Back at the start of the year I eschewed the usual predictions post and instead went in for a round of questions. After 2020 I was clearly feeling unprepared to predict anything, though this was not the first time I went down that path. Now we have hit the middle of December and it is time to see if any of my questions got answers we like.
2020 plus 1
There is a long pattern of me making such posts on the first of the year.
Anyway, let’s get tucked in and see what I can come up with.
What will a return to normalcy bring to the video game industry?
Right off the bat I am going to have to object here to the assumption that we’ve returned to anything like normalcy. We’re not in 2020 anymore, but we’re not not in 2020 anymore either. The shadow of that year lay heavily over this one, its poison seeping in. People who can are still working from home, Covid is still spreading, the economy is still in a bind from the pandemic, and the world still seems to be going to hell at a rapid pace.
Will Shadowlands hold players?
Well, at least we have an easy one here. The answer is “no.” There are a few reasons, not the least of which is Blizzard not releasing much in the way of additional content and Blizzard being revealed as a nightmarish Dickensian workhouse of misogyny and intolerance. Also, maybe “run Torghast every day for the next two years” wasn’t the winning plan that somebody thought it was.
Will Diablo Immortal ship?
Another easy one! And another “no.” Wyatt Cheng once asked if we had phones. Many of us probably have new ones since he asked that question at BlizzCon 2018. Now does he have a game? That seems to be a more pertinent question at this point.
Does Blizzard have anything new planned?
Three for three here on the easy questions, with another big “no” on the tally. Diablo II Resurrected is about as “new” as they got, and they had Vicarious Visions do the remaster of a twenty year old title for that. It was a good remaster, but it wasn’t new.
Along with that we had Burning Crusade Classic and WoW Classic Season of Mastery, also not new. Even the solo mode for Hearthstone didn’t feel very new. I guess their bigger company issues got in the way for some of that, but it still feels like they came into 2021 just winging it and hoping something would come up. And, honestly, they don’t seem to have much lined up for 2022. How can such a big studio… more people work on WoW than most MMO studios have total employees… deliver so little?
What does Daybreak under EG7 really portend?
A reverse merger, with Ji Ham now at the helm? I wouldn’t have called that one. Otherwise there has been some promises for the future, but the first year really seemed like business as usual for Daybreak… except maybe they didn’t lay so many people off in 2021. That’s a plus.
Will Norrath continue to boom?
Kinda, maybe, sorta. As noted above, things were mostly business as usual. That has generally been good for the Norrath titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II, which get an expansion in November/December and a major content drop in late spring/early summer every year. So things roll on there.
But when it comes to doing anything new, it is LOTRO they want to put on consoles, DCUO they want to update, and an unannounced Marvel IP MMO that gets all the headlines. They even keep bringing up H1Z1. But EverQuest as a franchise? Any plans for that look to be dead.
What happens with H1Z1?
Nothing. As I wrote above, EG7 keeps bringing it up when they talk about the important IPs they control. There is clearly some wishcasting going on about the title returning to the top of the battle royale genre. But actual progress? There was some mention that they had a few people look into being able to run a build, but otherwise nobody appears to be working H1Z1 in any meaningful way.
At least they stopped renaming it I suppose.
Where is Cold Iron Studios?
Not with Daybreak and EG7, we know that much. Somewhere between the announcement that Daybreak was purchasing Cold Iron and the launch of their game Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Cold Iron went somewhere else. Details are hazy, the story is mostly inferred, but Cold Iron never made it into the EG7 stable of studios.
What does ArenaNet do after all the departures?
Pretend nothing has changed and announce an expansion? This is the problem with bringing up studios and games I do not watch closely. A bunch of key people left ANet last year, but back in August they announced the End of Dragons, slated for February 2022, so I guess everything is good. Maybe? I don’t really know.
Where does CCP go next with New Eden?
Nowhere? Seriously, after the Triglavian story cycle the company has been been focused on the new player experience and trying to force the in-game economy into a form that they believe is best for the long term survival of the game, ignoring the short term “hey, can you give us something fun?” requests from the players. Short sheeting the economy isn’t fun. Even if you don’t care about the economy and mock miners and industrialists who are complaining, you have to admit that there is very little fun in what CCP has been doing for the last year.
Will CCP stop strangling the New Eden economy?
No. There was a promise over the summer that the end of scarcity was coming. But the Q4 quadrant, New Dawn: Age of Prosperity, involved very little prosperity. For every relaxation of the economic restrictions there was some matching nerf to offset things, often hidden behind some oppressive new game mechanic. CCP said they were listening to feedback, but they mostly slowed their roll a bit (compression will be in 2022 now) and tried re-arranging the deck chairs some (“waste” got renamed to “residue”) as they carried forward with the goal of resetting the economy to some past halcyon state. I am sure this will end well.
How Will World War Bee End?
The side with the 3:1 numbers advantage got tired and went home.
There are many ways to spin who “won” the war. PAPI can claim that they forced the Imperium down from four regions to one constellation and destroyed trillions of ISK in ships and structures. The Imperium can claim that they held out, denied PAPI their stated victory conditions, and in the end destroyed as much in ships and structures as PAPI did.
As for losing the war, that award generally goes to the group that loses their space and has to move elsewhere. That makes Legacy Coalition, the main instigators of the war under Vily, the losers. TEST, the leading alliance in Legacy, lost their old space, couldn’t hold their new space, and ended up trying to live as far away from the Imperium as they possibly could. Brave gets a special mention for losing hardest of all, as not only did they lose their old space and their new space, but now the rest of PAPI is attacking them because Brave sold structures to the Imperium so they could at least asset safety their stuff and get some seed ISK in the bank to carry on.
Really though, the honor of ending the war goes to CCP. It was already somewhat obvious after the second battle of M2-XFE that their servers were not going to be up to a final mighty battle. And then CCP made changes to resources and production that made capital ships too valuable to expend freely, so the attackers were limited to subcaps. In the choice between investing a lot of time and effort in a real blockade of the final Imperium constellation or just going home, they opted to go home.
Will Nintendo announce a remake of Pokemon Diamond & Pearl?
Yes, goddammit, yes they did. About freaking time. And it has shipped and there is a copy for me and my daughter under the Christmas tree. We’ll see how that plays out soon enough.
Will crowd funded MMOs finally find their way?
Ha ha ha ha… no. I mean, Crowfall went live I think. I am not sure it will survive, but it shipped. And they are a stand out in the stable of crowd funded MMOs, which mostly promised things they couldn’t deliver. Don’t spend money on things that you cannot play today.
Project: Gorgon is the right path, as it was in playable form from the day of the first monetary ask. Camelot Unchained is the wrong path, asking for money, blowing through every promised date ever, and starting a new project before the promised one is even in beta. And then there is Star Citizen… well, they certainly know how to milk a community. Star Citizen is a lot of things, but being an actual video game seems to be a few bullets down the list.
Is there anything new possible for MMORPGs?
The metaverse maybe? That seemed to be the topic for 2021. I don’t know if it is Raph Koster’s desire to remake the simple days of MUDs in the 90s or Mark Zuckerberg’s dystopian vision of an all controlling metaverse that turns our very desires against us, but I guess either might be something new… at least for MMORPGs.
Oh, and something about crypto and NFTs. But we’ll probably burst that bubble in 2022.
Will I play anything new this year?
Valheim. That was a bit of a left field star, but ended up being our main game for about two months earlier this year. New World showed up and, once the initial chaos settled down, the instance group got into the game. And then there was Forza Horizon 4 & 5. Open world driving for the win. There were a couple of other small titles that were new, but nothing that I invested more than a couple of hours in.
That I played three new games made 2021 a departure from the usual routine. In 2020 80% of my game time was spent in WoW, WoW Classic, and EVE Online. The year isn’t over yet, but so far those three titles represent less than 50% of my tracked play time.
Will VR get a killer app this year?
Ha ha ha ha… no. VR will remain a niche so long as it requires a real world obscuring mask strapped to your face… oh, and the motion sickness issue gets addressed. Ready Player One and Zuckerberg’s idea that we’re all going to live in his ad laden VR metaverse hell is a pipe dream.
Will the industry be smart enough to keep regulators away?
Not really. The industry’s best defense so far has been regulators being interested in other things to further their own interests. It has to be a slow news day for lockboxes to make the headlines of late, so politicians and regulators have mostly been busy elsewhere. Except for Blizzard. Yeah, Blizzard is having some regulatory issues, though not over lockboxes and that sort of thing, just mundane things like running a hostile, discriminatory work place. The usual corporate thing.
But the industry keeps on trying to get the government to come down on them hard, with cryto and NFTs on their list of things to try next.
Will We lose Section 230 Protection?
Not yet, though Facebook seems to be pushing to have that taken away, because they have the money and the staffing to deal with any new regulations which would help them cement their place in creating our dystopian future… and present… and recent past.
What will I do when the blog turns 15?
Write a post about it. That is my answer for most things I suppose.
So that was the list for 2021. As those were just questions rather than predictions there is no score.
I think I’ll be able to warm up to doing some predictions for 2022. I have a couple of weeks to get on it. But first I need to make a 2022 graphic.