The end of 2012 is upon us. Personally, it’s been a Hell of a year, not just in the industries I observe with interest but for me in general. My girlfriend passed the UFE and will be a Chartered Accountant in a few months, we moved from our small apartment into a house (still renting though), we got a puppy and my company reverse merged with another company, went public as a result and changed it’s 30+ year name in the process. And that’s just a bit of it. It was very good overall though and I think 2013′s going to be even better! Before I make my bold predictions for the new year, I must of course revisit those I made for the year that’s just ending. Go here to find them as I will only mention their titles here and more in-depth explanations are included in the original post. I’m going to ape a neat system the crew at Gamers With Jobs came up with and rate how accurate I was in terms of a score. I made 30 predictions (29 “real” ones and 1 joke) so that’s the total the score can be. If I was mostly or totally right on a prediction, I get 1 point. If I was half-right or had some critical information wrong but the gist was accurate, I get half a point. And finally, if I was dead wrong, I get zilch. I’m also only scoring the bolded parts which are the actual predictions, not the additional details which are just general thoughts. This is scored by me of course but hey, this ain’t scientific or nothin’. I will try to judge myself honestly.
Off we go!
- THQ will manage to secure additional investment or credit but this will be their last gasp at survival before they run out of cash (half point.) As far as I know, they didn’t get additional money, they were just able to tap a line of credit they hadn’t used. They still ran out of cash and declared bankruptcy just recently, being swept up by a private equity firm. Danny Bilson left but Brian Farrell’s still around and his long-term future there is still unknown.
- GSC Game World’s upcoming news will be that the company is indeed dead (1 point.) The company still exists but has no staff so it’s basically dead. A new studio did in fact start up with the old staff but they’re making a free-to-play online game in a S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-like universe but not with the actual IP which they couldn’t secure. A bit of a battle has started up between the remnants of GSC and bitComposer Games over the IP.
- 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 (1 point.) I was right on about the 3DS and not fully on the Vita but I’m calling it a win because while it did underperform, Sony keeps saying they’re backing it going forward and there are games coming, though not many. I so hope the Vita can find it’s footing.
- The successor to the Xbox 360 will be announced at E3 and the PS4 will be teased only (0 points.) No other way to say it, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. This is the year both will be announced but I won’t make a prediction on that specifically because it’s too obvious.
- The WiiU will get a price and a ship date in the holiday quarter (1 point.) Bang on, though this wasn’t exactly a stretch. They also did solve the problem of multiple tablets but in a half-assed way that’s not close to ready yet. I think the launch lineup was OK and it’s been selling out but talk has been soft so it’s too early to tell how it’s doing.
- The wonderful trend of analysts either talking less or the gaming press finally realising they’re not worth listening to will continue (0 points.) Why oh why couldn’t I have been right about this? It seemed like the enthusiast press was finally over leeching clicks off these hacks but they’re doing it as much as ever with even more analysts (and even purposefully obscure hacks like Dent and industry failures like Broussard) beaking off in the press all the time. This is a scourge that needs to stop.
- This is the year where the realities of mobile development start to become clear in the development community (1 point.) This didn’t happen to the degree I expected it to but I’m calling it a win because it has already started. Multiple promising mobile developers have died this year, largely because they foolishly believed the mobile gold rush meant nobody could fail. I’ll flesh this out more with my 2013 predictions.
- 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 (1 point.) Nailed it! Zynga’s in a death spiral, Facebook itself has a disastrous fraud-filled year and we haven’t heard a peep in months about a big new social startup. A lot of this is because most Facebook games don’t work on mobile platforms and that’s increasingly where Facebook usage is going. This field isn’t going away but much like mobile, it’s getting kicked in the face by reality instead of hype.
- AAA publishers that are not Activision will keep losing money and AAA developers will continue to be hit-or-die (1 point.) Nailed again but again, I wish I was wrong. Most of the few AAA publishers left are either losing money or just squeaking out modest profits whereas Activision is still sucking the marrow from Blizzard and Call of Duty. Numerous developers went under this year and almost all of those can be tied to the failure of a single title. This is a dark time to be in AAA and it makes me sad.
- 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 (half point.) It did come out and was a huge hit but as far as I know, it’s done extremely well. It’s up to something like 7 million sales now and despite being basically broken, the real money auction house is generating revenue. I do think that part is doing worse than Blizzard wanted but I don’t think they’re disappointed with the money the game’s made.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic will experience a sharp drop in subscribers (1 point.) Bang on. They flailed about trying out a trial model, then went to a horrible exploitive free-to-play system and by many accounts, this detonated the upper echelons of BioWare. I actually think it’s a good game, it just came out at the wrong time with a foolish business model.
- John Riccitiello’s leadership at EA will be strongly challenged (0 points.) There were rumblings in the press that he was in trouble but nothing public happened.
- Free-to-play will start to really shine this year in non-Asian RPG ways (1 point.) Oh yes! One of my top 10 games of the year is free-to-play and I’ve got like 5 or 6 of them installed on my PC right now. Not all of them do it right (particularly on mobile platforms) but those that do are making great games and best as I can tell, tidy profits too.
- Half-Life 2: Episode 3/Half-Life 3 will not release this year (1 point.) Is anyone really surprised? I know Valve’s way of doing business means this won’t happen until they feel like it but seriously guys, enough is enough. This series made you a success and your fans are owed closure.
- Highly intrusive DRM schemes on PC games will be scaled back, though DRM in general will still be an issue (1 point.) Ubisoft dropped their always-on DRM (though activations are still needed) but Diablo III embraced the horrible practice with both hands, which caused highly publicised launch nightmares. It’s definitely a lessening trend though which I am very happy to see.
- I may potentially buy an iPad 3 to try out iOS gaming (half point.) I split a used iPad 2 with my girlfriend which is why I call this a halfsie because I did specifically say iPad 3. Overall, I’ve been very disappointed. iOS uses dated design and most mobile games that I’ve tried have been terrible. I was wrong about the iPad 3 having Retina too, they totally figured that out. If I even need a tablet of my own any time soon, it will either be Windows 8 Pro or Android.
- SECTION SCORE: 11.5/16
- Apple will not release a branded television (1 point.) I can’t believe I’m seemingly one of the only people who didn’t think this was obvious. There is no market for a TV that will end up costing 30-50% more (which it will have to for it to have the margins Apple wants) but which just has the guts of an Apple TV box you can buy for $99. One line from Jobs’ biography where he says he “cracked it” means exactly squat.
- This is the year Android tablets finally become competitive (0.5 points.) I’m calling this a halfsie because while Android tablet sales are up significantly (particularly with the introduction of the Nexus tablets), the iPad still dominates the tablet market and from what I can tell, most Android apps are still made for phones exclusively or primarily. It’s getting better but it’s still not the competitor it needs to be.
- Research In Motion will finally remove Balsillie and Lazaridis from their leadership roles at the company (1 point.) BOOM! Most of my secondary predictions were right too. Their stock plummeted but is recovering well and by all accounts, BlackBerry 10 could be something special. I really hope so, I don’t want to see this company die.
- More than 50% of laptop models released this year will not include an optical drive (0 points.) There’s no doubt that far fewer laptops have them but I’ve not been able to find a statistic that confirms whether I’m right or not. If I can, I’ll update this but I think if more than half were ditching the optical drive, it would have made the news somewhere.
- Hard drive prices will return to pre-flood levels (1 point.) Checking a few places online where I can buy a hard drive, I’m saying this is right.
- Microsoft will announce a scaling back or removal of the new Start Screen in Windows 8 or make it 100% optional (0 points.) I was so wrong about this, I should almost be deducting points for it. I think the hate for Windows 8 is overblown but I do have major concerns about what it means for the future of Windows and the Start Screen is still stupid on anything that isn’t a touch screen. It’s questionable how well Windows 8 is selling right now so I hope Microsoft is taking the negative feedback to heart.
- Windows 8 will shine on tablets and will also start to compete with Android for a big share of the iPad’s market (0.5 points.) I’m calling this a halfsie because by all accounts, Windows 8 is killer on tablets but Surface has apparently been a sales flop and the app ecosystem is not taking off like many (including myself) thought it would. This could still change but so far, it hasn’t made a dent in the market share of the other platforms.
- Windows Phone 7 will get a massive marketing push and gain a lot of market share (0 points.) Windows Phone 7 became Windows Phone 8 and while it looks like interest and sales are ramping up, it hasn’t gained a ton of market share yet, certainly not even to make anyone besides maybe RIM nervous. My girlfriend bought a Lumia 920 though and thinks the iPhone pales in comparison to it, as do many other people. Microsoft is traditionally horrible at marketing but if they can figure that out, I still think they could have a winner here.
- Twitter will continue to grow in popularity but still won’t figure out how to make money (1 points.) Calling it a win because it’s definitely still growing but given how there have been no stories about the financial success this year, no IPO and how they’re clamping down hard on how much third party clients can bang on their servers, I’m guessing they still don’t have a long-term business model yet.
- 3D will continue to decline and possibly die off in the home entirely (1 point.) Most TV manufacturers are using 3D as a bullet point now but they’ve all run away from making that a reason to convince people to buy new sets. The big Japanese TV manufacturers are all nursing sucking chest wounds right now so they better figure something out fast. I was also right about how the idea of mainstream 2K or 4K TVs didn’t happen. 3D is still a thing in theatres but that’s about it.
- Best Buy will announce a major corporate restructuring this year, closing underperforming stores and refocusing on providing high quality service (0.5 points.) If I allowed myself three quarter points, that’s what I would get because I was right about everything except the announced refocusing on high quality service. The company’s bleeding, stores have been closed and one of the original guys is trying to take the company private. Refocusing on service is the only thing that can save them but they’re still arrogantly convinced that the horrendous experience they currently offer is quality service.
- Canadian third party Internet prices will rise but not as much as people fear (1 point.) Nailed it! Prices went up but only a little bit and as I understand it, the third party Canadian ISP industry is still squeaking out razor-thin margins. This makes me very happy to see, especially since more and more people I know are dumping the telecartels for them. They’re still fighting a tough war but I’m glad the fight’s being made.
- 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 (1 point.) This was a joke prediction but I’m still right. I’ve tried me damndest to find one since dumping This is Only A Test after both the content and the attitude of the guys from that site finally drove me over the edge. I’ve yet to find another one that doesn’t continue to trumpet how Apple is our lord and saviour or that phones and tablets aren’t the only neat things in the world. It’s a shame but such is life. I don’t currently listen to any tech podcasts and I don’t really miss having one anyway.
- SECTION SCORE: 9/14
TOTAL SCORE: 20.5/30
Overall, I’m still way more accurate than the majority of analysts that get quoted in the enthusiast press. That’s ridiculous and sad. I’m a guy with no knowledge of business or the inside scoop on anything and my largely uninformed guesses were better than guys who make orders of magnitude more than I do to spout this stuff. Insane. I’ve had better years but also worse years but to be honest, most of the stuff I was right on is stuff I would have been happy to be dead wrong about. I don’t like to be a prophet of doom but it seems like that’s my skill sometimes.
Check back tomorrow where my new predictions for 2013 will be unleashed! There will definitely be plenty of them as well as this is shaping up to be an even crazier year in gaming and tech than 2012 was.