Predictions for 2009 (Part II): The Bad
Last time in our predictions article, we talked about ‘The Good‘. This time we’re looking on the glum side of things. With the economy in turmoil and heavy clouds on the horizon, there is little doubt that things are going to get worse before they get better.
But how will this all affect your average game? Or developer? Are we going to see devs close doors or retreat to safe-but-tired re-runs? Will the games industry buck the trend and prove resilient to the impending doom and gloom? Honestly, we don’t know.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have our opinions…
1. Sequels are an obvious safe-house for companies.
In 2009 it is fair to say that companies will try to play it safe where possible. Sequels will pave the digital roads of the future and re-makes of classics could prove to be milk-laden cash cows. The era of innovative new games which push envelopes to breaking point might be teetering on the ‘casual’ abyss.
With the likes of Fifa â€™10, Tiger Woods â€™10, Dead Space 2, Mirrorâ€™s Edge 2, The Godfather 2, Lord Of The Rings tie-ins, Fight Night 4, Red Alert 4 and Mercenaries 3 (potentially) already in the works, EA alone could revert to the greyer days of gaming regurgitation.
Likelihood – 8/10
2. Wave goodbye to big-budget heavyweights.
Walking down the digital highway, you pass a lot of prominent gravestones. In recent(-ish) times there are headstones for games such as ‘The Getaway’ and ‘Eight Days’. Pulling the plug on these once-high-profile games could mean that the days are already numbered for several projects. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least these:
* LA Noir â€“ With nary a sniff of footage for quite some time, is this game waiting in the wings to be pulled? Has it already been pulled secretly? Certain members of the team reckon that this is highly unlikely, but with so little being heard from about the game in so long, I personally think itâ€™s now purely academic. It’s a huge project and maybe not destined for the rubbish pile entirely, but we could see it butchered or shelved to make way for cheaper, high-return alternatives.
* This Is Vegas â€“ Again, with the sandbox more or less owned by the GTA and Saints Row franchises, this new I.P. could well be thrown out to the dogs if times get tougher for Midway. Particularly after the mostly-average reception that MK vs. DC received. If â€˜The Wheelmanâ€™ performs poorly in stores, things could become shaky for Midway. Adventurous new I.P.s’ days are numbered, I tells ya.
* Driver 5 â€“ This game may or may not be close to being finished, but that doesnâ€™t mean that new franchise holder Ubisoft is immune to the tempestuous markets. Could Ubi ice the game in favour of Assassin’s Creed 2 or Prince of Persia: Again (title tbc)? It wouldn’t be a huge shock.
* Duke Nukem Forever â€“ Whilst the info on a PS3 version of this mythical title is sketchy at best, it is by far the biggest candidate for condemnation to the annals of gaming history. Having said that, after a whopping 14 years in development, it would surely be the single biggest waste of money on an unreleased game in the whole of history, ever… well, maybe.
Likelihood – 4/10-6/10
3. More studios are ‘Radically Freed’. (See what I did there?)
With the December announcement of Free Radicalâ€™s closure, shock-waves ripped through the industry. Some of the minds behind seminal titles such as GoldenEye and TimeSplitters have been (at least temporarily) ejected from the gaming world.
The recent news that the company may even be sold in chunks rather than as a complete whole surely means that individuals such as Dave Doak will find positions in other companies sans problem.
But what is also clear is that it is unlikely that these guys will come up with such genre-defining creations should the team be split up. Our thoughts go out to all the guys at FR as 2009 rolls on.
But does this mark the beginning of the end for any other gaming heavy-hitters? If not the end, it may mean that companies look more seriously at their outgoings. Midway could be a prime example of the FR situation â€“ as mentioned previously, the most recent game to hit the shelves with Midway on the box has not pulled in the cash. If that happens again, it could mean serious trouble for the publisher.
4. Fewer PS3 updates.
It seemed that every other week in 2008, we were getting another firmware update. Some (read: most) were pointless and added little to the PlayStation experience. Others were massive and included groundbreaking new developments in the very way the system was used.
Are we now not at the point where we shouldn’t really need so many freaking updates? Am I seriously meant to think that I am now playing a PS3 that is well on its way to version three? I don’t really think there have been any great shake-ups in the firmware updates. At all.
The PS3 now has trophies. Hurrah. We now have more video compatibility. Hurrah. We still can’t play many PS2 games on our PS3s. Hurrah. We are still waiting on a unified online release schedule. Hurrah.
Are these things really all that important? Some yes, mostly no.
Will the PS3 v3.0 happen in 2009? Probably.
Will we care? Probably not.
Likelihood – 9/10
5. Major games don’t live up to hype.
With the likes of ‘Killzone 2’, ‘Heavy Rain’ and’ God of War 3′ garnering huge amounts of press coverage, can they really live up to the huge expectations of the masses?
Killzone 2 hype has reached fever pitch ahead of a late February release. The hype train for this has been going for nearly four years, building up to a massive careening onslaught of media and video and screens and interviews and-previews-and-exclusives-and*faints*…
…Now when I actually play the damn game, will there be any part of it that I am surprised or impressed by? I am seriously questioning this right now.
With Heavy Rain, the graphics are astounding. Truly. But will that matter if all we get is a prolonged and protracted QTE movie? And GoW3. The video is pretty, but I didn’t really see anything to make my eyes pop. Another Cyclops getting its eye torn out. Another Harpy getting de-winged. I’m not even going to start on the Final Fantasy series…
The hype train cometh… but will it bear nought but carriage upon carriage of epic failure?
Likelihood – 2/10 (It’s not gonna happen, but it might)
These are my doom and gloom predictions for 2009. Admittedly some are hugely unlikely, but others are distinct possibilities. Come back again soon when I look at the downright ugly (in some cases fugly) predictions for 2009.
For now, let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below. Should I retract any of the above predictions? If so, why?