and relatively boring compared to previous years, highlighted by a few exciting and major game announcements.
Adam "The Fly" LaMosca
- Blizzard will announce a new title that revolves around a story-driven, single-player campaign (and it won't be Starcraft: Ghost).
- Dragon Age will delight longtime RPG fans but will be met by very disappointing sales.
- More major mainstream media outlets will establish and promote journalists who cover gaming content (a la Newsweek's N'Gai Croal). We'll see the most thoughtful and thorough game coverage emerge from sources other than the major enthusiast press sites.
- Not even Phil Harrison can save Infogrames. It'll go under completely, and the Atari brand will finally be taken off life support.
- Halo Wars will be a critical and commercial disappointment. Halo: ODST, on the other hand, will be a major success, but it will still be the last Bungie-built Halo title. Before the year is out, Bungie will release a teaser trailer or website for its next big project, but they won't announce a name or any details.
- InFamous will prove irresistible, and will finally bring Sucker Punch the widespread acclaim they deserve.
- Miyamoto will announce a new Nintendo IP based on his latest hobby, and it won't excite anyone.
- Katerin will be 100% wrong about iPhone gaming. Well-crafted and full-featured releases by id Software and Square Enix will be in the App Store by the end of the year.
- None of the big three console manufacturers will announce major hardware redesigns, but they'll all release new peripherals of dubious value just in time for the 2009 holiday season.
Jeremy "Nyles" Greenfield
- A Japanese developer (possibly Atlus) will release yet another wonderful niche PS2 game, which will be described as the "swan song" of the ancient console. This will also happen in 2010.
- Everyone will forget to feed and care for their lovingly created NXE avatars, leading to a tragic wave of starving, filthy avatar hoboes.
- The Wii will pull farther ahead of the DS in the race for best adventure game platform. What, you didn't know about that race? In 2009, you will continue to not hear or care about adventure games.
- Fallout 3 will get its two promised DLC packs, which will raise the level cap to 21.2 and 21.5 respectively. A new perk will be included, but sadly, it's only available at level 22. There will also be a $1.99 downloadable patch to put armor on your existing armor, to make it shinier.
- An Assassin's Creed sequel will be announced, with carefully subdued fanfare and lowered expectations. "We expect this game will have some polygons, and the buttons will control body parts, but don't get too excited, we're talking hands and feet."
- Dragon Age will be Jade Empire plus Mass Effect minus everyone's hazy, nostalgic memories of Baldur's Gate 2. It will not have a sequel, or a proper ending. It will, however, have a separate ending for "gwevil" characters, or characters who act evil in order to do good but not take credit for it, which would be evil.
- Unless someone buys me an iPhone, every GWJ writer will be wrong about iPhone gaming, forever. Rabbit, Spaz, Kat, Fly: If you don't want to be totally embarrassed by your lack of foresight, buy me an iPhone. I would also like a pony. A pony hollowed out and filled with iPhones.
wordsmythe, a.k.a. "King Grahammar of Daventypo" (Copy Editor)
- Games scheduled for this year that don't release for Christmas will be in a tough spot, and potentially sold off. I expect a number of buggy or otherwise unpolished titles pushed out at the last minute.
- And don't expect any new IP announcements if it's not from Blizzard, Nintendo, or Valve. Now that I think about that, new IP from Blizzard or Nintendo is sort of a silly thought in the first place.
- Smaller games with lower price points will outpace AAA titles, but neither will do particularly well.
- No new consoles announced. Planning for the next generation is postponed until the economy picks up in late 2010.