The wheel keeps turning and we have arrived back in December again, which means getting back to stuff I said in January. I predicted some crazy stuff then, much of which is just embarrassing in hindsight. But hindsight is an exact science, while the future can be an impenetrable fog on a cold January morning.
While there are still a couple weeks left in the year my general rule is that if it hasn’t happened by December 15th it isn’t going to happen. So barring a 4pm press release from Daybreak later on today I think I am safe calling it now.
This is a regular feature and, as such, you can go back and review how it has gone before… if you have that much free time.
But if you do not want to dwell on the past… then why are you here, that is my favorite thing… we can get right down to this year’s prediction scoring. As usual, unless otherwise noted, predictions are worth 10 points each, with partial credit available. So off we go!
1 – Early Classic Date
WoW Classic will launch on May 28, 2019. As is the standard for this sort of guess at a date, I knock off 2 points for every week I am off. That is about as concrete and clearly defined as a prediction can possibly be. The early date will be to coincide with the end of the six month subscriptions that Blizz sold back in the fall as Battle for Azeroth isn’t holding people otherwise.
I was way off on this. Blizz being Blizz shipped WoW Classic later than I expected. And Blizz just went with another six month subscription offer to get people to stick around in BfA. 0 points.
2 – Classic Rush
The WoW Classic launch will be 2004 all over again. There confluence of nostalgia and the end of the Battle for Azeroth expansion will conspire to cause WoW Classic to overflow quickly. There won’t be enough servers leading to long queues to get on to the servers available. This will lead to new servers being spun up and the classic server split routine from back in the day. Blizzard will publicly compare the day one WoW Classic crowds to how things went at the WoW launch in 2004.
I hit some points on this one. Maybe not exactly like WoW in 2004, but queues and not enough servers and all that were clearly present. I’m taking 5 points for this one.
3 – Classic Plans
By the time BlizzCon roles around… we’ll get to BlizzCon itself in a bit… there will be a panel, or at least a mention in the keynote, about WoW Classic and moving on from vanilla into some of the early expansions. How to do an expansion like The Burning Crusade without necessarily progressing the vanilla servers will be a key point of contention, with transfers and boosts straight to level 60 being discussed.
Eh, not so much. WoW Classic got a mention in the keynote for sure… I mean, duh… but otherwise all WoW focus was on Shadowlands. WoW Classic plans will be next BlizzCon for sure, but this year it is 0 points.
4 – Classic Acceleration
By September 1, 2019 the WoW Classic rush will be over. As we have seen time and again, the initial pile-on to play on a nostalgia server peaks pretty quickly as players, familiar with the old game and reliving their experience, move much more quickly through the game than back in the day. This will lead to complaints about dead servers and calls for server merges or free transfers. This will be even worse if Blizz goes full purist mode and doesn’t use the sharding tech that allows more people to use a single zone/server.
This one is tough. Certainly progress for a lot of people has been much faster than back in 2004. I think the percent of the population at the level cap is probably much higher than it was at a similar point in WoW history. And populations have tapered off some, as one would expect. My indicator is how many auctions are up in the AH on Saturday. Early it was in the 500s, now it is below 400. But a lot of people are still playing and I haven’t seen a dead server complaint yet. I still run into people in low level zones doing the same quests. It feels kind of like 2006 WoW… which I guess is what it is. The Blizz sharding stuff worked I guess. But 0 points for me.
5 – Next WoW Live Expansion
The early launch of WoW Classic to cover the Battle for Azeroth collapse will mess with the Blizzard’s timing the way that Warlords of Draenor did. Look for Blizz to cover their sagging Q2 2019 earnings by announcing the next expansion in August, just after Activision releases their quarterly earnings report.
Nope, they waited until BlizzCon to announce. 0 points.
6 – The Long BlizzCon
There will be a BlizzCon 2019 on November 8 and 9. The main stage will be taken over by new titles as Blizzard announces no fewer that five projects. Three of them will be mobile titles and an actual PC Diablo franchise game will be another. However, a Diablo II remaster will go missing yet again.
Well, it was November 1 and 2, so I was off by a week. And, counting Shadowlands and Diablo IV and Overwatch 2, there were… uh… one, two… two and a half new projects? There was nothing about mobile mentioned. But the Diablo II remaster went missing again. I’m going to give myself 3 points.
7 – Full Steam Ahead
Expect Steam to stay strong despite Epic, Discord, and Amazon trying to undermine it with better deals for developers. Steam can and will play that game while carrying on as the one stop shop for all games PC. Devs won’t get as big of a cut on Steam, but the installed base and success stories will keep any but the biggest studios from cutting ties.
Pretty much. Epic made waves by luring away titles that were offered for pre-order on Steam to become Epic Store exclusives, but that didn’t go 100% in their favor either. There was some backlash. Microsoft gave up and starting putting titles on Steam. Even EA made a half-hearted compromise with Steam. They will sell their titles there again, but you still need Origin installed to launch them. 10 points.
8 – All Things PlanetSlide
PlanetSide Arena will launch… or go into early access or whatever… as planned at the end of January. It will sell some boxes and make Daybreak some quick money. But it isn’t going to steal back the Battle Royale market for the company. Before spring turns to summer it will be showing peak numbers on Steam down near the H1Z1 end of the spectrum, lagging far behind PUBG and nowhere close to whatever Fortnite will report on its own.
Well, I got the ship date wrong. It was September, not February. I should never believe Daybreak. But as for the rest? It didn’t grab any market and became something of a divisive point in the PlanetSide community who didn’t want a re-hash of Battle Royale. It isn’t dead yet, but rumor has it that Daybreak laid off most of the staff working on it. 7 points.
9 – Sayonara Norrath
I am going to go with the Prophecy of May and say that this will be a fateful anniversary year for EverQuest titles. The 15th anniversary for EverQuest II and the 20th anniversary for EverQuest will see both titles celebrated, given special new content, and then put in what will be effectively maintenance mode.
Pessimism about Daybreak often ends up correct, but I think I am wrong on this. We heard a lot around the EverQuest 20th anniversary about how the franchise has more players than it did back in 2015. These two games will keep going, bascially because they have a core customer base and make money. Expansions for the foreseeable future, but 0 points for me.
10 – NantGo Away, I’m No Good For You
The NantG Mobile joint venture between Daybreak and NantWorks will deliver on none of its promises. They’ll keep H1Z1 alive, but there won’t be any new Z1 Battle Royale (unless they just straight up rename H1Z1), there won’t be any new esports league, there won’t be an esports venue next to the LA Times, and there won’t be any mobile version of Z1 Battle Royale, and there won’t be any hint, word, or anything about any EverQuest game, mobile or otherwise.
All that and they gave all the code back to Daybreak. A complete flop. 10 points.
11 – Something Has Gotta Daybreak
All of this is going to add up to hard times at Daybreak. By December 1, 2019 it won’t be the company it was on January 1, if it exists at all. It will either be acquired wholesale by another company or be parted out, with somebody like Gamigo taking the the three traditional MMORPGs (EverQuest, EverQuest II, and DC Universe Online) while the rest either tried to stand alone with the what I will call “the children of PlanetSide” or being folded into the NantWorks joint venture. I’ll be writing a farewell history of the studio before the year is out.
Well, things didn’t get that bad. There were more layoffs, but the company is still afloat. But the fact that they were creating alternate company names and social media accounts indicate that this wasn’t exactly miles from the truth either. 0 points, but I still feel like it could have gone this way and may still next year.
12 – Standing Alone Games
Standing Stone Games will feel the impact of Daybreak’s misfortune as well as the sting of losing a key LOTRO developer. They will carry through the first half of 2019 on momentum, but the latter half will leave people wondering what is up as they scramble to fill the void that Daybreak’s collapse will leave on their marketing/publishing front. The company will soldier on, but you won’t be getting anything like a 64-bit client from them.
With no Daybreak misfortune there were no repercussions. I’ll have to remind myself next time to stop making predictions that assume previous predictions come to pass. And just to rub my nose in it, not only did SSG launch a new expansion for LOTRO, they also delivered a 64-bit client. Imagine that! 0 points.
13 – Non-Shippers
The following titles won’t ship in 2019, defining “ship” as being available for sale with having to hide their unfinished state behind terms like “early access,” “beta,” “alpha,” or anything that falls into that realm. 2 Points per title on this one.
- Squadron 42
- Camelot Unchained
- Torchlight Frontiers
10 points. Not a one of them on the list made the criteria. We didn’t even get Camelot Unchained into beta. It is starting to make Star Citizen look positively progressive in getting test content to users.
14 – CCP Anomalous
The ISK problem in New Eden will be one of CCPs targets for 2019, so expect null sec anomalies and the rats that infest them to change to try and slow down the titan and super gravy train while not stomping too hard on the line members in the VNIs. Mining, however, will remain unchanged. Ore doesn’t bring ISK into the economy and should be self regulating based on price. It isn’t, but it should be.
Spot on here. CCP went straight at super and titan ratting for a few months, changing fighter damage application, anom respawn times, HAW weapons on titans, and so on. And then came the Blackout and the VNI nerf and it was the line members who paid the price. Ah well, they started on the rich, but eventually slaughtered the poor. 5 points for things before the Chaos Era.
15 – High Sec Changes
The War Dec changes will lead CCP to change up how suicide ganking works as well. Right now it is too by the numbers, a solved problem for most cases. CCP doesn’t want high sec to be safe, but right now the gankers kill with impunity and need a shake up.
Maybe, a little bit. They finally implemented that “warp in 3 minutes or your money back” scheme and made auto pilot warp to 10km rather than 15km. That annoyed gankers a bit. 2 points.
16 – Low Sec Attention Span
CCP has to do something radical for low sec in general and faction warfare specifically. My guess is that low sec will continued to be screwed in general, but that CCP will decide they need to greatly restrict, if not outright ban, the deployment of Upwell structures in FW space.
I figured this one was going to be a complete miss, but the last game update in December changed a bit of how Upwell structure tethering will work in FW. Give me 2 points for that at least.
17 – CSM XIV
CCP will change up the election process yet again, trying to get the candidate list out further before the actual elections, but it will be for naught. Eight of ten seats will still go to null sec alliances.
Nah. Same old election scheme. But if you count Olmeca Gold as a null sec candidate… it is where he lives and hunts, so I do… 8 out of 10 seats went to null sec. 5 points.
18 – POS Bash
Player Owned Starbases, already left with little relevance in the game, will see their end come June, when CCP finally pulls them from the game, symbolically burning the source code on the summer solstice. And so will go the POS, long a staple of the game.
Nope. All the blueprints are gone so you cannot make any new ones, but if you have one still deployed you can still hide within POS shields even today. 0 points.
19 – Key FOB
The POS announcement will come earlier as part of CCP introducing a new Upwell structure, the player forward operating base. The FOB will be something akin to a corp/alliance sized mobile depot that will allow players to repair, refit, and resupply. It will lack tethering or defenses and, give how cheap a Raitaru is, will barely get used.
Again, no sale. 0 points.
20 – 3DS Exit
Nintendo, after paring down the platform releases to almost nothing, will announce the end of their long running handheld line. They will cease manufacture, blow out the last units, and throw themselves fully onto the Switch. It will be the end of the Pokemon era. Pokemon will just be another game, not something that made a platform worthwhile.
I am annoyed to say that Nintedo is still pushing the 3DS/2DS line on their website a year after it was effectively dead. The only reason I can see for buying one is as a replacement for a failed unit for somebody who has an investment in older games. There are a lot of older games out there. But the online support for most of them is long gone. 0 points.
21 – MADE Pirates
Pirates of the Burning Seas will end up being the first MMORPG to make it into The Museum of Digital Art and Entertainment. The unique state of its current ownership will create a situation where the game will actually be preserved, mostly because it won’t survive on its own. And that will be it. The games people ache to see enshrined, SWG or CoH, will never get there. The only possible entrants will be games so small and unknown that few will notice. So The Saga of Ryzom will be a possibility. The MADE should work on preserving MUDs. That is something they could make happen.
Pirates of the Burning Sea found a player group to support it. MADE remains without an MMO to call its own. 0 Points.
22 – Shlock Boxes
No wide spread change to the legal status of lockboxes or the selling of power or pay to win. Some small jurisdictions might try to put something in place, as happened in 2018, but nothing will go in that will change the bottom line. There simply isn’t a political power block against this sort of thing that could make any difference for politicians. At best it will be used as a political football to try and divert attention away from other things. For example, the NRA doesn’t care about video games… until there is yet another mass shooting, at which point they need something to blame. More of that.
At the end of the day, with all the talk that spun around gambling, nothing really changed when compared to 2018. 10 points.
23 – A Prime New World
Amazon’s survival sandbox whatever MMORPG New World won’t be ready in 2019, but the company will announce special benefits for Prime members when the game does launch. I hope it will be something more than expedited delivery from the in-game version of Whole Foods.
Nope. New World has disappeared into a black hole for months after testing. Apparently it might end up being a thing next year, but I’ll believe it when it actually launches. 0 points.
24 – Behindcraft
While Microsoft and Mojang haven’t given up on Minecraft – Java Edition, which is the Mac, PC, and Linux version of Minecraft that lacks a cash shop, it has clearly slowed down development. The rest of Minecraft has pandas and new cats and stuff while Java is getting development snapshots still. This trend will continue as the Java code base won’t release the panda update until March and that will be the only update to be released for Java in 2019.
I mean… sorta. Java got the update in April, so close on that I guess. But the updates have gone to something of an annual cycle, so getting another update… as opposed to bug fixes… was never in the cards to begin with. 2 points for being close on that date.
25 – Avatar’s Shroud
Shroud of the Avatar will see further constrictions, if not an outright closure, in 2019. Like most early access games, it used up the goodwill of all but the most dedicated fans as it was being built out and now nobody is left interested in buying a copy.
Lord British has grown bored and his remote mechanical telepresense has rolled off into the sunset in Austin. Potalarium is… no more I think. Some other company owns the game, being setup as a last ditch effort to keep it alive. Predicting the online aspects of the game going dark in 2020 wouldn’t be an outrageous stretch. 10 points.
26 – Guild Wars 2 Continues
The pattern seems to be an expansion every could of years. That is about as deep as my insight into the game really goes at this point. But given that, I expect they will announce an expansion this year set for launch in 2020.
Nope. Not really. They’re just re-arranging the deck chairs over there at ANet these days. 0 points.
27 – Cattle Royale
As we saw the final rounds of the MOBA shake out with Blizz cutting back on Heroes of the Storm, the culling of the Battle Royale pretenders will commence in earnest. Anybody for whom Battle Royale is just a mode tacked on to an already solid franchise, as with CS:GO, won’t have much to worry about, but anybody all-in on that alone… that isn’t Fortnite or PUBG… will be dead or dying by the end of the year. This will be most unfortunate for the late comers that show up this year. Also, how they hell am I even going to score this one. See what I mean?
I’m giving myself 1 point for H1Z1, Z1 Battle Royale, and PlanetSide Arena. They all stunk on ice and remain alive only because somebody has an unrealistic hope still.
Bonus Wild-Ass Prediction
Sony buys back some, if not all, of Daybreak from Jason Epstein at the bankruptcy sale at discount prices. If Daybreak is headed for a fall, who has the most to lose? At this point, aside from Daybreak itself, Sony makes a tidy sum on the PlayStation 4 from DC Universe Online and, for the moment, H1Z1. Maybe they also make a bit from PlanetSide 2, but I’d be surprised at that. 20 bonus points if it comes to pass.
No bonus points here.
Double Bonus Wild-Ass Prediction
Daybreak announces a new EverQuest title, sells pre-orders, never makes it to early access, and shuts everything down without any refunds. I want 40 bonus points if that happens.
And none here either.
Out of 270 possible points this year I managed to only earn a meager 82 points, giving me a 30% success rate, such that it was. Still, not my lowest percentage ever! I was at 25% in 2017, and have done worse than that.
As with Jeane Dixon, I am sure people will forget all the failed predictions and just remember the time I called the next expansion for EverQuest II and being based in Kunark or last year when my wild-ass prediction was that CCP would be acquired. After all, that is all I am ever going to mention, right?
So another year has passed and now I have to think about what the next year will look like. Will I go with New Year’s predictions again? Or should I try something else to see in the launch of a new decade? Is it time for another turn at something like goals, questions, or aspirations? Tune in on January 1st to find out.
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