Bold Predictions 2013
Reading through last year's predictions, I can't help but feel there was some wishful thinking mixed in with the prognosticating. Notable was Sean Sands' prediction that Valve would release a super game pack with sequels to their top game franchises and a chicken in every pot. I'll admit that it's pretty easy to look prescient beside predictions like that one. I nailed the Wii U launch (one of the price points, anyway) and Microsoft played along and stayed quiet on their next console.
This year we enter some real foggy patches with the odds of new consoles from Microcoft and Sony climbing dramatically. So much so that I'm predicting they both launch this fall. Microsoft feels closer, but I can't imagine Sony will allow a year head start like they did this generation. It's time to put on our funny hats and get to guessing! Read on for GWJ staff predictions and be sure to add your own to the comments section. I'll lock it up for posterity in a week or so.
Shawn "Certis" Andrich
Microsoft launches the next Xbox in fall, 2013. Compatible with the current Xbox 360 controller and comes bundled with Kinect 2.0. More on-board RAM for Kinect and better fidelity will allow for better accuracy but it won't take the peripheral to the next level in terms of game design. A Gears of War game will launch with the new console and Halo 4 will get a face lift. Launch price? $399 Kinect bundle. $349 basic version.
Sony's PS4 will be announced in 2013 at E3 and have a soft launch in the fall with limited quantities. It will have a new Uncharted game along with The Last Guardian. Sony's Gaikai buy-out will result in timed demos of full games and a PlayStation Plus gaming rental system. Launch price? $399 for the larger hard-drive, $299 for a basic kit.
Nintendo's Wii U will get a new Mario Galaxy because sure, why not. Pikmin and Zelda will be trotted out at E3. The non-deluxe version will be phased out and the new "regular" Wii U will get a $50 price drop by fall.
Gritty, survivalist games will be the next genre to explode this year, followed by the same crash we saw with World War 2 games and zombies. We won't be sick of it this year though.
The Ouya console will be an indie novelty like the Raspberry Pi and it won't change the status quo.
The inevitable raising of the quality bar on Kickstarter initiatives mean fewer projects will be funded this year and only the most polished will dare reach for more than $100,000. Publishers like EA and THQ will attempt to emulate the model with Alpha playable "pre-orders" on smaller games.
This is the year we see brick and mortar gaming stores sag as day one digital purchases become the norm on all platforms.
Bungie's first Activision game will launch with both new consoles.
Sean "Elysium" Sands
Sony and Microsoft both announce and launch new consoles in 2013.
Microsoft's over-emphasis on creating the next Xbox as a media center, maintaining Xbox Live as a pay subscription service, delivery of advertisements within a Metro style interface, and stringent DRM becomes a PR headache in the roll-up to launch, leading to a launch that under-performs.
Sony gets back to basics, and while the next PlayStation has plenty of media integration features, it is strongly positioned as a gaming-first system. Sony cashes in on exclusives to lead the launch, with the announcement and launch of a new major God of War and Uncharted game as launch titles. PlayStation quickly seems positioned to go from worst to first in the next generation.
Half-Life 3 is officially announced along with a release date. It is not released in 2013.
Blizzard's codename Project Titan (its MMO follow up to World of Warcraft) is quietly cancelled. Instead Blizzard hints at a new non-mmo WarCraft 4.
With the launch of yet another new iPad version, market share for iPad in the tablet market begins to shrink as sales plateau.
Several high-profile Kickstarter efforts for video games fail to reach goal early in the year. However at least one game does capture a broad interest and exceeds the $10,000,000 funding mark.
Alex "Spaz" Martinez
ACROSS ALL HOME CONSOLES:
* shall be seen a push towards DVR integration, turning your gaming system into an all-in-one media center solution.
* as a testament to our living in the future, game saves will default to THE CLOUD. Better hope your internet connection doesn't crap out in the middle of Assassin's Creed: Revolution.
* Following the Wii U's example, Day-and-Date releases will be experimented with. The joy of preloading a game, only to experience auth-server meltdown, will soon make its way to homes across the world.
The Wii U remains an also-ran until firmware updates bring the console up to the level it should have launched—or until a Pokemon game comes out for it.
The next Xbox will have DVR functionality. Microsoft will work with content providers to offer the Xbox as a substitute for your cablebox.
Steam continues to make inroads in the home theater through its Big Picture initiative. Steam apps begin to show up in living rooms through Smart TVs and smart phones as Steam experiments with OnLive-style stream-gaming.
Proliferation of Steam leads folks to reconsider the importance of Content Delivery vs Platform.
Colleen "momgamer" Hannon
Picture me with giant, crystalline anime eyes, brimming with a single shimmering tear in the hope that we get a solid North American release date on Final Fantasy X HD that is actually within 2013. Well ... maybe skip the eyes bit, but I'm keeping the hope. Current estimate is end of March 2013, but we know how often that pans out.
I will continue to have to dust my Sidewinders. The delicate hints that serious sims might be coming back led me to keep them. They'll definitely stay until we see what happens with Chris Robert's new property, but this last year's offerings have begun to dim even my last valiant hopes that they will be needed for anything.
Microsoft and Sony will both continue their agonizing slide into the next console generation's Sarlak-maw with new user interfaces that will be even harder for the actual majority of their users to deal with than the current obfuscatory mess. Something's wrong when I have to explain to a teenager how a piece of technology works.
I'm afraid game publishers will take the wrong message from the success of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. We all remember the original X-COM because it was a well-done game, not just because it was squad-based tactical combat. We all forgot the rest for good reason. When that stuff was all the rage, there were 5 bad squad-based games for every good one (I HATED Close Combat). Don't make the bad ones just so you can say you made a squad-based tactical combat game!
Charlie "TheWanderer" Hall
When the new consoles launch, look for the indie/downloadable scene to be anemic, save for a few console-exclusive titles. Mostly remakes of older indie hits. Smaller developers will have a new solidarity, looking to prevent themselves the limited audience that a single platform will yield them. But the pubs, Microsoft and Sony, will not have fixed the storefront issues that lead to their downfall in both the 360 and PS3's later years. The indie scene will continue to be strongest on the PC into 2015.
Sony decides to cut some costs on the PS4 launch and titles that we used to think of as launch exclusives squirt out and become day-1 releases on the 360.
The iOS platform will have a breakout FPS hit that pulls significant numbers away from consoles.
Steam Box launches with Linux on board. Slightly more than no one buys it, as it costs about as much as a console. Windows versions are eventually available, but not at launch. The price point makes everyone wonder why they stopped building their own computers.
Day Z standalone doesn't come out until late Q2. Significant stability improvements, an increased number of indoor environments, fewer hacking issues ... but not much else new to offer. It has one solid month where it approaches the numbers it had in 2012, then fizzles out. I don't give a rat's because I love it to death.
Christos "CY" Reid
Mojang: Minecraft will continue to sell bucketloads, but Scrolls will only achieve a niche audience. 0x10c, if it makes an appearance, will become a huge success, as people once again embrace creativity and freedom over the need for Crysis-level graphics in video games.
The Vita will continue to limp from release to release (and I say this as an owner), especially in Japan, as Monster Hunter fans flock to Nintendo's consoles instead.
The Kickstarter bubble will remain unbroken. Seriously, anyone who thinks that platform will fail next year needs a reality check. Larger developers like Double Fine will continue to fund interesting and inspiring side projects, while small developers will do the same. There will, however, be a notable handful of projects that will fail miserably, and shake the faith of those who regularly go "Kickstarter shopping."
World of Warcraft will continue its journey towards its final, level-100 expansion, and its numbers will stabilize, thanks to the widened appeal of Pandaria to both the super-casual and the hardcore.
An indie game involving sparkly ponies and a brave protagonist called Mulian Jurdoch will appear on the release schedule for 2013.
Android will continue to catch up to iOS in terms of high-profile game releases, and iOS' license fees and crazy odds on making money will ensure developers consider Google's platform.
Speaking of crazy odds on making money, the free-to-play concept will (hopefully) be abandoned by talented developers in small teams who realize that people will actually pay money for good games.
People will continue to be horrified by the idea of paying console/PC prices for games for their smartphones and tablets, despite getting just as much if not more value out of them.
Andrew "Minarchist" High
The Xbox "720" launches just in time for the holidays 2013—without a Gears of War, but with a Halo. Microsoft positions it almost entirely as an integrated-media console more than a gaming device, leaning very heavily on SmartGlass and the new iteration of Kinect (the one that needed to have shipped in the first place) for more robust multimedia interaction. The 720's attach rate will be half of what the 360's was in the same time period. Microsoft may or may not care, depending on how many glass-enabled tablets they sell.
Sony attempts to launch the PlayStation 4 in the same time frame, but it slips to late Q1 2014. The Last Guardian is announced as a launch title, but doesn't release until the following holiday season. Sony once again relegates themselves to 3rd place.
Nintendo's Wii U continues to be ignored by major gaming media after being written off as a Gimmicky One-Trick Pony at launch. Satoru Iwata continues to chuckle to himself as he installs a fifth solid gold toilet in his house.
Steam's Big Picture mode and frequent Ludicrous Speed sales continue to eat away at the console's dominance of the TV space. As an added bonus, the PC becomes a more family-friendly gaming platform as multiple people are able to comfortably view and play at the same time.
Because of the above four points, 2013 is the year the narrative shifts. No longer will we hear "PC gaming is dying!" It will be replaced by "Console gaming is dying!" The naysayers will, of course, be wrong yet again.
Steve Ballmer challenges Reggie Fils-Aime to a boxing match as a publicity stunt. Kinect boxing, that is. Despite instigating the event, Steve resigns the match without even playing the game after receiving one of Reggie's withering glares.
Japanese developers continue to quietly make more innovations in all aspects of gameplay and storytelling than any other region. Aside from a small, attentive group of people, the rest of the world continues not to notice, but is delighted when Western developers "borrow" those innovations for their own games.
Kickstarter loses its luster as people examine how many things they backed and how many ultimately didn't deliver. It remains a viable path to success for the board gaming community but is largely relegated to the dustbin of history by the video gaming community.
Erik "wordsmythe" Hanson
Steam vs. New Consoles: for the streaming and home-entertainment space. (New consoles "win," for now.)
AAA games to consoles, indie gives up on consoles: When new consoles come out, they feature the shiny AAA titles. PC becomes an afterthought for big publishers, which leaves plenty of customers with time and disk space available for indie releases.
Steam refocuses sales: After the lack of a theme in this year's winter sale, Steam starts looking at focusing sales in order to encourage specific games and uses. Look for a sale specifically pushing Big Screen and controller-enabled games.
Droid games: This is the year that iOS App Store starts to really lose out to Droid offerings, while Apple and other major players focus more on unifying the phone-tablet-laptop-desktop spectrum.
CamelCase: The habit of games and companies to capitalize letters in the middle of words finally dies, and I can stop checking and correcting BioWare, PlayStation, SmartGlass, etc. (Not likely.)
J.P. "kincher skolfax" Grant
The new Xbox launches in time for holiday 2013. It is built and marketed as a multimedia hub for the whole family as opposed to a pure gaming platform. It includes a number of features geared toward tablet support, extending the functionality of SmartGlass. Longshot prediction: Microsoft releases a SKU of the new Xbox that includes a Surface tablet.
The battle between Sony and Microsoft focuses not only on hardware and software sales, but also on content-provider agreements. Both companies maneuver to secure exclusive deals to deliver content via their new consoles (much as Sony did with NFL Sunday Ticket on the PS3 this season). As usual, Crazy Uncle Nintendo is off in the corner plucking his ukulele.
One prominent AAA title will finally be paired with a full-featured, well-designed, legitimately praise-worthy companion mobile game. I hate to say it, but it'll probably be EA who ultimately cracks this nut.
Strategy titles begin to see a resurgence, gathering momentum from XCOM's success. The increasingly easy & effective integration of tablet inputs with consoles leads developers to take more chances with genres like squad-based tactics.