Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking ahead at 2011

Allow me to give you a brief glimpse of what 2011 will bring to this blog and videogames in general. ´Duke Nukem Forever´ will actually be released and kick off what will be a great year in gaming. The PlayStation phone will be announced. Soonafter, the 3DS will be launched and will undoubtedly sell like hotcakes, despite a hefty price tag of $249 and €249, respectively. Its success will convince the consumer electronics industry at large that autostereoscopic displays are the way forward. 2011 will definitely be a strong year for mobile gaming.

Do not expect any news about home consoles. No new consoles will be announced, for sure. Sony and Microsoft have just updated their hardware and will want to hedge their bets. What about these updates? I have always believed that Kinect will outsell Move because Move is too similar to the Wii controller. After playing with both long enough, I do not see Kinect games as having a lasting appeal, though. Give me ´Socom 4´ with Move any day. ´Kinect Adventures´ may be full of great and original ideas. But this type of game seems to be the only type available and the Wii cornered this market four years ago.

Almost every Kinect hack out there seems to have more appeal than the actual games. Of course, Microsoft will want to push Kinect in 2011 by churning out great software for it. But remember that they chose to drop an internal chip which leaves the actual console with the additional calculations. Analysts have not been sure whether this will affect performance in a noticable way, but this point may explain why we have not yet seen a ´Gears of War´ type game working with Kinect and, perhaps, never will. What commentators have been sure about is the additional lag the system is burdened with, as a result. And even leaving this point aside, I am still sceptical of the hardware (I am sceptical of any entertainment product that actually tells me to move my furniture before I start playing) because I simply have not had very satisfactory playing experiences in general.

Move already has a far more diverse portfolio and this should make Move sell far better than Kinect in 2011. But Move will not become a system seller for the console. Nintendo took a huge gamble by including motion controls in the console and, pretty much, forcing developers to incorporate it into all games. But by doing so, they did not fragment the user base further.

A PS3 or Xbox developer has to consider that the number of motion control interfaces sold for either platform is only a small fraction of each console's total hardware base. Why develop only for a few million potential customers when you could be developing for a few dozen - at less cost to boot? Kinect and Move will both sell in 2011 (with Move outselling Kinect, I believe) but both will never be truly successful. Neither hardware will play a significant role come 2012.

Nintendo will reduce the Wii's price tag in 2011 and be awarded by another and much needed sales spike. The 3DS will have some nifty ways of being hooked up to a Wii, I expect, and this interoperability will further help the home console's sales somewhat. I stand by my year-old prediction that the Wii will remain market leader this generation. PS3 and Xbox will outsell the Wii for much of 2011 (Nintendo will reduce the price in the late second half and then significantly, I believe) but they will not come close to the Wii's life-to-date sales.

What will 2011 bring to this blog? First of all, the year will start with a redesign and a new focus. I will publish everything from mammoth articles to short notices to reduce the wait and accomodate my increasingly hefty professional workload. And, of course, I will finally publish that Nibris article soon, which I believe will be very worthwhile. Like the one on Crossbeam Studios, I also expect this one to have swift and far-reaching consequences. The main reason for it still not being online is that hardly anyone wants to talk about Nibris. Even the founders do not want to talk about it, it seems. I have not yet received a reply to my interview questions via mail.

And, finally, what will 2011 hold in store for me? Well, I very much hope to be able to share some great and interesting news with you very soon, regarding my professional future. Last year, I already broadened my horizon significantly by co-hosting the European Innovative Games Award in Frankfurt. This year, I will be able to share a new and exciting project with you, if everything goes well. As 2010 ends, though, I would like to thank each and every one of you for continued support of this blog. I realise that updates have been far too rare of late but I promise you that 2011 will be different. Have a good one ushering in the new year. 2011 will be a blast.