[2009's a wrap; we take a look ahead at the 2010 game industry events we can't wait to see -- from delayed titles through motion control and beyond. Previously: Top 5 Biz Trends, Top 5 iPhone Games, Top 5 Controversies, Top 5 PC Games, Top 5 Handheld Games Of 2009, Top 5 Console Downloadable Games, Top 5 Major Industry Events, Top 5 Developers, Top 10 Indie Games, Top 5 Disappointments, Top 5 Game Companies, and finally, our Top 10 Games Of The Year.]
With the 2009 Christmas holiday finished, it's time to reflect on the year in video gaming behind us and think about the year ahead.
And the game industry has lots on the horizon -- so let's finish up our month of roundups with a look ahead at the 2010 game industry events we can't wait to see, the questions we expect to have answered, and a little gleefully speculative crystal ball-gazing.
Money, Money, Money
It's been a grim year for retail gaming's financial comparisons, and most analysts say it'll take a holiday miracle for this Christmas to help the retail game industry post growth over 2008.
The NPD will reveal the final U.S. results in January, so we'll finally know for sure the damage of a year of retail declines.
But social network and other digital download games are booming, console hardware price cuts are well in effect, and big console games will be distributed more evenly throughout 2010, thanks to late-'09 title delays. So perhaps the industry can bounce back in 2010 -- is the recession's impact behind us?
Are We Gonna Get A New...
No year in games would be complete without a few surprises, like major titles announced at E3 or revealed in publisher financial results. The guessing game is more fun when you factor in the fact that, the higher a property's profile, the closer to its chest the publisher keeps it.
For example, analysts have been wondering when Take-Two will announce the next full-scale Grand Theft Auto
-- given that the publisher can take as much as four years to develop one, they theorize late in 2011 is the earliest one can possibly expect it.
But given the volatility in its finances during non-GTA years, maybe 2010 will be the year the publisher decides to mollify its investors by letting us all know when we can expect the next one.
To take another example, the demand for a new Zelda for consoles is so constant on the part of Nintendo fans that the company is wont to joke about it every time it takes a podium.
But new comments from series honcho Eiji Aonuma have suggested that not only is the fabled next Wii Zelda underway, but that it might even be ready to show at E3 2010. It will, of course, excite patient fans if that's the case -- but then, what will they find to clamor for next?
Can Games Be Meaningful?
Quantic Dream has made no secret of its ambition to advance the art of gaming with Heavy Rain; its high talk about interactive narrative and gaming's equivalent of sophisticated film drama have set expectations high.
Who knows whether Heavy Rain will be the game that can change gaming? But it's symptomatic of some of the more lofty ambitions currently infecting the game industry at both AAA and indie levels, our trend to watch our for next year.
And after some of the intriguing discussions from Quantic Dream's David Cage and co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere, audiences look forward to finding out whether emotion-inducing game storytelling can work when designers shoot for the moon -- or whether Heavy Rain will end in a messy ocean splashdown.
Those Delayed Games
2009's bad news becomes 2010's good. Those looking forward eagerly to franchise titles like BioShock 2 or Splinter Cell: Conviction this season got a little lump of coal when publishers shunted titles back into early 2010.
But now, as "next year" is about to become "this year," those even more-awaited, even more-polished titles are close enough for franchise fans to start getting excited -- with original IP like Bayonetta and Singularity also due next year.
We've previously discussed many of the notable titles to be pushed to next year, and it's going to be very interesting to see whether the wait is worth it.
The Gesture Tech
Microsoft and Sony surprised everyone at E3 this year with their motion control solutions. So this year, we'll get to see whether Project Natal can put its money where its Milo is, and we'll get to find out what Sony's weird-ball-orb-glow-wand is actually called. Perhaps we'll even have answers in the debate about whether on not it's better to have buttons or "be" the controller.
More sincerely, developers have already begun working with this largely NDA-ed technology, but the revelation of their results will be important. The theory that this will be the longest console cycle yet thanks to these late-game shakeups will be tested by how the tech holds up. Gimmicks or game-changers? We'll see.
What are you most looking forward to in 2010? Leave your comments here, and have a wonderful New Year!