Keen’s Predictions for 2012

As the final hours of 2011 slowly fade away, it’s time for me to post my predictions for 2012!  I didn’t do well in my predictions for this year.  A few of them were spot on, a couple were a year too early, and some were not even close.   Hopefully I can manage to predict better this year.

1.  Subscriptions will survive.  Free to play will not conquer the market, but will withdraw slowly as it becomes even more clear that, as Greg Zeschuck of Bioware said,  free to play games can’t match the size or scale of a subscription based game.

2.  PC Gaming will gain further traction.  2011 was very kind to PC gaming.  In fact, PC games saw great exclusives and even improved upon console ports.  2012 will simply continue the upward trend.

3.  Mobile gaming will suffer.  A shot in the dark, but I predict mobile gaming will, by the end of summer, have notable declines caused by…

4.  PS Vita and 3DS  will have a great year.  It’s risky to predict the 3DS having a stellar year against the Vita, and almost impossible to think Nintendo can beat this year’s lineup, but I predict console handhelds will do very well.

5.  2012 will be a year of new IP’s.  2011 was the year of 3’s, sequels, and reiterations.  I predict new properties will excel, or at least be announced.

6.  Indie games won’t do so hot.  I think we’re still a few years away from seeing the revolution people are predicting from indie games.  In fact, I think probably five or more years away.  2012 will actually hurt the movement, as many developers think they can succeed in the wake of Minecraft’s 2011 success.

7.  SWTOR will have a great year as new content releases.  Players will enjoy Bioware’s ability to support their first MMO well into 2013.

8.  GW2 will launch strong and be an early success but peter out after three months.

9.  The next EverQuest will be fully revealed.  We’ll learn that SOE is finally changing their ways and returning us to the quality of development we saw from MMO’s pre-2004.

10.  Dominus will be a sleeper hit and truly impress the MMO community with a December launch.

11.  Xbox 360 will have the best year. 2011 seems to have gone the way of PS3… somehow… but 2012 will be all Microsoft’s.

12.  The Wii-U will be a let down at first.  I’m predicting that the Wii-U will totally dissappoint gamers until the end of 2012 when suddenly it surges and releases amazing titles that give Nintendo the crown until Microsoft and Sony release their new consoles (which will be revealed at E3 2012).

Any last minute predictions of your own?

  • I’m going to predict SWTOR peters out after 6 months after Bioware struggles to understand the fundamental reasons people play mmorpg’s in the first place 🙂

    Happy New Year K&G, thanks for a 2011 of great gaming commentary 🙂

  • I’m very much looking forward to GW2 but know that you are right: that’s just the reality of MMOs these days!

  • im not rly feeling swtor atm so im really really sinking a lot into TWS and GW2. I just have a bad feeling that TWS will just bomb tho but im rootin for it!!

  • Initial reaction yeah the comment got me a little riled but the more I think about it you’re probably right. GW2 has already got some people riled with the whole “10 slot only action bar” so it’ll be more of an acquired taste than anything at best.

  • TOR is the one I’ll keep an eye on in 2012. I’m really curious as to how well it retains subscribers. I’ve seen enough hype about new MMOs coming out of the gate fast, only to putter out a few months later. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see TOR suffer this fate as well.

  • Concerning:

    1) Subs will dominate, but don’t be surprised as F2P takes hold due to the poor economy and the evolution towards a Westernized play style. It isn’t always overt as micro-transactions sneak their way into the market insidiously (“We could have given you the most secure account with the box price, but instead you can buy this auth key for $4 instead”)

    7) Most likely true if only for the IP, but already zones under 20 are pretty dead.

    8) GW2 is a wild card, I am not so convinced it will peter out; alternatively it could help to redefine the genre, but many things would have to go off correctly.

    10) I am hoping that you are right as their devs are very creative. I just hope that it doesn’t turn out to be a game that is high on well executed mechanics, but short on a compelling story.

  • “8. GW2 will launch strong and be an early success but peter out after three months.”
    Absolutely. Claims of its success and innovation just prior to launch (or early release) will be greatly exaggerated, and once people reach the level cap (which most people will do fairly soon) and realise that the endgame isn’t so hot and the “redefining” of the 3 roles is actually just a renaming of them (if you don’t understand why, that’s a worry; in fact, thinking about it, “redefining” implies a level of precision at least equal to that of the original meaning, whereas I’d personally argue that changing the names to control and support makes the roles extremely vague) then it’ll start to wither and die fairly shortly. There will be a lot of rage across the blogosphere.

    “9. The next EverQuest will be fully revealed. We’ll learn that SOE is finally changing their ways and returning us to the quality of development we saw from MMO’s pre-2004.”
    Of course they’ll say that. EQ3 will, in reality, be a stillborn, buggy, f2p mess that charges ludicrous sums in the cash shop and utterly fails as a game.

    “10. Dominus will be a sleeper hit and truly impress the MMO community with a December launch.”
    Whilst I wish them a great deal of luck, I think a WoW-esque control scheme, very limited sandbox/RP potential and the current mood amongst people who happen to occasionally log into MMOs (fighting or interacting with OTHER PEOPLE? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS??????!??!?!?!? I JUST WANT TO SIT BACK AND BE A FACELESS PERSON IN A SEA OF IDENTI-KIT FACELESS PEOPLE AND NEVER HAVE TO SPEAK TO ANYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) will all work against it.

  • “Hopefully no one gets riled up over that. I just have a feeling about it. I hope I’m wrong!”

    It’s certainly a worry – I think it all hinges on whether dynamic events turn out to be better (or at the very least as good as) WoW type questing and whether they provide sufficient content to keep people interested. I’m sure they’ll get the technical, artwork, music stuff mosltly right (already good indications of that) and at the least have a well designed world.

    I’m particularly interested in GW2, not just for itself, but if it is a success, it could transform many of the tired conventions that seem to have set in concrete and revitalise the whole MMO industry. SWTOR’s not bad – but there’s got to be something better than playing wack a mole on bunches of mobs statically milling about in a field.

  • Yup time to rage over GW2’s diss. Well not really but I honestly see it as the next greatest evolution in MMO’s and will come to rival WoW’s dominance of the market….and heres the caveat: Only if it promotes something other then WvWvW at endgame.

    I dont mean raiding in the WoW sense either but I think the title is ripe for world dynamic bosses that have random spawning mechanics and other nifty things you can do at endgame. Also this game will need some form of longevity in the sense of an Alternate Advancement (not tied into PvP) to keep players around after their climb to level cap.

  • Re: numbers 1 through 4, the market will decide. Anything else is wishful thinking.

    Payment models for MMOs will be whatever makes the most money. I’d guess that from a games company’s point of view the ideal solution is that we pay them to buy the box, pay them a monthly sub, pay for all the DLC and/or boxed expansions AND pay them for items and services through the in-game store. That’s their dream model. I doubt anyone other than Trion is going to attempt to run another AAA MMO on subscription + box sale alone and I’ll be very surprised if Trion can keep it up much longer.

    #8; Guild Wars seems to have done alright. Correct me if I’m wrong, but GW2 isn’t using a subscription model either. If GW1 has lasted this long I can’t see why GW2 shouldn’t last a good few years too. Frankly I couldn’t care less if it ends up with 100k players or 10 million. So long as enough play to keep the servers up, it makes no nevermind to me.

  • @Dril: You have missed what I was referring to in regards to “redefining”; I am talking about dynamics events supposedly getting away from standard questing models, and the proactive attempts to engineer a gaming community. This is the first game that provides specific pre-launch in game examples of how they are actually attempting something unique in these regards, which has me backing off from my usual don’t believe the hype attitude. Here is a video to illustrate how they might redefine the genre if they can pull it off:

  • I really don’t understand 7 and 8. I haven’t heard anything really great about SWTOR’s end game, and GW2 has no subs. So, I would personally switch them as I have heard across the ‘sphere that going through the same SWTOR faction’s story (different class) a second time can be tiring.

  • I am not aure i see prime being a hit. I think its going to satisfy a certain crowd very well and gain a steady 30-60k sub. But i do not see it being a slow growing hit (like eve). This could be your definition of sleeper hit, so if it is then we agree.

  • sorry for the double post.

    I am really hoping gw2 can at least pull off there events well. If they do it even slightly well where they can replace quests we are a lot more likely to see a game such as a skyrim online.

  • @Wufiavelli: By sleeper hit I mean that many will not even know it exists until it releases and word of mouth spreads quickly. From there it will grow steadily. Going completely on gut feeling with this one, nothing more. I’d be surprised if it didn’t break 150k.

    They have a long way to go, and could really use some help getting the word out. Hopefully PBG pulls it all together and delivers a solid game (read: finished) free of major issues with all the promises living up to basic expectations.

  • @Balthazar: I predicted it for 2011. Couldn’t bring myself to wish for it again.

    @Rinvan: I bet it’ll come in September or December.

  • Waiting somewhat patiently for GW2. But it is kind of dumb that Arenanet released a year in review for GW2 in 2011. I mean, who cares about the damn plushies they are releasing, i want to play it.

  • about #9 (everquest next)

    I realize that you are, to a certain extent, being bombastic here, but really I rather agree with the sentiment. It’s at least half raw hope, I’m certain, but I think there’s some merit to the idea.

    Here’s the thing. There’s a good amount of information out there about how everquest came to be and, love him or hate him, a big component of that is ol smedley seeing a promising and profitable audience without a good enough outlet for what they wanted. Back then it was MUD players and, well, we know the story, but today we’ve actually got a similar situation.

    That same potential audience that SOE noticed years ago hasn’t disappeared. If anything it’s grown. MMORPGs developed on in a direction that left them wanting and waiting. Plenty of us believe that sooner or later some company is going to make a game for that audience again, but when, who or how have been longterm questions. I just can’t help but notice how (potentially) perfectly poised SOE is to seize that whole audience in an instant with a reborn everquest. Norrath is in the blood. So many of us would heed its call.

    I don’t think that fact has escaped John Smedley. what do I know, though. I can’t see clearly, I’ve got hope in my eye.

  • It’s 75% wishful thinking, 20% tongue-in-cheek-, 4.9% crazy, and 0.1% likely to happen. I live for the 0.1%.

  • The TORtanic is already sinking. Those of us who played WAR could have told you exactly how this would play out, but nobody would trust our judgment because we played WAR.

    GW2’s lack of a sub is going to be a game changer. It will either dispel the Bioware PR blitz about f2p being unable to compete, or prove it correct (the irony of a company that still thinks WAR is worth a monthly sub claiming that I’ll let go for the moment). I don’t think anyone will put that much time and effort into an f2p title again, the model will either sink or swim with it.

    Dominus, well, we can hope, but I still remember Mortal Online.

  • First time poster, long time lurker. Hai! I for one hope GW2 succeeds – the industry needs a game like this to succeed. Heck I’m going to give them my money just as a thank you for actually thinking about different ways of doing the standard mmo.

    The way the Anet dev’s thoughtfully approach major problems with the genre such as combat mechanics, questing and the trinity is really quite refreshing. And yes I am playing TOR atm too and while the storylines are fun, I can’t help but be somewhat disappointed at the overall lack of world development, some of the decisions they made and some of the things they sacrificed in order to deliver that story. They played it extremely safe in almost all aspects of the design of the game. I was excited about TOR pre-release because I thought surely if you throw money at something you can get something fresh and new. Turns out, having a ton of money invested is a major risk, and they can’t be too risky or that investment may not pay itself back.

    My sights are set on GW2, and I hope it succeeds, for my sake and anyone else who’s played the same ol same ole for years on end.

    Oh and also, Secret World looks very interesting too although we haven’t seen anything really that concrete about the game, so I worry it will be another AOC/Warhammer/Darkfall – good ideas partially executed.

    Thanks for reading!

  • @SlothBear: I’m enjoying SWTOR still. That may be because I am not going into this hoping for something more than a multiplayer Bioware RPG that happens to have end-game raid content.

    I haven’t detected one sign to show SWTOR is declining. The game has been officially released for a week and a half and my guild is consistently full of people logging in and having fun. I suggest waiting until the one month mark when people either continue or cancel their subs.

    @Thraso: I’m afraid people are expecting too much from GW2. I see a lot of people tired of the same old thing and wanting something different, but so far GW2 looks like it isn’t going to break the mold. It looks really fun, though, and I hope it succeeds.

    No subscription is appealing. It’s also indicative of how ArenaNet will support the game via paid content releases and also, possibly, an indication of the game’s scope. It’s for this reasons that my gut is telling me a lot of excitement for the game will peter out.

  • I look for GW2 to release by June at the latest but I wouldnt be suprised if it hit around April to compete with TSW. The game recently went into closed beta and all indicators from the devs mention that everything hinges upon the success of beta, and after playing the game at PAX I already know the basic jist of the game is more ready then any other game released.

    @Keen I jsut dont understand how you dont think GW2 breaks the mold. I mean seriously I dont want to rage but that comment reeks of someone with no ounce of research done into the game. I can not for the life of me think of one major game design element that isnt innovative, new and fresh. From the active combat, the lack of a trinity, the removal as raiding as the sole source of endgame, the character progression not being linear, the storyline, the combat style and the list goes on and on.

  • @Zederok: I get that you’re excited, but you can’t let yourself get defensive blinders on. I’ve researched the game plenty. Let me break it down for you.

    Active Combat like SWTOR’s lack of auto attack or active combat like Age of Conan’s direct input directional swings? Either way, I’m not seeing that as innovative. Granted, I haven’t played the game.

    Removal of raiding as a sole source of end-game was/is plenty common in non-themepark games. It’s excellent, but it’s not innovative.

    None-linear character progression is not innovative.

    Storyline is not innovative.

    You’re listing features or mechanics that are not innovations, rather different from WoW. If WoW was your first and/or only MMO, I can see how you might mistake innovation.

    Those features can be, ideally, great things and certainly traits that would place GW2 in a fantastic position compared to its competitors. They’re also the buzz words that are often thrown around but almost never, ever, honestly implemented. I will believe them when I see them.

  • Nope my first MMO was Asherons Call, but I also played DAoC, CoH, WAR, AoC, Aion, Darkfall, LotRO, Rift and few others. I know innovative when I play and watch, and GW2 is not doing anything like any other game ever made. Sure it might have similarities such as dynamic events (Rift or WAR) or storyline (TOR). Active combat may appear similar to AoC or Asherons Call but its totally unique because you can dodge and roll, and im pretty sure AoC or AC didnt allow that, it stillused a hidden die roll to determine defensive hits and misses. It might appear to have cross profession combos similar to FFXI but they are different. It might also appear to havemany other similarities of other games o nthe market but the similarities end there because not one game I can name or play has ever included the depth of core developmental ideas.

    Theres nothing to believe when you see, because you can see them in any development video, podcast, vblog or youtube video. Every single innovative ideal that Ive mentioned is in the game and working and have had thousands of players see them and play them at the Cons.

    Its ok though, I used to be a fence sitter on GW2 too, and had the exact same feelings as you state here, but that was untill I played the game, talked to devs, and watched about 100 hours of videos and interviews of the game in action. Mark my words GW2 will be the next greatest thing to hit the genre and if Im wrong Ill admit it freely much like I did right here when I defended Rift from your criticisms.

  • I hope you’re 100% right. I could use a breath of fresh air and a some that makes me excited — no, gity — when I think about playing.

    If GW2 manages that, you can bet I’ll spread the word. I’m just so, so, so hesitant to think of it as anything more than an improved Guild Wars.

  • I hope im right too. I think you should be ok because I believe you like DAoC’s endgame model more then I ever did and GW2 has that same vibe to me. I just hope that GW2’s PvE endgame can match and its the only thing I am worried about.

  • I kind of liked massively prediction on the GW2, will be a hit, but more in the same way GW1 one was. While i see GW2 on the radar of alot of people who follow MMOs, most people who dont have very little interest in it.

    I do not think it will putter out in the war, rift, or aoc fashion. I think the splash will be smaller then people expect and retention will fall somewhere in the middle.

  • Agree with Zederok about GW2… OTH, although I like SWTOR, it still has the major problem that all WoW alikes have – What happens when the initial levelling wave passes the early content? They can’t just devalue the early content, so that u skip over it as fast as possible whilst frenetically adding levels as Blizz does, because fully voiced content is too expensive; and also its sort of worse for SWTOR, because the story content is intricately entwined with the gameplay – but they’ve done nothing really to make it multiplayer. It’s really a single player game masquerading as an MMO and that’s going to come back and bite them – quite soon.

  • Not sure it will bite them, WoW has been back pedaling more and more single player for years its popularity has only gone up. I really think the market for single player games you play with shitloads of people is bigger then simulated worlds.

    Plus they have the flashpoints, open world, and even a FFA pvp area. Staple bioware single player in an MMO and hooking people with decent pulp fiction novel plot twist might be one of the smartest combination in MMO within the last couple of years.

    GW2 innovation sticks entirely with Dynamic events, if they work as something new then its great. if they turn out to be as redundant and generic as Rift then keens predictions are correct. But if the fact they are scripted and chained intelligently makes them dynamic and interesting enough then we got a winner.

  • @Wufiavelli: I agree that the market for single player MMO’s (god I hate that term) is still strong, lots of people jsut cant stand to group. But as far as Open World I play on Warriors of the Shadow, one of the highest populated servers and Illum and Smugglers Den are a ghost town. All the 50’s run Warfronts exclusively except for their dailys to go to those places. Its a shame really. IMO they need to remove all incentives to doing isntanced PvP. IMO instanced PvP should be the realm of the uber casual who only has a few mins to an hour to play.

    As far as GW2’s innovation in Dynamic events I highly encourage you to watch the 2010 GDC conference where Eric Flannum and Colin Johanson explain the shortcommings of Dynamic events in WAR (and to an extent in Rift) as the try and convey that most innovation comes early in the life of the game and the developers fail to expand upon that innovation in future content releases. They explain its not just limited to DE’s either but to all innovations in games. I fear this same lack of support for a games core innovative feature will doom SWTOR much like it did Rift. GW2 is looking to ensure that all their innovative ideals are expanded upon and not pushed to back burner liek other games and this is the #1 reason why I am hyped.

  • “The TORtanic is already sinking”

    It may in the end, but why make such an unsubstantiated statement; atm it is wildly popular.

  • “I kind of liked massively prediction on the GW2, will be a hit, but more in the same way GW1 one was. While i see GW2 on the radar of alot of people who follow MMOs, most people who dont have very little interest in it.”

    This would be a blessing as most MMO’s are kept simplistic to appeal to the larger casual crowd. I don’t care if there are only 10 servers versus 100 if it keeps the kung fu pandas at bay…

  • Had to google Dominus : / Why did they remove Prime from the main title as that was the lead word in all their ‘first impression’ videos?

  • All I can say is that I get a warm fuzzy feeling seeing others starting to talk about GW2 like I’ve done for months and months, and even linking the exact same interview I’ve linked here in the comments 2-3 times before 😀
    My only fear with GW2 is that it doesn’t get released 2012, I’ll play it like a blindfolded fanboy just because this time, this time damnit, I WILL be right about “the greatest MMO to be released since WoW” 😛

  • Haha, maaybeee…

    I am excited about the information released showing in game how their proposed mechanics are meant to work, and I dislike GW1; they seem to be expounding a philosophy and not just a different setting.

    It looks like they are trying to put something together that as a whole package is unique, especially with regards to community building, even if the individual components aren’t, but then again how many truly never been done before things are possible in a MMO?

    Sometimes if one accumulates enough quantitatively superior traits in something it can feel qualitatively unique; I suppose that’s what falling in love is like! Nonetheless, you probably shouldn’t proclaim your love for a mail order bride too strongly based solely on 2nd hand correspondence, or you’ll end up the target of the “I told you so” crowd if it falls flat…

  • I think most of the disconnect between the jaded and the hopeful regarding GW2 is that some see GW2 as a series of features (which may or may not correspond to existing games in some form or another) and others (such as myself) see it as having grown out of a particular philosophy that I identify with strongly.

    I happen to not be particularly bothered if dynamic events resemble public quests in some form, or if combat resembles Age of Conan (or other game, insert name here), or if Bioware does story better, or with more voiceovers, as I am not merely seeking a game that “does something extra.” I do know that I am tired of playing games with my husband and having to roll an alt or find another activity to occupy myself with if he feels like PvPing more than I do because we can’t outlevel each other and still share quests, or having to spend an evening traveling just to occupy the same space, among other annoyances and other disconnects that prevent me from enjoying the majority of MMOs in my current life station.

    Of course, I recognize that for others, who play in static groups or with active guilds or just prefer meeting strangers and making friends in-game, those who prefer virtual worlds and accept their inconveniences for the sake of immersion (none of which are bad things), these are not features that matter to them, and so to such a person, dynamic events are just a variation on public quests and you’re skill killing ten rats, SWTOR does story better, and The Secret World has better graphics. These games aren’t so interchangeable for me, however.

    So if GW2 peters out in three months, or six, or even 1, so be it. But I think the difference between those who will be disillusioned if it does not live up to some imagined standard and those who aren’t will be the difference between those who see GW2 as being defined by its features, and those who see it defined by its philosophy.

  • I sincerely hope you’re right. I am a strong believer in subscription model games as they’re the clear winner in value. Cheers! Here’s to hoping 2012 brings good things to good games.

  • The “I hope GW2 does well for itself, but I just don’t see it competing” prediction phenomenon is popular right now and sort of interesting. Reviews from people who have played it at cons have a kind of unanimity about them that I think makes predicting success sort of boring and obvious (and therefore not at all clever). In the end, Occam’s Razor will apply: simplest solution is the right one. The game is much better, it will do much better (than its predecessor and the current competition).

  • I’m with Randomessa in regards to how I’m looking at GW2. It is ArenaNet’s whole approach to how a MMORPG should be played, not just cramming in features from a checklist, or making changes for the sake of change. Being able to play together with others towards a common short term goal just by being in the same area. And without being hurt for doing so because there is no competition for loot, camping of world bosses, having to wait for spawns because there are too many people doing the same quests, etc.

    The main game changing part of GW2 I see is making it actually fun to play the content with lots of other people (mostly strangers) without the flawed need for guilds or PUGs. Guilds are great for friends or those with common goals. But a game that naturally brings players together, rewards for active participation, and then encourages those players to continue towards a common goal if they are interested and have the time, but also lets them wander off to do other stuff, while scaling the content on the fly, is exactly what I’m interested in. If they can pull that off then they truly will have made a large step forward in the evolution of MMORPGs, IMO.

  • I believe in subscription model as well. But in this economy, I feel any sub based MMO can be just as successful population wise, if they came out the box with something like a 5-8 dollar monthly fee (half price). I think you would see many more subs and I am just baffled as why no one is offering lesser fees these days. I know I would be playing more games if they dropped monthly prices.

  • They won’t drop monthly prices. To be quite honest we are lucky they have stayed at $15/month for this long. Inflation never stops, so the cost of maintaining an MMO never goes down.

    And personally, if a company offered me an extremely good quality MMO that had the features I want, I’d pay $30/mo easily.

    Hell, I used to do it anyway with DAoC :p

  • @Rawblin: So you were one of the thousands that destroyed the game by playing a buffbot?

    Buffbots and the fail that was Trials of Atlantis was the reason why I quit.

  • @Rawblin 15 bucks a month has nothing to do with inflation at all. It came about from earlier MMO ‘s as a general price and has since then never ever changed. The price of “maintaining” an MMO is very questionable. I personally do no believe it takes the magic number of exactly 15 bucks a month for everyone out there to maintain their game.

    So basically now it’s the “One company can do it so can we mentality”. If Blizzard (sorry to use them but they currently have the biggest subs) dropped WOW’s subscription to my proposed pricing of 5-8 bucks a month. You can be sure each and every MMO will then in turn follow to keep up subs. As I believe they are strangling the market to keep the norm at 15 bucks a month..just my 2 cents….

    Back to OP, bring on GW2…I predict a faster falloff from SWTOR than GW2. Most likely the same 6 months or so it took for folks to leave Rift!

  • I left Rift after only 2 and a half months at most. I’ll likely play SWTOR until something better comes along. I can’t predict how long GW2 or SWTOR will last, but I know SWTOR has a lot of room for vertical expansion.

  • Yea Keen I agree. I do fully plan on playing GW2 the moment it releases and TSW once the reviews from gamers (not paid companies) start coming in, I still believe that Funcom will find a way to screw it up though.

    As for SWTOR I am taking my time I have a 45 Sith Assasin and a 23 Imperial Sniper that I fully intend to level to 50 and hopefully within 2 months the bug patches are giving way to the content patches, I am really looking forward to see how they go about giving world PvP some love as well as continuing the story’s of my characters.