I’m a bit late with my yearly dual Bold Predictions posts this year. I’ve been both busy and adjusting to some new meds that didn’t leave me in a great mental space for blogging but all that’s sorted and it’s time to catch up! 2014 was a year of a few highs and some pretty bad lows for me, not unlike 2013. I was hoping 2015 would start off better but well, that hasn’t been working out great so far. Humanity, can we please just get our shit together?
For those not familiar, the idea of Bold Predictions is something that originally started on the Gamers With Jobs forums. I always have so many, I decided to post them here. I do two posts every year. This first one is where I revisit last year’s predictions to see how good of a prophet I was. This year’s predictions will follow in another post later. To add some gamification cause everyone loves that, I also score myself. I get 1 point if a prediction was right, half a point if it was partially right and nothing if it was wrong. I determine what’s right because it’s my blog dammit! I do try to keep myself honest though. I also judge only the base prediction itself, not the little blurb I gave with each. I made a whopping 40 predictions last year so that’s what I’ll be scored out of. Let’s do this!
- Both next-gen consoles will continue to sell well but PS4 will lead Xbox One by a health amount (1 point.) Nailed it! I have to admit, even though I often felt like the only one saying people still wanted consoles, I didn’t expect they’d be doing as well as they are. The Xbox One had a bump over the PS4 when they put it on sale but PS4 is still enjoying a good lead. Boy does Sony need it too.
- The Oculus Rift won’t ship in its final consumer form this year (1 point.) Got it again. Maybe not the boldest prediction in the world but it doesn’t look like this thing’s anywhere near done. I still think the Facebook buy wasn’t a great thing but they do seem to be giving it all the time it needs which is great. Make it good guys.
- Star Citizen won’t come out this year and will begin to have some serious development concerns (1 point.) Star Citizen has just gotten ridiculous now. It’s crowdfunded more money than some AAA game budgets, has announced everything including quite possibly the kitchen sink, has like 7 studios working on it and despite being probably years from release, it’s still pulling in the dough. I didn’t put much money into this and have no emotional investment in it. It will be the best thing ever if it can meet its goals but a flop of historical proportions if it doesn’t. A lot of people think this has gone too far and I don’t disagree.
- This console generation reset will bring some new ideas but fewer than before (0 points.) I honestly wish I’d made this prediction for 2015 but I’ll probably make a different version of it for then. The honest truth is that at in the AAA console space (and even the indie space), 2014 was full of the same ideas rehashed yet again. There were exceptions of course but not many. If that’s all we can expect this generation, we should all be very worried. So far at least, there ain’t much new here.
- PC ports will suffer a bit but be much more at parity than before (half point.) In general, I think this is true but not because of difficulty meeting parity with new console hardware. There’s no doubt the good PC ports are absolutely stellar and the almost comically bad ones we’ve seen in the past are very uncommon now. Unless they’re from Ubisoft but that’s normal.
- The gaming press will continue to stoke the fires of controversy and fuel egos (a billion points, OK just 1). Umm, yeah? No better has this point been shown than the last few months. Clickbait driven by outrage culture is rampant and the contempt so many of these so-called professionals have for their audience is beyond belief. This will probably get worse before it gets better but a lot of it can be squarely laid at the fault of the press, many of whom are about as much journalists as a blogger at TMZ. I was not on board with the idea of YouTube usurping all their influence but if what we’ve seen lately is the norm, I’m all for it.
- We will see more restrictions placed on capture and streaming functions of the new consoles (0 points.) Nope, I was dead wrong on this. Beyond locking out cutscenes sometimes, this stuff is pretty much wide open. I think it’s great but I’m also really surprised as I thought big publishers were going to turn on streaming and Let’s Play culture as the next reason for why they can’t make money.
- Free-to-play on PC will have a reckoning and will continue to test people’s limits on mobile (half point.) I don’t think the reckoning on PC happened. I’m kind of surprised it didn’t and still think it could but there wasn’t much news of free-to-play games there going under. Despite there still being notable successes on mobile this year, the tanking of King and Rovio are showing just how hit driven that business is and it’s becoming more concentrated than ever before. It’s simply not sustainable the way it’s going now and I think that’s been clearly shown in 2014.
- More indies will launch first on PC rather than mobile since they can charge money up front, creativity in the mobile space will suffer as a result (1 point.) The only mobile games you hear about now are either free or scummy free-to-play games. The creative titles that charge money up front for a complete experience are few and far between but are thriving on PC and indeed, on consoles now too. The people who want to make quality games for gamers rather than a quick buck know where their home is and it’s not on phones and tablets.
- Pricing variability will be tested further on consoles but won’t happen to the degree it does on PC (1 point.) We’ve seen a lot more sales on consoles this year (especially on PSN) but still not frequently enough and they still aren’t coming close to matching how places like Steam do it. Some of this is down to lack of competition, some of this is due to still not wanting to offend retail. They’re getting better but they’ve still got a long way to go.
- The Wii U will find a small niche but it’s mainstream prospects are over (half point.) I’m giving myself a halfsie for this because while it’s mainstream prospects are dead and buried, I’m not sure the niche it’s found can even be described as small. People with Wii U’s love them (myself included) and more than a few have said all you really need as a hardcore gamer right now is a PC and a Wii U. The sales of the thing are still terrifying though, as good as the games are and there’s no way Nintendo is making back most of these development budgets. It’s such a good machine and thankfully, Nintendo can weather this storm but I hope they have a killer new idea in the chamber.
- At least one Android console maker will fold (no points.) I’m really surprised about this one. Not only has no one gone under that I’m aware of but several more of these things were announced and/or came out, even from the likes of Mad Catz. I don’t know if this is because they haven’t run out venture capital yet or if these things are just so cheap, it doesn’t cost much to turn a profit but everything I’ve heard says they’re all junk. Maybe 2015 will be their reckoning.
- SteamOS will release this year and not take off initially (no points.) Well, I was wrong about this too. SteamOS isn’t out and no one really knows what’s up with it. What I’ve heard about the beta releases is that it’s neat but offers nothing that warrants having to deal with the headaches of Linux and that you couldn’t just do with a cheap Windows machine and Big Picture mode. I’m sure it’ll still come out eventually.
- The first Steam boxes will land with a thud but no one will give up on the idea (no points.) No actual Steam boxes released in 2014 so this is a dud. There are already rumblings that PC makers who partnered with Valve are losing faith in the program but that news came out in 2015 so it doesn’t count. Valve has said these things will be front a center at GDC so we’ll see what happens.
- The next generation of cross-media gaming will still not resonate (1 point.) Ding! At E3 2013, everything was about the “second screen experience.” At E3 2014, it was barely mentioned and if it was, it was as a footnote. I got an Android phone this year and tried out some of these companion apps and they’re all as dumb and pointless as I thought they were. People don’t care about this and games are too expensive to make for publishers to waste money on this crap.
- Valve will announce and ship Left 4 Dead 3 this year, we’ll still hear nothing about Half-Life 3 (no points.) I’m failing myself for this one because come on, the second part of that prediction was softball. I was dead wrong on the next Left 4 Dead. If Half-Life 3 happens at all, I don’t think we’ll hear about it until very close to its release.
- A new breed of smaller publishers (i.e. the likes of Deep Silver and Nordic Games) with new ideas and models will start to come into their own (half point.) I waffled between failing myself on this or not but I’ll go with a halfsie. Nordic Games had previously just keep buying up properties and doing nothing with them but this year, they’ve announced some projects are coming back and even helped found a development studio. Deep Silver has also continued to expand their internal development efforts after buying Homefront from Crytek. It remains to be seen whether these companies do something different than the other big publishers but I think they’ll have to if they want to be competitive. We need more smaller publishers so I think this is a good thing.
- At least one smaller PC digital distribution service will shut down this year (no points.) As far as I know, everyone of note is still kicking. I’m kind of surprised, given that anyone who isn’t Steam is fighting for the scraps of their monopoly but they seem to be making it work so far.
- Most AAA titles will continue to struggle (1 point.) There actually haven’t been many sales figures released this year but that publishers aren’t bragging about their sales speaks volumes. Given the disastrous state of many big games this year too, I think the entire business model of this type of game is being challenged. I hope they can figure it out cause I still love AAA games but not like this.
- Rumours of a Kinect-free Xbox One SKU will persist but it won’t happen this year (no points.) Wrong, wrong wrong. The Xbox One was faring worse against the PS4 than even I thought it would so Microsoft had to respond. And it seemed to help. Hell, I bought an Xbox One when they took out Kinect.
- Sony will unveil and launch Gaikai-based backwards compatibility this year but not with a subscription model (half point.) A halfsie but just barely. The service was unveiled but it only came out in beta and while it does offer backwards compatibility, it’s just PS3 games on PS4 so far. A subscription model was also announced but in 2015 by just a hair.
- eSports will start to get some mainstream coverage from a “traditional” sports outlet (1 point.) Well, ESPN covered The International so I think that counts. Supposedly, they were pleased with the viewership too.
- More indie games will fail due to saturation and discoverability issues but the successes will be even bigger (1 point.) Again, this is hard to tell as indies don’t usually talk numbers but there are definitely more indie games than ever and commentators have been harping all year about how bad discoverability has gotten on places like Steam. It’s generally accepted that if you’re an indie developer, your chances of success aren’t much better than being in AAA. It’s just the way of life if you want to make games. The successes this year have been big and prominent though.
- Social gaming will continue to struggle, Zynga will retract further (1 point.) Even under the leadership of the guy who rode Xbox’s existing success, Zynga still can’t make money and when’s the last time you saw a story about a big Facebook game? That’s what I thought.
- Call of Duty will continue to decline and Bobby Kotick’s Activision will start to be revealed as the one-trick pony that it is (half point.) Despite being notably better this year, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is selling even worse than the abysmal Ghosts did. Activision is still doing well though, largely on the back of boring, derivative stuff like Hearthstone. I still think that company’s going to have its reckoning some day but not today.
- Apple’s iOS controller support will go nowhere significant, as will Android’s (1 point.) Dead right. A bunch of companies announced iOS and Android controllers, a lot of them came out and just like I thought, no one cared. Since all the games have to support touch screens anyway, developers don’t care to shoehorn in controller support for a tiny niche market. People who take games seriously enough to buy dedicated hardware for it are going to buy a console or a controller for their PC, not something to bolt onto their phone or use with a tiny tablet screen. The most popular one of these I’m aware of is NVIDIA SHIELD, while is principally used to play PC games streamed to a tablet. People don’t care about this.
Category Total: 14.5/26
- The current YouTube insanity will stabilise but at least one prominent channel or entire network will announce they’re moving elsewhere (half point.) The Content ID fiasco did in fact normalise and no one seems upset about it any more. Google still doesn’t give a damn about anyone who isn’t a top 5% earner but the storm is over for now. No one big announced they’re moving elsewhere, though PewDiePie has hinted that he’s considering starting his own network. Oh yeah, Disney also bought Maker Studios.
- Apple’s meteoric growth will plateau, Android’s will continue and Windows Phone’s will accelerate (no points.) I’m just calling this as wrong. The only category Apple’s seeing growth in is the iPhone but it’s so big that it’s erasing the declines in everything else. Android is still going strong but Samsung’s sales are tanking. Windows Phone is either doing better or way worse depending on who you ask. Sales are apparently up but it’s market share is also down which makes no sense at all. My sentiment about all three seems to be wrong in some way. It’s clear everyone sees the writing on the wall though, that’s why they’re all trying to distract us with watches.
- The Apple television is not coming (1 point.) It still isn’t.
- Apple’s stock price will continue to slide into normalcy (no points.) Noooooope. I swear, this company could have a 50% drop in all categories and analysts would still be stupid enough to recommend everyone buy it. This will happen some day but it certainly didn’t in 2014.
- BlackBerry will attempt to pull an IBM and reinvent itself as a software and services company (1 point.) They’re still announcing phones for niche audiences but I think their new CEO has outright stated that software and services is the future for the company. It’s too bad, they had the potential to be the market leader and they let inept leadership ruin it.
- We will see more formerly retail software adopt subscription models than ever before (half point.) This didn’t happen at the pace I expected which I why I am calling it a halfsie but I don’t think anyone can deny that this is what software developers want to see happen.
- PC sales will more or less remain stable (1 point.) From everything I’ve read, this is exactly what happened. They aren’t growing but they still outsell everything else by a huge amount every year. I said long ago that those who claimed phones and tablets were rendering PCs were obsolete were idiots. They still are.
- At least one newsworthy Mac and/or iOS security exploit will happen this year (1 point.) Google it, you’ll find plenty. Mac and iOS aren’t inherently more secure and Apple still places far too low a priority on security. People just don’t attack small targets. Mac still is a small target but it’s a growing one and iOS is a huge target. Make no mistake, the days of being able to say “Apple stuff is just more secure” are long gone.
- Windows 8 will claw its way to a half-decent market share, people will still hate it irrationally (1 point.) Simply because it’s the only thing you can get on PCs now, Windows 8 is slowly getting there, though Windows 7 and I think even XP still trounce it globally. Windows 8 is great under the hood. I’ve been running it for a while now and I love it. Spend $10 on Start8 and ModernMix and it’s the best Windows experience you can get. Most people won’t do that though, they’ll just keep hating it cause it’s trendy to.
- Windows 8.2 will bring back the Start Menu, people will be happy about that and still never use it (0 points.) I considered making this a halfsie but since it’s technically Windows 10 that’s doing this, I’ll call it a zip.
- Twitter will still not turn a profit but their stock will not suffer for it (1 point.) Ding! They didn’t make money (though it looks like they might start to soon) but their stock has done quite well in spite of that. Some companies are just exempt from basic market rules I guess.
- There will be more stories this year about people scaling back their use of social media (0 points.) The more I talk to people, the more it feels like people are getting sick of social media but everyone still uses it and those that use it a lot seem to be using it even more. I don’t know, the sentiment feels like I predicted but I’m just not seeing that reflected in reality.
- Windows and Android tablets will sell more than ever but still lag far behind iPad (1 point.) Both of these are true and there’s some great offerings in both camps now. Android apparently has the global lead in market share for tablets now too but there’s certainly no one model driving it and honestly, I probably see one non-iPad for every 100 iPads I see in the wild. At least in my experience, iPad is still sadly dominating.
- Intel’s “Dual OS” strategy will be a colossal flop (1 point.) Boy, that came and went with a blip didn’t it? I barely read anything about this after it was announced and the couple of Dual OS laptops that came out, no one cared about whatsoever. I still don’t know why they thought this was a good idea, especially given how cheap and surprisingly good full Windows 8.1 tablets have gotten.
- Technology will continue to get more dumbed down to appease the dumbest of us (1 point.) It’s hard to find a router with lights on it now. My girlfriend and I bought new laptops from Lenovo and Dell respectively this year and I had to install third-party utilities on them to see when the hard drives were active. If you have an Xbox One, you have to dig to find information about the progress of downloads and even then, you just get a percentage meter and nothing else. Apple has taught people that not knowing what your expensive technology is doing is a good thing and I absolutely hate it. Stop emulating the worst parts of user culture that company espouses!
Category Total: 9/14
GRAND TOTAL: 23.5/40
Oof. As I was writing these up, I actually thought I was in for a bit of a blow out but it turns out I didn’t do so hot in 2014. I consider anything over a 50% success rate to be a victory but I didn’t squeak by with much margin this time. Ah well, all part of the game!
My bold predictions for 2015 are coming soon. They probably won’t be as numerous as 2014’s but I’ve got a few good ones in the pipe. Watch for them! I hope everyone has a great 2015.