Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thoughts and Predictions on 2012's Year in Gaming

I don't generally like to, essentially, copy/paste myself from other places, but a thread over at Penny Arcade got me really thinking about the way next year could possibly unfold so I did just as the OP suggested and got out my Crystal Ball, pictured above.  (Note:  Not actually my Crystal Ball, nor did it have any bearing on my predictions; it was all metaphorical)  So I really sort of sat down and reasoned everything out in my head and started typing.  And kept typing.  And kept typing.  About half-way through it, I said to myself, "Geez, why didn't I just write this as a post on my Blog?", which at that point, I countered myself with saying, "Well, no reason I can't do it there too, really, so long as I introduce it properly and such".  So with that in mind, I more or less started writing it more like a post on here than a post on a message board, be it Penny Arcade or anything else.  That would likely be why it's uh....long-winded as hell.  Also likely badly predicted as I am well-documented as being bad at predictions.

Essentially, the questions posed were directed at basically getting out what you expect next year (or even the year to follow) insomuch as the Big Three and their next consoles as well as the 3DS and Vita's growth.  So, that's more or less how I answered, minus talking anything about the 3DS as I don't rightly know what the hell's going to happen with it besides SELLING A TON because it's a Nintendo Handheld.  What follows is the post I made plus some formatting and pictures thrown in for fun.  (Well, labeling, at least.)


Vita: It's been almost a foreign concept to me to consider that the Vita's Launch Line-up isn't that great (since I've only been looking at the NA launch list of 25 games with 10 more in the window), but I'd be willing to be that the fairly weak-ish (not as many games as we're going to get and the highest profile one is certainly more Western focused in Uncharted) launch line-up combined with the fact that the 3DS exists and is being sold next to it is the reason for the slow start. (where the 3DS didn't have that by comparison) I'm not going to get into the tactics or anything involved with that, just suggesting it's a reason that's contributing to the launch as it is.

I'd expect at least a noticeable bump in February when Gravity Daze/Rush comes out over there with a fairly steady growth before and after that. Aside from that, February should probably be a good month for the Vita all-around, considering that's the NA launch which should do fairly well. People griped about the 3DS' $250 pricepoint, but many, many people happily paid it, as many will for the Vita as well. Likely not the same people but people nonetheless.

I'm going to go a little further out than I need to and bring up the games, specifically concrete word on some of the things that have been teased. I don't know when I expect Bioshock for the Vita to get officially announced (as in with footage and such), but I wouldn't be surprised if it happens at E3. I imagine that's going to be Sony's main focus there, which isn't honestly going too much out of the box. For that reason, I don't figure on word of a PS4 until 2013, maybe as early as the start of 2013 like the Vita was (Here's this thing, no name even though it's going to be called the Playstation 4, check out all the shit it does, peace out) but I haven't a damn clue on release date.

Absolutely no way will there -not- be a Monster Hunter game on the Vita in short-order. MH4 is likely a timed exclusive or a version of MH4 will quickly (sometime around release maybe) be announced for the Vita. Even if it's just like "Monster Hunter 4: Special" with an extra couple of levels or something.

Resistance, Killzone and LittleBigPlanet for the Vita should probably pop up (not necessarily in that order) towards the middle of the year leading into the holiday season, where KojiPro will probably dump the Vita version of MGS HD Collection in there as well. Depending on when Zone of the Enders Collection comes out for consoles, it's entirely possible it'll drop at the same time on the Vita, but I'm not sure how good an idea that'd be unless there's some sort of deal with getting both versions to take advantage of Transfarring (and, well, having Zone of the Enders 2 on your PS3 and Vita). Sega's likely going to put something Yakuza (Whether it's a new Black Panther, a port of one of the main games, or an update of the existing Black Panther games) on the Vita in 2012 but if we get it before the end of the year, I'll be surprised. Likewise with a new Phantasy Star Portable (likely called Phantasy Star Victory or something similar to take advantage of PSV) There'll be plenty of other game announcements, some for things that'll come out before the end of the year, some mid-way through 2013, but what I mentioned is more or less what I'm concerned with (read: Thought about for more than five minutes).

Just going to be using current logos for '720' and 'PS4'.

720: I don't know if I expect MS to announce the 720 in 2012 or not really, but when they do, I really expect Kinect integration right out of the box. Not the same Kinect, obviously, but one that fills in a lot of the technical gaps people have complained about - Namely the space required and the not-quite-there-yet level of detection. For the former, there's already a third-party accessory that does a lot to reduce the space needed for the Kinect, I believe it's called the Nyko Zoom or something. I don't know if there's a loss involved with that in terms of how it works or anything, but I figure it'll get ironed out. For the latter, I'm hoping for finger recognition at least with the next Kinect, but I'm not sure if it'll be touted and not deliver well enough or actually work well. Mostly because I don't know how difficult it is to actually do.

As far as SKUs go, I could definitely see them throwing out two at launch, but I'm not going to go so far as to suggest the rumors have been accurate and we'll see a streambox and a 'hardcores with disc drive' box. Perhaps a few less features on one to make it seem more affordable (as MS has done a lot this generation) like a smaller HDD, maybe the PS3 route where it'll look less attractive or something of that sort, but I don't see them jumping out of the gate with something as divisive as rumors are suggesting. With the Kinect+ right out of the box, I don't know what to suggest people will do with their old Kinects, but I don't expect them to acknowledge it beyond saying "You need this new Kinect which we are including with every console".

Wii U: I'm kind of in RainbowDespair's (Note for the blog:  BAsically this post) camp here re: the Wii-U in that I wouldn't be surprised if it comes out and doesn't set the world on fire like Nintendo expects. I'm not sure I'm willing to place bets on Sony-levels of expectations vs. reality to mirror this generation, but I can't imagine the device costing what people expect a Nintendo product to cost (much like the 3DS didn't) and I can imagine Nintendo eating a bit more humble pie for it. I wouldn't be willing to suggest a quickie price cut for the Wii U though, unless Microsoft announces the 720 really competitively and Nintendo needs to garner a little support (like the 3DS vs. Vita situation).

And really, with the Wii U, I'm not sure just -what- to expect from that controller they've shown off and what the alternative is. I'm sure you're not expected to just buy more Wiimotes/Chucks and/or just use the ones from your Wii, but I don't know if that means Nintendo is going to go all out and make something different but the same for the official 'secondary' controllers (since, as far as we know, you'll only be able to use one tablet controller per Console and I can't see Nintendo actively giving up on the couch co-op friendly style they've built up this gen. It's just kind of a schizophrenic message at this point: The tablet for the Wii U has fantastic possibilities for Single-player games (and there are certainly ways to extend this to multi-player, though it sort of shoehorns one person into being 'the guy' which might be a little off-putting), but the Wii was rarely seen as a single-player system from what I can tell (despite all the good single-player games that came out for it) so, again, to just sort of throw away the MP base they've built up would just be baffling. I guess I just need to see how they go about that when there's more information out.

I'm not sure what 'megaton' first-party game they'll drop at E3 for the Wii U (Top runners obviously being Smash Bros., a Mario Game, or a Zelda game, but pretty much any first-party title would likely get as much hype), but I'm definitely expecting that, because showing off games that are going to be well-out and over with by the time it comes out (Darksiders 2, Arkham City, etc.) isn't going to cut it next year. On top of that, some more concrete details about the system itself would be great. Probably not a release date, but maybe a vague "2013" suggestion or announced window. If I had to guess, probably a mid-year launch for it to build up some steam before the Holiday season.

PS4: This one's kind of the hardest here since I honestly have no idea what the hell to think. I've heard rumors that there's already PS4 hardware out there being worked with by 'big' developers, but with the Vita going to be Sony's 'big thing' next year, I can't see them focusing on anything but the Vita and the PS3 (which means the PSP is likely going to be 'officially' dead next year outside of talking about the PS Store, since the Vita's launch and BC will likely spur more developers to put up games they've been holding back Squeenix. Unfortunately, some PSP games just -can't- be handled via passport or DD unless developers really kick their legal divisions into gear to make it happen.) So like I said earlier with the Vita section, I imagine the earliest we'll officially hear about the PS4 will be at the Playstation Meeting in 2013 (end of January if they do it like they did the NGP/Vita) if even then.

As far as what they're going to do with it, I don't see them eschewing Move for something more Kinect-like, but I wouldn't put it past them to try and have something that incorporates both in it as a new thing. (Go with Move+ like Kinect+ above) I'd like to say that a bigger focus on using two wands will be implemented, seeing as that does quite a bit to enhance the games it's used in, but unless they redesign the Navigation controller to A) Be more of a Move Wand (with, y'know, motion sensors and stuff) and B) still have it function as, well, a Navigation controller (so you can move your character without physically walking in place or something equally grumble-worthy coming out of controller-less Kinect), the games will never really get beyond where 'olol motion games' are seen as being currently. The billing will be 'the most immersive experience available' if they can pull it off somehow, since the 3D push will likely still be going strong on top of it. Whether it works or not will have to be seen, but I have a lot (perhaps too much) faith in the steps any of the three companies could take with Motion gaming and picture Sony and Microsoft to focus on it more than Nintendo (as it's been their second push where Nintendo seems like they're gearing up to move their 'innovation factor' to the tablet)

tl;dr: Vita's going to be a slow-grower that'll hit its stride early next year with new announcements peppering the entirety of 2012. E3 for Sony is going to be Vita Vita Vita PS3 Vita Move(barely) Vita Vita. First-party and big-names to get released mid-to-holiday season. 720 might be the second console to come out, (racing the Wii U) going to have Kinect+ right out of the box, but not really divisive SKUs. Wii U needs more information and E3 will be the best outlet for that. Really need to find out what's going on with the Tablet controller and the 'other' controllers (because there has to be 'others'). I'm expecting a 2013 release based on absolutely nothing. PS4's going to release last, possibly even announce last, -might- focus on making Motion Gaming more 'immersive' through an improved Move setup (possibly two wands at all times, hopefully with a navigation stick on something, likely Kinect-style camera on top of it to track your body while you play. 3D is obvious.) or might just be like "Hey, meet the new thing, same as the old thing but better". Dunno yet.

I might be (probably am) talking out of my ass for a lot of this stuff as I am super-terrible with predictions, but hey, I wanted to give it a shot. Worst thing that can happen is I'm wrong and look like a dumb goose, yeah? (A civil dumb goose though!)


If nothing else, this is something I can save for posterity to point out when I am proven correct or incorrect on any of these predictions.  (Likely more of the latter, though we'll see!) This should be fun to see how it works out!

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