The 2014 List – Back to Predictions

Welcome to 2014.  At the beginning of every year I have a habit of hanging my monumental ignorance out for public display by trying to write something about the upcoming twelve months in the MMO world.  I have done a few variations on this.  The story so far on that front:

Now here we are, its a brand new day in a brand new year, and it is time to take another stab at it.


(Original 2014 graphic provided by my daughter)

I think I will go back to the predictions routine, complete with point assignments so I can score myself when December rolls around.

I will follow the usual protocol and link to other people’s predictions here, just to share the love.

Reminder: Predictions are different than wishes.  Just because I think something might happen doesn’t mean I want it to happen.  Plus look at my track record.  If you are bad at causation, you might safely assume that my predicting something makes it unlikely to happen.

1 – Ship Dates

My predicted US ship dates for some key launches in and around the MMO genre.

Scoring: 10 points each, with 2 points deducted for each week off my prediction.  That gives me some room for partial credit while not leaving the window too wide.  (I made the EVE Online expansions one entry, so both dates count, because everything is more difficult in New Eden.)  In cases where the company has announced a date and I have something later… such as TESO… color me the skeptic I guess.

  • Hearthstone – April 1
  • The Elder Scrolls Online – April 22
  • EVE Online 2014 expansions – (working names Excursions and Magellan) May 13 & November 18
  • WildStar – June 10
  • Warlords of Draenor – September 9
  • EverQuest Landmark – October 15
  • StarCraft: Legacy of the Void – October 15
  • EverQuest II expansion #10 (working name Cheese of the Ratonga) – November 4
  • LEGO Minifigures Online – November 4
  • EverQuest expansion #21 (working name Return of Lady Vox) – November 25

I also get 10 points of extra credit if any of my working names turn out to be true.

2 – Missed Dates

This is a list of launches that we might expect in 2014, but which I think won’t make it.  Open beta doesn’t count, the games have to be out of beta, live, and going concerns.

Scoring: 10 points each and pretty much a pass/fail exercise.

  • EverQuest Next
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • Line of Defense
  • Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtue
  • World of Warships

3 – Changes, Offers, and Upsets

Predictions as to what we will hear from the industry in 2014.

Scoring: 10 points for each correct prediction.  I am going to declare for partial credit on these if warranted.

  • World of Warcraft will report a small boost in subscriptions for Q4 2013 based on BlizzCon and Warlords of Draenor.  Subs will then resume a slow down trend until the expansion ships.
  • Blizzard will announce that WoW subscribers will get special benefits in Hearthstone.
  • Blizzard’s World of Warcraft 10 year anniversary gift will be a mount for those subscribers who log in during the right time frame.
  • Blizzard’s insta-90 option will be available as a service for $35 by December of 2014.
  • SOE’s naming decision with EverQuest Next and EverQuest Next Landmark will come back to haunt them with some headline grabbing rage as people outside of the hardcore fan circles download Landmark and discover that this was not the game they were expecting.  One (or both) of the products will end up with a new name.
  • ArenaNet will slow down their continuous content update plan and announce they are working on an expansion for GuildWars 2.  Off the record, Anet will report that their master’s in Seoul demanded this.
  • WildStar will be off to the races with a smooth launch and a huge initial spike, but it will fall into the dread “three monther” category as subscriptions will trail off dramatically.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online will have a rocky launch, starting with a delay for the PC side of the house.  But the game will manage to capture enough of the Elder Scrolls franchise to sustain the game, making it one of the rare recent MMORPGs, one that doesn’t peak in the first month and go downhill from there.
  • WildStar will announce plans to move to a free to play model before the end of the year.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online will not budge on to the monthly subscription model in 2013.
  • Turbine will remove the 500 Turbine Points per month stipend from Lifetime subscriber accounts in Lord of the Rings Online.
  • Turbine’s Gift of the Valar insta-level option will be revised after the trial run.  The new version, with a new name, will boost players at least 10 additional levels and include all of the pre-Helm’s Deep expansions.
  • With no support/budget for any raise in the level cap featuring fully voiced content, Star Wars: The Old Republic will follow on the Galactic Starfighter mini-game with more of the same.  First up will be Droid Battles.  Somewhat akin to Pokemon and WoW Pet Battles, to which it will be immediately compared, it will be far more focused on upgrading parts and abilities on a small set of droid models.  Cosmetic options for droids, as well as special models, will be the cash shop aspect of this feature.
  • CCP will announce new areas of space to explore, as they have hinted at since Rubicon.  The new areas will be a cross between null sec and wormhole space.  Local chat will work like W-space and there won’t be any sovereignty.  You get to keep the space you can hold.  But there will be none of the mucking about with wormhole stability.  Jump gates will be the mode of travel.  And this new area of space will be just our of capital ship jump range.
  • CCP will severely restrict drone assist in 2014.  However, it will be done in typical CCP fashion and will pretty much break drones for all purposes until they do a big drone revamp as part of the second 2014 expansion.
  • Funcom will finally have an unequivocal success with the launch of LEGO Minifigures Online.
  • The inevitable rough ride for Chris Roberts will come when Star Citizen needs to start generating revenue beyond the donations of the faithful and features begin to get trimmed down to a more realistic target.  It doesn’t mean that the game(s) won’t be good, but they won’t be everything ever promised by Chris Roberts.  That will make a few big spenders rage.
  • The Brad McQuaid “challenging epic planar high fantasy” Kickstarter won’t fund if he asks for more than $500,000.  I just don’t think he has the reputation/following of Mark Jacobs or Lord British.
  • 2014 will be the year of the “insta-level” option for “levels” focused MMOs successful enough to ship an expansion that boosted the level cap… which, honestly, isn’t that many games when I think about it.  I will count this as fulfilled if I get EverQuest and Rift and one other game.
  • The near-ubiquity of free to play as an option for MMORPGs will start to take its toll on those games for which “it’s crap, but it’s free!” was the prime competitive advantage.  Expect to see more than half a dozen Asian imports fold up shop in North America in 2014.  First on the list appears to be, Lunia.  The second Legends of Edda. The third ArchLord. The fourth Wizardry Online.

4 – Scoring?

Well, that tallies up to 350 possible points, to be scored on or after December 15, 2014.  If I end up getting half that total right, I will be amazed.

5 – Predictions of Others

I put most of this together in the middle of December, altering it from time to time based on news.  I figure any input from game companies is valid input right up until 23:59:59 on December 31st.  On the other hand, I avoided the prediction posts of my fellow bloggers up until now.  I did not want those to color my own view of the world until I had finished this post.  But now that that my list is live, I am adding those in so you can see what others are predicting for 2014.

I will add more to the list as I spot them.

But if you want a really good list of predictions for 2014, go read what Isaac Asimov predicted for 2014 back in 1964.  He was close on some population numbers at least.

And so here we are, at the dawn of yet another calendar year.  What else is bound to happen in 2014?

8 thoughts on “The 2014 List – Back to Predictions

  1. bhagpuss

    If the EQ2 expansion really is “Cheese of the Ratonga” I will buy my first ever Collector’s Edition and I’ll pre-order it on the first day they’ll take my money. Even if they spell it “Rotonga” the way you did!

    I so hope your GW2 prediction comes true!

    October sounds a bit late for full launch for Landmark. That would be a 9 month alpha/beta cycle. On the other hand, once it’s in Open Beta with a Cash Shop, which will be in early summer, I guess it really doesn’t need to “Launch” at all….

    If WildStar had launched in a year without a WoW expansion I think they might have kept people on board in big numbers for longer than three months. This year, though, probbaly not.

    You really shouldn’t go giving out ideas like “Droid Battles” for free. If EA/BioWare had heard you suggest that a couple of years back they might never have had to go F2P.

    I’m not sure Brad McQuaid will make his Kickstarter if he asks for $50k let alone $500k. I want to play whatever he makes but that doesn’t mean I’d give him money up front. I mean, look what happened last time.

    I would buy a max-level in Everquest. My highest character’s been stuck at 84 since the level cap was 85 and it’s now 100 as far as I remember. I hope Smed’s reading this.

    I did sort of do some predictions at Inventory Full, but only on the three main western MMOs we’re expecting: Landmark will confuse the hell out of everyone and not just because of the name issue, which I agree is just asking for trouble; TESO will disappoint just about everyone who cares about the IP and do nothing to attract those that don’t; WildStar will be the new Rift.

    All in all, a dullish MMO year in prospect but we’ll see. Bound to be stuff no-one’s thought of yet.


  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – Yeah, spell check isn’t so helpful when it comes to MMO races. And I might even buy a close to max level character in EverQuest. I have all that Station Cash sitting around if nothing else.

    $500K was the point where I couldn’t mentally come up with a winning scenario for Brad McQuaid. Getting that far won’t be easy, but I don’t think he can ask for less and be seen as a viable project. Lots of risk. Then again, Chris Roberts failed to deliver as promised on his last project and it seems to be raining money on him for Star Citizen. So we shall see I suppose.

    And I wasn’t expecting Blizz to start off on my prediction about insta-levels quite so soon.


  3. Coppertopper

    @Bhagpuss –
    Regarding the B.Q. prediction I was about to say something similar to you. He’s about up there with Paul Barnett on the integrity level. Although Vanguard, outside of a terrible launch, has its share of dedicated souls and interesting mechanics. But I think FFIV and possibly EQN have really stolen the hearts of those looking for an old school approach to MMO design.


  4. Codeblue

    I love this time of year for predictions – it makes me happy to even theorize on what could be. Would have loved to see you take a stab at hardware upgrades …in my opinion gaming drives the hardware market. With Microsoft embracing entertainment not just gaming and Sony console wise being “for gamers” …I am thinking EQN may wind up with a console version. The strides Microsoft is making with Kinect (while still simple and broken) could lead to a whole new revolution in esports. Speaking of esports …you didnt mention watching of esports as a prediction – I know you have talked about before that you have no interest really in watching other people play when you could be playing the game yourself but I have recorded my friends and I running dungeons before and its fun (if for no one else except me) to go back and watch how silly or serious or bad we were.


  5. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – I would have been most impressed if he had predicted that there wouldn’t be a World’s Fair in 2014 (there won’t be) or that, with the advent of mass media, most people would cease to care about them. I had to go look it up on Wikipedia to see if the World’s Fair was even still a thing.

    @Codeblue – Yes, my predictions tend to focus on the things that interest me. I did not mention much outside of MMOs. Things beyond that I will leave to others. I do think that the actual, real, not the tool, EQN will likely get a PS4 release, if only because I think SOE’s corporate masters are the PlayStation people and they want more titles on their platform.


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