It is that time of year where I go back to my post from the first of the year where I have generally thrown out some rash ideas as to what might come to pass over the next twelve months.
2020 banner by my daughter
There is a long history of this around here:
I am generally wrong on most of my predictions, though I usually excuse/rationalize those predictions as just a thought experiment as to what might happen.
This year however, I ended up being more wrong than usual, and that is in part because I failed to predict the global pandemic. COVID 19, the Cornavirus, has done me in, figuratively if not yet literally.
Anyway, it is still that time of year, so I’ll go through the predictions and see if I managed to score any hits at all and where I was thwarted by the ‘rona.
Each prediction is worth 10 points if correct, unless otherwise noted, and partial credit is available.
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.
Not so much. I mean sure, they did their little internal studio division thing, and tried to declare them “indies,” so now we have Darkpaw, Rogue Planet, and Dimensional Ink “studios,” but they’re all effectively the same company. Daybreak even acquired another studio this year. No parts were sold off… individually at least. We’ll get to the who shebang later. But otherwise they seemed to hang on. Did they even have a layoff in 2020? If not I suspect that was due to the ‘rona boom in video games. 0 points.
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.
This one on the other hand pretty much came to pass. I guess I covered myself both ways, but I have to have a gimme or two so I don’t completely zero out. 10 points.
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.
How is H1Z1 still alive? I guess it is still rolling okay on PS4, but I can’t even take some partial credit for the PC side getting shut down. More ‘rona bonus? 0 points.
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.
PlanetSide 2 seems to be rolling along under the Rogue Planet banner. It got some updates over the year. I don’t think there was anything that qualified as a big announcement. I mean, they were hinting that PlanetSide Arena would lead to PlanetSide 3 and we’re nowhere close to that. Do outfit wars and shattered warp gates get there? I think the biggest surprise was how many people actually play the game… and how few pay. I’m giving myself 5 points here as it was just business as usual.
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.
Nope. SSG just goes on and on telling people that they can’t make a real retro server while they let the current one languish. Instead they wrapped a game update and a quest pack with a $99 bow and called it an expansion. 0 points for me, though we do know how they are connected to Daybreak now.
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.
Once again I see the hand of the ‘rona here saving another title that seems to be slipping into oblivion. Lord British is still long gone, but the servers still seem to be up. This will probably be the last time I ever mention this game in a post, unless it falls over dead. 0 points.
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.
Not even freaking close. Who knew back in January that Blizz would decide to break the “time between expansions” record for the franchise? Not me. I can’t even blame the ‘rona for this… much. I guess work from home might have slowed down progress. Still, 0 points.
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.
No BlizzCon, no BlizzCon announcements. My cynicism was wasted as the ‘rona did for this event. 0 points.
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.
Again, no BlizzCon, 0 points.
10 – Wait of Immortals
For reasons that will not be disclosed, Diablo Immortal will fail to ship again in 2020.
Hah! Cynicism pays off this year at last! 10 points. Booyah!
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.
No BlizzCon… have I said this enough already? 0 points.
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.
No logo change yet… but there are FOUR freakin’ Call of Duty titles on the launcher. I’m giving myself 2 points for that.
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.
It was looking this way… and then came the ‘rona surge and the PCU popped through the 40K mark for the first time since 2017. 0 points. EVE is dying, but not any time soon.
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.
I’ll be going on POS shoots until I retire it seems. With the war on they aren’t even all that rare. 10 points.
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.
Well, seven null sec representatives dominating the council in any case, and one incumbent, Sort Dragon, didn’t make the cut, though he was an alternate and only got on after Killah Bee dropped out. 3 points for being somewhat close. I don’t think the ‘rona had any influence here, except for increasing voter turnout.
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.
Nope. The in-game gambling mechanism has turned into an in-game scam machine where the people listing buy most of the tickets, get their item back when they win it, and make some ISK from the few suckers who bought in. There is nothing EVE players cannot corrupt. 0 points.
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.
Turns out politicians have better things to do during a global pandemic that worry about video games. The ‘rona strikes again. The world was distracted enough that EA thought it was a good idea to put a lockbox ad in a kids toy catalog. Way get attention back on the topic. Still, nothing really changed. I should have kept betting against Gevlon on this. 0 points.
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.
Everything got a boost during the ‘rona, but then Mike O’Brien left to form a new company called Mana Works and… well, I don’t pay close enough attention. I know the Super Adventure Box came back for another visit. But there was also that End of Dragons expansion thing, so I guess that was a “no.” 0 points.
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.
Nope. Can’t even blame the plague. 0 points.
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.
I actually thought about starting to write this post back when New World was delayed until fall. I seemed to be right on the money. And then the can got kicked down the road again, this time into 2021. 5 points for being right for half the year.
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.
I could argue that nothing called Torchlight Frontiers shipped, but there is that pesky, and apparently mediocre Torchlight III running around. Still, the others were not a tough call. This is sort of me annual “I dare you to ship!” category. 8 points.
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.
I thought this one was a freakin’ shoe-in back in January. GameStop looked to be on its last legs. And then the ‘rona hit and video games became essential toward maintaining our sanity. GameStop, like gun stores, was on the essential businesses list. And now Microsoft has invested in them. They live to fight another day. 0 points.
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.
I guess. This gets back to the idea that predictions, like team goals, should be measurable. Maybe if I paid closer attention I could make a hard call one way or the other, but I am going to just go with the fact that it feels like this happened and give myself half credit. 5 points.
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.
Ha ha ha ha… no. 0 points.
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.
It was a wild conspiracy theory when I made it, but I still had a hope that it might come to pass. But no, Pearl Abyss did not bit. But then EG7 came along and bough them! I am going to give myself 1 Point for at least being right about them being acquired in 2020.
That gives me 59 points out of a total of 230 possible, not counting bonus points against me. That gives me a 26% correct ratio, which is pretty bad considering how many of those picks I thought were gimmes back in January.
But it is still a tiny bit better than my 2017 picks, so not my worst year ever.
And now to consider what 2021 will bring.
Will the ‘rona boom continue for a while? What will happen if the vaccines are a success and we can all go back to work, school, travel, and the other activities we’ve been denied over the last year or so? Are video games going to take a hit when we can all go out to eat and see movies again? Will there be any theaters operating in 2021?