Bold Predictions 2011

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.

Shawn's Predictions

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.

Momgamer's Musings

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.

wordsmythe

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.

Comments

I saw this over at Dubious Quality. What are the predictions for the lines in the coming year?

December NPD numbers:
Wii: 2,360,000
360: 1,860,000
PS3: 1,210,000

Numbers for 2010 NPD:
Wii: 7,051,600
360: 6,753,689
PS3: 4,351,800

Year-over-year growth:
360: 41.57%
PS3: 0.40%
Wii: -26.50%

Those year-over-year growth numbers are dramatic, aren't they? Here's the twelve month rolling sales graph, which is equally so:

IMAGE(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dPztQu3bG3c/TTW4ogRt8qI/AAAAAAAAAys/sc94BbebMy0/s400/2010.png)

That's certainly easy to understand (and if you're wondering, the 360 line is longer because it was launched a year earlier). Oh, and if you're wondering what PS2 numbers were at the same point in its lifespan as the 360, the 12 month rolling sales were 5.03 million. So, incredibly, at this point in its lifespan, the 360 is outselling the PS2 in the U.S. PS2 sales were much more front-loaded--its graph more closely resembles the Wii, albeit with lower numbers--but still, that's surprising.

So 2010 is finished, and it's easy to see who succeeded and who didn't. What's going to happen in 2011?

Jayhawker wrote:

I saw this over at Dubious Quality. What are the predictions for the lines in the coming year?

I suspect it'll be by and large the same; the Wii is in many ways a victim of its own success, as it sold so many units that they've pretty much saturated the market. I wound up getting a Wii for Christmas 2010, and we were about the last family that got one amongst my son's friends. I'm just not sure how the Wii recaptures momentum at this point.

The PS3 has basically been a case study in how not to market something, and IMO they really hooked their cart to the "we have a Blu-Ray player" horse, and the easy availability of streaming video that upconverts to look pretty darn good has really kicked Sony in the shins; Blu-Ray is kind of like video disc in that videophiles think it's great but most people just don't care enough to bother with it. The utter failure of Move (I was discussing Kinect with two families who had bought a 360 specifically for it, and neither knew Move had even come out) indicates that Sony still doesn't have a clue as to what they're doing.

The 360 made a big splash with Kinect, and I guess at this point I just trust Microsoft's ability to promote itself. I don't think they'll have the level of growth in 2011 they had this past year thanks to Kinect and the Slim rollout, but I think they'll do well. I guess I'd have to pick the PS3 as the only one to potentially have growth in 2011, just because they're the only ones with the ability to make a splash of any sort in the coming year. Of course, I doubt they'll do it, but the 360 had such a big bump this last year that I don't think they can do actively better this year.

Yeah, I'm just not sure what Nintendo can do to pull out of the nosedive. They can keep counting their money for comfort. They will continue to sell a boatload of software, but I really do think the Kinect is going to steal future customers.

I think the 360 is going to have a very up year. They aren't going to go on a tear like the Wii opened with, but the Kinect got a positive first impression from enough folks, that it will continue to sell throughout the year, and a bunch of new games will make for a strong holiday season. I've found that we are using the 360 constantly anymore. For not having it hooked up to a PC media serving, it has become a hell of a good media server anyway.

Sony is trending down, and I think that will continue. As you mentioned, they hitched their cart to all the wrong horses. No one really needs a PS3 for Blu-Ray anymore. Home was a classic disaster that wasted time and effort on their part to create a profitable online service. Who is still buying their premium online service? Finally, the Move reeks of copycat with the same games as Nintendo. Now that RROD is no longer the narrative for Microsoft, Sony is going to secede the ground they held only because they could make a good argument that they at least had a stable console. How far buried would Sony be right now if the RROD had not happened? That's what they face in the coming year, I believe.

The real question is if the Kinect can continue to be a viable system seller. It could really go either way, but they at least got a great buzz from the start.

Jayhawker wrote:

Yeah, I'm just not sure what Nintendo can do to pull out of the nosedive.

I don't think they intend to do much on the Wii end. I'm expecting this to be a slow year for the Wii while Nintendo focuses on the 3DS launch. Then in 2012 they can announce the home console successor to the Wii.

wordsmythe wrote:
oMonarca wrote:

reductio ad absurdum: I fear that in the future gamers stop thriving to hone their skills, unless the game provides some sort of usable carrot. That is to say, gamers stop yearning the pride of becoming better just for the sake of it.

While I understand that the skill-challenge aspect of play is important to you, I don't feel that same importance. Care to convince me that games should encourage honing such skills?

Hmm. Good question. I don't know if I can sell you on this, since it depends so much on how you consume a game.

If you play a game much like you read a book or see a movie, meaning you go through it in a linear way, with the "what will they show or tell me next" acting as your great motivator, then there's not much to hone. You're always trying to find or get the next carrot. And gamers with that kind of profile will most likely stick to online games that provide that sort of bread crumb trail.

On the other hand I see games like I see sports. I prefer them simple mechanically, but deep sistemically, and with repetition as a sharpening tool. The reward is when you see clearly how better you got. The game stays the same, the carrot happens within.

So, no I don't think I can convince you. You either prefer an experience or you prefer a challenge.

I'm more of a challenge kind of guy.

What about you?

hbi2k wrote:
Jayhawker wrote:

Yeah, I'm just not sure what Nintendo can do to pull out of the nosedive.

I don't think they intend to do much on the Wii end. I'm expecting this to be a slow year for the Wii while Nintendo focuses on the 3DS launch. Then in 2012 they can announce the home console successor to the Wii.

I'd have to agree. The Wii was never intended to need that long tail for financial success. It was profitable at launch, and Nintendo just has to decide how best to reinvest that money.

oMonarca wrote:

So, no I don't think I can convince you. You either prefer an experience or you prefer a challenge.

I'm more of a challenge kind of guy.

What about you?

I don't exactly "read" games in a passive sense--but then I read books with a more active stance as well (I am, after all, still a poetry and rhetoric nut). I challenge the limits of the game and writing, and use the game's structure and writing to challenge myself.

I guess I get my competitive urges satisfied in different places—sports and board games, mostly.

don_quay wrote:
ccesarano wrote:

There will be at least three awesome third party games on the Wii that everyone ignores. The perpetuating myth of the Wii having "no good hardcore games" will continue.
[/b]

ccesarano - A bit off topic, but I would be interested to know what good hardcore games there are on the Wii. Mine sits gathering dust between my wife's rare bursts of WiiFit activity.

Bold prediction: Battlefield 3 turns out to be a ground breaking FPS MMO rather than merely a slightly better version of Bad Company 2. Wouldn't that be good?

I'm sure this has been discussed to Hell and back already, but what the Hell.

Sitting downstairs right now looking at my Wii pile, I have:
- New Super Mario Bros. Wii
- Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law
- A Boy and His Blob
- Donkey Kong Country Returns
- Cabella's Dangerous Hunts 2011 (my Dad's, actually, but the arcade modes are actually really fun)
- Metroid: Other M (my favorite game of 2010, actually)
- Super Paper Mario
- Wii Sports
- No More Heroes
- Wii Fit Plus
- Resident Evil 4
- Dead Space Extraction
- EA Sports Active
- Super Mario Galaxy
- Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles
- Naruto Shippuden 4 or something (got it as a review copy, and felt it was fun enough to keep)

Games I previously had via rental or purchase:
- Godzilla: Unleashed
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
- Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
- Battalion Wars 2
- Mushroom Men: Spore Wars
- Punch-Out!!
- Mad World

Part of me wants to include Deadly Creatures since the tarantula levels were fun, but the scorpion levels were a chore...

Either way, there are also plenty of games like Zack and Wiki that I haven't played and am not even familiar with, or for one reason or another wasn't sold on. Mario Kart Wii, Tales of Symphonia 2, Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, Red Steel 2 and this year Mistwalker will be releasing The Last Story. I'm also looking forward to Mario Sports Mix.

In the end, the only games the Wii is lacking are super gritty M-rated titles that have more in common with comic books of the 90's than anything else.

No lockdown on this one? I'm so going back to my earlier posts to correctly predict the 3DS price point and Final Fantasy XIII-2.

ccesarano:

If you have Donkey Kong Country Returns and like the unmitigated difficulty, allow me to recommend Sin and Punishment: Star Successor. The story is crap, but then again, Treasure's plot lines have never been that great. What it is is genuine bullet hell genius - a true gem like the old vintage Treasure titles.

The lack of third party support for 2011 on the Wii is disturbing. It was never very good to begin with, but at least we had stuff like Red Steel 2 and Monster Hunter. I get to thinking that the 3rd party publishers are now out to sandbag the console seriously, whereas they were perfectly willing to put shovelware on it before. My impression is that they no longer want to risk the chance of shovelware actually being good by accident.

LarryC wrote:

If you have Donkey Kong Country Returns and like the unmitigated difficulty, allow me to recommend Sin and Punishment: Star Successor. The story is crap, but then again, Treasure's plot lines have never been that great. What it is is genuine bullet hell genius - a true gem like the old vintage Treasure titles.

I can second this. Sin & Punishment 2 is a brilliant game and also one of the hardest I've played. Even Easy mode is rough-going.

I just reached World 4 in Donkey Kong Country Returns, and the only level that's been hair-tuggingly bad is one of the bonus ones in the first world (the one you unlock after collecting the KONG letters in each stage). It's slow progress of a game, and I got Mario Sports Mix on my "to buy" list, so I likely will be skipping Sin and Punishment for now (I've always sucked at bullet-Hell games anyway).

Jayhawker wrote:

Yeah, I'm just not sure what Nintendo can do to pull out of the nosedive. They can keep counting their money for comfort. They will continue to sell a boatload of software, but I really do think the Kinect is going to steal future customers.

I think the 360 is going to have a very up year. They aren't going to go on a tear like the Wii opened with, but the Kinect got a positive first impression from enough folks, that it will continue to sell throughout the year, and a bunch of new games will make for a strong holiday season. I've found that we are using the 360 constantly anymore. For not having it hooked up to a PC media serving, it has become a hell of a good media server anyway.

Sony is trending down, and I think that will continue. As you mentioned, they hitched their cart to all the wrong horses. No one really needs a PS3 for Blu-Ray anymore. Home was a classic disaster that wasted time and effort on their part to create a profitable online service. Who is still buying their premium online service? Finally, the Move reeks of copycat with the same games as Nintendo. Now that RROD is no longer the narrative for Microsoft, Sony is going to secede the ground they held only because they could make a good argument that they at least had a stable console. How far buried would Sony be right now if the RROD had not happened? That's what they face in the coming year, I believe.

The real question is if the Kinect can continue to be a viable system seller. It could really go either way, but they at least got a great buzz from the start.

I agree with all of this. It looks to me like Microsoft is running away from the pack. The online component is stronger. The system is compelling for watching movies, Netflix, etc. And Kinect is pretty dang cool. I picked one up to learn how to program for it. Basically to tinker and I've actually hooked up games and played it. Granted, right now these amount to Dance Central and workout games. But I see myself using Kinect much more than I ever used motion on the Wii.

Time to lock er' down.