Predictions for MMOs/ Gaming in 2011

It is that time when we look ahead and try to predict what the year ahead may bring. Arbitrary and I have put our heads together to see what we can come up with…

In general, it’s going to be another huge year for both social gaming and mobile gaming. There will be more massive hits along the lines of Angry Birds, and both iPhones and Android will continue to be strong platforms. We’ll see the trend for Android to increase in popularity continue as more and more models come onto the market.

The debate as to what does or doesn’t constitute an MMO will continue. Facebook will continue as the platform of choice for social games, particularly on handsets, since it actually is handset agnostic.

The iPad will not really live up to the potential that the industry had hoped. Already we’re seeing that magazine subscriptions on the iPad are below predictions. There will be popular games, yes, but they will never come close to the popularity of the phone-based versions. So iPad owners had best get used to continuing to receive iPhone conversions.

I predict something big with Zynga this year. They’re huge, but they’ve not had much success in breaking away from Facebook. The desire to do so is still there … maybe they’ll even try to take over FB or merge the companies in some way. Whatever it is, it’ll be crazy.

E-sports will be a big trend this year in some form or other, as publishers try to find more ways to draw in the ‘core audience’ into more social, F2P type games. Expect at least one hugely successful multiplayer game, possibly on a console or on Facebook, with this kind of worldwide e-sports competitive ethos at its core.

One of the other big trends this year was for breakout indie games. This is nothing new, but Minecraft in particular has been a stunning hit. In addition, the various Steam indie bundles, more attention from PC journalists and blogs, and ‘pay what you want’ weekend offers have gotten more people to try them out than ever before. This trend continues, and we’ll see at least one successful indie MMO launch this year.

Interactive/ internet TV is going to be another big trend this year. Look for gaming on Google TV in particular (one area where Zynga may have their eye). And this is a platform that favours simple social games.

This year also marks the release of the Nintendo 3DS, the 3D version of the DS. Whilst it will sell well enough to be marked as a success, they will signally fail to persuade most users to upgrade. However nice the graphics, there’s unlikely to be a killer game that really uses the 3D. (If it played films, however …) This won’t be a good year for handhelds, losing more ground to the ubiquitous smartphones.

WoW/ Blizzard

This year Blizzard plays it safe with WoW. There won’t be any big features analogous to the dungeon finder. Patches will be more of the raid instance, dailies, extra minigames type of content.

Whilst some players will get bored quickly of Cataclysm, the strategy to draw in more casual players will work, by and large.

The balance of ranged vs melee is going to continue to be a big feature of this expansion.

The leaked expansion plans date the next expansion for 2010. I predict this is correct and we’ll hear more about the next expansion and about Blizzard’s plans to offer more frequent, smaller expansions. Wrath will soon be perceived as the golden age of WoW in much the same way that TBC was by the old guard for most of Wrath.

The big change for the next expansion will be a crafting revamp.

Blizzcon will be held in Europe.

Blizzard will announce their next game, currently codenamed Titan. It will, as expected, be a different genre from WoW. (Please take a moment to imagine what the WoW community might be like if Blizzard’s next game is a FPS. Heck, imagine what the Blizzard community for a FPS MMO might be like? Scared yet? This is why they will come back with a more player friendly version of realID.)

Other games

Guild Wars 2 will not release in 2011.

Neither will World of Darkness (Vampire).

Neither will The Secret World

The walking in stations expansion for EVE will release and will generate a flurry of ‘look at this amazing character creator’ posts. It will not substantially expand the player base, though and will largely be seen by existing players as watering down the current game.

Star Wars: the Old Republic will release and will fail to either gain a million subscribers or to be a game people want to play for 10 years (both predictions made by EA). It may even fail completely within 6 months. (I will still play it.)

Mark Jacobs will announce a new project, DaoC 2.

There will be more discussion about the F2P model as it applies to MMOs, focussing more on practical details of ‘what works’. People will pick their games at least as much based on payment models as anything else, to the point of having preferences for very specific flavours of F2P.

There will also be extended discussions in the blogosphere about how trustworthy various publishers are viewed as being. This is partly connected with games that failed in 2010 (do you trust this game to still be going in 6 months before you invest too much time into it?) but also with the way the F2P model has been implemented by companies such as SOE.

LOTRO will release their Isengard expansion which will be comparable in size to Mirkwood. ie. a couple of levelling zones, new instances, and a raid. They will increasingly be spread thin trying to keep both the lifetime endgame player base happy and the new F2P players who are more interested in lower level revamps.

2011 is a big year for RPGs. In fact, it will probably also be the biggest year ever for computer games in general.

Diablo III will release, will be a massive success. It will contain various features borrowed from WoW, and so the cycle comes full circle.

Dragon Age II will release, will be a massive success.

Mass Effect III will release, will be a massive success.

The Witcher II will release, will be a massive success (but possibly not on the scale of the previous three games, which is a shame.)

And not a RPG, but yes, Portal II will release, will be a massive success.

Whatever Infinity Ward does for EA will release, will be a massive success.

There will be at least one film tie in game that is actually good, and will be a massive success.

Microsoft attempt to clean up the Xbox Live community in some way, possibly involving an element of realID.

23 thoughts on “Predictions for MMOs/ Gaming in 2011

  1. I am so excited for ME3 and DA2, zomg. It’s a testament to Bioware’s great storytelling skills that people are so excited for those games. I think I am actually way more excited about ME3 as the last game ended with this major cliffhanger.

    People looking back at WotLK as the golden age of WoW makes me sad, lol. I am too much of the old guard and still feel that the general skill curve had a deep decline for the duration of the expansion.

    Blizzcon in Europe is a total pipe dream and will never happen. Maybe they will have an event like the invitational a couple years ago. I would probably go to that, I really wanted to go last time.

  2. I’m with Kadomi here, cannot wait for ME3 and they better bring all the old surviving characters back >_>

    what, i really like Kaidan he’s puppy adorable and his ME2 cameo just wasn’t enough 😛

    and portal 2, damn it, the song is stuck in my head again 😦

    I’ll probably be one of those people looking at Wrath as a golden age of wow – the time when alts were possible even on a limited time and when you could log in for 20 minutes at a time and still accomplish something visible in a game.

  3. I’d be surprised to see Diablo 3 and Infinity Ward’s game in 2011, but you never know!

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if ME3 slipped into 2012, like ME2 slipped into 2010. Next winter will be a very busy period for new releases, and pushing it back a month did them no harm last time around.

  4. WoW has sucked since BC IMO. But that’s just my opinion. I reckon TOR will be HUGE, it looks like such an indepth game. They seem to be targeting a story-based game, and apparently they are already working on the first expansion, early planning of the second one will probably start soon, and the first few content patches are also being worked on. So they’ll have plenty of content to keep people busy.

  5. I would really like to have a Blizzcon in Europe – I skipped on the previous invitational and have regretted it ever since. I’d also like to see something better than the Eurogamer Expo – I went in 2009 and wasn’t impressed.

    Also, Portal 2. Definitely eagerly anticipating that one.

  6. I actually disagree on the indie MMO. MMO’s take far too much developer time and content that it’s completely beyond the scale of indie devs, considering that even decent single player RPGs are barely within their grasp, unless you want to count text MUDs, but they’ve been around for decades now.

  7. I’m predicting that the thing that finally kills off the current WoW paradigm will be an FPS/Action MMO that’s learned some lessons from WoW and that Titan will more than likely be it.

    • Having played some Black Ops with friends over New Year’s Eve, I’m inclined to agree.

      But there are a LOT of current WoW players who have no interest in FPS games. So I wonder if Titan is more likely to kill off Call of Duty 🙂

  8. The problem is that major part of fps’s is that in every match everyone starts off completely equal. A major part of them is also having very little lag. Now tell me if you don’t see how this could be a problem lol

    • See, I think they’re moving away from this. In Black Ops, you can progress your character and get better equipment and there is no character matching at all in online games, so you could easily be stuck with people who outgear you.

      I was actually amazed at this, given how popular the game is and how many people play.

  9. I think it is funny how many people are predicting SWTOR to “fail,” all of which plan to play it. 🙂

    I can agree with the second part of that prediction, I don’t see it as a game you will want to play for 10 years. My general impression is that most people will play through it and “feel done with it” in 4-6 months, long enough to subscribe but not long enough to keep subscribing.

    This is tough to predict, though, because there has been so little info released about the endgame. There’s no real way of knowing if it will be something that keeps people coming back. But they have been so forthcoming with information about every other part of the game, it’s hard to have faith in the part of the game they’re keeping quiet about.

    • It’s because Bioware/ EA have been so crazy with their predictions, I think. Much as we’d all like it to succeed and also a lot of people think it’ll be a decent game, no one can really imagine it succeeding in the way they want.

      I’d like to be wrong on this though.

      • Yeah, I think they are fools to make any predictions at all. I can only predict that I will have the following argument repeatedly 6-9 months after release:

        Them: SWTOR was a total failure! Everyone knows that!

        Me: It’s the second most successful MMORPG of all time. Everything but WoW is a failure?

        Them: But it cost $300 million!

        Me: And they made $400 million in the first 6 months.

        Them: But they didn’t meet their predictions, and subscriptions are declining!

        Me: …

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  12. Enjoy your blog, as always.

    Your DAOC 2 prediction … didn’t EA gain control of its license when they purchased Mythic? How would Mark Jacobs be able to start a DAOC 2?

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