Here we are in December, the new year is looming, and it is time to get to those inevitable end of year housekeeping and review posts that I plague you with every holiday season.
Being a regular event there are past versions of this sort of thing available if you care to see how this sort of thing tends to go.
As is usually the case, the start of the year comes around and I take the opportunity every January 1st to write out a post seemingly designed to make me look foolish. Seriously, if anybody accuses me of not being able to admit I am wrong I just have to direct them to this series of review posts.
Anyway, as usual, back at the start of the year I posted 27 predictions, plus a bonus prediction, and then went on with my usual nonsense. Now it is time to grade my folly.
As usual, each question is worth 10 points. Multi-part questions are split up by segment. Partial credit is available if I am close but not quite on the nose. So here we go.
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.
A nice, cleanly defined and measurable prediction. I am bad at making those, so let’s just enjoy this one for a moment. Ahhh. I was two weeks off the mark, so it is 6 out of 10 points.
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.
A little more subjective, but BlizzCon told the tale. We got a detailed look at how serious Blizzard was about this whole project, including a chance to play two of the early zones. The latter is going to pass for closed beta in my prediction. And we got a launch… season. Summer 2019 will see WoW Classic launch. Going to give myself 10 out of 10 for this one.
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.
And now we’re into the subjective. Yes, in 2018 Blizzard spent time going after WoW emulators. But did it stoop to the level of Blizz kicking over every Vanilla WoW sandcastle on the beach? I don’t know, because small servers don’t make the news, only big ones do. Meanwhile emulators like Kronos and Demon Souls are still up and running and declaring that the presence of WoW Classic won’t stop them. So much for the theory that these servers are only around because there is no official alternative. Anyway, I think I get 0 points for this one.
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.
We didn’t hear much about Heroes of the Storm, aside from some new heroes. High Inquisitor Whitemane was a good addition, along with another at BlizzCon. BlizzCon showed that Blizzard was still working on a plan to “fix” the game, but it still remains far behind League of Legends and DOTA 2 in popularity. Still, Blizzard is persisting, so call it 5 points for the heroes, but zero points for the dormant part.
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
Well, there were clearly a few gimmes on that list. I have to get some points somewhere. We did get some news on some of those, but not all of it was great. Still, none shipped, so 10 points.
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.
Wow, even I am surprised at how on the nose this one was. I mean, it happened. Shroud of the Avatar had its live launch on Steam. And then not much happened, except for laying off some of the development staff, backing away from their Euro publisher, and declining numbers on Steam. But there were a updates and, as expected, focus on the cash shop specials. Seems about dead on. 10 points.
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.
By my stated criteria I get the full 10 points. That a person in Belgium cannot is outside the parameters of the prediction. Betting against Gevlon is generally a wise move.
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!
Nope. In fact, even as I wrote that prediction GameFreak had already washed its hands of the 3DS platform, so there will be no more Pokemon on Nintendo handhelds. This makes me sad. (No, the Switch is not a handheld.) 0 points.
10 – In a retro focused year, Nintendo will also announce Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire for the 3DS Virtual Console.
Again, the 3DS is dead as far as Pokemon goes, and pretty much as far as any new titles go. Nintendo wants everybody on the Switch and has abandoned the DS/3DS installed base. 0 points.
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.
There will be no Virtual Console for the Switch, and the lingering Virtual Console for the WiiU and 3DS platforms is slated to be turned off soon. Nintendo has really turned against me. 0 points.
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.
Well, we got a friends list. That is worth 2 points I think. I was pretty much wrong on everything else, even though we got a hint that head-to-head might be coming.
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.
Nope. Much to my surprise, Microsoft has kept Minecraft – Java Edition live and up to date. 0 points.
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.
I guess predicting anything new from Daybreak was optimistic at best. 0 points.
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.
I am going to claim half credit on this one because Just Survive was clearly in maintenance mode for some time frame in 2018… before Daybreak shut it down. The problem is that, with Daybreak, you can only recognize maintenance mode retroactively, after the axe comes down. So PlanetSide 2 exists as sort of Schroedinger’s MMO, where we cannot tell if it is supported or drifting untended because silence is Daybreak’s default mode. It did get a new map, but there hasn’t been a lot else. So I could possibly claim PS2 was in maintenance mode, which is why I am being greedy and claiming half credit for Just Survive. 5 points.
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.
I am lumping these two together because they are examples of bad prediction writing. There are four measurable elements here, each worth five points. The first two are whether or not EverQuest and EverQuest II will get their annual expansions, while the second two are the themes of those expansions.
For the first two, I get full credit, 10 points, as both got an expansion.
As for themes, I was only half right there. EverQuest II did not return to the Desert of Flames, however EverQuest did move back to the elemental planes again, so 5 points on that.
All together, 15 points total.
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.
I haven’t heard a thing about H1Z1 in China. Jace Hall had a lot to say in August, but China was not on the list. It isn’t clear why H1Z1 didn’t go to China, just that it did not. Going to claim 8 points for that.
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?
I was kind of down on CCP after the big layoffs and retrenchment. The four fanfests plan still seems to be in motion and EVE Vegas is still a thing. It just looks like CCP Guard and CCP Falcon are going to be very, very busy. 0 Points.
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.
This would seem like a really spot-on prediction if CCP hadn’t done the Alpha clone thing before I wrote it. I expected more. Also, the null sec stations thing happened in June. But there was continued focus on The Agency. I get 1 point for that!
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.
Seems close enough. The average line through 2018 over at EVE Offline, as of this writing, shows the number at 31K.
The average online user count for 2018
That looks like I am dipping a little into December 2017, but even if I push it all the way to March the number doesn’t change.
Going to give myself 7 points and reaffirm that EVE is dying just like the rest of us.
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.
Well, I don’t think anybody is talking about new space. We did, however, get player built star gates. They were just replacements for jump bridges, not portals to new space. And the rest was not anywhere close either. 0 points.
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.
HAHAHAHAHA… no. If anything it went the other way, with only two non-null sec seats in the end and five Imperium members winning seats. Also, nobody from Brave or TEST. I cannot find a loophole here to even give myself a single point 0 points.
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.
Yeah, that didn’t happen. And Project Aurora became EVE Echoes and is being made by NetEase, the same Chinese company that is making Diablo Immortal. 0 points here.
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.
I guess we heard about new product and projects, so it is hard to claim any points here, but then again some of what we heard, like the plans for Project Nova, got turned back after Vegas. I have to go with 0 points on this.
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.
Okay, at least this one was spot-on, even if it was pretty much a gimme. 10 points.
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 big 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.
SSG actually surprised me on this, pulling some content and an increase in the level cap out of their hat. It wasn’t sold as an expansion, so I suppose I and right on that front, but that isn’t much to hang my hat on. I’m going to take 1 point for that.
Double Extra Credit Bonus Prediction: CCP will announce they are merging with, or being acquired by, another studio before the end of 2018.
For something of a random-ass guess… I mean we knew CCP was being shopped around, but actually finding a buyer was never going to be simple… I am surprised I got this bonus round prediction. But it happened, Pearl Abyss bought CCP. So I guess 20 points for me.
All of that adds up to 120 points, including the bonus question, out of 270, giving me a 44% score. As usual, it is a failing grade, but it was still better than the 25% score I managed last year.
Anyway, I do this every year less to be right and more to make myself think about the future and the possible paths it may take.
And now I have to consider what I will predict for 2019… besides more of the same. That tends to be the most consistently correct prediction of all.