Predictions! Get your predictions here! What will the distant and scary year of 2011 bring – Wii HD? PSP2? Announcements for the Xbox 720? And just what the hell is that damn PSPhone that everyone keeps flapping their damn gums about?
We know. Oh, yes, we know… and that is half the battle.
The other half is a good start.
Oh, yes, it is…
Everyone who has been working with and/or for TPS at some point in his or her “career” knows that Marc N. Kleinhenz not only is a hopeless Nintendo fanboy (who sprawls within the realms of a bewildering love/hate relationship with Sony), but he’s also a witch and, henceforth, proud owner of a mysterious crystal ball. To put this into some context, MNK has both successfully predicted that by 2012 California won’t be smart (safe) to live in (which, understandably, is part of the reason why he abhors the idea of living in the Sunshine State so much) and spoiled the next Twilight movie for half the staff. (Except for Aram and Andy, who both had already read the book.)
So, why are we gathering here for yet another group discussion? The answer is simple: Marc likes to see us make fools of ourselves. While he knows what’s going to happen, we speculate wildly on what the new year will have in store for our beloved videogames.
With Sony celebrating the PS3’s fifth – and Microsoft, the 360’s sixth – birthday in 2011, one would think that this hardware generation is about to begin losing its momentum. However, one quick glance at the PS3’s (scheduled) lineup for next year should make every Sony fanboy dance his own name. So what do I predict besides Sony delivering the system’s strongest list of games to date? How about the PSP2 and the PSPhone? Both make absolute sense looking at the most recent developments on the market(s) (the PSPhone will go up against the iPhone, and the PSP2 against the 3DS), plus all the rumors and “leaked” images of both systems popping up on every blog these days pretty much confirm that it won’t be long until we will hear of both. E3 2011. Any doubts?
My other “major” prediction is the surprise unveiling and release of a new independent property that will be exclusive to the PS3. All of Sony’s new IPs have become major successes, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they felt comfortable enough to give a studio like Ready at Dawn a shot at creating an entirely new franchise that’s once again exclusive to the PS3. Actually, thinking about the talk I had with Dana Jan [the God of War: Ghost of Sparta game director], I am pretty convinced that it’ll be them becoming Sony’s next big second-party PS3 developer.
I also predict the unveiling of a Wii HD, which will likely be less of a successor and more of a fully backward compatible “pro” version of the current generation Wii — actually quite similar to Sony’s and Microsoft’s redesigns, but with a few more system-enhancing hardware upgrades. The Wii 2 will probably not be unveiled before E3 2012, alongside the PS4 and Xbox 3.
What do you guys think?
Marc N. Kleinhenz
There will be no Wii HD. Nintendo is following a traditional, old-school philosophy with their systems – just one per generation, thank you very much – and they’ll jump right to the Wii Too (yes, I really do think it’ll be called that). It’s more than likely that Nintendo will “announce” it at next year’s E3, just as they tipped their hand in regards to the Revolution and its Virtual Console at E3 2005, with a full blowout at and release for ‘12. Whether or not the Xbox 720 ships the same year is unknown, although extremely likely.
Another prediction: all three next-gen systems will launch with cameras to complement their packed-in motion controls (and, possibly, their pack-in traditional controls).
One last one: at least a quarter of the 2011 PS3 exclusives, such as The Last Guardian and, just possibly, SOCOM 4, will get delayed until ‘12.
I see The Last Guardian actually finally coming out in 2011. I think we’ll see a lot of it at E3, and then it’ll have a Christmas release. But, yeah, ‘11 is looking to be what ‘10 should have been for Sony. The first half of this year was strong, but Sony’s Christmas has been very disappointing – unless you wanted the PlayStation Move, and even then you are still waiting until 2011 for the good motion games. LittleBigPlanet 2 will be the game everyone talks about next year, too, I think, along with Killzone 3. Most likely, though, LBP2 will get all of the attention – until Uncharted 3 comes out. There is really nothing from Microsoft next year that really makes the 360 stand out like Sony’s lineup of games does.
My first prediction is that there is no way it will be called “Wii Too.” That’s way too clever for Nintendo. It will actually be called SDNES, for Super Duper Nintendo Excrement System.
While I do not think we will even see a reveal of a new console in 2011 (maybe from Microsoft, but even that I sorta doubt), I think Paji is right on with the PSP2 for sure. Maybe there will finally be the PSPhone, but even if such a thing does come to pass, I see it going the way of the Microsoft Kin, and I’d be amazed if it did as well as an N-Gage. Sorry – iPhone has that platform on lockdown, and Droid picks up the slack for those nonconformists that now hate Apple as some big, faceless conglomeration that must be stopped (oh, how the tides have turned).
Game-wise, things look a little grim for 2011 right now. Yes, there is a spate of sequels to highly regarded games, but there is a dearth of new IP, and that makes me a sad gamer. I’m not denying that there can be excellent sequels, but you are still just playing a refinement of an existing game, and as I am an aging product of a society that celebrates short attention spans, it is very hard for a sequel to keep me gripped or get me excited. Still, there are always a few surprises that come out of nowhere to be really good games (like Darksiders in 2010), so I’m betting there is something out there. I am excited about Twisted Metal, which clever readers will point out is another sequel… but when you haven’t put out a full console game in almost 10 years, then a sequel is okay.
My only other thought is that we will probably see a decline in the 3D push by late in 2011 (and perhaps motion controls, too), barring someone coming up with an actual “killer app” that makes 3D (and motion) anything more than a gimmick that adds nothing to the gameplay. I’m probably wrong, but I should be right.
Oho, I want to get in on this!
I’ll steer clear of new hardware predictions (though the PSP2 is real and the PSPhone is a PlayStation device only in our clever little naming convention-making minds and is an Android device first with the option to play select downloaded PlayStation titles), but I’ll insist this will be the last full-blown year where everyone’s still fully committed to their home hardware (okay, maybe just MS and Sony). We’ll likely see the best-looking, most refined, and most expanded game concepts of the generation in 2011, with 2012 serving as sort of the swan song for our lovable black brick. There’ll be a price drop to $200 to get hardware sales moving at a pace deserving of easily the most impressive year in terms of sheer software output.
3D has definitely become something of a pratfall for Sony. While I love that games are leading the content charge (seriously, I think there’s, like, 20 times more 3D games than there are TV programming and Blu-rays combined), it’s clear that the tech cannot be bolted onto an existing engine and just left at that. Games need to be made for 3D first, and ideally with Move thrown in there, too, to properly show off an interface that uses all the space in front of the player in more than just waggle ways. I think we may see some interesting experiments in both tech, but until they’re standard in the PS4 and every HDTV out there is also a 3DTV (which will absolutely happen in the next few years), it’s a tough sell for all the performance hit and extra dev time it would take to make a “real” 3D game. I fully expect someone like Kojima to really do it all justice in the next few years, and I can’t wait.
I’d say most of the stuff hitting with definite dates already (like Uncharted 3) will stick to their dates. The Last Guardian is very likely an early 2012 game. I just don’t see it making it this year, but E3 is going to be insane. There’s still a lot of stuff that’s unannounced so far (like Lightbox’s Warhawk follow-up), and there will definitely be a full hardware reveal of the PSP2, so I’m pumped. I don’t mind all the sequels right now; this is the point in every hardware cycle where devs leverage the experience and continued refinements to their engines to make the games rather than the tech, and I think we may see plenty of games with the numeral three after them hitting, but they’ll be hands-down the best of their franchises.
When we start to head into new hardware next year (and that’s 2012, at the earliest), that’s the time for devs to start creating new IPs, and Sony has shown that its first-party studios don’t mind making huge leaps into something new. For now, I’m happy to just enjoy the continued price breaks and advances to familiar gameplay and franchises that the end of a hardware cycle entails.
I WANT MY NEW GAMES YOU SHUT UP!
I WANT THEM TOO BUT I ALSO WANT STARHAWK AND G-POLICE AND COLONY WARS AND OH GOD I CAN’T STOP TYPING IN CAPS SOMEONE HEEEEEEELP ME!
(Also, yeah, the PSN has sort of emerged as its own half-platform, and that definitely seems to be the most fruitful germination point for new ideas – and that’s not a bad way to do it, really. Less risk, possibly better rewards.)
Marc N. Kleinhenz
I actually think we’ll see a $199 PS3 (and, of course, Xbox 360) at the end of next year, as opposed to ‘12, but – hey – I was wrong about a price drop for the Wii this year, so who knows.
If we don’t see cheaper systems this coming year… then when will the manufacturers introduce the 512-bit systems? Unless, of course, they all take the PS2 route, with the first several years of the new generation being slightly eaten by a more-productive-for-longer older gen?
I’d honestly be surprised if we didn’t see E3 announcements of $200 and permanent bundles for the rest of the gen. Any extensions to current prices could be an attempt to offset R&D costs, but, most of the time, that’s all sunk in the hopes of getting it all back over the course of that gen.
Basically, it’s my guess that if prices hold past the middle of this year, tuck in for at least another full year of the current hardware. And, honestly, as much of a spaz as I am about new hardware reveals, I’m okay with a few more years. Let ‘em work out those motion control kinks to see what works and what doesn’t before we end up just grouping them into the next gen by default.
2011 and the future of gaming… let me peer into my crystal ball… I see… goldfish. Oh, wait… this is a fishbowl.
Seriously, though, I’m sure Nintendo will release an HD system, and I’m inclined to agree that it will be backwards-compatible with Wii games (GameCube, who knows) and feature a camera. It seems a little less “revolutionary” than the Wii was, in light of recent motion-gaming advances, but I suspect that Nintendo will embrace the audience introduced to gaming with the Wii, and still surprise us with a trick up their sleeves. The 3DS is already confirmed for 2011, but I think it’s going to be less successful than the DS was – until the inevitable price drop. It seems like too many “non-gamers” see the DS as a toy, not an interactive media device, like an iPhone. Parents won’t shell out $300 (or even $250) for a device that might make their six-year-old throw up; apparently, they might weigh the consequences if it were cheaper, I guess.
Back when the PS3 dropped in price to $300, I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t figure out how they could afford to do it. I heard they were losing money on every system made. So a drop to $200 sounds crazy – but videogames are a dynamic market. Technological advances come up with memory, production, etc. so fast that I doubt Sony really is losing money on the production of their consoles at this time. So, maybe, it’s not so implausible. For anyone who’s been holding out, $200 is the magic price. Heck, $300’s still a steal.
PlayStation Phone – knowing Sony, it’s guaranteed to release next year. Early reports suggest that it will be modeled after (or crafted from the bodies of) the PSP go, which isn’t surprising. After all, Sony has a way of reusing its technology until it catches on; take UMDs and their progenitor, the MiniDisc. But as for the PlayStation Phone’s audience? With iPhones, Droids, and even the Windows Phone 7, the market’s not just saturated, it’s underwater. Can the PSPhone remain competitive – or even dominant – in its arena?
And as far as the PSP2 goes, I’m sure we’ll see it in 2011, albeit as a holiday release. (Wouldn’t that be something?) I’m interested in seeing what really sets it apart from its competitor, aside from being very pretty, I’m sure. I’m honestly hoping it will push for a sophisticated DLC-oriented library, a la “apps,” or other Media Go-styled content; I believe that this is the future of portable gaming, not cartridges the size of postage stamps you’ll lose in-between the cushions of your couch.
And Microsoft? Sure, there’s Gears 3 and Forza 4 (which I’m sure will be Kinect-enabled and big sellers), but what else is there? Is Microsoft really that confident in Kinect that they feel they can coast on it? I can’t even see any significant Kinect games coming out next year that make this accessory a “must have” for 2011; even Child of Eden (which looks slick) is a bit niche. And while I don’t believe that we’ll hear of an Xbox 3 (or 720, depending on preference) or PS4 next year, I’m sure holiday 2011 will determine Microsoft’s future role in gaming – for better or worse – depending on which audience they embrace and which audience they take for granted.
Just to chime in one last time on some of this, the PS3 was still losing just a few bucks per unit sold when the Slim dropped at $300, but this was quickly corrected and Sony has been making a profit on the system more or less since it launched. If they do drop to $200, it’ll likely be because they were able to move to a new fab size and maybe squeeze more into less space. Then again, at this point, they really can’t afford to slip any more. The PS2 is dead. The PSP is dead in the States, and the PS3 is chilling in a distant third here, too. I think any future pricing moves will be reactive rather than proactive, but I do still think we’ll see a $200 system. The software isn’t just there, it’s everywhere, so really the only thing holding back consumers seems to be the relative price difference versus the other systems. As long as that barrier is there, no talk of bundled Move controllers or Blu-ray playback is going to knock it down in consumers’ eyes. Two hundo certainly would.
And again, on the PSPhone (sorry I brought it up again), remember that it’s a Sony Ericsson device, not a Sony Computer Entertainment one. It has PlayStation functionality in limited download form, but it’s not a PSP and likely won’t carry the PlayStation name. Sony needs to keep that as pure as possible leading up to the reveal of the PSP2 around E3. The phone may do well (the Xperia devices have been doing okay, I believe), but it shouldn’t be judged by the same metric as normal PlayStation hardware. It won’t get that push, it won’t get that reveal, and (hopefully, in Sony’s mind, I’m sure) it won’t pull focus from the real PSP successor that’s waiting in the wings.
Yeah, I think Sam pretty much has it figured out regarding the PSPhone. They want the PlayStation name out there tied to their Ericssons so those will do better, not the other way around. It’s more a marketing coup than a real noteworthy PlayStation release. (Remember, the old Sony Ericsson phones all used to have the PlayStation controller logo already in there, so the interconnection is not entirely new.) However, if they do it right, Sony Computer Entertainment could actually really profit from this. Minis need a push, and in the end it might actually help sell PSP(2)s.
I still stand by my prediction for 2012 being the big year for new console announcements/releases, not 2011, and I still think the Wii HD might actually happen. Nintendo probably sees the PS2 (and especially its later years) as an indicator of how the casual market can help make a console a tremendous success, which is why they’d be stupid not to keep the Wii around for a few more years (alongside the Wii 2). A redesigned HD version might be the way to go, unless they’re afraid it would take away momentum from the Wii 2. Or is their market dominance too frail to pull off such a Sony-ish move? Either way, all three major corporations have a lot of thinking to do regarding the future of their brands. As Sony painfully had to learn, a good start is half the race.