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.

Comments

Looks like I didn't participate last year but I will this year.

Next Xbox
- Support for wired 360 controllers/accessories, but not wireless due to switch to Bluetooth for compatibility with with tablets, phones, and PC without needing a dongle (current wireless PC adapter may enable support for wireless 360 accessories).
- $299 for Arcade style base unit, $399 for Pro unit with larger HDD, $399 for Arcade unit with Kinect 2.0, $499 for Pro with Kinect 2.0.
- Launches Fall 2012.
- Forza 5, Halo 2 HD remade in the Halo 4 engine with gameplay enhancements/tweaks, and Fallout 4 all launch windows titles.
- Microsoft acts like it is making a big free-to-play push, but the free games are really just demos in most people opinions (see Crimson Alliance).
- I won't make a call on backwards compatibility: depending on the processor/GPU it could be either very good or very poor.

Next Playstation
- Announced but doesn't ship 2013.
- Might be Steam powered.
- Uses a mostly off the shelf CPU/GPU combo. Is way easier to develop for than PS2/3 because of this.

Steam Box
- Valve releases own Linux based OS and a set of specifications for multiple classes of Steam Certified builds (a casual class for mobile devices and Ouya type devices and a core class for more powerful devices plus maybe a high end class).
- 3rd parties try to produce console like set-top boxes but without getting a cut of game sales they are unable to subsidize them and they are too expensive in most end users opinions.
- Users are able to install the OS on their own PC's and this proves to be a much more popular option though most people stick with Windows.

The Rise of the Microconsoles
- Ouya ships late. Becomes a popular hacker and media center extender machine, but doesn't really make much of a splash as a gaming console.
- Everyone and their dog releases Android powered set-top boxes with gaming capabilities. Roku gets updated to become one of these. Samsung releases the most popular one.
- The AppleTV finally gets app support. iPad/iPhone and Bluetooth controller support.

MMO's
- WoW continues to slowly lose subs but not enough to make it go free-to-play.
- EA continues to mismanage SWTOR.
- The Elder Scrolls Online has a decent launch but is unable to keep players interest. Launches as subscription based and transitions to free-to-play (but maybe not by end of the year).
- MMORPG's will continue to decline but other MMO's will continue to be popular.
- There are a number of high profile MMO games announced for next gen consoles but none ship 2013.

My Big Bad Bold Prediction
- An all you can eat subscription based game service perhaps from Steam, Origin, or Impulse. For $20-30 per month US you will be able to download and play as many games as you want. The titles will be somewhat limited to indie games and older titles with a few newer titles mixed in for good measure.

Okay, I'll make a real Bold Prediction:

No new consoles from Sony and Microsoft in 2013.

garion333 wrote:
Okay, I'll make a real Bold Prediction:

No new consoles from Sony and Microsoft in 2013.


And I think you could actually be right in the end....

Sparhawk wrote:
garion333 wrote:
Okay, I'll make a real Bold Prediction:

No new consoles from Sony and Microsoft in 2013.


And I think you could actually be right in the end....

I'll back this one as well.

I'll be locking this up end of the week. You've been warned!

Rykin wrote:
My Big Bad Bold Prediction
- An all you can eat subscription based game service perhaps from Steam, Origin, or Impulse. For $20-30 per month US you will be able to download and play as many games as you want. The titles will be somewhat limited to indie games and older titles with a few newer titles mixed in for good measure.

So... GameTap?

shoptroll wrote:
Nintendo unveils unified eShop for 3DS and WiiU, which is browser accessible. Purchase games and they’ll immediately start downloading to your system while it’s in sleep mode.

Thinking about this over the weekend, I'm going to say that I agree with one addition: the unified eShop/account system will have some sort of minor quirk that's absolutely maddening to a vocal segment of the gaming population online. I'm going to guess it's that Virtual Console games aren't cross-compatible between Wii U and 3DS, even the NES ones that are available on both platforms.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Thinking about this over the weekend, I'm going to say that I agree with one addition: the unified eShop/account system will have some sort of minor quirk that's absolutely maddening to a vocal segment of the gaming population online.

I think that's near certain with anything Nintendo does.

I'm going to guess it's that Virtual Console games aren't cross-compatible between Wii U and 3DS, even the NES ones that are available on both platforms.

That would be disappointing, although I think they would have to credit people who bought games on both platforms if there's to be some element of "buy once, play anywhere" provided. Otherwise they're flushing a lot of goodwill down the drain.

shoptroll wrote:
Rykin wrote:
My Big Bad Bold Prediction
- An all you can eat subscription based game service perhaps from Steam, Origin, or Impulse. For $20-30 per month US you will be able to download and play as many games as you want. The titles will be somewhat limited to indie games and older titles with a few newer titles mixed in for good measure.

So... GameTap? ;)

Wow I completely forgot about them.... like everyone else

No predictions for me this year. Happy predicting exact date and price on the WiiU last year. Except my price didn't include the pack in.

So did you all use the same crystal ball as Robert Cringley this year?

I had way too many predictions last year. Pretty sure I whiffed as often as I connected. Expecting the same this time around.

Here's my way too long list of predictions for 2013:

Valve:
* “Steam box” prototypes on display at GDC and PAX East with a Summer/Fall retail availability. Price will be around $500, and will be a profitable but niche product. Alienware/Dell will be the first major OEM partner.
* Valve announces family licensing or sub-accounts complete with parental controls.
* Valve announces game rentals as well.
* Valve celebrates 10 years of Steam with a surprise Half-Life 3 launch in September and then selling the service at 75% of its market valuation having a really big sale.

MS/Sony:
* XBox 3 at GDC, Fall 2013 Launch.
* Playstation 4 at E3 or TGS, Fall 2014 launch.
* Gamer/Press response will be tepid to one or both systems.
* Prices start at $350 for bare-bones edition of either console. Most gamers will end up buying the $500 premium versions. Expect a cheap SSD in the premium editions.
* XBox 3 demo units at PAX East.
* Comcast partners with MS to produce Kinect-only XBox 3 cable box.
* Vita price drops to $175 at E3. Doesn’t help sales until Xmas.
* Atlus, Capcom, and/or Square-Enix abandon the Vita for dead. Stronger iOS performance is cited as the primary reason.

Nintendo:
* Nintendo unveils unified eShop for 3DS and WiiU, which is browser accessible. Purchase games and they’ll immediately start downloading to your system while it’s in sleep mode.
* 3DS gets GBA, NES, SNES, and Virtual Boy Virtual Consoles.
* Wii U gets native Virtual Console, adds GameCube, Saturn, and DreamCast Virtual Consoles.
* 3DS eShop gets DS games as well.
* Cloud Saves for Wii U roll out by end of 2013. As added bonus, 3DS<->Wii U virtual console cloud saves included. No subscription required.

General Biz:
* EA’s financial situation does not improve. Activision starts having similar issues. Moore takes over for Ricitello. One of Blizzard’s higher-ups takes the fall for Blizzard-Activision.
* Financial concerns over Activision/EA reverberate around Wall Street causing investors to pull back slightly from the industry as a whole.
* EA acquires Zynga as part of the inevitable Sims Social/The Ville settlement.
* Ubisoft or 2K acquire THQ.
* Fortnite is the final game from the Epic’s North Carolina studio. Epic's North Caronlina studio will focus on engine development and engine sales/support going forward.
* Epic/10Cent sell People Can Fly to MS.
* Apple TV’s project is still MIA.
* iOS, once again, does not kill the games industry as we know it.
* Good Old Games expands to Linux. Picks up LucasArtsDisney, Bethesda, and Blizzard titles.
* Kickstarter will continue to thrive in the background, however there will be less big names in the pool as the initial gold rushers are busy with their projects and/or swimming in money.
* Some epic level backlash will occur against one of 2012’s Kickstarter darlings.

Games:
* No Mario platformer released this year.
* Smash Bros. 4 unveiled at E3.
* New Metroid and Star Fox games at E3.
* A Wii U Professor Layton game is announced
* Pokemon 3DS unveiled by end of the year.
* New Projects from Retro and Monolithsoft revealed.
* Final Fantasy XV announced for WiiU and PS3 at Square-Enix fan event.
* Final Fantasy XIII VS released for PS3, 360, and WiiU.
* Final Fantasy Type-0 gets a 3DS port with additional content.
* Mega Man resurfaces with a new 2D game from Inti Creates for downloadable services.
* EA’s "big" announcements: The Sims 4, MOH3, Need for Speed Underground, Army of Two 3, Dungeon Keeper Social.
* No RPGs from BioWare, no Mirror’s Edge 2, no Plants vs. Zombies 2.
* Star Wars: The Old Republic is on life-support by end of year.
* Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty take the year off to switch to a bi-annual release schedule.
* Dinosaurs are the new Zombies. Expect Turok to be back by end of year.
* Diablo III Expansion 1 gets full unveiling. Closed beta by end of year, 2014 launch.
* Rockstar releases GTA Trilogy HD Collection to downloadable services prior to GTA V's launch.

and finally...

...Now that G4 has dropped all pretense of focusing on gaming, they will finally merge with Spike TV. Seriously, get it over with you two.

Edits are happening! Locking it down. See you next year.