Bold Predictions 2014
With the new consoles launched and settling in for the long haul, our predictions this year must cast a wider net. I won't say it was a slam dunk for me in last year's post, but I can walk with my head held high compared to previous efforts. I feel like the Oculus Rift is the real interesting question mark for 2014, with Valve's Steambox initiative nipping at its heels. I already predicted on the podcast that the Steambox wouldn't be a factor this year, and the very next day the CES announcements started rolling in. I'm still wary of what impact they'll have in the long run, but for now I must say I'm off to a bad start.
Think you can do better? Read on for the predictions from GWJ staff and be sure to leave your own in the comments! I'll be locking the thread up end of January to prevent any future editing shenanigans.
Whooooweeeee, my favorite part of the new year!
Let’s get the Big Three out of the way:
- Will spend the majority of the year trying to get their Xbox boondoggle in respectable condition and rebuild some of that lost consumer confidence. Look for some healthy firmware updates to help with current problems (lack of controller battery-level indicator, hitches with Snap, party chat).
- Refocuses efforts to promote the Xbox One as a media-center machine, rolling out more diverse cable/satellite offerings, to make up for early graphical disparity.
- Attach rates for SmartGlass and Kinect cause most developers to shy away from implementing alternate control methods. An indie puts SmartGlass to good use through an asymmetrical RTS feature.
- We're probably going to see some kind of meltdown involving THE CLOUD in the next few months.
- Breathes new life into the Vita by promoting its ability to streamplay. Though it still can’t compete with the 3DS the Vita becomes a nice companion for the Sony ecosystem.
- Gaikai replaces Playstation Plus game freebies. The big feature every month is the set of new(ish) additions to the service.
- With the success of the GameRoom and Twitch streaming, Sony gives PS4 owners more content creation resources.
- WiiU continues to languish between anticipated first-party releases.
- As the Nintendo e-Store becomes more uniform between Big N's consoles, a Games with Gold/PS+ style system is added to Club Nintendo.
- STEAMBoxen contain a Twitch-style streaming service, run by Valve!
And in General
[*] Game-streaming becomes a very, very big thing for consoles.
[*] Game-sharing/screen-sharing/Dial-A-Friend style collaboration becomes as necessary for this gen as party-chat was for the 360.
[*] Virtualization starts becoming A Thing To Look For.
[*] Look for interesting experiments to tie in with 3D printing technology — i.e., Earn A badge, print it out with a Makerbot.
[*] Expect some legal troubles arising as companies see streaming as a detriment to their brands.
I don't even know.
- Games? Probably games.
- Uh … "the consumerization of IT," "the internet of things," "dark networks" and "platform as a service." Yeah, that should just about cover it.
- Oh, these are supposed to be bold? Then maybe some class warfare. Who doesn't like that?
- Bigger than price point, the Xbox One is going to freak out people more than ever before due to privacy concerns. Microsoft will continue to push its pro-privacy marketing stance, and might turn that position into a legitimate deciding factor.
- We will start to realize that groups on the internet aren't as cohesive as we tend to assume. For example, when "gamers" complain about one thing and then about its opposite, that's because "gamers" is a large collection of vastly different people with wildly different opinions. Such large collections are going to almost necessarily act in a way that would seem schizophrenic in an individual.
- We'll start to see more ads and even publishing focused on consumer budgets. I suppose Valve (Steam), Nintendo and tablet/phone companies to have the advantage here.
- More strange procedural generation and bots mashing up existing code. I anxiously await some indie game that references both William Carlos Williams and Slavoj Žižek.
The only prediction I can possibly give is that I will, undoubtedly, be wrong. Last year the only predictions of mine to hit the mark were the announcement of a new Mario Kart, which was like shooting Cheep-Cheeps in a go-kart with cinder blocks in place of the wheels, as well as the announcement of Retro Studios' new project (which turned out to be Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze). The runner-up was the release of a Mega Man game on the eShop, likely a disappointing format, to celebrate the Blue Bomber's anniversary. We got ports of the first six games, and that was about it.
So this year I'm going to keep it simple.
Half-Life 3 will not be released in 2014
Yup, that should cover it.
[*] The Oculus Rift commercial device launches this Fall for $250 US. It will run at 1080P and (with calibration) motion sickness will be greatly reduced from the dev kit.
[*] Steambox will not have a retail launch this year. There will be a soft, beta launch where "dev kits" can be purchased direct from Valve.
[*] Sony will continue to hold a sales advantage over Microsoft in 2014 thanks to a lower price point.
[*] Game streaming (Gaikai or otherwise) won't be a major factor this year.
[*] Bungie's Destiny game will be a hopped up version of Boarderlands mixed with Too Human.
- Something awful happens in a game stream: Awful things have happened already, but this awful thing will be picked up by the mainstream media and be a big part of the news cycle internationally for more than just a few days. What will be different is the tone of the discussion. It won't be about "how horrid are these games," but instead about "how connected are our living rooms." The public will become broadly aware of streaming culture, and it will not like what it finds there.
- Major shake-ups at Valve: Something breaks culturally, deep inside Valve, but no one on the outside hears about it until it's too late. Before you know it, bits and pieces of Half Life 3 leak, the team behind it is shown to have left months ago, and everyone's left holding the bag. And by "bag," I mean Steamboxes.
- PAX: A PAX scheduled for 2015 gets canceled in 2014. There is much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. Potshards may be used to scratch at boils. The rivers will run red with dick jokes for a few days, and then ... dry up. Gamers will move on.
- Half Life 3 is announced as a SteamBox exclusive, but won't be released in 2014.
- Microsoft catches up to the PS4 install base by year end thanks to a $50 mid-year price cut.
- Xbox Live competes head to head with PS+ with a broad selection of free games
- Titanfall is a critical miss and a commercial success, selling close to 10m units. We all scratch our heads
- Steambox will have a third-party timed exclusive announced in 2014.
- Valve will debut a consumer-focused performance rating system based on their hardware survey that helps determine how powerful your Steambox is, making it very simple to decide between Steamboxes for your average gamer.
- The consumer version of the Oculus Rift will be a hot item for Christmas 2014 and will be in short supply.
- There will be Oculus Rift-format pornography simultaneous with the consumer release (I know, duh).
- Destiny will sell more units than Titanfall.
- Steamboxes will get Oculus Rift support well before the other consoles and the combo will do very well in the high-end tech market.
Hey, I did pretty well last year. Nailed a couple (like the kickstarter prediction), completely whiffed on a few others.
- The Xbox One and the PS4 both have the same first year that the Wii U did: anemic. The high price, depressed economy, continuing concerns about the high level of interconnectivity of the devices, and that lingering thought that "my old consoles can still do everything just fine" combine for rather depressing sales out of the gate.
- The Wii U, on the other hand, maintains much of the steam it picked up in December. It doesn't quite pull a 3DS-style phoenix rebirth, but shows that it has more legs than just Mario games. Despite being basically ignored by the gaming press and most vocal supporters, it quietly sells very strong numbers to the types of gamer that many often forget exist.
- The 3DS becomes an even bigger sensation, to the point where it actually starts to eat away at console sales (of all manufacturers). Seeing someone playing a 3DS in public becomes more common in "adult" locations like coffee shops.
- Meanwhile, the Vita finally sees a 1st-party exclusive or two that isn't a "fancy" port. That, combined with its technological prowess and its ability to tie in to the Sony consoles, sees it sell tolerably well and have its best year to date. It won't even begin to contend for the handheld throne, but it at least gets to the point where Sony is no longer ashamed to talk about it during quarterly earnings reports.
- The mid-tier developer makes a resurgence. While AAA games will still grab the lion's share of gamers' dollars, companies like Runic, thatgamecompany, and Telltale — not to mention the strong showing of high-polish indie contenders like Brothers and Gone Home — bring back a viable method of game development that does not cost $100,000,000 and does not consist of a single person coding in their garage after work.
- Kentucky Route Zero will not see its 5th episode release in 2014. Possibly not even its 4th. Minarchist will be very saddened by this development.
D'oh! Just back from hols to find the stuff I've missed. Imma just sneak in, in case time lag keeps the door ajar.
My predictions are/were:
[*] Nintendo will buy CD Projekt RED. The Witcher 3 will become a trading card game ... but not *that* trading card game
[*] Metal Gear Solid V's narrative will have only 1 character that looks like Snake and will actually make sense. It will be critically panned for being dumbed down for Xbox fans. It will still use the terms "PMC/Private Military Company" 14,674 times.
[*] People will use Kickstarters to fund their ARGs. After 10 months of coded messages, people turning up at odd locales looking puzzled and analysing website addresses, it will be revealed that Kickstarter itself was an ARG, run by Jack Thompson (remember him?), who did it all to bring down games from within, muwahaha.
[*] Watch Dogs will feature Assassin's Creed's Desmond as a playable character as a big reveal of the Ubiverse — a persistent online world incorporating all of Ubisoft's IPs. Still no one will purchase Uplay points.
[*] Wasteland 2 will come out and be awesome. There will be a monster thread on No Mutants Allowed that will argue that it is more canon than Fallout 3.
[*] Bethesda will hire a YA fiction writer to produce a series of books about a bunch of Argonian teens living in Black Marsh, learning the Argonian ways, dealing with adversity and having some arguments. It will sell enough to get a movie, but the movie will bomb. At E3 2015, someone from Bethesda will say "Ehh, we shoulda used Elves. Or Khajiit. People love cats, right?"
Maybe I've been in the sun too long.