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December 27, 2010

10 Real Predictions for Gaming in 2011

After reading the 7 predictions for gaming in 2011 on Mashable I was shocked that at some of the predictions and how badly researched they were. So many huge topics in gaming were missed. Social gaming being the most obvious.

Even the topics covered there is nothing in the predictions that is not completely obvious (iPhone games continue & Angry Birds sequel) or totally misguided (Apple to make a gaming console & Gears of War to break sales records).

So while I would contacted various developers, publishers and the gaming media for their opinion and then put together a detailed predictions post I don't have the resources. So here is my personal list of 10 Real Predictions for Gaming in 2011.

1: Companion Gaming will be huge

It already started in 2010 but companion gaming will continue to be hot with game publishers in 2011 and beyond. AAA titles will now be backed up with a social, browser or mobile game to match. I know this as I'm working on one of these right now for a major title to be released in Q4 2011.

Ubisoft has had huge success with Project Legacy and Assassins Creed: Brotherhood (400,000 active players) as did EA's Dante's Inferno. Bioware and EA dabbled with it for Dragon Age and their Flash game Journeys but are ramping it up for 2011 with Dragon Age Legends.

Microsoft titles such as Crackdown 2 which rewarded players special "duck" grenades for playing a simple puzzle game on Facebook while Fable 3 players could earn coins by participating in the location based game Kingmaker.

I'll even throw Dead Rising Case Zero into this mix which became the fastest selling XBLA & PSN game ever and was basically the games demo which you paid for. The full game itself went onto be a huge success for Capcom.

Other publishers won't ignore reports like that. They are already planning their payable demo or companion game right now. Expect more of the same and some bigger ambitious projects in 2011.

2: Indie vs Big Guys on the iPhone

With the recent release of the Unreal Development Kit for the iPhone expect to see more large developers getting serious about iPhone games. With Infinity Blade pulling in $1M in 5 days, other developers will look to have their huge development teams develop smaller games in between their 2-3 year AAA projects. The small indie guys with big hits like Half Brick (Fruit Ninja) and Rovio (Angry Birds) will continue to have hits as they utilize their established install base. I expect an Angry Birds TV show to be locked in also.

3: Social Gaming Overload

Who will buy Zynga? How will EA and Disney leverage their purchases in 2011? All I know is that Social Gaming will, like it was in 2010, be huge with ad agencies, media companies and brands take a lot more interest in in the scene.

There are no brands with a top ranking social game but expect that to change in 2011.

Expect social gaming to capture all the headlines in between how much money the latest game franchise made

4: 3DS = Fail

I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Nintendo 3DS will fail. You can't advertise it properly as the 3D won't display and the 3D is a gimmick. The DS was a breakthrough and created games that could not exist on any other platform and the 3DS will just be 3D. It'll sell like crazy in Japan but fail to take hold anywhere else. The 3DS does have a gyroscope so that is probably more interesting to developers than the 3D feature.

5: Battle of Big FPS

After making so much money from first person shooters I'm going to stay on safe ground and say that the big developers will stay within that familiar and well paid territory as they announce their new titles in 2011.

Activision with the biggest gaming franchise Call of Duty, will announce a paid subscription game (probably to be released in 2012) in addition to the next installment into the franchise for 2011. EA will announce the title from Respawn Entertainment (ex Infinity Ward) that will tear the Call of Duty fans in half. Bungie will tease their new non Microsoft, non Halo IP towards the end of the year. Insomniac Games will announce their first multi-platform title thanks to the EA deal and knowing them it could be any genre.

6: Cloud Gaming

onLive and Gaikai will both be fully launched but like most new technology might be a little ahead of it's time. Looking at onLive's game collection they will need to increase the titles to make it attractive to real gamers. Also Australia won't see either until it's $50B National Broadband Network is ready in 2018-2020 and by that time another similar start up will have launched and crushed them both.

7: Browser 3D Games FTW: (Unity and Molehill)

Between Unity (which is getting much more mainstream acceptance since going free for Indie developers) and Flash 10's Project Molehill, expect to see a lot more browser based 3D games in 2011 and beyond. Yes HTML5 can do a nice little platfomers but people want to see stuff like this below.


Why work hard to grow in the saturated western game market when your existing titles have huge growth potential in the Asian market? Expect to see publishers going hard at Asia (mainly China and Korea) in 2011 and beyond as they try and adapt and create franchises to fit this huge but totally unique market.

Activision have already made moves and even on the social side Zynga ported it's Farmville over to Chinese. Even on the flash side of browser gaming Mochi Media (the largest casual games media network) was bought by Shanda games in 2010 and has been pro-active in porting flash games over to Chinese.

9: Motion gaming all about Kinect

Sony are all about 3D in 2011, while Microsoft will all be about Kinect. Families, fitness and moms were the core focus at launch but expect to see Kinect titles aimed at the more hardcore gamer in 2011. Will we see a COD Kinect? Probably not, but we won't see the same level of shovelware that the Wii endured. Expect to see titles having Kinect features that allow controller and Kinect to work together. Well, persoanlly that's what I'd like to see.

10: Video Game Based Movies will still suck

Look at the box office records for video game adaptations and see that comics is where the money is. Leave video games alone or give the IP to real writers and directors. A Halo movie with an Alex Garland script or a God of War movie without Brett Ratner would suit us.


Disclaimer: This post has been created as an unbiased and personal view of Ashley Ringrose. He currently works with the following companies via his role at Soap Creative: Xbox Australia, Activision, Ubisoft, Namco Baindai, Insomniac Games and Naughty Dog. You can check his gaming credentials here. No privileged or sensitive information was used in the preparation for this post.


Also here's a quick review of the predictions from Mashable. I'm sorry I expected more from the Senior Editor.

1: On the Road Again

Yes mobile gaming will continue in 2011. That's a easy one. Windows Phone will get some noise but what about the other Android handsets too? What will the new tablets bring to this mix and how does the Nintendo 3DS fold into this? What a waste of a predictions

2. Backfield in Motion

Motion gaming sales wont keep up with the titles. Agreed, and this is like any new console launch it takes a few years to build up the software catalogue and have developers get used to the software. Kinect porn? It'll be there as a hack but Microsoft will never allow this to be officially released.

3. Flash Crash

HTML5 games will dominate browser-based gaming? Way to bring out the hyperbole. We'll see more social games using HTML5 but Flash will dominate for many more years to come. Why? The sheer number of developers out there. A framework like Impact may be leading the way but it's very early days and doesn't have any Mochi Games type support to allow developers to make any money. Unless they want to develop an iPhone app and in that case they might as well learn Objective C than this new framework. Also who hates HTML5?

4. Wii Want HD

Would that be the Wii2? Why not put it out there that a new console will be announced in 2011. With the 3DS coming it will be very hard for Nintendo to ship to pieces of hardware in the same year so expect a Wii2 in 2012.

5. Bringing the Pain

Oh dear. A whole prediction on Gears of War 3? "Its sales are practically guaranteed to break all records." That would be XBOX360 sales only right? What a joke. No mention of the plethora of other gaming titles coming out Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, new COD, COD MMO, Resistance 3? Just list through the VGA award announcements if you're having trouble.

6. Apple Console

Why would Apple try to enter the console market when it already dominates the handheld gaming market? Once they release their desktop app store this should turn any Mac into a gaming machine anyway.

7. Avian Anger

An angry birds sequel or DLC packs. It's obvious that the #1 selling game which has released a couple of expansion packs this year will continue the ride.


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