Here we are again for another year of predictions. I reviewed and scored last year’s in my previous post and scored I think the lowest I have since I started doing this, which was kind of a surprise as I didn’t think I was all that bold last year. It just goes to show how unpredictable things can get I guess. 2015 hasn’t started out great so far but I’m still hopeful this year will work out better for both myself and humanity as a whole than it has for the last couple. We can still do it people!
I don’t have as many predictions as I do for last year but I like to think a couple of these are bolder than before. That may not end up helping my score much this time next year but we shall see. As usual, I’ve kind of tried to put these in an order that groups similar things together but the position in the list doesn’t mean anything. Off we go!
- Console sales will stay strong but the Wii U will continue to limp along. The Xbox One and PS4 continue to surprise me with how well they’re selling and I think that bodes well for gaming as a whole (more on that later.) The Wii U can’t seem to get any kind of foothold, even if many of the best games of last year came out on it. Nintendo’s clearly going to keep it going until the next system but it’s a damn shame it’s done so poorly.
- The Oculus Rift’s consumer version not only won’t ship, we won’t even get a date for it. Same with Sony’s Project Morpheus. If there’s one thing these companies taking the latest stab at VR are consistent with, it’s making it clear that they’ll let these things sit and brew as long as they need to so they ship solid. If they want VR to have any chance of success this time around, that’s absolutely necessary. Take your time and get it right.
- Star Citizen won’t get a release date but will cross $100M raised. This thing is absolutely bonkers and like I said in my last post, it’ll either be the best thing ever or one of gaming history’s greatest disasters. With the scope they’re at now, there’s no way anything resembling the final version comes out this year but at the pace money keeps rolling in from the whackjobs funding this thing, it’s definitely on track to hit 9 figures.
- There will be fewer games delayed and new announcements will start coming closer to release. This is probably a bolder prediction than you may think. Big publishers love to talk about AAA releases far out but between all of last year’s delays and the disastrous launch of others, I think they’re realising it’s better to wait until you’re sure of things before you talk about them publicly.
- Fewer games will release completely broken than before but a couple of big releases will still have issues. The AAA industry got a massive kick in the nuts public opinion wise last year and they deserved it. Though humility is not the corporate world’s strong suit, I think they have learned that they can’t keep getting away with this. Personally, I think many of the games that were delayed into this year were specifically to avoid disastrous launches.
- Assassin’s Creed Victory will undersell expectations. Ubisoft will at least hint at taking a year off that series. I haven’t played Unity yet but I’ve heard that tech issues aside, it’s not a great game. Victory is being made by another studio whose previous experience consists largely of DLC and shovelware games. If it’s not a stellar title, I think this plus the Unity fiasco will hurt sales in a big way and this will give the company the means to tell their investors that it needs to go back in the oven for a while. As a huge fan of this series, I sincerely hope that happens.
- We will see more new IPs and new ideas talked about in the AAA space this year. I’ve read in a few places that apparently because many publishers were buying into the nonsense that tablets were taking over all gaming, a lot of them held off greenlighting many new projects for next-gen machines until they saw if they would sell. They have and many of those projects are supposedly now in production but because AAA games take a while to make, we won’t start to hear about them for a bit. I hope so, we desperately need new ideas.
- Publishers that had previously gone near silent on AAA games (such as Capcom and Konami) will announce several new projects this year. See the last point. They’ve barely done anything on consoles lately but the market has shown there is still money to be made there. Both companies had huge (and nearly empty) booths at E3 last year because they didn’t want to lose the space by not booking it all. I don’t think they would have done that if they were planning to get out of console games.
- Steam will announce a significant retooling of the policies of either Greenlight, Early Access or both. This goes beyond little rule clarifications like Valve put out earlier. Both of these systems are broken messes that are hurting consumers and there are too many smart people at Valve to not realise this. One or both of these systems is going to have a major change to how they work to try and clean up their reputations.
- At least one major free-to-play game developer in the mobile space will significantly contract or restructure. Cracks in the facade of Rovio and King are already beginning to show. These are one hit wonder companies that rode single competent or bad ideas into the ground and tricked a bunch of gullible investors in the process. Now that those ideas are flickering out, they have to restructure themselves out of the bubble and grow like normal companies.
- Zynga will continue to struggle and at the very least, rumours of a possible sale will start. Don Mattrick–the guy who rode in on the wave of Xbox’s success and in a few months, killed almost all it–hasn’t managed to turn around the fortunes of this other one hit wonder company. No one cares about social gaming any more and other people are already dominating the mobile space. Zynga can only continue to lose money for so long before their investors demand they sell.
- Double Fine Productions will undergo a downsizing. Between Broken Age and Space Base DF-9, it’s painfully clear that this is a company that’s not well managed. They already had a small layoff because a publisher bailed on them and I think that with the path they’re on, they are going to have to downsize soon and lower their frankly arrogant ambitions in order to survive.
- No gaming Kickstater with a goal of over $300,000 will successfully fund this year. This is not to say a project with a lower goal won’t surpass that amount though. I still like the idea of crowdfunding and have done plenty of it but the fad of it has worn off and there have been too many high profile failures of late that have eroded consumer trust. There’s still plenty of opportunity on Kickstarter but I think the idea of projects with humongous goals getting funded is over.
- Valve with neither announce nor ship any new games. They just don’t seem to care about putting new stuff out right now while they’re riding the wave of DOTA 2, CS:GO and Steam money. I’ve no doubt they have a bunch of stuff being worked on but the one disadvantage of a company with no job titles and dump trucks of money is there isn’t really pressure to put much out quickly.
- SteamOS and the first Steam Machines will ship and both will underperform expectations. The silence around these two things since they were first revealed has been deafening. People just don’t seem to care (I certainly don’t) and at least one of Valve’s hardware partners is saying this is a dead end, even as Valve is touting how much Steam Machines will be on display at GDC. I think they’ve come too far to abandon this now and it’s probably going to be one of those long haul projects they’ll run at a loss for a while but I don’t see these setting the world on fire when they come out, especially with Windows PCs being available for similar money, with similar capabilities and a much bigger library of games.
- Sony’s PlayStation Now subscription service will initially not be popular but they will start expanding the catalogue. Tying this to a subscription was a smart move for Sony but all the service has right now is a bunch of old PS3 games that no one cares about. What’s going to get me and probably many more excited is more of those games but especially filling out the catalogue with PS2 stuff. I definitely see that happening and maybe then it’ll take off. I think this is something they expect to take a while for people to warm up to.
- The Division will ship and finally divert from the “Ubisoft Open World Template.” This game is being pushed as basically multiplayer only, with no single player campaign. Yeah, they could figure out a way to put more damn radio towers in it but I don’t think they will, or at least it will be some different kind of mechanic. Ubisoft has to know that people are tired of their regular formula, right?
- No Man’s Sky will not ship. I’m sure this is coming but they’re still so cagey at showing much of it and letting people play it for any length of time, I still think this needs a lot of time to bake yet.
- At least one highly anticipated indie game will either fail to release or release and bomb. The indie space is more crowded and saturated than ever before. It used to be if your indie game was simply good and/or a press darling, you were guaranteed success. I think there’s just too many titles for that to be the case now and I think indies are going to start having to get used to being more like hit-driven AAA than ever before.
- At least one gaming site that’s considered “major” will either shut down or announce a near total shift to video content. GameSpot sort of did this last year. Ad revenues are so bad that nearly everyone is resorting to sensationalist clickbait and the audience is getting sick of that. Something’s gotta’ give and I think someone’s going to buckle this year. I have my picks for who I’d like it to be but they’re not the likely ones, not this year anyway. For better or worse (I think some of both), YouTube is quickly rendering many of these sites irrelevant.
- At least one well-known “games journalist” or gaming YouTube personality will announce they are leaving the profession. This doesn’t mean a writer going to YouTube or vice versa, this means getting out of covering games entirely. Yes, a few people already did this last year but personally, I didn’t consider any of them to be well-known, on the level of a Jeff Gerstmann or a TotalBiscuit. Covering video games is a brutal field for a number of reasons and I think someone of note is going to have had enough this year. Truth be told, I can’t blame them.
- The heavy emphasis on social justice topics in games coverage will continue but the audience’s interest in it will start to wane. I think we’re already seeing evidence of this. Put down your pitch forks, I’m not saying that all social justice games coverage will go away, nor do I think it should. However, certain sites continuing to try to endlessly browbeat their audience with it (more because of the clicks it drives than any real cause) will start to see diminishing returns on it. People want to read about games, not be endlessly lectured to.
- GamerGate will continue well into the new year but greatly reduced in numbers and mainstream coverage. I’ve said my stance on this before. Like it or not, this movement still exists and in no small part because of the press and personalities therein that continue to insist on talking about it and giving it attention because it drives lazy revenue. Based on what I’ve seen though, the movement’s momentum is slowing and people are burning out of it. There still are valid concerns among all the other garbage and there is a dedicated group of people pushing them and they’re not going away but their numbers will shrink and so will their voices. That’s not entirely good either.
- Smart watches will underperform almost universally, aside from an initial fanboy-driven sales bump for the Apple Watch. Smart watches are a distraction by phone manufacturers who don’t want to admit that they’ve run out of new ways to sell you a new device every year. The numerous ones that have already come out and landed with a thud show that people just don’t care and one with an Apple logo on it isn’t going to change that. Yeah, a bunch of iCultists will line up for it and Apple will milk that for press but it won’t last.
- The Apple television is not coming. As long as the tech press continues to take one throwaway line from the Steve Jobs biography to mean more than it does, I’m going to keep making this prediction. The last place Apple wants to go is the ultra low margin TV business.
- 4K TVs will gain no traction. There’s been a big push on these and while I think one day they will be a thing, for right now they’re just as big a fad as 3D was. TV makers are losing their shirts and they’re desperate to get people to buy something new, anything new. It was hard enough to get a lot of people to see the difference with HD and there’s almost no 4K content available. This is a non-starter in 2015.
- Apple products will have more news making security issues this year than Windows. This is among the boldest predictions I ever made but I seriously believe it. I can’t think of any major Windows security vulnerabilities last year that made the news. In fact, Windows was the only major operating system that wasn’t susceptible to Heartbleed. Meanwhile, we had several major security flaws found in both iOS and OS X. Apple and their fanboys think that Apple products are more secure because it’s such a closed system but bigger install bases mean bigger targets and while Microsoft has had a massive dedicated security team for years, Apple has been lazy.
- We will see a large number of stories or opinion pieces decrying Apple’s decline in software quality. I’ve already seen several of these. Many people (including some well known hardcore fanboys) have been complaining that Apple’s recent software releases have not only been poor on security but also buggy and poor performing. Again, the company is getting lazy and complacent and that’s the last thing they should be doing. Cracks in the reality distortion field are forming.
- Windows 10 will ship and be hailed as what Windows 8 should have been. With $10 in free utilities, you can make Windows 8 work just like Windows 7 but with all the under the hood benefits. Yet, people still like to irrationally hate it because it’s easy and trendy. Everything I’ve seen of Windows 10 just makes it looks like Windows 8 but with all the stuff the third-party software normally does built-in instead. That’s great but people have been insisting on using the inferior Windows 7 for years already for no good reason.
- Twitter will make money for at least one quarter and announce at least one change that will enrage users on a large scale. They appear to be getting close to profitability and while saying they’ll pull it off for a whole year is a bit too ambitious, I think they’ll manage for at least 3 months. They’ve already done some stupid crap that’s annoyed a decent number of people but nothing that infuriates everyone like Facebook has done multiple times in the past. I think they’re due for that. Maybe that change is what will finally get me to dump this cesspool of a communication tool.
- Another major YouTube network will get acquired by “big media.” I really hope it isn’t my network. Maker Studios was bought for half a billion dollars by Disney in 2014 and there are several other major players in that space too. YouTube is trendy and if you get a network with big channels, appears to be very profitable and growing now too. I’m curious how long it’ll remain that way but there are several other ripe takeover targets out there right now.
- Tablet sales will continue to decline to a normal level, smartphones less so. Both smartphones and tablets have been experiencing unrealistic growth over the last several years because they were new and trendy. But as tablet sales in 2014 have already shown, people are sick of shelling out hundreds for a new device every year that they really don’t need. They’re going to become more like PCs where you upgrade it every few years instead. By their nature, phones don’t last as long but those are starting to slow as well to a lesser degree.
- There will be at least three major news making security breaches this year of either retailers or large corporate infrastructures. Think levels on the line of the Sony Pictures or Home Depot hacks. Big business doesn’t take IT security seriously enough and hackers are making them eat that. The only thing that’s going to make them learn is to see their competitors crushed by it. Sony and Home Depot were warnings but I think a few more are needed and will happen this year now that hackers know how vulnerable many of these targets are.
- Yahoo! will announce either publicly or stealthily that they are up for sale. By all accounts, Marissa Mayer’s attempt to turn around this struggling company has been a disaster, with their substantial investment in Alibaba being the only thing that makes them valuable at all. Yahoo!’s current state is far from her sole responsibility. The company had missed the mark for years before she arrived but she certainly hasn’t mounted the 180 of fortune she promised and the employees seem to hate her. Yahoo! has managed to avoid going on the block for years now but I think that time is at an end.
There we go, another block of predictions for 2015. There are fewer this year but some of them are bolder than before so we’ll see what happens. I hope the negative ones don’t come true as always but either way, it could be an interesting year. I hope 2015 is better for everyone than the last couple of years. I think we all deserve it. Have a great year!