Back to the Future
GamesIndustry staff looks back on their predictions for 2013 and makes some more for 2014
Yesterday, GamesIndustry International followed up with analysts who gave us predictions for 2013 to see how impressively on-point--or humorously off--their guesses for 2013 turned out to be. It's only fair that we hold ourselves to the same standard, so here's a staff roundup where we revisit last year's prognostications, make excuses for what went wrong or in rare cases, dole out an "I told you so." Once that's out of the way, we then set ourselves up for further embarrassment with guesses for 2014.
2013 prediction: Sony will announce a PS4 at E3 with strong cloud-gaming features from Gaikai.
"Gaikai will have little to no impact on the PS4 business next year"
How'd it go: Well, I was partially correct. The announcement itself did hype up the cloud and Gaikai integration, but it happened much earlier at a special press event during February in New York. Sony then went on to steal the show with PS4 at E3, capitalizing on Microsoft's early messaging fumbles surrounding used games and always-on.
2014 prediction: I'll stay on the Sony theme for my next prediction. While Gaikai PS4 features will finally launch in 2014, as promised by Sony, it will have little to no impact on the PS4 business next year, as the cloud technology is still going to be hindered by bad broadband connections in many homes and prevalent latency that will take several more years to overcome.
2013 Prediction: There'll be a major controversy involving Kickstarter - either a legal challenge or a game not coming out.
"Steam Machines come out with a whimper"
How did that work out: Just call me Mystic Meg. Well, don't, but I was pretty right, largely because I went for the sawed-off shotgun approach. There were a few 'scandals' involving crowdfunding over the last few months, from Double Fine's "we've made too much game" panhandling to the more recent impropriety around the Ouya 'Free the Games' campaign, but nothing really of the scale I expected. Not wrong, then, but hardly surgically prescient, either.
2014 prediction: Valve's Steam machines, OS and controllers will be released to less of a bang and more of a whimper. Gabe et-al will retreat into their fortress of fiscal solitude to regroup and announce the release of Half-life 3 as a Steam OS exclusive. The crowd goes wild.
2013 Prediction: Publicly Sony will continue to make noise about the strength of the PlayStation 3, but behind the scenes it will be preparing a sale of the PlayStation brand to help prop up the floundering corporation.
"3DS successor distracts from Wii U's demise"
How did that work out: Exactly right! Oh, wait. My prediction wasn't exactly at the Pachter "Wii HD" level of wrongness, but it's pretty clear now the PlayStation business is one the most important parts of Sony. What's more depressing on a personal level is I said a similar thing to this obnoxious suit.
2014 prediction: Nintendo will announce a new addition to the DS hardware range. Not a cheaper version, or an upgrade to the 3DS, but an entirely new handheld. While all eyes are focused on that, Wii U support will continue to slide and the console will see its last Christmas on store shelves.
2013 Prediction: The next consoles from Microsoft and Sony will launch, but they won't goose the console market the way people are hoping because the advances in visuals and interfaces not represent a leap on par with the last generational jump, or even the one before that.
"Microconsoles become the fad that never was"
How'd That Go?: I'd say I was right on the money about the new consoles not really showcasing a huge technological leap over the last generation. However, I seem to have been dead wrong about that hurting demand. I guess console gamers have just been hungry for something new after an eight-year generation, and the Wii U didn't count, for whatever reason.
2014 Prediction: Microconsoles become the fad that never was. The rumored Google and Amazon projects are never announced, and Ouya is never more relevant than it is today (perhaps not even making it to 2015). However, makers of high-end phones start to push functionality to output games to TV screens, making everyone in the console world a bit more nervous about the years ahead.
2013 Prediction: Mark Pincus will leave Zynga, start making artisan cheeses, and never talk about Farmville again.
"Peter Moore goes free-to-play"
How'd That Go?: I'm willing to lose a few points for the cheese thing (though Zynga hasn't confirmed Pincus doesn't enjoy crafting a Wensleydale in his personal time) but I'd say with his comment that he's "pretty bored with all games" suggests his body might be at Zynga desk, but his heart and mind aren't.
2014 Prediction: Following the appointment of Andrew Wilson as lord and high ruler of Electronic Arts, Peter Moore will be courted and snapped up by one of the big free-to-play companies like Kabam, GungHo or Riot looking for some old school wisdom as they consider the new consoles.
2013 Prediction: THQ will survive long enough to release some of the games it has near completion: Company of Heroes 2, Metro: Last Light, Saints Row 4, etc.
"Wii U gets a deep price cut"
How'd it go: This is probably the worst prediction of all time, having been proved wrong within weeks of its publication. Hey, I'm an optimist, and in fairness those games turned out to be pretty great and financially successful.
2014 prediction: Despite the release of new games in key franchises - specifically Mario Kart and Smash Bros. - Nintendo will come to realise that only a significant price-cut will be enough to change the Wii U's trajectory. There is a price at which most people would be interested in buying a Wii U, but I can't help but feel that Nintendo is still a long way from finding it.
2013 Prediction: Nintendo will be the best-selling next-gen console next Christmas, after a price cut mid-year and some killer software releases, because Sony and Microsoft's new consoles have much higher prices, limited availability and only a few games.
"No price cut for Wii U"
How did that work out: We don't have the full numbers yet for this year, but it sure looks like this will be a massively wrong prediction. I blame Nintendo for not getting as much key software out there as I thought they would (pushing out titles like Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8) and not cutting the price of the Wii U to a lower level. At this point the Wii U looks to be completely outsold by both Sony and Microsoft, and that may not be changing any time soon.
2014 prediction: I'll stick with predicting Nintendo's behavior for 2014. Despite poor sales of the Wii U going in to 2014, Nintendo will not cut the price of the Wii U at all in 2014. Instead the company will focus on getting out compelling software, but the Wii U will remain behind the PS4 and the Xbox One in sales for the year. I'm hoping that once again I'll be wrong and we see some dramatic moves by Nintendo.
2013 prediction: Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will limp along, forcing Microsoft to scramble to get the next Windows and Xbox out in time for holiday 2013.
"Big Xbox One exclusives cut into PS4's lead"
How'd it go: 100 percent spot-on. Microsoft scrambled and got Windows 8.1 and the Xbox One out in October and November of this year. 8.1 is obviously the Windows they intended to release last year and the Xbox One looks like it has a year before MS works out all the OS kinks.
2014 prediction: Sony will continue to have a commanding lead - thanks primarily to its launch in Japan - until Microsoft announces another Titanfall-level exclusive they've probably paid for and shows off the next Halo at E3.