Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Ahead to 2013 And Back On 2012

The end of the year means that bloggers are tempted to look back at the past year and try to predict the future.  I did in 2011 and did rather badly.  So how did I do in 2012 and how out of touch are my musings for 2013?

Looking back at 2012 I didn't really make serious predictions.  Instead I made some rather general observations which make me look good now. 

Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I pointed out that the game would be the major story of 2012 and even with the emergence of Guild Wars 2 I think that SW:TOR was the most important MMORPG story of 2012.  The big question was whether the game could keep player interest throughout the course of the year.  The answer to that was "NO!", with EA/Bioware eventually turning to the free-to-play model late in the year to try to reverse the game's sagging financial fortunes.

DUST 514.  I stated that DUST 514 would be a major story in 2012.  The game did not turn out as important as I thought mainly because the release date was pushed into 2013.

New Game Announcements.  I expected to hear news about three upcoming rumored games, Blizzard's Titan, SOE's EverQuest Next and 38 Studios' Project Copernicus.   The news was a little shocking.  Well, not hearing any real news about Titan wasn't shocking with World of Warcraft doing so well, but the other two games?  At SOE's fan gathering John Smedley announced they were scrapping all previous work done on EverQuest Next and starting over.  One hope that the the game is not vaporware is that the third installment of the EverQuest series will use the same game engine as Planetside 2.  Project Copernicus, on the other hand, is vaporware as 38 Studios filed for bankruptcy protection in June.

Real Life Politics.  I really expected politics to rear its ugly head as more and more countries face financial difficulties.  Gamers almost saw the passage of SOPA, a measure that would have damaged efforts to implement DNSSEC, thus making our account transactions with gaming companies less secure.  Fortunately Republicans realized, after getting hit in the head by Reddit with a ClueBat, that opposing these types of measures wasn't the Tea Party just being crazy and the measure died, at least for 2012.

In news from South Korea legislators chose to outlaw gold farming and the use of bots.  I don't think that measure was meant to improve gamers' lives but in response to Diablo 3.  Violators of the law face penalties of up to $43,000 and five years in prison.  In a land where StarCraft is the national sport the effects of gold farming and botting is serious business.

So what's in store for 2013?

Year of the Sandbox.   We started hearing talk of this in 2012 but will 2013 become the year of the sandbox game?  With games like Age of Wushu launching in February and The Repopulation probably launching in 2013, the answer may be yes.  If Eve Online can maintain or improve upon its current 450,000 subscriptions, the sandbox idea will remain strong with EverQuest Next on the horizon to possibly launch in 2014.

Year of the MMOFPS?  I don't think so but CCP's DUST 514 and Trion's Defiance will try to prove me wrong.  Not only are the two games first person shooters but they are linked to items outside the game; DUST 514 to Eve Online and Defiance to the SyFy network show of the same name.  I expect both games to put up solid but not spectacular performances in 2013.

SWTOR Redux?  The Elder Scrolls Online is in a predicament.  Set in a beloved universe one thousand years before Skyrim, can ZeniMax not only reproduce an acceptable version of Tamriel but an acceptable combat system as well?  Does this sound like what Bioware faced when creating Star Wars: The Old Republic?  Not only did the developers need to fit into the Star Wars universe but the ghost of Star Wars: Galaxies, killed to give SWTOR a clear playing field, gave players something with which to compare game play.

Having never played any of the Elder Scrolls games, I'll just put my trust in the director of The Elder Scrolls Online, Matt Firor, and state that by the end of the year no one will call ESO a failure.  Mr. Firor was the producer of Dark Age of Camelot and its first two expansions.  With ZeniMax/Bethesda not releasing any information about the business model until much closer to the launch date I'm not going to make a prediction except to say things may go poorly if a buy-to-play/cash shop similar to Guild Wars 2 is not used.

Other Games.  I have two other games I've heard of that sound interesting.  The first is Blade & Soul.  NCSoft is adapting the game for release in North America and Europe and should release the game sometime in 2013.  While most Korean imports don't play well in the West NCSoft did a good job with Aion.  The second game is Wild Star.  I've heard that a lot of developers from World of Warcraft are working on the game and from the videos I've seen on YouTube it shows.  How will a sci-fi game with WoW's art style do?  We'll find out.

Blame Video Games.  While U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may believe that no study has shown a link between violence and video games, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Connecticut the subject has come up again.  Vice-President Joe Biden, who has presidential aspirations in 2016, is heading a commission on violence looking at, among other things, video games.  Expect more news coming from the U.S. Congress once the newly elected members take office in January.

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