I've been busy doing my best Nostradamus impression and concocting up a series of gaming predictions for 2015. From the the ridiculous to the all-too-likely, this collates some of the surprises we could see in the gaming world over the next twelve months.
2014 brought quite a few surprises to the table, and not all of them were good, but here's hoping that 2015 knocks us out of the park with incredible gaming and hardware happenings. We're seeing the first rumblings this past week at CES, where the VR revolution looks to be taking hold, and Valve is already beginning to make some noise regarding its plans for the year, fingers crossed...
Uplay joining Origin
In an effort to combat Steam, Ubisoft’s Uplay and EA’s Origin Store join forces to create a far more powerful superstore. Despite both publishers being giants in their own right, their titles separately don’t quite have a big enough draw to revolutionise where PC gamers play, but together they would represent a significant chunk of the AAA games hitting the market.
No Assassin’s Creed title this year
Following the debacle that was the Assassin’s Creed Unity launch, Ubisoft holds fire on Assassin’s Creed Victory, despite initial release dates suggesting it will hit for the holiday period. A similar delay to that seen for Watch Dogs will occur, as Ubisoft works to iron out the bugs and get its reputation back on track. To ensure Ubisoft still has some solid financials for the year, both The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege will be pushed out ahead of Christmas. Ubi will round the year out with a Far Cry 4 expansion and a download-only Prince of Persia title. Also expect Beyond Good & Evil 2 to at last be revealed during its E3 2015 presentation.
Intel to create dedicated graphics cards
The graphics card industry has been a two-horse race for a while now, and it’s only a matter of time until someone else attempts stepping into the arena. Nvidia might be flying high but in terms of year on year performance gains the market is stagnating, and a new contender would really shake things up. A number of the third-party manufacturers might fancy it, but ultimately it’s probably only Intel that has the weight to pull it off. It’s already dominating the CPU industry and pulling out some respectable integrated graphics offerings, and it’s only a matter of time before the tech giant gets itchy feet and guns for that dedicated GPU cash.
Nintendo to announce a new Handheld/Console hybrid at E3 2015 (backwards compatible)
Despite it’s wealth of incredible exclusives, Nintendo’s Wii U is a relative failure. The PlayStation 4 has been out half as long but has already sold twice as much, and whatever Nintendo attempts it never seems enough. Whatever the case though, the console business is still profitable for Nintendo, and the admirable attach rate for its first-party titles ensures this will be the case for the foreseeable future. After a good couple of years the 3DS meanwhile is stagnating, and its upcoming release schedule is almost as sparse as that of the Wii U. It’s much-loved in Japan and sold close to 50 million units, but four years after launch we expect a successor to be unveiled soon. The next logical step is for Nintendo to combine its portable and home console sectors, creating a machine capable of hooking up to the TV and playing on the go. This would ensure twice as many first-party titles hitting the system, and Nintendo can prevent a software drought using in-house games alone.
Steam OS still doesn’t see a full release
I'm putting my neck on the line here, but despite the rumours I don't think we'll see a finalise release of SteamOS this year. Creating a full blown operating system is surely no easy task, and early beta versions suggest Valve has a long way to go when it comes to create a viable dedicated gaming OS. The potential is there to rid gamers of the shackles of Windows, but many simply don’t want to leave Windows. Valve needs to demonstrate genuine performance benefits from using a lightweight OS, and it’s not until the gamer wins when using Steam OS that it becomes viable. Updates have been few and far between, and judging from the slow progress on the Steam Controller we’d be extremely surprised if Steam OS was available before 2016.
2015 will be the year of VR
At long last this year will be the year that VR arrives, and it’ll make a big splash, both in the gaming world and outside it. Whether it will be able to maintain this momentum and actually be a genuine success is anybody’s guess, but over the next 12 months we’re going to be seeing a lot of it. Once the consumer version of the Oculus Rift arrives we can expect a drastic increase in the number of titles supporting VR. Crucially though the hardware needs an easily accessible experience to get a critical mass of consumers to adopt it. For all its success, a space sim like Elite: Dangerous is too niche and hardcore-oriented to carry it, and what could really prove a game-changer would be if a Rift-support Star Wars game with an arcade bent could arrive in time for the movie’s launch this December.
That's some of our predictions for 2015, from the outlandish to the increasingly likely. We'll be taking a look back at these at the end of the year to see just how wrong we no doubt were. What are some of your craziest predictions for 2015, is there anything in particular you think that could really surprise us over the next 12 months? Let us know!