Weighing up last year’s predictions

Happy Holidays, everyone! Hope you all have/ had a good one.

It’s around this time of the year that people start to look back at predictions we made in 2009, mostly so that we can laugh at how much we missed. I’ll attempt another set of crazily off-target predictions for 2011 in a couple of days time, but for now let’s see how this year panned out.

We’ll see more effort next year put into translating the fantastically successful social networking, gift giving, strategy/ resource focus and virtual goods buying mechanisms into other gaming areas. And we’ll probably see more of this type of approach in non-gaming sites as well.

Well yes, this was pretty much a no brainer. I didn’t predict either the realID fiasco when Blizzard wanted to attach people’s real names to their battle.net/bboard accounts or the flurry of transfers to F2P games. But I think I had the trend pretty much nailed down.

I should have seen the F2P trend coming. I even noted that I expected to see more of a push towards virtual goods buying. But I’m not entirely sure how much social gaming has tranferred to non gaming sites. We’ve certainly seen Steam embrace achievements and suchlike.

Another trend (this is another gimme) will be the rise of gaming on smartphones

Yup. I think I was a bit nervous with predictions so wanted to start with some dead certs. Gaming on smartphones (and the iPad) has indeed been huge this year.

There will be some big game that uses location based technology and maybe even augmented reality — it may look better in demos than in practice but it will get vast amounts of press attention.

Nah, not really. There definitely is interested in location based services, with services like Foursquare and Facebook Places but I don’t think gaming has really latched onto it yet. I still like the phrase ‘augmented reality’. It’s better than life!.

And the last trend I wanted to highlight was the snap sales we have seen on Steam and other online digital vendors. <…> I think we’ll see MMOs trying to experiment with a similar model, and maybe even occasional sales on 3 or 6 month subscriptions to keep interest up (in sub games at least).

Yup. And again I’m boggled that I failed to see F2P coming. The predictions weren’t that far off base.

My WoW Predictions

I said people would like the rest of ICC (only the first section had been released at the time of writing) and that the hard modes would have a better difficulty ramp than TotC.

Well, truth is, the hard modes used a very different model since you could toggle it for each boss, so the ramp up didn’t matter so much. I think ICC was reasonably well liked but I got thoroughly sick of it in the end. I don’t really think raiders felt that the best ICC encounters were as good as anything Blizzard ever designed. Ulduar still holds the crown for Wrath raiding, but ICC was OK.

Oculus gets blown up? Nope.

Dungeon finder seen to be more successful in the EU than in the US? Nah, not really.  (Also, for anyone filling in Larissa’s survey, the dungeon finder was not introduced in 2010, it was a 2009 innovation.)

Cataclysm to launch in Q3 2010? Nope, it launched in Q4. I was being optimistic.

They will mess up the tuning again and return to the harder dungeon instances of TBC, which will be nerfed again after lots of complaints. But people will never be sure whether the dungeons actually were harder or whether players had just forgotten how to handle hard content.

There are plenty of complaints about the new Cataclysm instances being too hard at the moment. I don’t know if Blizzard will nerf them or just throw lots more gear at people. Right now they’re in the sweet spot where hardcore raiders think they’re too easy and more casual raiders think they’re too hard. Somewhere out there is someone who thinks they’re just right (they’re a decent difficulty for me, for example), so hold that thought :)

I had more Cataclysm predictions but they were based on an earlier release so I’ll have to roll those over for next year.

There will be at least one major unexpected announcement before Cataclysm that will throw the hype machine into overdrive.

The most unexpected announcements about Cataclysm were introduction of RealID (which got rolled back due to the internet exploding) and the change to raid locks. I’m not sure if either threw the hype machine into overdrive, and they weren’t really the sort of features I was thinking of.

Possibly solo instances or something that involves more solo content.

Yup, Archaeology. No dance studio though.

LOTRO

There will be another expansion in 2010 but it still won’t be Rohan

Yup, spot on. The expansion was Enedwaith and the Free to Play changeover. And failing to predict that was a fairly severe failure on my part.

Other Games

Star Wars won’t release before Cataclysm, even if it means delaying until 2011.

Guild Wars 2 won’t release in 2010.

Neither will Diablo III.

Yup, none of those released in 2010.

Neither will Jumpgate Evolution (it makes me sad to write this because I was looking forwards to that game, but we really haven’t heard much about it.)

True, and in this case a bit more serious because Codemasters is actually suing Netdevil over failure to release.

Final Fantasy XIV will do very well

Haha, no, not remotely. The game did release, and was troubled right from the start, with months of extra free time being given away to persuade players to hang in there, and top management being fired and replaced. Shame, really.

Torchlight will release an MMO (or at least a beta) before the end of the year.

Nope, and they’ve announced that their next release will be a multiplayer version of Torchlight, not an MMO.

Mass Effect 2 will be amazing. Voice acting is the new black?

By all accounts, ME2 was indeed amazing.

CCP will announce their Vampire MMO which will go into beta in 2010.

They did sort of announce it at a White Wolf convention but there still haven’t been any official press releases on the subject. So chances are that it is not in fact in beta yet.

Star Trek Online will meet with more success than Champions Online

I suspect this is probably true but not really sure how to measure it.

Blizzard will still not announce anything about their next MMO because they actually threw away the current design this year and are starting again from scratch.

They certainly didn’t intend to announce anything, but a leaked document showed a timeline and the codename Titan. (This will be more amusing to anyone who has seen Megamind.) That’s actually all we know.

Although there will be a lot of talk about free to play models, there will be a better understanding of how and where that model works. WAR may try to convert from subscription to F2P, but it won’t help (again, makes me sad to write that). AAA developers will continue to push the payment model of subscriptions plus virtual goods plus anything else they can think of. However, extended trials will be more common, and maybe even WoW will offer the first 10 levels free as a Cataclysm enticement.

So I did mention F2P but got it mostly wrong and picked WAR as my most likely candidate for a conversion, which is amusing because it’s one of the few candidate games that has not gone F2P. EQ2 and LOTRO both took the plunge this year.

However, WAR did do what I suggested WoW might and made the first 10 levels a permanent free trial.

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4 thoughts on “Weighing up last year’s predictions

  1. I have never heard anyone refer to LotRO’s updates this year as an “expansion.” If it is an expansion anytime a zone is added, LotRO has had, what, a half-dozen, despite only selling two? And the WoW raid dungeons like Icecrown Citadel should count as much as Enedwaith, so WoW has released at least two expansions this year.

    • Well, they’re never going to do a Moria sized expansion again so I’m not really sure what to call a new zone with loads of quests and stuff attached to it. As you say, they’ve added content in this way before (and Icecrown Citadel was really just a raid instance with a couple of 5 man instances attached, not a whole zone.)

      I don’t even know what an expansion would be for LOTRO at this point. I do know we were disappointed with the lack of content but … it was a new zone/ new stuff to do/ new reps and it wasn’t Rohan.

  2. “Star Trek Online will meet with more success than Champions Online”
    “I suspect this is probably true but not really sure how to measure it.”

    Xfire seems to have the best data on the subject.
    Xfire has seen 52,576 WoW players (on a Tuesday)
    Compare that with Champions Online (61) and Star Trek Online (330)

    Presuming that there isn’t prejudice either for or against Xfire among the players of one game or the other, then if WoW has ~11 million subscribers, then STO has around ~70k and Champions Online has about 13k.

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