Who am I, and where is my authority to be making industry-wide claims about the future? Be I a famed soothsayer of legend, or an analyst with greater Neogaf infamy than Michael Pachter? I’m absolutely nobody, in fact, and my predictions should be digested with a suitable amount of skepticism.
In any case, 2015 is shaping up to be a very interesting year, and after 2014 disappointed many with a number of titles failing to live up to expectations, we’re really due for a good year. Again, as I said, I’m no industry expert, but the winds of progress blow forward and the scents that fill my nose speak to these possibilities.
1. Nintendo will do great, but won’t dominate.
The public seems forever divided on Nintendo. Every year the same cries are heard, declaring the company’s impending doom, while others claim that everything will change and Nintendo’s fortunes is just around the corner. And while personally I would love to see Nintendo win everyone over (and by god the Wii U has certainly earned the success by now), numbers don’t lie. With a year seeing Nintendo’s two big money maker franchises, Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, and still no major boost in sales. Nintendo is picking up profitability, but we seem to be back to N64/GameCube era numbers in sales.
And I’m fairly certain that this trend will only continue into 2015. Not that there won’t be great games, in fact I think this year will see some of Nintendo’s best titles on the system. With a new Zelda and Star Fox on the horizon, plus whatever else they have planned, I’m sure it’ll be great year to be a Wii U owner. But those titles haven’t historically sold consoles with the same fervor that Mario Kart and Smash Bros. games have. Prove me wrong, console buyers!
2. Star Wars: Battlefront will piss a lot of people off.
If there was one game above all others that sat atop my most-anticipated games of 2015 list, it’d probably be Persona 5. But just under Persona 5 sits the Star Wars: Battlefront reboot we’ve all been waiting for. I still remember the days when we saw peaks of a Battlefront III that would never be seen. And I remember the explosive excitement that came with its announcement two E3’s ago. I am very excited for this game, and no amount of fear or speculation will keep that excitement down, dammit!
But here’s the thing. A lot of time has passed since the last Battlefront game. A whole generation, in fact! So much has been learned about how to make money in the industry since then, and it’s perfectly reasonable to worry that the next entry by DICE will be… different than what we remember. Liked playing Battlefront on the couch with some friends? You can probably say goodbye to that.
In fact, I’d say it’s a safe bet that there won’t be much of an offline component at all. Keeping people online and buying… whatever scheme they have cooked up for microtransactions is simply too lucrative a prospect. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong and it’ll fulfill every dream I’ve ever had of it. Again, basing this on probability and trends.
3. E3 2015 press conferences won’t be where the most exciting news comes from.
The press conferences at E3 have long felt like an archaic construct. CEOs and creative directors untrained in the art of public speaking bumble through rehearsed performances, trying to raise hype and expectations. Of course, the fact that press conferences can be a little janky is part of their appeal, considering that many of our favorite press conference memories come from line fumbles, technical glitches, and poor planning.
But then Nintendo changed all that with a very special Nintendo Direct that had everyone excited. Even after the announcement came that they were dropping the live show and everyone claimed that this was a sign of their lessened impact in the industry, their guns came out blazing with a show that was funny, polished, and filled with games we drooled over.
While it’s safe to say that Sony and Microsoft aren’t going to drop their commercial carnivals anytime soon, I could see publishers following in Nintendo’s footsteps by making quality streams of announcements that don’t need crowds of journalists. I mean, last year’s EA conference felt like it was already going in that direction with the Battlefront and Mass Effect developer documentaries they showed.
4. Steam will either be overhauled or lose footing.
Here’s the thing about Steam. Great platform for a cheaper, more convenient buying experience, terrible quality assurance. There’s something inherently wrong with an eshop that allows for hot messes to be sold under the guise of “Greenlit” titles, as quite a few cases have shown that developers are less eager to finish their work when they’re already making money.
Others scammed players entirely, with misrepresented games accompanied by fiercely policed forums that attempt to discredit and erase any and all criticism. People are slowly losing their faith in Steam, just as GOG and GreenManGaming have seen steady increases in popularity. Yes, Steam can still get you a good deal, and many people remain invested in the platform, but competition is rising and many of Steam’s biggest changes and additions have contorted into becoming its biggest weaknesses.
5. The Last Guardian will sink further into the abyss.
And the false prophets will persist to claim its coming is upon us.