My Bold Predictions for 2012
January 6, 2012
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Like many other places on the web, every year a bunch of us over at Gamers With Jobs like to make bold gaming and technology predictions for the upcoming year. A large and growing group of contributors and forum members pitch into this, though it’s usually only the forum members who check and grade their predictions before making new ones. I made a bunch over there for this year but I’ve decided to put them here as well where I can go into a little more detail about them and also add some new ones I’ve thought of since the “gentlemen’s deadline” for editing there has passed. So without further ado, here’s what I’ve got for the next twelve months:
- THQ will manage to secure additional investment or credit but this will be their last gasp at survival before they run out of cash. If they stop taking stupid risks for a while, they can maybe turn it around but it’s unlikely. Danny Bilson’s strategy was a failure, as were Brian Farrell’s insane uDraw HD plans. Both of these people will inexplicably stay employed there in spite of these.
- GSC Game World’s upcoming news will be that the company is indeed dead. However, a new studio will start up and take over their IP and hopefully release S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.
- The 3DS will continue to sell well at the current price point and the Vita will not do the numbers Sony wants but will do enough to keep the platform afloat. As usual, the gaming press will continue to trumpet that the handheld market has “moved on” and will not admit they were wrong despite all the evidence to the contrary. Mobile gaming is here to stay but dedicated handhelds still have a major place.
- The successor to the Xbox 360 will be announced at E3 and the PS4 will be teased only. Neither will get a ship date or a heavy reveal of pricing or details until current console sales slow down which they won’t for at least the first half of the year. Regardless of when the slowdown happens, neither of these platforms will release in 2012.
- The WiiU will get a price and a ship date in the holiday quarter. Nintendo will announce they’ve solved the problem of having multiple WiiU tablets paired to one console. It will once again have a weak launch lineup and will initially sell OK but not great.
- The wonderful trend of analysts either talking less or the gaming press finally realising they’re not worth listening to will continue. Many will love seeing Pachter fade into obscurity where he belongs. This has been tested a little bit already this year but we’ll see.
- This is the year where the realities of mobile development start to become clear in the development community. Those being that it’s much like AAA in that most titles fail, the majority of the revenue goes to a small few and that costs are quickly spiralling out of indie-affordable range. Mobile development will not slow this year however. I will detail this more in a later On Gaming’s Future post.
- Many Facebook developers will continue to struggle or in the case of the big boys like Zynga, show themselves to be grossly overvalued and not as big a money press as once thought. Facebook development will continue but will be talked about less and less as the future. This will also be discussed in an On Gaming’s Future post.
- AAA publishers that are not Activision will keep losing money and AAA developers will continue to be hit-or-die. This is a trend that I suspect will get worse as costs continue to go up in the next generation. Larger scale industry rumblings on how to keep AAA viable (or if it’s even possible) will start to be heard. A lot fewer AAA titles will be released this year both due to the industry’s money bleeding but also as they scale back development on the current generation to ramp up for the next one. This will also be discussed in an On Gaming’s Future post.
- Diablo III will come out some time this year and it will be a huge hit but not as big a one as Blizzard or Bobby Kotick thinks. The real money auction house will be a profit generator. The cracks in Kotick’s leadership style will continue to show themselves as everything they own that isn’t Call of Duty continues to decline.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic will experience a sharp drop in subscribers. This will partially be because of people getting bored and partially because of the dictatorial way EA is treating the player base. Enough will stick around to keep the game profitable month to month but the long-term numbers will be well below expectations and it will not be EA’s saving grace. It will not go free-to-play in 2012.
- John Riccitiello’s leadership at EA will be strongly challenged. I applaud some of his strategies but they haven’t been working out and shareholders won’t tolerate these massive losses they’re racking up for much longer, especially is SWTOR starts to drop.
- Free-to-play will start to really shine this year in non-Asian RPG ways. Bigger scale, North American focused titles like Tribes: Ascend and FireFall will do well and show that higher budget titles can work with this business model.
- Half-Life 2: Episode 3/Half-Life 3 will not release this year.
- Highly intrusive DRM schemes on PC games will be scaled back, though DRM in general will still be an issue. Things like requiring persistent connections will become a rarity. As usual, entitled douchebags who think they deserve everything for free will keep stealing content, publishers will continue to whine about it rather than deal with it intelligently and Mike Masnick will continue to defend the thieves as if stealing is a right.
- I may potentially buy an iPad 3 to try out iOS gaming. Many minds will be blown. Also, the iPad 3 will have a much nicer screen but it won’t be a “retina display” because they can’t get the cost low enough on it for that size.
- Apple will not release a branded television. The market is too competitive and there is no room for a TV that costs 30-50% more when you can add the features it would have to any TV with a $100 Apple TV box. There will be an updated Apple TV with some rudimentary iOS features and app support.
- This is the year Android tablets finally become competitive. Ice Cream Sandwich will be the version of the operating system that shines on the tablet platform and other manufacturers will start to compete on price as well as features. iPad will remain the dominant tablet but Android will make big inroads.
- Research In Motion will finally remove Balsillie and Lazaridis from their leadership roles at the company. They will announce a new plan to restructure both their business and design philosophies to stop the bleeding and get competitive again. Many of those steps will not be taken this year however and their market share will drop a minimum of another 15%. I will discuss this more in a future post.
- More than 50% of laptop models released this year will not include an optical drive. Fewer and fewer people care about them anymore and though it’s a cheap part, removing it could bolster razor thin margins quite a bit.
- Hard drive prices will return to pre-flood levels. The shortage was overblown to create artificial demand but the manufacturers will spend their way to a quick return to normal production.
- Microsoft will announce a scaling back or removal of the new Start Screen in Windows 8 or make it 100% optional. There has been a lot of blowback against this feature as while it is great for tablets, it is trying to “tabletify” the desktop and users of that platform don’t want that. To avoid Windows 8 being thought of as another Vista on the desktop side, they won’t force it on people there.
- Windows 8 will shine on tablets and will also start to compete with Android for a big share of the iPad’s market. PC users (particularly corporate users) will really take to being able to seamlessly integrate their tablet with their PCs.
- Windows Phone 7 will get a massive marketing push and gain a lot of market share. Much of it will be the remaining 90% of cell phone users who don’t have smartphones. Developers will finally start releasing content for it.
- Twitter will continue to grow in popularity but still won’t figure out how to make money.
- Facebook will remain insanely popular but each user will do less with it. People are burning out on the information overload and the fad value of Facebook is starting to decline. Everyone will keep using it but they won’t use it as much and it will start to become less valuable as a result.
- 3D will continue to decline and possibly die off in the home entirely. We will also not see any mention of “mainstream” 2K or 4K televisions.
- Best Buy will announce a major corporate restructuring this year, closing underperforming stores and refocusing on providing high quality service. Like the other million times they’ve vowed to do this, they’ll screw it up and continue to push revenue numbers over customer satisfaction. Their decline into eventual failure will continue.
- Canadian third party Internet prices will rise but not as much as people fear. The latest CRTC idiocy has allowed the incumbents to gouge third party providers in a different way than UBB would have but not as badly. A small increase has already happened with the third parties already saying bigger increases may be coming if peak demand remains high. However, I think many of the heavier users will take advantage of capless off-peak hours to keep the peak demand reasonable and there will either be no further increases or minimal ones. The third parties will continue to provide better service for fairer prices than the incumbents.
- I will continue to search in vain for a tech podcast that doesn’t spend most of its time fellating Apple or that realises tech news exists that doesn’t involve phones or tablets.
So there we have it for 2012. Assuming I haven’t become like so many bloggers and stopped updating this one out of laziness by this time next year, I’ll check in on these and see how wrong I was. I have some apprehensions about the future of some of the things I like in 2012 but any way you slice it, this is bound to be an amazing year in tech and gaming. I hope it’s great for you and yours as well! Happy New Year!