With 2012 now behind us, we set our sights on the future and all of the excitement that 2013 will inevitably hold. Last year was a bit lackluster due to two consoles that are starting to show their age. If anything, 2012 was the calm before the storm that will rain down all over 2013.
As such, we here at GameRevolution figured it was a good time to dig out our thinking caps and make a few predictions on what the next twelve months may hold. So without further ado, let's get right into it.
Competitive Gaming Explodes To New Heights Of Popularity
As first-person shooters, MOBAs, and real-time strategy games continue to grow in popularity, we're bound to see eSports expand throughout the year. The insanely large community that is vested in League of Legends is evidence to this fact, and a testament to the popularity of competitive free-to-play games.
Let's also not forget that we've got DotA 2 on the horizon along with the long-awaited StarCraft II expansion, both of which will undoubtedly have a strong foothold in the competitive gaming arena. Couple that with the continuing love for fighting games like Street Fighter and first-person shooters like Call of Duty, and you've got a wide array of genres that fit nicely into this professional gaming space.
Next-Gen Xbox Unveiled, Launches Holiday 2013
With Xbox Live's Major Nelson already counting down to E3, it's growing clearer that Microsoft plans to pull back the curtain on the Xbox 360's successor during their press conference in June. Judging by what they've done in the past, there's a good chance we'll see it launch mid-November.
Also, expect it to resemble more of a multimedia device than a traditional dedicated gaming console. It'll likely have a Blu-ray drive, a more robust suite of entertainment apps, and lots of new social networking features. The standard model will go for $399, while a stripped-down set-top box that allows access to entertainment apps and XBLA games will be aimed at the casual crowd for $149. Oh yeah, and I think they'll just call it the Xbox—at least, that's totally what they should do.
On the software side, don't expect to catch wind of a new Halo or Gears of War just yet, though a sequel to Alan Wake from Remedy would be a safe bet. Maybe some sort of exclusive DLC or early release deal with Activision on Bungie's Destiny as well. Speaking of which…
Respawn And Bungie Projects Amaze, Shatter Interest In Modern Military Shooters
While Call of Duty: Black Ops II sold boatloads of copies, the series' overall sales are slowly starting to decline. When new hardware inevitably rolls out, Treyarch and the remnants of Infinity Ward won't be able to rest on the laurels of such a dated engine, and something tells me that they'll inevitably get overshadowed by the forthcoming competition. The former Infinity Ward guys who left to form Respawn Entertainment have been hard at work for quite a while now, so whatever they do is certainly going to be huge, and it's about time they show us what it is.
Likewise, we've heard rumblings from Activision and Bungie regarding the Halo creator's next big thing. The studio has released some artwork showcasing their vision, and I must say, it's quite compelling. If any team of developers can knock Halo off its mantle as the number one sci-fi shooter, it's the guys who created the franchise in the first place. Expect some revolutionary approach to online as well.
Next-Gen PlayStation Unveiled, Launches Holiday 2013
The PlayStation 3 was late to the party and overpriced when it first launched, and it really hurt the console's first couple of years. As such, don't expect Sony to make the same mistake again. The PlayStation 4, Orbis, or whatever you want to call it (I think they may actually abandon the numbering this time, in part because of the superstition of the number 4 in Japan) will almost certainly be priced competitvely, with the entry SKU starting at $399 and one with a larger hard drive likely pushing the $499 mark.
When the console is revealed (during E3 at the very latest), expect to see Sony harp on how the PS Vita adds second-screen functionality. As far as games go, there's a good chance we'll see Killzone 4 and Uncharted 4, but probably no God of War 4 just yet, considering Ascension is right around the corner. Come to think of it, with all these '4s,' maybe Sony will stick with the numbering and kick off some big PS4 marketing campaign that highlights all these big sequels. There are also The Last Guardian and the acquisition of Gaikai to consider, but we'll get to that in just a moment.
Sony Drops Vita Price To $199, Lack Of Compelling Software Continues
Those of you expecting 2013 to be a big year for the Vita are going to be sorely disappointed. There isn't a whole lot of compelling software on the horizon and with such an underwhelming install base, don't expect third parties to jump on board anytime soon. I hate to break it to you, but that BioShock Vita title you're hoping for is all but a pipe dream at this point. I think Killzone: Mercenary will be great but unfortunately won't sell all that well—the same will likely go for Soul Sacrifice, Tearaway, and Dragon's Crown.
As such, we'll likely see a price drop for the device sometime in the latter half of this year to $199. This will (hopefully) cause a small spike in sales that will at least get the device in more gamers' hands. Unfortunately for Sony, I think strong competition from Nintendo and smartphones will make it clear by the end of the year that they're just barely keeping their head above water in the mobile space. Perhaps they'll find more success with their PlayStation Mobile platform instead.
Majora's Mask 3DS Announced
Ever since Nintendo released a touched-up version of Ocarina of Time for 3DS, fans have been crying out for a 3DS version of Majora's Mask as well. Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto has hinted at the possibility in the past, so there's reason to believe we'll see it at some point—hopefully this year. If for some reason we don't get a 3DS remake,
I'll cry I'd suspect we'll see a brand-new Zelda game for Nintendo's handheld.
After all, we've already got 3D and 2D Mario games and a Mario Kart, so it stands to reason that Nintendo would want to lay off the platforming plumber on 3DS in 2013 and focus on everyone's favorite sword-wielding elf.
Proper 3D Mario Game Revealed For Wii U, Dubbed Super Mario Universe
It has only been a couple of years since the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2, but for many of us, that's long enough of a wait for a new 3D Mario title on console. Expect Nintendo to wow the world at E3 with a reveal of Super Mario Universe (emphasis on the 'U'), which will have all the Wii U haters out there eating their words. Judging by how stunning Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 were on Wii, it's safe to assume that Mario Universe will be the most visually impressive game that Nintendo has ever released.
With only a few exclusive titles confirmed for release this year on Wii U, one would hope this new 3D Mario would be out in time for the holiday season. If not, let's hope Nintendo's got something else up their sleeve like a new IP or perhaps Metroid Prime 4.
Steam (And PC Gaming In General) Gets Overshadowed By New Console Hardware
Right now, PC gaming is all the rage. This past year, the Xbox 360 and PS3 have really started showing their age, which has caused many gamers to shift their focus toward Steam and the wonderful world of computer gaming. There's been talk of Valve launching a dedicated Steam Box this year, but even if they do, I'm fairly certain that all the excitement will dissipate the moment we get our hands on the next-gen hardware.
There are a couple of noteworthy PC-exclusive titles coming out this year, but as amazing as the new SimCity may be, I don't think it will be enough to pull gamers away from their shiny new Xbox and/or PlayStation.
Sony Unveils Cloud-Streaming Service Plans, Provides Access To Entire Library Of PSone And PS2 Games
You're just plain fooling yourself if you don't think cloud gaming will play a major role in the future of gaming. Sony made that very clear last year when it purchased Gaikai. We still have no idea exactly how this acquisition will come into play down the road, but it's safe to assume that it will be a major part of Sony's online effort going forward with the PlayStation 4.
The original PlayStation and PS2 both have incredible libraries loaded with hundreds of great games, so I expect their cloud service will offer the ability to stream games from the prior generations for a monthly fee. Perhaps they'll add a new tier to PlayStation Plus, where premium subscribers get streaming access to Sony's suite of classics. Will it encompass the PlayStation 3's library? Definitely not right away, but I could see it happening down the line. And what's to say this service doesn't extend to the PS Vita as well?
The Last Guardian Announced As Launch Title For PlayStation 4
Last but certainly not least, we have one final prediction, and it's regarding The Last Guardian. This poor game has been chronically delayed, with virtually no hope of ever seeing the light of day. Oddly enough, however, Sony refuses to confess that the game is dead. As such, I'm willing to bet that they've been slaving away to make this a launch title for the PlayStation 4. It certainly would explain why it has been so long since we've seen a glimpse of it in action.
Plus, this would be a great way to stir up excitement for Sony's new console. Shadow of the Colossus is one of the most highly revered titles that is exclusive to the PlayStation platform, so convincing gamers to shell out a hefty sum of cash for a new piece of hardware will be a whole lot easier with such a compelling game to go along with it.