Making predictions can always be a dangerous thing, because when you’re actually right about something, there’s no quicker way to making you feel like the next Nostradamus. Well right now, I think there’s only one gaming prediction that can be made with 100% certainty of it actually happening: 2014 is going to bring some wonderful new gaming experiences! But you didn’t need me to tell you that, now did you? Let’s try and make some more specific predictions about the future of video games, shall we?
Yesterday we got to see some 2014 predictions from Gamezebo’s Editor-in-Chief Jim Squires, but today it’s my turn. And I’ve decided to delve into everything from book publishers creating more video games, to Nintendo’s reluctant future in the mobile games space. Think I’m right? Think I couldn’t be more wrong? Weigh in with your thoughts on my predictions down in the replies, and let us know what YOU think the gaming world will have in store for 2014!
Book publishers will start heavily investing in mobile game development
There’s no denying the kind of impact that visual novels have had on the gaming world in recent years, with outstanding examples of interactive fiction like Kentucky Route Zero, Device 6, and Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! all sitting pretty at the top of our 2013 Games of the Year list. So then the question becomes: why haven’t many of today’s book publishers and novelists jumped at the chance to bring new life to their beloved stories and characters in an interactive mobile game?
We saw a few glimpses of publishing houses and established authors trying to experiment with the video game medium in 2013, like Neil Gaiman partnering up with The Odd Gentleman for an upcoming original horror game called Wayward Manor, and Random House Digital publishing their very first mobile game with the physics-puzzler, Catch the Berry. But other than that, the untapped potential by big publishing houses in the gaming industry is still a little surprising to me.
I think it’s only a matter of time before the book publishing and gaming worlds intersect for a more substantial presence in interactive fiction and visual novels going forward, and 2014 could very well be that time. Does this mean we’ll see an epic mobile reinterpretation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep in the near future? Maybe not, but still expect to see some of your favorite authors dabble in the mobile games space in some interesting ways.
Gamers will start to get fatigued from too many Telltale adventures all at once
Building off the incredible success of The Walking Dead (heck, it was our choice for Game of the Year in 2012), Telltale Games decided to keep the momentum going strong in 2013 by introducing a number of new episodic adventure game series based on popular IPs and franchises. And admittedly, all of the games they either announced or debuted over the last twelve months have been extremely awesome: from The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season Two, to the upcoming Game of Thrones and Tales From the Borderlands.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned from being a long-time gamer, it’s that yearly iterations of the same basic formula can start to get old pretty fast. We’re currently only one episode into both The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season Two, and assuming that either Game of Thrones or Tales From the Borderlands will premiere at some point in 2014, and that Telltale will announce another new game or two in the interim, well that adds up to a whole lot of episodes for gamers to keep track of at once.
I’m afraid that producing and releasing all of these ambitious projects in the same general timeframe will not only oversaturate Telltale’s own market, but might also dilute that rare sense of magic and wonder that we’ve come to know and expect from their adventure game brand. There has also been a noticeable shift in their most recent releases that puts the emphasis squarely on story, and bypasses a lot of the actual gameplay segments. Could this new direction also cause Telltale fans to grow weary of the established adventure game niche in 2014? I hope I’m wrong about this one, but only time (and 2014) will tell!
Still no mobile games from Nintendo in 2014, but the Wii U will finally start to turn around
If there’s one thing that Nintendo has shown us over the years, it’s that they will continue to do their own thing despite the overall sways of the industry. And despite how badly we all want it to happen, I just don’t see an official Nintendo game popping up for iOS or Android in 2014, or even 2015 for that matter. All the same, Nintendo will continue to “experiment” with their educational Android-powered tablets and maybe churn out a Mario Math game or two. At the very least, we might get some sort of official Pokédex companion app or something that we can download on our iPhones, but even that is probably a stretch.
On the other hand, I think that things for the Wii U will finally start looking up. I’ve always been surprised at how quickly everyone has been to write off the Wii U as a total failure even while the console is still in its relative infancy. Sure the low sales numbers don’t lie, but the same thing initially happened with the 3DS upon its release, and look how well the handheld system is doing now thanks to the recent surplus of amazing exclusive games. I think that 2014 will definitely bring the turnaround that the Wii U desperately needs, powered in part by the upcoming Mario Kart 8 and new Super Smash Bros. and hopefully some other unannounced surprises that The Big N has in store for the latter half of the year (like a new Legend of Zelda or Metroid, please).
New technology will take a backseat to new games
We saw a ton of shiny new tech pieces emerge in 2013, from nifty virtual reality helmets and iOS controllers, to the next-generation of home gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But while a lot of the new technology was decidedly cool (if you want more proof, then check out our list of 5 Great Pieces of Tech from 2013), nearly all of them suffered from one glaring problem: a lack of great games to actually show off the innovative hardware!
This problem was probably the most notable for new Android-based home console Ouya, whose team even launched an entire controversy-infused campaign to acquire more exclusive games for the console (BONUS PREDICTION: Ouya will cause at least three more utterly headshaking moments throughout the course of 2014). So this year, I’m predicting that the amount of new gaming technologies and hardware will come to a crawl as developers put the focus back on creating new games for already existing portals. At least I would certainly hope so: because what good is a new piece of gaming tech without amazing games to play on it?
Conversely, I think we will also see those new technologies of 2013 that can’t match the needed output of good games start to falter in 2014.
More same-day releases for multi-platform mobile games
Hey Android owners, how many times have you been disappointed to find that murky “Coming Soon to Android” label on the shiny new iOS game that you’re just dying to play? Sure, timed exclusivity deals and longer multi-platform developmental times are all just a part of the business, and while the importance of cross-platform game experiences has become undeniable in today’s gaming age, it often seems that there is still a clunky wait time before a game actually reaches that true “cross-platform” status.
But I wouldn’t be surprised if we started seeing more same-day-and-date releases for new games on iOS and Android, or even PC and Mac in 2014. After all, I haven’t seen one Facebook post by PopCap in the last six months that didn’t have the entire comments section flooded with people clamoring about a PC version of Plants vs. Zombies 2. While things have certainly gotten a little smoother in this area as of late, with the wait times between separate platform releases seemingly growing shorter, there’s still that ever-present sense around any new game release that someone in some community is “missing out” because of a developer’s launch platform choices.
And if you’ll really allow me to go out on a limb for a minute, I’d also like to imagine that we’ll see a new big-name PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game get released on the very same day as its mobile version. It may be something more akin to a PSN or XBLA game like Limbo or Bastion, but then again, it may also be something more substantial like XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Either way, in 2014 we’re going to see it happen.
Half-Life 3 is announced for the Steam Box
I know, I know, but someone had to say it. If it wasn’t 2008 or 2009 or 2010 or 2011 or 2012 or even 2013, then maybe 2014 will finally be the year that we get some sort of actual confirmation from Valve that Half-Life 3 is in existence. Better yet, maybe Half-Life 3 will even be released in 2014! Okay, now I’m really pushing it, but I can’t think of a more fitting way to get everyone excited about the upcoming Steam Box than by having Gordon Freeman himself lead us into the fray.
But regardless of when or how or even if it is announced, the confirmed existence of Half-Life 3 will make everyone’s heads explodes. And that one’s not even a prediction, just a statement of fact.