Monday, January 2, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2012 And Back At 2011

Happy New Year!  I usually prefer to look ahead to the new year but I made some predictions for 2011 and I should look at how well I did before moving on to looking at 2012.  So here is a look back to see just how insightful I really was.

New Games:  I made predictions about two games, Star Wars: The Old Republic and RIFT.  I almost predicted that SW:TOR would launch in 2012 but chickened out and stated that SW:TOR would launch in December 2011.  I got that prediction right.  RIFT is a little different story.  I got the Q1 launch date correct but not the number of subscribers.  Even though Trion has never released numbers, the MMO page on Xfire on 1 January indicated that RIFT players spent half the time in-game as Eve Online players.  Since I predicted a subscription base of 300-400 thousand for RIFT, I will consider that a missed prediction.

Existing Games:  This category is why I should never make predictions.  I only made predictions about three games: Eve Online, EverQuest 2 and Star Wars: Galaxies.  First, Eve.  Looking back one would never know that is the game I play the most.  I wrote that Incarna would lead to a new peak concurrent user record over 67,000 users.  Eve did set a PCU record of 63,170 but not during June or July.  The disaster that was Incarna also helped to ensure that the number of subscribers fell below the 380-400 thousand I predicted at year end.

For EverQuest 2, my predictions didn't work too well either.  Because SOE doesn't release numbers, I'm not sure if the players who proclaimed they were moving to RIFT came back.  I did predict rumors of a second round of server merges but I think SOE just finished the first round of mergers less than two weeks ago.  And of course, my prediction that the free-to-play service for EQ2 would remain separate from the subscription servers failed when EQ2 went F2P on 6 December.

Finally, my predictions about Star Wars: Galaxies.  Sure, they all came true, but that is because LucasArts pulled the plug on the IP so no work was done.

Eve Multi-media:  I have to say that Incarna really hurt the creative community surrounding Eve Online.  Because Incarna basically was a Minmatar closet instead of actual walking in stations with the never released establishments that I thought would lead to a lot of machinima being produced.  I did predict that there would be 10 Eve-related podcasts and I could claim that.  Looking at the Eve Pod Pack page, I count nine podcasts I consider to be active, ten if I count Voices from the Void which seems to be in indefinite hiatus.

What's Ahead For 2012?  I won't have any predictions for 2012 but I will tell some of the stories I expect will dominate the MMO news.

1.  Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The game is going to dominate the MMO coverage for at least the first half of 2012 and possibly all year.  I think everyone is going to play.  I've even broken down and started playing the game.  The question hanging over the game and the genre is will the game maintain player interest throughout the year.

2.  DUST 514.  If SW:TOR is newsworthy because of the sheer amount of money spent on developing the game, then DUST 514 will be a major story because of the innovation (or folly) of the attempt to merge a PC MMORPG and a console first person shooter (MMOFPS?) into one virtual world.  I keep hearing and reading gamers complain about a lack of imagination in games as all developers try to imitate World of Warcraft.  One thing about the Viking spaceship developers in Iceland is that they are stretching the boundaries of game design.

3.  New Game Announcements.  I expect that this year gamers will find out more details about three eagerly awaited projects: Blizzard's Titan, SOE's EverQuest Next, and 38 Studios' Copernicus.  None of these MMORPGs will debut in 2012 but the companies will tease us with enough news to make us believe these will be the games that will dominate 2013, although I believe 2014 is more realistic.

4.  Real Life Politics.  I expect that the real world will inject itself into our games in 2012.  I'm not sure exactly how yet, but between a lot of governments needing money, the U.S. presidential election in November and whatever is really happening in China, gamers will have the real world chase them into their virtual world safe havens.

That's it for now.  As I wrote above, I'm not good at the whole prediction business so expect to see a lot of things occur that I failed to see.

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