2018 – Predictions for a New Year

Welcome to the new year… not the same as the old year we hope, but how often do we get that wish granted in a way we don’t later regret?

As has become the tradition here over the years, I have laid out a list of predictions for the upcoming year. 11th time’s a charm or something.  A few have some grounding in reality, more are speculation, and the rest are just wild theories I thought sounded plausible when spoken in a calm, neutral tone.

Past runs at this whole prediction thing:

Despite having done my worst job at foreseeing the future last year, I continue on unabated.

The scoring is the same as every year, with each question worth 10 points total unless otherwise noted, with partial credit being possible since my predictions tend to meander and cover multiple points.

1 – Blizzard will ship the Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft on August 28th of this year.  10 points if I am right, minus 2 points for each week I am off for a partial credit calculation.

2 – WoW Classic – We will have a lot of details by the end of the year and you’ll be able to sign up for closed beta, but there won’t be a lot of emphasis on it to the disappointment of many.  But Blizzard is canny and won’t want to distract from the Battle for Azeroth launch.  Expect a major WoW Classic panel at BlizzCon with lots of details of things we can expect to try in 2019.

3 – With plans for a real WoW Classic unambiguously in motion, expect Blizzard to serve notice on any emulator hosting enough players to run the Deadmines that legal action will commence if they do not shut down and promise to stay that way.  That was cute and all when Blizz said it couldn’t be done, but with actual money on the line Blizz will be more like Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

4 – Heroes of the Storm will continue to follow the Diablo III toward the dormant part of the Blizzard franchise locker room. More changes won’t revitalize it, but it will make enough money for Blizz to keep making new heroes through 2018.

5 – Shut down list – The following titles will close their doors, at least in North America,  2 Points each:

  • Runes of Magic (Best case, merge with the European server)
  • WildStar (Going to be right one of these years)
  • GuildWars (NCsoft will be all about mobile and clearing out old stuff)
  • Defiance (The companion TV show has been cancelled already…)
  • Granado Espada (Was kind of surprised to hear it was still a thing)

6 – Won’t ship list – The following titles won’t ship, go live, leave early access, progress beyond alpha, or otherwise leave the criticism deflection zone and actually face the live market, 2 points each:

  • Star Citizen
  • Crowfall
  • Camelot Unchained
  • Pantheon
  • CCP Project Nova

7 – Shroud of the Avatar will make the leap to live status, will leave early access and such, and be fully available for sale without caveat or restriction… and sales won’t take off because most everybody who was interested has already bought in.  Instead it will need an active, constantly updated, and heavily promoted cash shop to keep going.  Govern yourself accordingly.

8 – No legal changes to lootboxes, pay to win, or pseudo gambling.  This is a Gevlon inspired prediction, where he said:

Mark my word: one year from now, it’ll be illegal to sell anything random or powerful and it’ll be also illegal to not disclose major gaming concepts like how the matchmaker works.

I’m taking the opposite position.  I’ll leave out the matchmaker part, mostly because that seems nonsensical to predict… not to mention he was wrong about it with League of Legends… and stick with just the “random or powerful” part of that.  If I can buy a random lootbox come December 1st of 2018 with the promise of a useful, non-cosmetic item, that will be 10 points for me.

9 – Nintendo and GameFreak will announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl for the 3DS.  Come on, you know how badly we want this!  Dooooo eeeeet!

10 – In a retro focused year, Nintendo will also announce Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire for the 3DS Virtual Console.

11 – The Nintendo Switch will get its own Virtual Console store in 2018, and one of the early test items will be versions of the above mentioned Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire in order to test the waters. We will get that announcement before we hear anything about a new, current generation core Pokemon RPG on the Switch.

12 – Pokemon Go will finally get a head to head battle mode along with a friends list, though it will be segregated by platform, so iOS and Android shall not mix.  No trading of Pokemon however and the incentives to battle, aside from pride of winning, will be kept minuscule out of fears of abuse.

13 – Microsoft/Mojang will announce end of updates/new features for Minecraft –  Java Edition in favor of ongoing support for the unified edition that works across mobile, console, and Windows 10 which, coincidentally, is also the edition where they make money selling skins and such.  Basically, maintenance mode and a push to get people to go where the money is.

14 – Daybreak will finally announce a new product, a small-ish group/co-op RPG thing that will feel like something of a new coat of paint on Just Survive, but will be fantasy and based in Norrath because that is the only IP they have that has some draw and lacks a licensing fee.

15 – PlanetSide 2 and Just Survive will clearly be in maintenance mode by the end of the year, with staff being pulled off to work on the above new title.  The problem will be distinguishing maintenance mode from whatever mode they are in now.  Daybreak will just have to tell us.

16 – EverQuest and EverQuest II will get their annual autumnal expansions.  The EverQuest team will follow the lead of their younger sibling and return to a Planes of Power theme.

17 – On the EverQuest II side of the house the focus will be a surprising return to a desert theme along the lines of Desert of Flames, flying freaking carpets and all.

18 – The deal with Tencent to bring H1Z1 to China will fall apart when PlayerUnknown’s Battleground makes it there first and sews up the battle royale market.  Best case, H1Z1 will launch and fold in a few months, worst case it won’t even get the chance.

19 – EVE Fanfest 2018 in Iceland will be a smash, celebrating as it will the 15th birthday of the launch of EVE Online.  However, one of the announcements will be that there will be no EVE Vegas going forward and that their plans for Four Fan Fests around the world in 2019 will be scrapped as will Fan Fest 2019, though the latter will be because they’re remodeling the Harpa.  I am not adopting the Massively OP outlook that EVE Online itself is mordibund because most of the community team got the axe, but without them who else is going to do these events?

20 – EVE Online itself will continue to move forward more slowly than planned.  The end of player owned starbases and null sec stations won’t come to pass until after the traditional CCP July/August vacation season.  Focus before then will be tuning Alphas some more, The Agency, and special events.

21 – After going up in 2017, the PCU will begin to trend down again, with the average over the next 12 months dipping down to 30K.  Not drastic, but it will keep the “EVE is dying” fan club active and have CCP looking around for short term changes to boost the player base.

22 – EVE Fanfest 2018 will see a revised vision statement about future plans for EVE Online.  Gone will be talk of player built gates and new space.  There is already too much space in New Eden for the current player base.  Instead the new vision will seek to revitalize NPC null sec regions like Venal and the Great Wildlands with a much more aggressive NPC population defending those systems rather than just letting players pass.  Details will be high level, but CCP will hint that this is a test run for plans they are considering for Jove space as some sort of high end, raid-like experiment.

23 – In EVE Online the CSM 13 elections will see a bump in non-null sec representation, with four seats going to such candidates.  The return of Mike Azariah will help get out the non-null vote.  The six null-sec seats will be two Imperium (Aryth & Innominate), one Brave, one TEST, one PL/PH/NCDot, and one GotG.

24 – Project Aurora, CCPs mobile game made in cooperation with… um… whoever that was at EVE Vegas… will ship in the second half of the year and… will do better than Dust 514.  It will do okay, people will download it and play it, it will get a core following and make some money, but it won’t be covering the bills or paying for an expanded community team.

25 – We won’t hear much about the alleged new project that CCP recently posted job listings about, aside from the fact that they have partnered with somebody else to do the heavy lifting. A year from now EVE Online will still be all CCP really has, but people will still be yelling at CCP for a) spending money on anything besides EVE Online and b) gambling the whole company’s future on just EVE Online.

26 – No 64-bit client for EVE Online in 2018.  The captain’s quarters wasn’t all that was holding them back, it was just the easiest to dispose of.

27 – Standing Stone is running out of content for Lord of the Rings Online.  Between Mordor and the Grey Havens there is really only a couple of weddings, the walk home, the scourging of the Shire, and trying to clean up the mess.  No expansions, no be changes to the landscape, just a few updates with some of the more militant mopping up tasks in areas of Middle-earth they have already mapped out.  We won’t be walking Frodo to the Grey Havens in 2018, but it will be on the horizon.

Double Extra Credit Bonus Prediction: CCP will announce they are merging with, or being acquired by, another studio before the end of 2018.

So that is 27 entries for a total possible of 270 points, plus the bonus prediction, a throw away I am going to demand 20 points for should it come to pass.  Now to wait and see what happens between now and December of 2018.

Others doing some New Year’s predicting or wishing:

6 thoughts on “2018 – Predictions for a New Year

  1. anypo8

    Nice slate! There’s quite a few things here I think are spot-on.

    3 – Blizzard won’t be suing anybody over running a Classic server unless they reach Nostalria PCU levels. The Streisand Effect is too strong here — the last thing they want to do is give more publicity to the fact that you can play WoW for free. They accomplished what they wanted with the Nostalria shutdown: scattering the Classic playerbase across a number of servers and discouraging a bunch of people (including me) from persisting with it. The WoW Classic progress will indeed be slim to none in 2018: holding out the promise of Official Classic is Blizzard’s new strategy for discouraging commitment to the free Classic servers.

    13 – I am skeptical that Microsoft can afford to let Java Minecraft die. Too much of the playerbase that generates huge amounts of free content for them is wholly invested in it. Of my friends who play Minecraft, I can’t think of one who wouldn’t give up if it was announced that the new stuff was only coming to the MS platform.

    19 – EVE Fanfest 2019 will be announced in 2018. It’s too much of a part of the culture to let it go even without the Community Team. CCP will hire an outside contractor to make it happen. I’d say EVE Vegas has a 50% chance of continuing: it’s cheap and easy to set up, and the US playerbase is large. The other Fanfest events will definitely not happen.

    24 – There’s little chance that CCP can ship Project Aurora before the end of 2018: that’s just the realities of software. Maybe some kind of closed beta, but that’s not really a thing in the mobile market as far as I can tell.

    25 – Who would be complaining about CCP betting its entire future on EVE Online? I haven’t heard anyone saying that. What CCP wants, desperately, is your Double Extra Credit Bonus Prediction. I am skeptical that they will find a reasonable partner or buyout deal, but that would solve their problems quite nicely.

    Thanks for your most excellent predictions. Happy New Year!

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  2. bhagpuss

    On the Guild Wars prediction, there is some confusion over ArenaNet’s exact position vis a vis NCSoft. It come ups in-game in GW2 quite often and generally starts a heated debate. I have no clear idea what the actual position is but people regularly claim that ANet retain some or even all of the direct rights for the GW IP.

    If you check wikipedia and the GW2 wiki they both state that ANet is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NCSoft and that the Korean giant bought them in 2002, which would mean they developed and launched the first Guild Wars as part of NCSoft. On the other hand, there’s a MassivelyOP post from 2015 that talks about the removal of all mention of NCSoft from the GW2 EULA and a quote from Mike O’Brien stating that “There is nothing tricky about that. ArenaNet is taking over the publishing of Guild Wars 2.”

    It seems odd that a wholly-owned subsidiary would become the publisher of a game already published by the company that owns it but who knows how these things work? I mean, there’s the whole Standing Stone/DBG thing and no-one understands what’s going on there either…

    Anyway, I’d be surprised to see ANet close Guild Wars. The current GW2 playerbase is, frankly, fanatical about the IP and ANet have been in full-on DBG-clone nostalgia mode to milk that for 18 months now. I can’t see them doing anything so unnecessarily provocative – and it would cause a huge media storm, I’m sure. NCsoft, anyway, will be too busy trying to count their money from LineageM to worry about a couple of servers in ANet’s basement.

    As for the prediction on a small-scale Norath-based survival rpg I really hope you get your 10 points on that one. I’d play it! I do think they are going to do ~something~ with the EQ IP – as you say, they pretty much have nothing else to play with. When or what, though, I have no clue and neither, it appears, does anyone else.

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  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @anypo8 – CCP has already said there won’t be an EVE Fanfest of the traditional sort for 2019, it was announced at EVE Vegas 2017. The speculation was that this was because the venue wouldn’t be available due to it getting an overhaul. We shall see.

    Project Aurora was already playable on iOS and Android at EVE Vegas 2017, so if they can’t get it out in 2018 I’ll be surprised.

    On 25, this seems to come up in every comment or Reddit thread whenever CCP starts/stops spending money on something other than EVE. As an example, Jester, former CSM member himself, has complained in the past about betting the company on just EVE Online. As I said in the year in review, they’re dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t.

    As for Minecraft, I don’t expect anybody to give up the Java Edition. In fact, long term stability could lead to a blossoming of MODs. I didn’t say Microsoft would kill it, just stop pushing features for it. They’ve already branded it as something other than main line Minecraft and have worked hard to unify all the other flavors to the extent they are able. They just make most of their money off the other flavors at this point.

    @Bhagpuss – I had another prediction rattling around about NCsoft and how successful their mobile projects have been leading them to cut back on MMOs and focus on that platform. One of the possible off-shoots of that was a mobile version of Guild Wars being announced. But I never quite got a coherent prediction so just shoved GW into that list with a note.

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  4. Eli Olsen

    On the Minecraft one, the massive rehaul to code they are doing (1.13 is called the technical update) could point either way, but honestly it really won’t matter if they stop pushing for java updates, those of us who mod would actually prefer it greatly. Also, we could just mod future updates for the main line in, at little difficulty (there are already mods bringing new content to old versions, this would just be a continuation of that.)

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  5. Krumm

    Your Predictions this year sounds for the most part spot on to me…

    on 2 & 3 for Wow…I totally agree on Classic they will not speak about it to loudly until after battle of azeroths launch and the peak of sales sees its first major dip. They will then refocus on classic and the destroying of the private servers. I disagree with anypo8. They will use their might to clear, clean, and sue the pants off any that are out there that resist. They are now investing into wow nostalgia and they want to maximize their potential. Clearing the market gives focus to their only legitimate source.

    on 7. Ultima and the Shroud of the Avatar (if you remember much about my personal ramblings) it is one that I loved Ultima and so I was excited when this was announced what seems like years ago now. It shows that just because you developed something unique and powerful, possibly even great at one time does not mean that you can pull it off twice. I think they spent to long trying to perfect this or that and most likely won’t have that ultima feel…but I will have to try it once it finally comes out “live”.

    on 13. My oh my Minecraft…I spent so much time on minecraft last night and the day before that I was dreaming about it. I’m in Survival on a small island with a village next to an ocean monument…real close. I can jack o lantern and sugar cane my way to the entrance…bar the lazers and the mining fatigue. I just need a couple of diamonds so I can make an enchanting table and I would be all set. I was digging around next to the fountain looking for some and it actually has a huge ravine/cave network under the island…it’s the perfect seed for a survivalist.

    I actually thought of getting into the temple and building an iron golem while in there to have it agro and attack the guardians and the bosses as it can’t drown. What do yea think?

    As to the future I don’t mind having a all-for-one platform but arn’t there reasons for the differences…I would hate to have console controls in my pc version for example. That was the one single reason I could not get into DCUO.

    Lastly on to EVE…

    18. Eve Vegas, I don’t think they will cancel it maybe shrink scope but they will continue on as it energizes the fan base.

    22. I agree no new space is needed, other than Jove as a ed game sounds perfect. I do feel that need to focus on the NPC and mission aspects of the game. I have said before if they added more epic mission arcs for the different npc factions, enhance game aspects outside of the spaceships themselves. I see a revision to PI coming…they changed moon mining and PI would be next in that line of thinking for me.

    Now to your past record on predictions…just remember if we could all predict the future we would all be trying to change it and therefore would be right where we are today. Its like trying to go into the past and change it when you know that you must of failed your mission in the first place.

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  6. Pendan

    27- Given that the original release was titled after an area that I think was only mentioned in passing in the Lord of the Rings books, I think they have a lot of areas they could add to the game in landscape. Middle Earth maps have names for all the land below Gondor and Mordor and is some stuff east of Mirkwood. I do think north Mirkwood could be the only thing released in 2018.

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