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
- Camelot Unchained
- 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: