It's that special time of year again when we all put on our funny hats and predict the future. Last year wasn't pretty for me (I said that last year, too) as I predicted the decline of Rockstar Games only to give Red Dead Redemption my game of the year nod a few weeks ago. I don't think there's enough jam in the whole world to make that crow go down any smoother.
As hope springs eternal, so do our predictions. This year I'm going to nail it. Things are going to change, I can feel it. My first prediction is so rich in nutrients, you won't have to eat anything for the rest of the day.
Every MMORPG that launches with a $14.99 monthly fee will fail to meet their goals, hemorrhage staff and ultimately scale back until it's positioned to scrape by.
It's time to make your predictions, folks! Make sure you check out last year's thread and see how you did. As usual, I'll be locking this one down in a few weeks.
The PSP 2 Will be Announced With a Touch Screen - For real this time. Last year I predicted the PSP2 would be announced with a touch screen and 3D support. Despite the near constant rumblings, Sony still hasn't shown us what's next for the platform. But this year ... THIS YEAR, we'll see an announcement for the PSP 2 and it will retain the controls from the PSP while challenging the iPhone with a touch screen and their own app style store.
The Playstation Move Platform Will be Marginalized - Much like the Eye Toy, the Move platform will be around but it will not be a major force in the gaming scene. Software support will be tepid.
Kinect Will Have a Must-Buy Game by Fall - I mean that in the hardcore gamer sense. It won't be your typical shooter, but it will capture the imaginations of curmudgeonly gamers.
New Nintendo Console - Nintendo will announce a new home console this year.
Non-Rabbit Julian's Predictions
Blizzard No-shows - Diablo III in 2011? Not so much. I'm not sure though if that actually counts as bold prediction at this point. Anyone waiting for information on whatever MMO project the studio is hiding behind the name Titan will be disappointed, too. According to those allegedly leaked documents, it's supposed to ship in 2013. I'll eat a shoe or something should that actually happen.
The 3DS online experience will both rock and suck - It'll be smoother and more streamlined than the online approaches Nintendo took with the Wii and the NDS. Some games will use StreetPass/SpotPass to great effect and do some neat stuff with those concepts. And yet there will be something highly annoying about the way accounts, '3DSWare', and/or matchmaking are being managed that makes you wonder why the guys behind this didn't take a hint from the competition. Once again.
The Spy Who Dodged Me - Remember that PS3-exclusive Rockstar game Sony originally announced at E3 2007 and then re-announced at E3 2009 in order to dampen the noise of GTA IV being multiplatform from the get-go and Microsoft's DLC exclusivity deal? That Agent is so good and covert that he's not going to be seen by anyone in 2011 either.
The Indie Crystal Ball - The often delayed Fez will actually get released some time this year in order to avoid Vaporware 2011 honors. Monaco will be so great that it's going to knock you straight out of your socks*. Minecraft winning the Seumas McNally Grand Prize in the Independent Games Festival 2011? Yeah, probably. Also, by the end of the year, the former indie darling will have turned into a "big corporate behemoth that has completely sold out." Or so a really, really vocal part of the core community will claim before equipping themselves with pitchforks and torches.
* Even if you didn't wear any. That's just how awesome it's going to be.
Mass Effect 3 will not cure cancer Or anything else for that matter. It will launch with all due hype, but the first round of players will find they didn't get the epiphanic effect they got from the last two games and feel let down. The rest of us will ignore them, shudder just a bit as the game crosses and re-crosses the Uncanny Valley in all the cutscenes, and then go on to happily blow up a metric butt-tonne of Reapers.
Yet another set of game invites to ignore Civilization Network (the Facebook rendition of the classic) will finally launch to a yawn in the gaming press despite Bryan Reynolds' credentials with the franchise. The only saving grace will be that my relatives and friends who spend far more time than is healthy in Farmville and the restaurant apps probably won't jump in on this one.
Square still won't do a PS3 reboot of Final Fantasy VII Unfortunately, the fansites who keep drooling about this won't shut up, and it will continue to be brought up by wishfully-thinking fangirls at the drop of any hat. I'm basing my thoughts mostly on the fact that we're at the 10 year anniversary for Final Fantasy X, and I hope with all my heart they're going to do something to save Spira from the corner they painted it into in X-2 before the whole place eats itself. However, I will go out on a limb here and say the long rumored re-work of Final Fantasy VI will be announced for Nintendo's 3DS.
Allen "Pyroman[FO]" Cook
Minecraft wasn't an anomaly
There will be another out-of-nowhere indie breakout this year with the multi-million dollar magnitude of Minecraft. It will be a very good game and probably the last thing you expect. It will be a small development team unaligned with any major publisher and still be considered a "fluke" by most of the gaming press.
"Gamers" will discount Kinect/iPad for serious games, and nobody will care
The gaming press and community will continue not to embrace the iPad/Kinect for "serious" games in 2011 despite record sales of games for both. There will be some very impressive and unique games for these platforms but gamers will discount them because of the ease-of-use and lack of discrete buttons. The millions of people who don't follow gaming blogs won't care one iota, and will have tons of fun.
Without-glasses 3D (a.k.a 3DS) will become the central feature of next-gen portable devices
TVs will limit the home consoles from getting too excited about 3D without glasses, but for portable devices the floodgates will open. Almost everyone who is releasing a portable device capable of gaming will announce a glasses-free 3D device by the end of the year. Apple probably won't, but will be planning one anyway.
A new golden age of game criticism
Game writers love to complain about how bad most writing about games is. A few have taken real steps to do something about that, but they're often steps in opposite directions, leading to too many cliques of isolated thinkers. I think this yearn a network communication model will emerge that helps form a real, cohesive culture of thoughtful criticism that isn't ashamed to leave the DudeBros behind.
Rise of alt cons
I know it's only half the cost of airfare to SFO, but the cost of entry to GDC is still prohibitively high, and other options are getting more and more attractive. There's space between PAX, GDC and academic conferences for something special, and I think we see something start to fill that space this year.
Indie freak out
The indie scene is strong, but a lot of attention lately has been on polish--old mechanics and ideas with good art and sound and tight controls. This year we see the crazies come back into the spotlight, and Fringe Busters will forget about featuring games that are "just a fun, little" anything. Also, Pyroman might punch me for that last sentence.
Cory "Demiurge" Banks
The MMO Will (Finally) Evolve - Driven by the financial success of Turbine's free-to-play model and a desire to break away from WoW clones, the MMO industry will finally push the envelope on what a massive online experience can be. My guess? The first true successful FPS MMO will be in beta at least by end of 2011.
The 3DS Launches Soft - Consumers will love the concept of 3D without cumbersome glasses, but the steep price point - and continued availability of the DS and DSi - will drive too many of them away. Expect lower revenue numbers for the Big N.
Android As A Serious Gaming Platform - If it's ever gonna happen, it'll be this year. Google will finally get the kind of gaming developer support it's needed, in spite of their "anything goes" model. Serious mobile development houses will follow the same path of Angry Birds developer Rovio for Android success - Ads.
Dominion Will Die - I have nothing to back this claim up, except the breath of a prayer. Please, if there is a Maker, let him end the suffering that is every new expansion of this deck-building dick of a game.
A Digital Distribution Titan Topples - One of the digital distro houses will fall in 2011, due to the simple fact that there's a lot of competition and not enough consumers to go around. Could be Impulse - the PR disaster of Elemental will haunt Brad Wardell for years - or it could be GamersGate. Doubtful that it's Direct2Drive, since it's sitting on that fat IGN cash. Spoiler Alert: It won't be Steam.
Diablo 3 Launches, Top Seller of 2011 - Why the hate, guys? This year's the year we all go back to hell. And it's gonna be awesome.
Dr. Who Special Will Feature Old Doctors - Not gaming related, but every bone in my body tells me this will happen. Just like classic serials "The Three Doctors" and "The Five Doctors," Matt Smith will have an adventure that brings him into the same timestreams of David Tennet and another classic doctor - probably Peter Davidson, the fifth doctor. Rose and her terrible accent will not be featured, thank Baker.