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In honor of the New Year, we’ve compiled a list of our best guesstimations on what’s to come for the gaming industry over the next twelve months. Hopefully you’ll hold on to this copy of PLAYED throughout the year so you can track how close we were to predicting the future.
As we have entered the seventh year of this current console generation, it seems that we will have to wait at least one more before any new gaming boxes are added to our entertainment centers. Lucky for us, the current generation has received consistent updates and additions. All previous generations saw their successors swoop in and garner the interest of gamers prior to the seven-year mark, but the likes of Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move along with likely firmware or tech upgrades will keep our gameplay sessions fresh in absence of new hardware. We’ll also continue to see the consoles evolve with non-gaming content through unique partnerships to bring television, movies, and music directly to our boxes which will lead to a decline in cable subscriptions across the country. Actually, the beginnings of reports that more time is spent consuming other content on consoles than playing actual games should start after the first quarter. But the traditionalists out there need not worry as rumors are beginning to suggest that 2013 could bring us the next iteration of the console. Until then, we’ll no doubt enjoy all the new features coming out on our old ones.
Attack the iPad
We have seen reports that suggest the tablet’s cannibalizing both the PC and smartphone markets, but the usage data suggests that it is also eating into the gaming business as well. After spending countless $0.99 clicks on GB’s of games, we can completely agree that the iPad has quickly become a favorite platform for our gaming addiction. Because of this, we will see gaming competitors fight back at the new kid on the portable gaming device block. We will see devices tailored to a companion relationship that improves the big screen game experience but also offers an on-the-go component too. The PlayStation Vita and Wii U are the first announced contenders and we may hear of others very soon. Now recognizing that the competition is reloading, we expect Apple to do the same with the iPad 3 launch. As we’ve seen in the industry before, the “if you can’t beat them, then join ‘em” mentality will lead to big-name developers and IP-holders creating more content across devices to reach new users and extend the experience for current users.
For the past few years, we’ve seen the AAA publishers take fewer risks on new titles and place bigger bets on those they release. With this increased focus on the big releases, we will see a year even bigger games. Publishers will do their best to convince those outside of the hardcore set to join in on the fun of these titles. With an increased audience size, we will see a game come close to breaking the $1 billion sales mark in its first week. Not to be outdone by the core, we will see huge growth in the approachable games category as well. A social game will break the 250 million player mark thanks to being available on multiple platforms in addition to Facebook. Across all categories of games, our minds will be blown by the number of gamers these big titles are able to acquire.
Always on Games
We have usually saved the term ‘always on’ for the connected online nature of gaming and in 2012 we will continue to see gamers playing online. Whether from the comforts of the couch or on the go with a mobile device, time spent gaming online will continue to grow in this new year. However, we will also begin to see the leading gaming experiences transition from the typical launch-focused strategy to an evergreen state that remains fresh through regular content updates and incremental platform introductions. Most games have already begun to utilize frequent downloadable content releases to keep gamers engaged. We will continue to see this evolve as many publishers move to “season pass-like” structures, providing ongoing access to the latest game content at one bulk price. We will also see more collaborative development of gameplay and associated assets. Developers (big and small) will work alongside consumers to produce game titles and create a vested sense of commitment with their players. While the launch will remain important for games, it won’t be the only determining factor in the success of the year’s biggest titles.
And lastly, despite no new hardware and plethora of freemium game options, we will see a rise over 2011 in consumer spending across the games industry. We’ll definitely be doing our part to ensure this happens. How about you?