2014 is not only here but it is well underway. So we decided to discuss some of our predictions for the rest of the year. But sometimes predictions can be hopeful. Other times they can be fearful. These are the latter. These are Darkstation's Greatest Fears for 204.
Nintendo fails to stimulate Wii U sales
Nintendo is clearly in a rough spot with the Wii U. Brand confusion, lack of third party support, and underpowered performance are just a few of the problems the system faces. Yet it is incredibly important that Nintendo find a way to at least partially turn the system around and succeed in some capacity. The structure of Nintendo is inherently different to most publishers in that they create hardware and software in tandem. Without the benefit of controlling every facet of the production pipeline, it’s possible that names like Aonuma and Miyamoto would leave the company, similar to the mass exodus of talent and creativity at Sega following the Dreamcast. Projects like MonolithSoft’s X and Bayonetta – which are likely to be financial flops but mainly exist for portfolio purposes – would have little reason to exist on other platforms. When Nintendo’s teams are its best, they are almost unmatched in terms of quality, and talent wise they are looking strong, with designers like Yoshiaki Koizumi (Galaxy, 3D World) rising to the forefront. It’s absolutely vital that Nintendo find a way to figure things out, because a Nintendo removed from the hardware business just wouldn’t be the same.
Games like Titanfall and Destiny will do little to alter the course of FPS games
This is the alternative to my hope for 2014 and it’s what I think is the more realistic outcome. Popular FPS games sell in massive droves year after year and the game formula is rarely changing. Sure, there are slight tweaks, additions, graphical upgrades, and so on but it’s never a sweeping change that makes people say “Yes! This is the next generation of the FPS!” The original Modern Warfare made me feel excited about shooters again but that feeling was fleeting as each iteration capitalized on a hungry fanbase rather than originality. Destiny and Titanfall are set to make a huge amount of money by keeping the formula similar to what it has been for years and changing only bits and pieces to suit their needs. The FPS juggernaut is one I’d really like to enjoy but if the mechanics don’t change enough to offer a new experience it’ll be hard to get on the bandwagon and not feel like I’m playing a newly skinned Halo.
The Elder Scrolls Online will fail
A recent rumour circulated that Bethesda/Zenimax have already sunk $200m into developing their new MMORPG. Although the Elder Scroll series has a devoted fan base, many fear that such an outdated subscription model has no place in modern gaming. DC Universe Online, The Old Republic and more recently Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, have all struggled to build any kind of install base, and some beta testers have been left cold by what could end up being just another generic, free-to-play MMORPG.
Nintendo and Microsoft stay the course
Nintendo is just stone cold stubborn, and Microsoft’s Xbox One is apparently selling pretty well. So, realistically, I expect no significant price cuts or hardware changes to the Wii U or the Xbox One this year. Nintendo will try to shoehorn the touch screen into their old IPs. Halo 5 will be redesigned so that you shoot enemies by making a gun with your thumb and index finger, pointing it at the screen and yelling “BANG”!
Early Access comes to consoles
Steam’s Early Access service is pretty neat, giving users an opportunity to try out games as they are developed. Otherwise known as betas (or alphas in some cases), users spend money to purchase an unfinished game to fund further development and stress test the game. It has proven successful for some. What worries me is that the big name publishers will want to do this for consoles. If, for whatever reason, development ceases, the community could be ready and willing to pick up the pieces and finish it up (look no further than Knights of the Old Republic II). On a console, that is much harder to do. My fear is that one of the big publishers will step in, offering Xbox One or PS4 users a chance to buy into an unfinished game. If the game failed, it would be harder for players to pick up the remains, leaving behind many angry people.
Prey 2 gets officially cancelled
The original Prey was not a great game but its sequel made quite the impression when it debuted in early 2011. It’s been two years and the only thing we’ve heard is that the game had been put on hold and development taken away from Human Head Studios. Maybe it’s being worked on at Obsidian. Maybe at Akrane. But the more likely option is that Prey 2 has seen no work done on it and it will be quietly cancelled. Which is a shame because that game looked spectacular (as evidence by the fact that I’m talking about it two years after any news was last released about it).
The Xbox One falls further behind the Playstation 4
A good competition is what drives the gaming industry, and the Xbox One’s constant stumbling against the PS4 will likely be a call for emergency inside Microsoft. Nintendo was unable to gain any traction with the Wii U despite gems being released last year with Pikmin 3 and Super Mario 3D World. The lack of competition can make console developers lazy, which in turn leads into a boring console generation. If Microsoft doesn’t do anything to make up its lost ground we could be looking at a trouncing akin to the Playstation 2/Gamecube/Xbox days. Perhaps a console developer stops making consoles but if that happens who will possibly be there to pick up the pieces? Worst case scenario? A console market thrown into a state of decay.
The Last Guardian will miss 2014
The Last Guardian has been in the public eye for seven years now - Kotaku has a great timeline to make that long story, well, slightly less long - but the public still doesn’t know a thing about it. Sometimes I wonder how many people at Sony know about it. It could be a very different game from when it was last shown in a trailer denoting a “Holiday 2011” release, and I’m sure I’m not the only one extremely eager to see what Team Ico has been up to all these years (whatever it ends up being). The game has scarce been shown or even really discussed for years. Director Fumito Ueda emerged late last year to speak briefly about his game, but there was little to report save for an apology for its tardiness and assurance that the game is indeed still being worked on. Its tough to imagine what sort of design could possibly take so long develop...or to fathom that Ueda has yet other projects he considers “secret” relative to the incredibly elusive The Last Guardian. I intend to unlock those secrets for myself as soon as as possible...but something tells me it won’t be this year.
Sony’s Playstation Now Struggles Out of the Gate
The idea behind Playstation Now is strong. Instead of building in the hardware to make backwards compatibility possible, stream it. Sounds great on paper right? Well given Sony’s track record with online platforms, I truly fear the Playstation Now will have a rough go of things in 2014.
That does it for this part of Darkstation's predictions for 2014. Check back on Thursday for our Greatest Hopes.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.