Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Postmortem on 2019 Predictions - Video Game Edition

For 2019 I made a few notable predictions for the video game hobby as follows:

1. Epic Games Will Get some Legs (TRUE)

It's fair to say this came to pass. Through the use of lots of free games and a rapidly growing library of exclusives motivated by the smaller take on profit Epic charges, the storefront has grown enough to be difficult to ignore. If you want to play a lot of this year's big releases then Epic Games Store or console are your only choices. The real question will be: how long can they keep this up? And if Fortnite starts to dry up (and I predict it will in 2020), what will happen then?

2. Call of Duty gets its campaign back (TRUE)

Yep, it sure did. And I will admit: a pretty good campaign, too. Good thing I didn't predict it would move away from deep monetization schemes in multiplayer!

3. Bioware will announce a new Mass Effect or Dragon Age game (MIXED)

Technically Bioware has admitted to working on a new Dragon Age....eventually. But this was an announcement I felt tied in to damage control over Anthem, so I am not sure it counts?

4. Fortnite will be replaced by a new 2020 (MIXED)

I still think this is working out as predicted. They wrapped their ten season arc and opened up with a Chapter 2 event not long ago, and I bet a lot of people bailed on this Chapter 2 Season 1 version of the game as I did. On the other hand, my kid is now 8 and still loves Fortnite; there's a strange thing going on here, though: average Fortnite players who are adults are aware that Epic introduced bots to regular play to fill out the ranks and make life easier for bad or middling gamers. Young gamers do not realize this, and my son is more dedicated to the game now that he thinks he is a Fortnite champion with several solo Victory Royales under his belt.

Here's the problem, though....does he have real victories under his belt? Are they victories against bots? Who knows? And when I played Chapter 2, I found the new version of the game simultaneously less interesting and also far too familiar; I quit a couple weeks in and gave up entirely. My son has thankfully been fine with playing other multiplayer games with old dad; but for me, it got to be entirely too much, and now getting back in to it feels like too much work. I bet I am not alone in that crowd.

Epic's success going forward will be an even mix of keeping streamers engaged and kids excited. If they keep it up, 2020 should be okay for them....we'll see.

5. New Alien Game (TRUE--technically)

Well, technically there was, just in the form of a tabletop print RPG which I did not predict! But as far as video games go there are vague tales of a shooter MMO set in the Alien universe under development (low expectations set), and a mobile app titled Aliens: Blackout was released. Honestly, for the fortieth anniversary of Alien as a franchise the best parts this year were the tabletop RPG and the series of six film shorts made on Youtube.

6. Assassin's Creed Gets a Break (TRUE)

They did! No new AC game was announced this year, and I bet the next one will be timed to release with the next generation of consoles next year.

7. Obscure Corner of Gaming Revived (FALSE)

There are so many games out there it's hard to keep up, but to tie myself down to specifics in the prediction I suggested some sort of horrifying Dark Souls meets Myst/Riven style game could emerge. If I had to identify an actual trend this year, it would be "porn games from Japan on Steam."

The Weird Predictions:

1. I'll catch up on Assassin's Creed at last. False. I did not finish any of the AC games still on my menu. In a twist on a twist, rather than play the three latest games, I started replaying AC III and AC IV on Switch once they released, instead.

2. I'll grow tied of The Division 2. True! Yes, this happened, though ironically my interest lately is renewed.

3. I will buy Call of Duty for the campaign, but it will fail to innovate. Half true; I bought it on sale, but the campaign innovated by being extremely interesting and frankly kudos to them. I avoided feeling bad by choosing to avoid the multiplayer trap entirely. I bought the basic edition of the game on a nice discount instead.

4. I will grow sick of Fortnite but still play as a dad. False. Hah! I stopped playing two weeks in to Chapter 2 and have not looked back, though as a good dad I did buy skins my son really wanted for one of his Xmas presents.

5. I will finish Zelda: Breath of the Wild this year, possibly in December. False! Not even my wife has finished it, and she can be hardcore about Nintendo. I play this one in periodic 2-4 hour bursts once every month or two. At this rate, I'll finish it right when the Switch lifecycle comes to a close.

My actual record of completed games this year looks more like a blast from the past than a current games list. More on that in a future post...

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