Keen’s Predictions for 2013

Every year around this time I like to toss my prophetic predictions into the mix of what the coming year will hold for the gaming industry.  Last year’s predictions kicked my butt.  I think almost all of them were completely wrong, and some were so bad I had to make sure Graev didn’t go in and edit them to make me look silly.

I thought SWTOR would have a great year and players would love Bioware’s support for the game.  In reality, SWTOR was a financial disaster, went free to play, caused both of the Bioware Doctors to turn tail, and disappointed just about everyone I know.

A couple of them still remain to be seen.  My prediction that GW2 would be a 3-monther might be true since it turned out to be a ‘play to beat’ game, but the game is still going strong enough for me to want to return very soon.  Predicting that the subscription model would survive is technically true, and F2P has seen a decline in the MMO space, but that’s because B2P (buy to play) is now on the rise.  I also thought indie gaming wouldn’t do so hot… sheesh was I wrong.  Indie games rocked 2012.

Time for next year’s predictions!

1.  Kickstarting (crowdfunding) MMO’s will grow in popularity to the point of causing obvious panic for publishers. More MMO’s will start Kickstarter campaigns and actually be successful.

2.  ‘Old school’ will make a come back in a big way. Developers will realize it’s time to try what actually worked and abandon the modern tropes.  In other words, themeparks won’t be the focus on 2013 and mechanics that remind us of the old days will return.

3.  Emulators like SWGEmu and Project 1999 will continue to grow in popularity.  The right people will finally take notice, and officially supported classic servers will finally be a reality because they can actually make money!

4.  More older games will be re-released like Asheron’s Call 2 was this month and they will all do so well that some teams dedicate themselves entirely to re-releasing the past.

5.  We will finally see the start of something new.  That is to say, this whole debate about sandbox vs. themepark, WoW clones, etc., old ways vs. new ways, and stagnant development will be irrelevant because we will all be looking anxiously forward to an entirely new style of MMORPG.   I’m thinking SOE’s EverQuest Next might do it.

6.  F2P will be entirely gone because people will finally realize competing on price ruins the product, there’s no such thing as ‘free’, and short-term doesn’t matter when more money can be made longterm when you design a game to last.

(Now for some oddball ones)

7.  Darkfall Unholy Wars won’t launch.  Aventurine actually took the money and ran.

8.  The Elder Scrolls Online will actually be a ton of fun and shock the world.

9.  PC gaming will rule the world because console gamers realize they’re just playing on standardized PC’s.

10.  Legislation will be passed banning the development of MOBA’s because of cyberbullying.

11.  Blizzard will reveal project Titan, announce the last expansion for WoW, and announce WarCraft 4.

I think I finally have it right this year.  I’d love to hear yours!

  • 1. I’m not sure MMO’s can be crowdsourced. Don’t they cost millions and millions of dollars? That’s the reason they are always so conservative in terms of gameplay right?

    2. Agree about old school prediction. Between Baldur’s Gate: EE and all the relaunches of old games via kickstarter, Steam greenlight etc. I only see this trend continuing.

    3. This is a risky prediction.

    4. Dunno about this one.

    5. I highly doubt it. The MMO genre is creatively bankrupt but financially solvent, and it will continue that way IMO.

    6. I disagree here. The most popular PC game in the world is F2P and making Riot truckloads of money. F2P is here to stay I think.

    (Now for some oddball ones)

    7. Dunno.

    8. HA.

    9. Agree.

    10. This is a joke right?

    11. Who knows.

  • 1: I think there will be a wave of of Kickstarter projects but that trend will collapse pretty soon as the first projects turn out to be total failures and vaporware.

    2-4: Agree

    5: Dont think so – I think the discussion will sway towards sandbox styles though

    6: Not yet – I think F2P will stick around for 2013. It is too strong and the trend just started to show success.

    7: Wouldnt be shocked but even they cant be…scratch that…it probably is true.

    8: I hope you are right.

    11: hmm…

  • I highly doubt F2P will be gone, if anything i think it will expand more and more and conquer even consoles eventually.

    Honestly i’m not optimistic about 2013, i think not much will happen at all until 2014, but if anything happens it will probably be on the pc scene mainly with valve and steam working on a console and with e-sports games like LOL and DOTA.

    Maybe we will get an announcement of a Guild Wars 2 expansion, but thats pretty much what i expect, trying to keep expectations low so i dont get disappointed again and again.

  • “Kickstarting (crowdfunding) MMO’s will grow in popularity to the point of causing obvious panic for publishers. More MMO’s will start Kickstarter campaigns and actually be successful.”

    I don’t see why Kickstarter needs to worry MMO publishers. Before, they had to decided whether to invest tens of millions with no information about whether anyone would pay for the product. Now, customers are apparently willing to commit millions years in advance – Pathfinder got away with funding for a tech demo that did not even promise that backers would EVER get a copy of the game. The funding is less important than the implication that the project will produce revenue. If you were a publisher, why wouldn’t you make a crowdfunding stage MANDATORY for all projects before you put your money on the line?

    Also, define “actually be successful”. If you mean “succeed at Kickstarter”, with no obligation to actually complete the project, that’s a slam dunk because it’s already happening. If you mean “a successful MMO will launch in 2013 after being developed with crowdfunding”, I think you’ve set yourself an impossible goal, as I would not expect a full-scale MMO that is still seeking funds in 2013 to launch in the same year.

  • I do not agree that kickstarter is the holy grail as many think it is. While good it is also very fragile in terms of risk for those that put in money.
    In fact I am waiting for the first big scam to happen on kickstarter. then we are back to square 1.

    Further I disagree on point 5 and 6 in the list of Keen. (and the oddball ones)
    The rest good predictions.

    My predictions.

    1: game creators (thanks to publishers and shareholders) will get even more out of touch with what gamers want and will only produce games that play and look like the 20 games before them. (where are my deep rpg’s like dragon age 1 and mass effect 1? i am still pissed they took a different turn in their sequel)

    2: Casual gaming will continue to decline. To them its a fad and they have been there and got the t-shirt.

    3: indy development on the rise. We seen a increase of quality in indy titles last year. I think this year will be even better. (cause? see 1)

    4: ingame auction house for real money like Diablo 3 in many new F2P games. The potential profit makes the developers drool.

    5: New consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be announced, but not sold untill Christmas time 2014.

    6: The WiiU will sell mediocre at best. (untill the new consoles arrive, then it will be dramatic)

    (oddball ones, but one can hope)

    7: Nintendo announces an AAA quality Pokemon MMO on the PC. Interaction with the 3DS and the WiiU.

    8: Judge rules DLC is unethical. (I so hate DLC)

    9: GTA 5 will run flawlessly on the PC. (I am looking at you GTA 4)

  • 1. Archeage will launch and be awesome!

    2. TESO will be another swtor and fail to live up to the hype

    3. Expansions for rift, wow, gw2, tsw, lotro, etc..

    4. Wildstar will be mediocore but still get a decent following.

    5. Neverwinter will launch and be terrible, closed down within the same year.

    6. EQnext will be SWG 2 pretty much.

  • @Zyler: You’re right about it not being the holy grail. I think it’s an awesome tool for small, independent publishers to get the funding they need and to prove there are players interested in their game. There is relatively low risk to try.

    @Bartillo: I hope 1 and 6 come true!

  • 1) I go back and forth about Kickstarter/Crowd Funding. One one end it brought along FTL which was one of the best games of 2012. But then again we have seen it abused some as well. That said I think there is still a lot of potential there. Games like Wastelands 2, Project Eternity and such show there is. My only concern is if there are a few big instances of players being ripped off or such that this might change the trend. That said I believe it is a great capitalist notion to allow gamers to back the games that they want to see and help influence them with their dollar along the way instead of having a developer throw out a game and say: Here it’s new buy it just because. I do agree that we will start seeing more MMOs come out of kickstarters.

    2) Agree with old school. Using your example of Themepark for MMOs being overdone. I hope to see more sandbox games like UO, and that EQNext will give a new birth to old school MMO gaming. As far as None MMO, I have played a bit of BG:EE and even though I already own the GoG version it is always nice to see classics enhanced and brought back. That is a trend I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the coming year. BG2, Planescape, Icewind Dale etc coming back in enhanced versions.

    3) Not too familiar with emulators other than the bit I have read on here about SWGEmu so can’t comment really.

    4) I played AC2 back years ago, never really played it a whole lot but always great to see good old MMOs make a comeback.

    5) Agree about EQNext. I really had thought like you that Bioware’s forth pillar would change the landscape of the MMO genre but it did grow old quickly. I have high hopes for EQNext. I am even interested in TITAN but I have a feeling we are all going to be in for a big let down in that regards. So far the most genre changing game up and coming that I can think of is Defiance and for as much as I would love to see it take off, I fear it will be a short time gimmick.

    6) I have played a lot of F2P games, but always did so as a full subscriber be it EQ2, LOTRO, DDO, etc. I always want the most I can get out of my games, so I feel gimped without stuff like all the classes and other F2P limitations. Then on top of that I end up spending way too much on XP boost and other such things so at the end of the day F2P to me equals far more than a pure Sub-based MMO. GW2 even at buy-2-play and having only played it for a few weeks at launch I spend a lot of money doing character slot unlocks, maxing out bank slots, and bag slots. In the end I spent more in a couple weeks on a buy to play game, than I would have an entire year on a game such as WoW for example.

    7) I have from time to time thought about trying Darkfall but something about Aventurine and how they do business always has kept me from mit.

    8) I am hoping ESO will be a great game. I don’t expect it to be a WoW killer but if it can capture even a fraction of the joy I have gotten out of Elder Scrolls games over the years I am all there. I have spent almost 200 hours on Skyrim and haven’t even really touched it’s surface so I can easily see doing so in ESO. I love the lore and so forth in Elder Scrolls so if nothing else I think it will be good for that reason alone.

    9) I have went back and forth with consoles but always had a PC to play on as well. The life cycle of the console is just too long to me. I know that it forces developers to push console optimization to greater and greater levels as a system ages but at the end of the day you just can’t beat a PC. Even though I play a lot of games with a 360 controller, there is just something different and special about playing with a keyboard and mouse.

    10) LOL. If only. I so love MOBA games but the amount of childish behavior and outright hatred playing them grates my nerves. That said I am hoping that the communities start self monitoring better. Honestly though I am afraid that this is one aspect of gaming that one just has to completely ignore. Maybe once the MOBA publishers really start to think about how much money they loose due to people not playing because of game trolls this will change.

    11) I still call dibs on Titan being based in Diablo or Starcraft universe regardless of what they say. I would love to see Warcraft 4 for sure.

  • 1. Kickstarter is going to get used for promotion I think. Can you imagine City State doing a 1 mil round yeah easy $$. I think there iwll be some really fun trends here

    2. Not yet.. we have not reached the bottom of the trough. The depth of recycled crapware stll has ways to go. I think this will happen in 2-3 years minimum. Couple of multi hundred mil projects need to bomb still

    3. Maybe but it is all very small scale, I do not think ti will ever grow past that

    4. Same as 3 extreme niche only profitable because game is already made.. it does not cost much to keep the server power up

    5. We can all hope, but it is completely unpredictable, maybe someone come up with a game that makes our jaws drop not because of 100mil marketing budget but because actual mechanics are that good.

    6. No F2P is a massive bubble across all mobile, social etc that bubble is getting pumped till it bursts I think in another 3 years or so. Check out the job postings for compnies churning out this garbage. It is actually the only decent way to make money on mobile games now.

    7. no idea

    8. I want to believe.. but I have a horrible feeling about this. Mega server.. yeah this is going to be so broken

    9. ya we wish

    11. I am waiting to see if this is happening. WoW makes massive $$ and competition is so terrible.. why undercut yourself? I think Titan will have more time to be developed

    I have high hopes for Planetside 2 evolution, this game might become somthing special with age.

  • 1. I disagree i think more war z type scenarios will play out which will initially send crowd funding into a decline. After which it will mature and rise again with smarter consumers and developers.

    2. I think psuedo old school will make a comeback but the games will be watered down compared to what they were in the past. Studios will still be forced to make their games in response to player polls. The casualness of games will continue with a charade of old school.

    3. Agree, but i think this will be a slow growth.

    4. AC2 had some special things going for it. I am guessing Turbine kept the infrastructure to run the game in tact. They also had full control of the IP making it easy to re-release. Other games have a lot more complicated ownership setups. This will slow the process of this.

    5. Agree I think the wow clone days are coming to an end.

    6. The niche for F2P is strong you will see it continue but not see it grow.

    (Now for some oddball ones)

    I think the MMO industry will begin to expand to have many different sub genres of significant size. There will larger selections different types of MMOs then their were in the past.

  • I also think pathfinder online is going to be a diamond in the rough and really surprise people.

  • Pathfinder has some neat ideas, but some weird ones that really scare me. The more I hear, the more it sounds like it’s not an MMO and more of a multiplayer experience closer to GW1.

  • I would rather they make a game like that than a failed MMO. I am not sure if the tech and middle-ware are at a point where you can make an MMO from the 3- 6 million you make from crowd funding.

    Granted DAOC launched very cheaply but they had some things already established from before.

  • Keen, you are just predicting what you know is wrong, in the hope you’ll be wrong and turn out to be right, am I right?