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Video Game Industry Predictions 2013
by Alistair Doulin on 01/01/13 08:15:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

[This is a repost from my blog doolwind.com and #altdevblogaday]

Well, the world didn't end (of course) so it's time to look to the next twelve months and predict what we might see in 2013. Below are my predictions for the video game industry in 2013.

Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift I've long been a fan of VR and have been disappointed with the consumer level hardware up to this point. That all changed in 2012 with the announcement of the Oculus Rift. With the backing of John Carmack, it was hard for the industry to ignore this new product. It looks like VR has finally turned a corner and (thanks to the booming smart phone market) the technology is available allowing a cheap (almost) consumer grade VR headset to be mass produced. Developers will have most of 2013 to prepare for the consumer grade headset and I see a lot of time and research going into these preparations. Rather than gamers peering through a small (24-70") window into our worlds, they can now be completely immersed in them. The current fascination with (stereoscopic only) 3D  is one thing, but true immersive head-tracked 3D will take our games to the next level. While there are only a handful of games that support the Oculus Rift at this stage, by the end of 2013 I predict this to be in the hundreds.

Mobile/Tablet

I predict a large number of people (particularly indie's) will make it big on mobile in 2013. This is still the direction I plan to head in 2013. While some people have moved toward social/Facebook gaming in 2011-2012 I see some of them returning to mobile/tablet gaming in 2013. With Microsoft entering the tablet market (and with a better mobile offering) I see this market growing substantially in 2013. The "get rich quick" attitude many had towards Facebook games has died off a little and I'm seeing a number of indie developers I know pivoting back to mobile rather than pure Facebook/social. I see the mobile/tablet market maturing in 2013 as many developers learn from their mistakes in the past and embrace the benefits of the platform (touch interface, always connected, etc).

Real Social Games

zyngaWith Zynga shutting down a bunch of their games, I see the need for truly social games. Facebook and other social networks give game developers amazing opportunity for connecting gamers to their friends and others around the world. Rather than abusing these connections I see a switch to meaningful engagement. Games like LetterPress show the simplicity of Facebook to connect users rather than allowing users to bug their friends into getting them in-game items for free. True social games will take this simple connection and use it to enrich their game design. Many older gamers grew up playing together in arcades or lugging their giant computers to each others houses for a chance to play together. I'd like to see this same experience enabled by social games rather than the cheap "social" behavior we see currently. Like it or not, many developers go where the money is and the fact Zynga and the like are now falling on hard times shows the need for more than a superficial social connection if these types of games are to succeed.

No New Apple Product


applelogoI don't see Apple releasing any significantly new products in 2013. They will continue to evolve their existing products, however I see the pace of of their evolution picking up. The iPhone 5 was a disappointment to many of the die-hard Apple fans I know. 2013 will be a real turning point for Apple as they forge new territory without Jobs at the helm. I'm sure much of 2012 had already been planned out but decisions like the iPad Mini show a new course is being set. I'd love to see a new product as innovative as the iPad, but I don't see that occurring in 2013. Perhaps in a year or two we might see Apple move into the VR market, but I think they will wait and see the response to the Oculus Rift before making a large move like that.

Last Generation of Consoles

xbox720It's looking like the next XBox and Playstation will be released in late 2013. I predict this will be the final "pure console" generation we see. As mobile, tablet and PC converge I think it's logical that the concept of the console will disappear. With the current console cycle being closer to 10 years than 5, we can expect the next generation to be at least as long. With the current speed of innovation in the tablet/mobile sector, it will only be a matter of years before a portable device is as powerful as the next generation of consoles. The only difference then is the input/output mechanisms. Microsoft has already shown their Surface is compatible with a XBox360 controller and I see this trend continuing.

In the mid-term future, I forsee one, or maybe a couple, of devices powering most of our personal computing. This device will connect to the output device of our choosing to power our experience. On the road we will use the device itself (which will be around the size of a phone and/or tablet, depending on your preference). At work the computing device wirelessly connects to your mouse, keyboard and monitor(s). Playing games and watching movies it will wirelessly connect to a large TV or projector.

Summary

What are your predictions for 2013? Do you agree or disagree with any of my points? What would you love to see in 2013?


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Comments


Michael Joseph
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Games as platform makes a comeback and becomes fully realized.

Modding in the Doom\Duke3D generation was the start. Today we have Little Big Planet, Second Life, Gary's Mod and Minecraft mods, but all of them aren't thinking in terms of "THIS GAME IS A PLATFORM." Second Life limits you to playing in their online world. FPS Mods tend to keep you playing the same game but with a different skin. Minecraft doesn't let creators sell their adventure/episodes in game.

Joss Whedon wanted to write 24 Minecraft adventures over 3 months but he couldn't do it because the tools just aren't there (too time consuming to make 24 adventures and why should it take so long?) and he couldn't sell them on the Minecraft in game shop. Notch said he would work on it if Whedon promised to bring back Firefly to Minecraft. (I made all this up btw).

Anyways, game developers are going to increasingly stop making these closed games that you throw away when you've finished or the DLC parade has finished. You heard it here first :>

k s
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I'll give you my predictions for 2013.

I don't see the Oculus Rift being a big success but I don't see it being a total failure either, rather I see it appealing to a niche crowd but not really moving beyond that.

I see Ouya have a lot of success as well as many indie on it and as a result I see a brain drain away from mobile and toward Ouya. I also see someone else announce they are developing a low cost "open" console, not sure who though.

I see sony filing bankruptcy, their debt is staggering and unlikely to go down. Their management is clueless about everything. As a result I see the end of the playstaion brand.

I see MS announce durango and give it an official name with release planed for early 2014. I expect 360 sales in the US to finally start to slide.

I see Nintendo and their platforms to do well but not really expand beyond traditional gamers.

I see valve announce a "steam box" with again an early 2014 release but I'm not so sure it will actually be a big success.

I expect GTA V to sell very well (even though I'm not a fan at all of the games since GTA II).

Generally I see more companies embrace indie developers and their games and AAA budgets to get larger and more difficult to maintain. I expect to see less AAA games and among those a smaller number actually generate the required revenue to continue. Activision will of course release yet another call of duty map pack *cough* I mean game.

This is what I see in the near future.

Glen Watson
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Ouya may disappoint some, it nothing more than table processor in a game box. The only AAA on Ouya are going to be those provided by OnLive and that is not free(but they have free 30 minute demos on most games.)

Sony had extreme amount of trouble with the PS3. 3 months after they started making profit on it, they were hit by the hacking scandal that put them back in the red. Vita is not doing that well either. Unless they have some miracle machine, but more likely Gaikai in a box.

GTA V will be extremely popular if they go back to more of a sandbox.

k s
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@Glen Anyone expecting Ouya to be a AAA power house is fooling themselves. Ouya is the indies' console.

Luis Guimaraes
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Let's see how many players and developers OUYA actually brings in. It could be very few or it could be a lot.

GameViewPoint Developer
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The next release of consoles will definitely be the last, which is a bitter/sweet moment for someone who grew up with the Atari VCS/SNES etc etc, it really does represent an end of a chapter in history of interactive entertainment.

But I also suspect the next generation of consoles will not last as long as their predecessors. Whatever Microsoft and Sony launch next year will be superseded by smart TV's within 5 years. Just look at all the rumors and hints, Apple possibly launching a new Apple TV with we presume the App store built in, GaiKai probably being built into new Sony TV's, Android products appearing on TV's via OYUA and similar devices. That just leaves Microsoft to attach itself to a hardware TV Manufacturer (Samsung seems the obvious choice). Consoles have been replaced by App stores. And these will reside on whatever TV you have. Some will be platform specific others platform agnostic.

The iPad mini size tablet will dominate over the next few years.

I disagree about the no Apple product for 2013. I won't be surprised if they release a higher resolution version of the iPad mini in late 2013. And possibly as has been hinted at a new Apple TV.

Lars Kokemohr
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Isn't that more or less a matter of terminology? I don't own a "TV", I own a computer with a tv receiver card installed. If you asked me if I had a tv, I'd say I do, because there is a screen in my living room that allows me to watch tv.
So if consoles become integrated into tv sets why do you call that the end of the gaming consoles? Wouldn't that rather be the end of television?

GameViewPoint Developer
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I would suggest that the majority of the public still see TV's as TV's, and consoles are devices you plug into TV's. The box that is the console is going to disappear but yet the "box" that is the TV will not, and instead will absorb the console into it's own chipset. So it will indeed be the end of the traditional external type console. The interesting question I think is will TV manufacturers ally themselves to only one console maker or will they remain platform agnostic. Obviously in this area Sony have a huge advantage.

It's interesting to think that the blu-ray part of the PS3 probably helped sell it, and in the future it may well be the console part of their TV's that help sell their TV's.

james sadler
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I see Ouya failing to live up to their hype. Now that their dev kits are shipping we'll see if there's any backlash from the developers that have them. People have already poked holes at the idea of an Android based game platform so I wont go into it.

I see MS announcing durango officially at E3, though that's no surprise to anyone, and launching it for the 2013 holiday season. Sony will probably announce their new system but probably not ship it until 2014.

I see the WiiU picking up in sales but still not competing with the big boys. The Wii burned too many of "core" audience.

I see Valve officially announcing the Steam Box and maybe launching it in early 2014 also. I think it will do pretty darn well with the name behind it (people doubted MS too when they announced the Xbox and look at where they are now). And hey, we'll finally get Half Life 3.

I see fewer indies "making it big" on mobile or social platforms. The last two years have really shown how crowded those spaces are and the audience is growing more fickle. Also with the multitude of platforms it is getting even harder to get noticed.

I don't see VR taking off this year. It is probably another 2-3 years in the making. The Oculus Rift is a really cool unit and I have been debating getting a dev kit, but the fact of the matter is that wearing something over one's face that is only an experience for a single person doesn't have living room appeal. It will cater to the "hard core" audience only in my eyes. I think we'll see more in the years to come from smart glasses like the google glasses with augmented reality capabilities. There are so many ways that smart glasses could revolutionize gaming, advertising, communications, and mapping, but we're still a bit away from them as a reality.

I see more AAA studios closing their mid-tier studios and focusing on the big or the small. The industry is really going to be back to the size it was twenty years ago. Indie devs will continue to work on their given platforms doing ok. I think we'll see some big names come out of Greenlight.

Maybe not this year, but leading into 2014 I see the "inevitable race to the bottom" price point model going away. I think this will start with some semi established indie devs where they begin to refuse to lower their price points. More catch on and we stop seeing the fight over $5 to $3 to $0.99 then to free. It'll be rough at the start but only good can come from it (feel free to debate me on this below).

I "hope" to see Sony pull their heads out of their rear ends and get back into the business. One element of the PS Vita that I saw when they first announced it at E3 2011 was a game that blew my mind. Mainly because it was something I'd been thinking about for a long time. The game, which I can't remember the name of, had a PS3 version and a PS Vita version. The player could play their game in the living room and then take their game with them on the go. Brilliant. There are a few games that have taken advantage of this idea recently, but Sony needs to make a big push to have more studios develop this concept. Don't give them just multiplayer on the go. That's probably one of the few things that shouldn't be on a handheld. Give the player's the full experience but with limited graphics, limited side mission stuff, things that the player isn't likely to do or care about "on the go" anyway.

Ultimately I see 2013 as a pretty lite year in gaming. With the end of the big boy's console cycles, and their new ones only being released at the end of the year, I just don't see much amazing content coming out this year. Most of what we'll see will be more sequels and spin-offs while we wait to see what amazing content will come with the next gen.

Alan Youngblood
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Apple will not release anything? I would not be surprised if they come out with a new Apple-TV that redefines the set-top box market, and of course supports their app-store games.

Also I haven't seen much talk about 4K or 8K "Ultra HD" displays here. Granted they will not gain market traction too quickly, but I've heard rumors of Sony making that a big part of their marketing strategy of the next Playstation. Rumors as they may be, if 4K displays can be produced reasonably affordable and look enough better than current 1080 HD, people may go to those. Only the trendsetter bracket of the market would even do so this year, but expect more people to follow.

The big drivers for future platforms will be content, which is why the SteamBox is already a heavy contender before release. Apple did that with the ipad supporting ipod/iphone apps and games. Ouya and Android platforms will have the same advantage. Generally speaking the platforms that allow the most openness without costing real profit to the developers will win the next generation.

All devices will be multi-function. None will do everything the best.

I really hope to see business models change. For that, it will likely be those that are currently "indie" and rising to the top. How they work day-to-day will shape the game industry of the future. That means if you currently work at a small to mid sized company that is growing, you are the ones who can impact things like Leigh Alexander's recent call for an inclusive, diverse game industry. You are the ones that can work reasonable hours and spend time with your families to show that it can be done.

James Hofmann
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A crop of indie multiplayer games will come out of nowhere and hit it big.

A crop of "build-it/collect-it/play-it" game/toy/tool hybrids will come out of nowhere and hit it big.

A hardware-driven game that nobody was anticipating will come out of nowhere and hit it big.

A handful of AAA-scale games, at most, will make their money back.

New console sales will be modest - not a complete bomb - but well below expectations.

Older publishers continue the scramble to get into new markets; some get it right, others show signs of being left behind. A handful may fall into dire straits by year's end.

At least one big-industry executive will have an embarrassing scandal.

At least one present-day "indie darling" will release a spectacular flop and subsequently explode on Twitter.

At least one "underground" gaming movement, based on and buoyed by new tools(e.g. Twine), will achieve a critical mass of attention.

Crowdfunded gaming will continue growing overall, but the kind and character of the pitches will change as the wave of remakes and throwbacks starts to run out of steam. Attempts to use crowdfunding in unique ways will surface.

New international markets - and their local devs - will blossom and make themselves known.

Web gaming will show signs of being reinvigorated as another generation of Web tech - both in-browser and through plug-ins - makes itself known.

I name no names in the above because with a lot of these, I wouldn't even know who or what to point to - this is just my guess at the _statistics_.


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