I have to say that the brightest point about the new year is that we have now moved into a decade that should be easily referred to. Gone are the “teens” or whatever we called the last ten years, so bring on “the twenties!” Whether they are “roaring,” “soaring,” or simply “boring” remains to be seen. (And yes, it is a new decade. It has been proven beyond doubt.)
And, as happens every year, it is now time for me to expose my ignorance and nonsensical notions by attempting some predictions about what may come to pass in this fresh new year.
The history of this ritual is documented. You can go back and see just how often I am wrong, which ranges between “almost always” and “damn near always.”
- 2008 – Predictions (silly, mostly wrong)
- 2009 – Predictions (mostly silly, mostly wrong)
- 2010 – Predictions (lots of bullet points, mostly wrong)
- 2011 – Demands (mostly unmet)
- 2012 – Questions (mostly unanswered)
- 2013 – Goals (mostly unfulfilled)
- 2014 – Predictions (serious, mostly wrong again)
- 2015 – Predictions (serious, mostly wrong as usual)
- 2016 – Predictions (serious-ish, mostly wrong)
- 2017 – Predictions (more wrong than usual)
- 2018 – Predictions (serious and maybe less wrong than usual)
- 2019 – Predictions (scandalous and mostly wrong)
As always, each prediction is worth ten points, with partial credit available. And, just because it comes up now and then, I will remind people that predictions are not wishes. What I think will happen and what I want to happen are generally pretty different.
1 – Daybreak Up
When your predictions don’t come to pass… well, maybe you were just ahead of your time. So I am going to recycle this one. By the end of the year Daybreak Games won’t exist in its current form. New owners, new acquisitions, new partners, or just spun out into a couple smaller studios built on geographical locations (San Diego and Austin being the basis), there will be drastic changes.
2 – Norrath Forever
Pessimism about the company overall aside, I expect the EverQuest franchise, fresh off a couple of big anniversaries, to continue humming along as before no matter where it lands. There will be the usual content updates mid-cycle, a special server launch for each, and then the standard end-of-year expansions for each game. You don’t mess with things that are working.
3 – Struggling Royales
and PlanetSide Arena will both be toast on the PC platform. I wrote this before we got the word on PSA. I won’t take half credit up front. The burden will just be on H1Z1 or Z1 Battle Royale or whatever it is called now, to prove me wrong.
4 – PlanestSide Promises
Daybreak has been telling people they will have a big PlanetSide 2 related announcements in the new year. But no matter what they announce, it will fall flat. Daybreak has another game in decline and cannot figure out what to do about it. I guess when your only answers in your bag are “battle royale” and “retro server,” you are kind of stuck. What else do they have? PlanetSide 2 on the Switch? Expect little and you won’t be disappointed.
5 – Unexpected Party
Standing Stone Games will take a page from their… well… we still aren’t sure how Daybreak and SSG are connected so lets just say “partners” for now… partners in San Diego and roll out a new special rules Lord of the Rings Online server. Like Blizz, SSG needs something splashy for LOTRO for its non-expansion years and the 2018 LOTRO Legendary server went pretty well for them. However, rather than just replaying the nostalgia card once more they will make up a much more convoluted rule set for this new server. It will go badly.
6 – Avatar’s Shroud
Lord British has washed his hands of the whole thing and the new company (Catnip Games, no doubt because you’d have to be on drugs to think things are going well) has already reneged on more promises, a sign that times are bad for this strange, very much not for everyone title. I expect that online play will be shut down before the end of the year, leaving backers with local single player as their only option.
7 – Shadowlands Forseen
I am calling an August 18th launch for the next WoW expansion, Shadowlands. That month has become the Blizz sweet spot for WoW launches. Not a lot else tends to launch in August, there is the summer for pre-expansion events, and things tend to settle down by BlizzCon when the company likes to start talking about the next thing. 2 points lost for every week I am off the date.
8 – BlizzCon Announcements
Read my lips: No new games. Just reworks, remasters, and expansions of the current games and franchises. Maybe a mobile version of something… a tablet version of StarCraft or a watered down phone game with a Warcraft theme… but nothing new. Need more pylons.
9 – Diablo Before
At BlizzCon there will talk about Diablo IV, along with some art and a bit of game play video. What there won’t be is a release date announced in 2020.
10 – Wait of Immortals
For reasons that will not be disclosed, Diablo Immortal will fail to ship again in 2020.
11 – Classic Future
At BlizzCon, and not one minute before, Blizzard will announce a very conservative, no dates given save for maybe with a hint towards summer of 2021, plan for a classic server based on The Burning Crusade.
12 – Activision Encroachment
By the end of the year the Battle.net launcher will feature the Activision logo more prominently as it becomes the Activision-Blizzard launcher. No need for the team in Santa Monica to roll out their own launcher when the team in Irvine already has one.
13 – New Eden in Decline
As mentioned before, CCP has gone into a very tactical phase of development with EVE Online. That isn’t a bad thing. The game needs it. But there is no vision for the game, no future path being sketched out, and space nerds require optimism and forward motion. Retaining another percent or two of new players won’t help much if the old guard can’t pass on enthusiasm to them. I expect the 2020 PCU and MER numbers to show a slow, consistent decline.
14 – The Eternal POS
CCP will fail to remove the storied Player Owned Starbase from New Eden yet again. They are growing exceedingly rare, but they are still out there.
15 – CSM XV
The usual round of CSM election nonsense will carry on. In the end, it will be eight null sec representatives dominating the council again, with any null sec incumbent that runs getting returned.
16 – HyperNet Relay End Point
CCP will shut down its HyperNet Relay within a year of it launch due to issues related to local gambling regulations, which will be spurred by the situation in the next prediction. It is always a risk to chain predictions together, but I’ll go there yet again.
17 – Gacha Movement
After predicting no movement on lockboxes and gambling for a few years now, the pot seems to have heated up enough that the frog might be in trouble in 2020. My assumption up to this point has been that the industry wouldn’t be dumb, that the ESA would promise that the industry would police itself with a few concrete proposals while dumping a lot of contributions on key political players. But the industry has been greedy and dumb and arrogant and even antagonistic, what with “surprise mechanics” and trying to upstage hearings on the subject by loudly announcing a set of empty promises. You have to look contrite and helpful in order to give politicians the cover they need to roll over and take your
bribes contributions. Also it is a presidential election year in the US, so politicians will be looking for softball issues to champion, and when the NRA is telling you that video games cause violence… Anyway, the industry is going to have to actually put up something real to avoid regulation beyond Belguim. Look at what happened to Juul when politicians decided it was a safe vote getter to jump on vaping.
18 – Guild Wars Decline
With the contractions and departures at ArenaNet, Guild Wars 2 will potter along with small updates, bits of content dressed up as living story seasons, and replays of tried and true things like the Super Adventure Box. The game won’t be in “maintenance mode” the way Guild Wars is, but it will be clear a year from now that its heyday has passed.
19 – City of Villains
NCsoft will finally make a public announcement about the City of Heroes servers out in the wild using the original code. It will come from a lawyer and will include the words “cease” and “desist.” NCsoft will attempt to stomp out these servers and will force them to be much lower profile than they have been in 2019. But they won’t go away. Software, once freed, is very difficult to contain.
20 – New World Order
Amazon’s New World will be delayed past May to launch in the fall. Once launched it will be… fine. An Ark: Survival Evolved kind of game, probably what Smed wishes H1Z1 had been like at launch. It won’t break any new ground and after a flash at launch will fade into the crowd, successful but not headline worthy.
21 – Won’t Ship Yet Again
The following titles won’t go live or otherwise be available to customers in any way that we would agree on was complete. Early access, open beta, or eternal alpha states do not count. Two Points per title.
- Camelot Unchained
- Torchlight Frontiers
- Dual Universe
- Anything at all from Chris Roberts
I’ll go negative points on that last one if he ships two things. But I think we all know that isn’t going to happen.
22 – GameStopped
The only way GameStop is going to be around a year from now is if they shed enough weight to make it into the Christmas season. Black Friday might as well be “life or death” Friday for them. But I don’t think they will make it that far unscathed. In order to get the freedom of movement required to get that far they are going to have to declare chapter 11 bankruptcy. That will let them get out of store leases and give them the breathing room to carry on. But even then they will be a shell of their former selves by the time I write up the results post come December.
23 – Steam Engine
Life as usual for Steam. The four usual seasonal sales. Epic will keep sniping away and trying to get people to pay attention by throwing free games at them while most people will still see Steam as the default source of PC games. It is the post office of gaming. Steam will continue to revise their game acceptance policy, but otherwise carry on as always with no big changes in 2020.
Bonus Prediction – Guild Wars 3 Announced
Sure, why not? Guild Wars 2 is slowly ebbing, NCsoft needs something to keep fans in that area happy, and I am sure there is a crew around that believes they have learned enough from GW2 to do it RIGHT this time! They don’t have to ship anything. At most they have to do some hand waving about another monuments thing for specific achievements, which will get people grinding away again. Give me 10 bonus points if this comes to pass, though it is so out there that I ought to ask for more.
Super Double Bonus Prediction – PA buys Daybreak
This one came up a couple months back when Daybreak was registering new names for itself and CCP announced that EVE Vegas was going to become EVE San Diego. The obvious (to me) conclusion was that Pearl Abyss MUST be buying Daybreak and then merging their fan events together. I left this as a comment and it became a post over at Massively OP. I figured I ought to codify it here as a prediction. Have a couple of drinks and say it three times fast and it sounds pretty logical. And if it comes to pass I want 20 bonus points.
That gives me 230 possible points from the core questions, plus the extra credit bonus questions. Now I just have to sit tight and wait for eleven and a half months to see what comes to pass.
I don’t know much about the other games, but I think it’s highly unlikely Guild Wars 3 will be announced. Especially since the new season has just started. I doubt it’ll end before 2021. I also doubt they’ll have enough prepared to have a new project announced, be it Guild Wars 3 or something entirely different (see the recent job openings).
I do agree that Guild Wars 2 is on the decline. Unless they do something spectacular, the vets will leave.
As Tessa suggests, ANet are more than rumored to be working on a console title. I think a GW3 would be potentially very profitable – there’s a huge installed base out there for the franchise but I don’t sense any willingness to service it. I’d love to be proved wrong, though.
We were supposed to get a significant announcement about Daybreak in November, according to the October Producer’s Letter:
“More News is OTW!
Keep your ears perked in November for even more news about our teams and our commitment to the franchise. We’ve got some fun announcements coming up.”
Did we ever get any of that ? I don’t believe we did. Something was going on and it was close to being revealed but then it stalled. It would certainly appear to have been some kind of restructuring but whether it’s still on the cards, who can say?
As for Planetside, why do they even bother?
@Bhagpuss – With Daybreak you never know what these sorts of hints mean. Their sense of proportion is not very well aligned with their audience. I think the constant flow of interns to community positions then to the exit means that every extremely young member of that team wants to be as upbeat as possible since they are clearly expendable.
As for PlanetSide… they had that taste of the big time for a bit with H1Z1 and the battle royale thing, and once you’ve been there it is hard not to wonder if you can catch that lightning in the bottle once again. As for what we’ll get, they promise, they lay off, they launch, they cancel, then they hint that new things are coming. I don’t know what to think at this point.
I like these posts because I tend to more or less agree with most of them, and on the others it’s fun to see whether I’m closer or farther than you at the end of the year.
I wonder if a contraction is coming, considering the several struggling games out there. It may not even be altogether bad, since MMO players would have to go somewhere and it could finally open the genre to some fresh blood. That might be overly optimistic though, certainly for 2020.
I don’t think your Hyper-raffle thingy prediction is necessarily chained with the Gacha Movement prediction. Unless the regulations change in the UK, I suspect CCP will just geo block the feature from the countries passing the regulations.
I have not kept up to date with the Shroud Of The Avatar events. What else has changed apart from Garriott divesting himself of the game development/management?
18- “it will be clear a year from now that its heyday has passed.” I think you may be a little behind on that prediction.
If your lead designer/game director bails AND your president/co-founder leaves to start a new company, I don’t see how much clearer the writing on the wall has to be, even before we mention the layoffs and the loss of institutional knowledge (and staff morale) that would result.
To make matters even more challenging, the game’s player population is bitterly polarized these days, leaking toxicity through any seam that was initially designed out by the originals and accidentally re-introduced by the latecomer designers.
The only way to save it now is someone at the helm with the force of personality strong enough to make a new cult of something hype-able, something that unites all the fraying threads. But given prior track record and what we’ve seen of the people that could muster the stomach to face a public audience, besides giving them credit for ample courage and fortitude, I don’t think any of them have the confidence, vision and charisma necessary.
So GW2 is 99% likely to keep its head down, tread water and fade quietly. The new job openings suggest Anet going ahead with another hail mary new title that might save what remains of their studio, by refocusing staff and morale towards something new and different, designed by the newer designers that don’t have to be bogged down by the weight of all the accumulated baggage of a GW-related franchise.
@zaphod6502 – The game has been taken over by company run by one of the devs that has been very vague about it very existence along with reneging on pending Kickstarters rewards and generally being quite reluctant to speak to the press about anything. They are not out there hustling for new business, that is for sure, and the old business wasn’t sustainable.
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