By Slag 28 Comments
Boldness encouraged, Accuracy & explanations not required
Now that E3 is nearly here and the consoles have been revealed but not completely revealed, it is the perfect time to make predictions. We know just enough to make some fun guesses, but not enough to really completely discount anything.
So look into your crystal balls and let loose your mad theories here Giant Bomb!
The theme of this gen will be fragmentation and contraction. Gaming will ultimately be stronger and healthier once we reach the other side of this gen but getting there will be rough.
Each platform will siphon off segments of the gaming population to the point that none will “win”. Xbox will take the mass market, Sony will take the old time console hardcore, Nintendo will reposition the Wiiu as a kid’s toy and take the kids market enough to save the company, Steam and other PC platforms will take the future as they bridge the gap to TV. The Ouya will be a forgotten oddity in a few years like the N-Gage and the 3D0.
But what is unusual this time is that fewer gamers double dip on multiple consoles, which causes them all to struggle (Save for Steam) like they haven't this past three gens.
Sony, Steam , Player to be named Later
Microsoft will largely exit the gaming business because they will find the TV entertainment business more lucrative. Nintendo will quit the console business since they realize gimmicks aren’t enough, unlike the wishes of most they will still publish only on their platforms which will handhelds and very underpowered cheap Ouya like min-consoles. They will become the Tiger Electronics of the future, low powered low priced portable gaming machines. Stuff you see in discount bins at 7-11.
Sony will be the last man standing and will try the traditional gaming console one more time with the Playstation 5. They may try to bundle a digital only Playstation 5 inside their TVs
Steam and the other digital PC services will be full competition for Sony as the ease of PC gaming on the TV becomes easier and easier.
Someone else will enter the gaming market, most likely Apple or possibly Google or maybe even Yahoo. And they will be strong enough to make another go in next next gen but they won’t win this round.
After a drastic price cut Sony’s Vita will finally start to catch on with young kids and parents who want to play classic games and don’t have much tv time. The Vita against all odds will battle back to relevance against the 3DS.
It won't be successful, due to lack of clear consumer rationale. But will find niche oddball use as a Fantasy Sports crossover with the X1
Desura brand will be retired, but GoG will continue to operate as a separate brand although their policies will start mirror Steam’s.
The Business of Games
- Activision, Square Enix
Activision will finally overplay its’ hand on it’s mega hits and will be the big shocker. But once Call of Duty and World of Warcraft finally falter and Kotick retires, the publisher will make a rapid descent into a quick chapter 11 bankruptcy as they will fail to replace their money machines. Activision will survive but will be forced to sell Blizzard to a Chinese company to pay off creditors.
While most would assume EA was the one in dire straits, their willingness to change allows them to survive and thrive.
Square Enix will overplay their hand in desperation to save the money pit that is FF XIV and will be forced to break up the company. The remains of Eidos (Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman) will be acquired by Ubisoft. Final Fantasy and the Squaresoft brands of old will be acquired by Capcom. Nintendo & Sega will acquire the Enix properties such as Dragon Quest and Star Ocean.
In a case of the weak combine to become stronger, the once hated rivals merge to become the ultimate gaming force among young children and pre-teens. Nintendega will focus primarily on being wholesome kid friendly , but parent friendly wallet friendly entertainment. They will make handhelds and Ouya priced mini consoles that are closed environment for TV. Most of the Sega corporate culture and personnel will be jettisoned.
- Gamestop and Best Buy go under
The DRM the publishers mandate will be just strict enough that Gamestop will lose it’s primary appeal to consumers faster than anyone realizes, which causes their major profit center to collapse taking them with it. The digital future is much closer than the console makers realize.
Best Buy will be brought to heel by showrooming and severe mismanagement. Best Buy will survive as primarily as an appliance company, but much smaller than they are today. The twin killing of these two gaming retail giants will cause massive disruptions in the hardware supply chain. The Console makers will scramble to find new channels to get their consoles to people as Target and Wal-Mart start to use their new leverage on themto squeeze their margins for better deals.
Sony will make the transition to digital day1 AAA releases faster and better than Microsoft which will help them survive to the next round, although they will have trouble moving hardware until they sign an exclusive distribution deal with Amazon. Betting on the right horse in the e-commerce race Sony will rapidly take market share. Sony will close their remaining Sony Style stores as part of the Amazon deal.
Microsoft having burned bridges in the indie community who are digital heavy will make the transition as well but struggle for titles in the transition period. They will attempt to get their console in unusual brick and mortar retailers such as grocery stores, pharmacies and Home Depot, their Microsoft stores and a web store of their own, but their refusal to bend over to Amazon’s demands will cost them dearly in terms of install base in the long term as gamers move their buying more or less completely online.
Once the digital only future arrives early due to retailer bankruptcies, consumers balk at 59.99 for something they can't resell. In desperation to lure them back Sony and Microsoft begin a desperate price war and ultimately do win most back. Developers respond by pushing more and more content to DLC initially and trying to use episodic gaming where creatively possible.
After one too many customers gets burned by a Season Pass left unfulfilled, Microsoft steps in and sets hard mandatory content and pricing guidelines for all DLC. Sony as usual of late gets to play the good guy with publishers but still benefits. Consumers win, and overall DLC is a better experience next gen
Gamera will also have the option of buying just the single player or multiplayer component of games once Publishers feel confident piracy is less of a worry than present.
The console viewing experience for whatever reason just isn't impulsive enough for the F2P crowd. As a result most of the F2P games never pass quality control for the consoles and the ones that do have very sparsely populated communities which kill them off quickly. They remain primarily on mobile and PC and continue to grow rapidly there
The biggest surprise of next gen is the revival of AA games. As games go more digital their prices become more elastic allowing mid budget games a chance to thrive once more now being sold in the 25-35 dollar range. Most Sports and Puzzle games now fall into this realm.
Indie games will lose a lot of prominence as result but will still exist.
Trends and Gameplay
VR and the return of single player gaming.
No surprise here. The Oculus rift and things like it will change the ways games are played. They are something the consumer instantly gets how it makes their gaming experience different unlike the multimedia functions of X1 or the streaming services like Gaikai of the PS4. . But it’s a very solitary experience and one that de-emphasizes achievements and social networking. VR will be very rough at first but will be really getting going by the end of the gen.
Gaming will return to its’ escapism roots.
Partly part on the VR revolution and partly by new AA publishers and new foreign publishers. We will see tons of new titles. Most of the hits of tomorrow will be not be the hits of yesterday.
r – Mutants/Chimaeras/Clones
Gone are the day of the Zombie. As gene splicing and cloning tech improves worldwide, the public’s fascination and fear of them will percolate over into entertainment. Zombies and other supernatural threats will fade from popularity to be replaced by Science abominations. The Graveyard will be supplanted by the Mad Corporate Scientist Laboratory.
– First Person Parkour and Face Reading
Somebody will figure out how to make movement fun in vr. Mirror’s Edge will be a tantalizingly vision of future Action Adventure games.
As visual tech, mo cap and things like it improve we’ll be asked more and more to “read” NPC faces to guess their characters inner thoughts and feelings as a common basic mechanic. Whether it be for Phoenix Wright crime dramas or Bioware/Quantic Dream like character interaction.
Games and Genres
– Survival Horror and Racing, Flight Sim
Survival horror will surprisingly supplant First Person Shooters as the most popular genre. The Oculus Rift and its successors will make Horror games and survival games engrossing and terrifying in a way they’ve never been. VR will be the motion control of its era and will have the most “wow” factor to the average consumer.
Racing will finally get a compelling First Person mode thanks to VR, which leads to a huge proliferation of them.
- Forsenic mystery, Interactive Drama
The oculus rift and things like will give birth to a whole set of new genres we’ve never seen before and will revive ill thought of and nice genres such as Adventure games
A whole Slew of solve the case CSI like games actually become fun and popular as La Noire like improvements to Ai plus VR make crime franchise port over to games off of Tv.
Heavy rain, Beyond Two souls and the Walking Dead are just the precursor to the further fusing of TV and video games. While VR will recruit many casuals into the hobby, Interactive Drama will be what keeps them there.
- Assassin’s Creed, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Metal Gear
Ubisoft will run that puppy into the ground. They already are. Assassin’s Creed will be the biggest missed opportunity of the gen as the mechanics of the gen will suit it well. Next Next gen it will come back.
Square will put all its’ eggs in the FF XIV basket will backfire causing their single player games to be badly underproduced and will crash the company, taking Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest with it. (for awhile)
Without the Doctors’s leadership, Bioware will lose their vision for Mass Effect and the franchise will drift into mediocrity before going dormant. Dragon Age may or may not go along with it
Call of Duty will suffer Madden fatigue, while it won’t go away it will become stale and significantly less popular. Destiny will lay out a new shooter blueprint that makes call of duty seem like old news. Battlefield will handle the change better as EA will change their formula more readily.
Metal Gear’s death will be a slow one. The endless hype train and non-finale games will eventually wear out even the most passionate Kojima fans. But it will be gradual.
- Mega Man, Silent Hill, Prince of Persia, Burnout, F-Zero, Sports Games
Capcom, finally exhausting the annual Mega Man machine and out of ideas, turns the franchise over to western hands. Mega Man experiences a Retro Studios Metroid Prime-like reimagining to great critical and financial success.
Capcom promptly kills the good feelings by promptly re-annualizing Mega Man and rereleasing versions of it every 6 months
Silent Hill will become a mega hit due to the Oculus Rift’s impact on horror games, it or something like it will be the Call of Duty of the next gen.
After creatively running out of ideas for Assassin’s Creed, Prince of Persia will find new life yet again as a Mirror’s Edge like clone in VR.
As racing Games become in once again thanks to VR. Pretty much they all attempt to come back to some degree as fighting games did this gen. But Burnout will take the cake as it meshes the thrill of driving with arcade insanity.
Nintendo in their desperation to save the Wii-U and love of gimmicks will embrace the Oculus Rift first and use F-Zero and Wave Race as proof of concepts. The Nintenwheel will be their latest neat peripheral that doesn’t have enough good games..
The integration of X1's fantasy Sports capabilities + the lower pricing of Sports Games will help them achieve Mega popularity once again.
- Dragon’s Dogma/Deep Down, Dark Souls,As of yet Unknown Chinese titles, Destiny
Dragon’s Dogma II will fuse the best of Monster Hunter, Dark Souls and Skyrim gameplay into a smash hit. Japanese gameplay plus western design aesthetics creates massive worldwide appeal.
Chinese developers will start to eye the west and will start to port their titles over with little success at first but will improve rapidly. They will have an inherent advantage over Western and Japanese developers as they will be given increasingly preferential treatment by the Chinese gov’t allowing them effectively dominate China free of foreign competition giving a base market and cash flow to outspend their competition. The Chinese gov’t will also fund them, in an attempt to help spread China’s cultural influence.
Destiny is made by Bungie, they will do what Bungie does which is make great games. It will be the redefinition of FPSes we’ve been waiting for.
There will be tons of lawsuits mainly involving Kinect. Whether it be Kinect spying too much (recording sensitive conversations between congress people, recording affairs) or not enough (heart sensor noticing heart attacks in users but not calling paramedics), Microsoft will fight an endless legal and PR war over the device.
Tieing the Age of Lawsuits, VR will actually kill people or rather there will be many more gaming deaths because some people will become complete shut in their virtual world and forget to eat etc.
VR will be blamed for everything from Diabetes to Divorce on the nightly news. Pundits will decry that the youth of today are anti-social conveniently ignoring the fact that Gen Xers will perhaps like the device the most.
as their older games stop functioning enmasse with Windows 10 Steam will not compensate users for it. Microsoft deliberately coded Windows that way to punish Steam as competitor. People will lose some faith in some of Steam's promises as a result.
Chinese developed games will represent 3 out of the top ten selling games if the gen in the US by the time it’s over.