The 2015 List – A New Year Brings New Predictions

Hey, it’s 2015!

A graphic with the number 2015 on it!

A graphic with the number 2015 on it!

And as happens with the change of the calendar around here, it is time for some forward looking silliness that I can evaluate at some point 11 months or more down the road, giving me something of a framework for what really happened versus what I predicted.  There is, at this point, a history of this, which you can find at the links below.

Since I squandered my free time before the new year playing video games rather than writing about them, this will be an even more hasty, pulled from my posterior end list than usual.

Predictions

For scoring purposes, predictions are worth 10 points each unless otherwise noted and partial credit is possible.  Remember, I am taking a stab at what might happen, not listing out what I want to happen.  The latter would be a very different list indeed.

  • At BlizzCon we won’t hear about the next World of Warcraft expansion.  Blizz is going to avoid the year long run up to a new expansion and focus on what we’ll get in Draenor in 2016.  That’s the plan going forward; a shorter run up to the next expansion, more focus on the current one, same two year gap between launches.
  • Blizzard will also punt on its PLEX-like item idea as foes of the idea in the forums will keep screaming “Diablo III real money auction house fiasco!” until the idea is put back on the shelf.
  • BlizzCon will also see the announcement of a new expansion for Diablo III, breaking the “one expansion” trend for Diablo games.
  • Heroes of the Storm will go live, at last, after BlizzCon.
  • Overwatch, though, will stay in closed, invite-only beta in 2015.  We’ll hear good things, but we won’t get anything until next year.
  • EverQuest Next will not ship in 2015.  At least not by any definition I would consider a real release.  Rather, it will enter the “pay to play our unfinished free to play game” state that has haunted Landmark for the last year.  And it won’t even get to that state until after SOE Live.
  • Push is going to come to shove at SOE, with EQN and Landmark drawing on more in-house resources but not necessarily providing more revenue.  One of the two Norrath games, EverQuest or EverQuest II, is going to get shorted on the expansion front this year.  There will be a virtual box to buy, but it will really be just a features and fixes expansion with no new levels, races, classes, or overland zones.  A few dungeons/raids and the usual set of AA options will be all somebody gets.
  • Also on the SOE front, Dragon’s Prophet will get the axe in 2015 and some new Asian import will get its chance.
  • GuildWars 2 is going to ship an expansion in a box, virtual or otherwise, that will be the classic “give us money and get new content” exchange that we are all quite used to.  It will be a big win, hugely popular with the fan base, have many jumping puzzles, and ArenaNet will grumble all the way to the bank about how NCsoft made them do it.
  • WildStar will go free to play.  NCsoft has a deal for the China market, so they can’t shut the thing down just yet.  But to get to China I am going to bet they have to go F2P.  And if you’re going to do the work for China, you might as well apply it in the west as well.
  • CCP is going to break sovereignty in null sec in 2015 and cause a great upheaval in EVE Online.  Most sov will effectively be dropped and chaos will ensue.  Much mocking will come from other quarters of the game, until the wise realize that all those null sec players need to go somewhere, and it is either leave the game or bunk with them.  Soon the cry to fix null will be universal, just to save the game and everybody’s sanity. CCP will take one of their full five week dev cycles to fix it, but there won’t be any roll back.  Instead they will have new sov mechanics in place and will declare a null sec gold rush/thunderdome.  Hilarity will ensue and it will become one of the great legends of the game we tell to new players.  Meanwhile, the sov map will look pretty much the same at the end of the year.
  • CCP will sell, transfer, or otherwise hand off responsibility for DUST 514 to Sony, including the employees left working on it.  It will remain connected to EVE Online, so orbital bombardment will remain a possibility, but Sony will be running.  It will end up in the laps of SOE in San Diego which will prompt another round of “SOE is buying CCP!” hysteria.  (But that won’t happen until 2016.)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online will muddle along in 2015, fixing bugs and waiting for the console version to ship.  The console version won’t ship until after summer however, and things will seem somewhat grim as the push to get it out becomes an “all hands on deck” development task, leaving the Windows version to drift for a couple months.
  • Funcom will also be in a bit of a muddle as LEGO Minifigures Online continues to under perform.  This will cause a replay of the LEGO Universe fiasco, with LEGO HQ wresting control of the software from Funcom, as they did with NetDevil, leading to about the same result as LEGO runs the thing into the ground and shuts it down.
  • Hacking and cyber attacks will be on the rise, and a major MMO studio will be kicked completely offline for a full week at some point during 2015.
  • EA’s claim that Star Wars: The Old Republic’s earnings are disappointing is a sign of something.  I expect less voiced content, if any, and more features like Galactic Starfighter, things that can boost cash shop sales.  Double credit if they use my droid battles idea from last year.
  • At Turbine, things will go as they have been for the last few years, with a slow retreat into its core money making items.  Asheron’s Call and Asheron’s Call 2 will go the way of EverQuest Mac the first time they need an update for a vulnerability.  A WB exec will order the plug pulled before the end of 2015.  They will be gone along with the pipe-dream promise of running your own server.
  • Likewise, it will be a slow year for Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online unless Infinite Crisis is a break-out success in the MOBA world.  It looks like it will be lining itself up against Heroes of the Storm, so that looks like a vain hope indeed.
  • Brad McQuaid, failing to find a reliable source of suckers funding, will throw in the towel on Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, leading wags to ask if this was supposed to be the rising part of the prophecy or if it was still part of the fall.
  • Project: Gorgon will finally catch a break and gain traction via early access at Steam.  Some money will come in and allow development to move more quickly.

No Shows in 2015

A quick list of titles I do not think will ship in 2015, with “ship” being defined as no longer in beta or otherwise restricted or branded as being in development.  These are worth 5 points each and are pretty much pass/fail.  Things either go live or they do not.

  1. Line of Defense
  2. Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtue
  3. Camelot Unchained
  4. World of Warships
  5. H1Z1
  6. Star Citizen
  7. EVE Valkyrie

That gives me a total of 200 points in the first category and 35 points in the second for a total of 235 points.  We’ll see how I did in about a year.

Other Predictions

Elsewhere in the blogesphere others are making their own predictions, which are probably more rational than my own.  I will link those I find below:

21 thoughts on “The 2015 List – A New Year Brings New Predictions

  1. Noizy

    About Wildstar. I agree with you about the game going F2P for the Chinese market. But will Carbine be able to pull it off this year? The move is scheduled in late 2015 – early 2016.

    I’ll be watching for SOE’s takeover of DUST. There’s actually some logic going on that supports such a move.

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  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Noizy – You know, a year ago, when Carbine said WildStar was going to be a subscription game, a bunch of people said it was going to be a bait-and-switch, that WildStar would start sub and then transition to F2P when the time was ripe. So there is that possibility. Or, there is just the team at NCsoft telling Carbine, “Work as though your jobs depended on it.”

    As for the DUST thing, the best conspiracy theories always have a thread of reason within them.

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  3. Jidhari

    Interesting read. I expect GW2 to announce some sort of content expansion as although the game remains popular, it’s revenue stream has been slowly declining since 3Q last year. Looks like the monetization approach on the cash shop is not generating enough to replace slow box sales. I am also watching to see the impact of the upcoming FFXIV expansion in spring. It seems 2m accounts does not equal 2m subscribers as it and Square’s two other MMOs (FFXI and Dragonquest) have one million subscribers in total..

    One question: where did you find the news about EA not being happy with SWTOR?

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  4. Shintar

    I find your SWTOR prediction amusing because it’s the exact opposite of what they stated their plans are for next year: that they are currently done with adding new features like GSF and housing and will instead focus on adding more story content. They also currently have no plans to add anything new to GSF so it can’t have been very good at bringing in sales. (But you never know… :))

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  5. evehermit

    “CCP is going to break sovereignty in null sec in 2015 … Meanwhile, the sov map will look pretty much the same at the end of the year.” Laughed out loud at this – would not be surprised if you were right.

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  6. Kruppe

    I really hope that you are right on the Diablo III. I was thinking just the other day that they should adopt a guild wars 1 style model.

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  7. SynCaine

    At this point (not that they would want to), but wouldn’t it make more sense for CCP to buy SOE than the other way around? I mean, at least CCP has one successful MMO, wouldn’t Sony want to shed itself of SOE if it could and just focus on PlayStation? Again no reason CCP would actually want anything that SOE has, but yea.

    @Jidhari: Do you have a link to Square having 1m subs total across its games?

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  8. bhagpuss

    “EverQuest Next …will enter the “pay to play our unfinished free to play game” state that has haunted Landmark for the last year.”

    Yes. But will you pay? I’d like to say I won’t but I bet I will.

    WildStar and TESO’s payment models are instructive. For all the fuss they both made about subscriptions it looks as though factors other than the success or failure of that model will dictate where they end up. WS will have to do the F2P conversion work for China and TESO for console release. In the end, even if they had sustained populations that justify a sub, those factors might have dictated a change to F2P anyway.

    Supposedly ANet have some really big news reveal due in one of the upcoming industry shows (Pax East in March, was it?). They were saying something about Living Story being only the beginning, whatever that means. I hope you’re right and it turns out to be an expansion but I’m still not sure. Could be yet another of ANet’s “we don’t want your money” plans.

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  9. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – As much as I enjoy a good “SOE being SOE” moment now and again, at the end of the day SOE does seem to be able to develop and run multiple MMOs while making money at it. That SOE manages to milk enough money out of their soon to be 16 year old fantasy MMORPG and their 10 year old return to the same theme to be able to offer up an expansion every year, year after year, for both games, doesn’t seem like an unreasonable bar for success.

    Yes, both now are very much in the shared world, single player fantasy game mode, what with mercenaries and other tricks of the trade, but they still make money. Not bad, considering Feldon over at EQ2 Wire estimated (based on his database access to character data I would guess) that there are only 50K All Access subscribers playing EQ2. I guess Station Cash is making up the difference.

    Besides which, I am not sure Sony corporate culture would allow them to sell off something like SOE. SCE, the PlayStation people, are maybe the least affected by Sony’s culture of owning every aspect of a business they can. They actually, on occasion, admit that there are competitors in their market, something the consumer electronics people never do.

    Not saying I would want SOE to buy CCP, but I am sure Smed fantasizes about the idea of having EVE in his stable of games. It is the most exciting MMO title out there in many ways. And it would certainly make for new an interesting forum wars.

    Plus there is the whole “who has the money to do this” aspect. I am not sure CCP is in that league.

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  10. sean

    on ESO, you missed a free win: F2P in 2015. They quietly announced over the Christmas break that 6 month subscriptions are no longer purchaseable – like Codemasters did some years ago, 6 months before they went F2P. 10 easy points there waiting for you!

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  11. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Sean – I did miss that. EA did the same thing with Warhammer Online before they announced they were shutting it down. Given the choice, had I seen that tidbit, I might have gone with “TESO Closing Down!” as a prediction, as I would rather my predictions be silly rather than right most days of the week.

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  12. SynCaine

    “As much as I enjoy a good “SOE being SOE” moment now and again, at the end of the day SOE does seem to be able to develop and run multiple MMOs while making money at it.”

    Are they? Or are they still alive today because they made EQ1 way back in the day and have been living of their one real success all these years? Take the IP off EQ2, and is that game still online, or does it shut down 3-6 months after WoW launches? How many SOE MMOs have been actually been shut down because SOE couldn’t make them decent-enough or fix them enough to keep them online? How many that haven’t been shut down right now would have without All Access or other “because SOE” stuff? And again, without EQ1, does any of the SOE lumping of MMOs work?

    I just really don’t get any of the non-EQ1-based love for SOE. PS2 is bleh at best. Landmark is a total joke if you remove the EQ IP. EQN is a blur. Their DayZ clone is an outdated fad and its not even close to release. Meanwhile we have “SOE being SOE” for a very good, very solid reason. Again, if any other studio did what SOE did, and they didn’t have an EQ1 to always fall back on, would they be in business?

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  13. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @SynCaine – Sure, there are all sorts of “what if” scenarios we could go through, but at the end of the day they appear to be making enough money to do expansions for their older games and develop new ones. You and I may not like the new games, but SOE has apparently gotten past the point of “games should never die” and closes stuff that doesn’t make money. Four titles got the axe last year, which at least implies that the other titles do make money.

    And, leaving aside Blizzard, the outlier in all of this, who is doing a lot better that SOE? You’ll say CCP, and I love them, but they can barely do anything besides EVE Online. Turbine has taken two of the biggest names in fantasy, Dungeons & Dragons and Lord of the Rings, and turned them into marginal properties. Perfect World is hurting in the US. I went through studios in a post a while back and there are a lot of low cards in that hand. Compared to other studios, SOE doesn’t look so bad.

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  14. SynCaine

    The making money thing is a bit tricky though. I mean, at this point both EQ1 and EQ2 will make money, but a skeleton crew just putting out ‘more of the same’ stuff each year using well established tools isn’t anything special, and again, remove what EQ1 was at it’s peak, and is either game online today, or is EQ1 floating around like Asherons Call? So yea, making some money, but more on reputation and comfort than current or even recent developer success/skill. I guess credit to SOE for not completely borking the games ala SWG? Are we giving out prizes for that now; just NOT totally ruining an existing MMO?

    The genre sucks, so if we list all devs it goes Blizzard, Square/Enix, CCP (EVE subs > everything SOE has out right now combined), and everyone else. SOE is in 4rd, sitting alongside hotbar salemen, One-Ring sellers, Trion being Trion, The Manifesto of Lies delivered, etc. Competition isn’t exactly stiff here, and if everyone in 4th place went poof tomorrow, would the genre be any worse off for anyone other than Bhag?

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  15. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Brandon – I’ve seen some revenue numbers thrown around, but I haven’t seen anything that would support the idea that SWTOR was the third most profitable. Link?

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