Predicting the future is a hard thing. Just ask Michael Pachter. Well I did a passable Nostradamus impression last year and cooked up some theories for the coming 12 months. Okay, so last year’s predictions were well off. Out of six, none have happened. Yet. But, and there is a but, three of the predictions are well on course to come true this year. I’m talking about Ubisoft skipping Assassin’s Creed for a year, Nintendo releasing its NX console, and that 2015 2016 will be the year of VR.
I’m sorry I peered too far into the future, so I’m going to rein in the predictions this year, hopefully. I’ve had my ear to the ground, looking for hints to gaming’s future, and here’s my predictions for the biggest events happening to our beloved hobby in 2016.
Microsoft is going to announce all future first-party Xbox One titles will be cross-platform on Windows 10
It hasn’t felt like Microsoft has given a lot of love to PC lately; the very platform where it made all its money. That’s changing though, and it’s changing at a rapid pace. Out of the 12 first party games coming out of Microsoft in 2016, nine of them are coming to PC, and I get the impression this is just the start.
I don’t know when and I don’t know where, but at some point Microsoft is going to acknowledge in 2016 that all first party Xbox One games are going to be cross-platform with PC. There may be a year-long wait after the console versions, but I reckon each and every game will make it over eventually. To that end, look for Quantum Break on PC in around April 2017.
Rockstar will re-reveal Agent
2013. The year Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto V. It’s their most critically acclaimed and best-selling game ever. This is no repeat of GTA III though. It hasn’t been followed up by a pair of quick-fire titles using the same engine and mechanics like Vice City and San Andreas. You know why? Because it’s been two and half years and Rockstar are clearly not working on an iterative update of its most successful series. Up until 2013, Rockstar had at least one brand new game out each and every year of their existence - from Grand Theft Auto in 1997, stretching on for the next 16 years.
That tells us the work that’s going on at Rockstar is significantly more substantial than anything done before it. It’s not an iterative update of GTA, or Red Dead, or Max Payne, but something entirely new. I think 2016 is the year Rockstar reveal Agent once again to the world, revolutionising open-world games forever. Also - it’s no longer a PlayStation exclusive. In this day and age, no one can realistically money-hat a Rockstar game.
Valve announce a new game
Like Rockstar above, Valve has a history of regularly releasing games, but since 2013 have been pretty silent. Obviously their current roster is bringing in plenty of cash, and in all truth it doesn’t really need to make any games. But I’ve no doubt there’s plenty of staff at Valve that want to make games. Half-Life 3 as far as I’m concerned is never happening, but they’re definitely going to cook up something in there. The safe bet is Left 4 Dead 3, because Valve loves long tails and the ability to sell and profit from player-created content. Sorry to say it, but that’s still a safe move from Valve.
The Vulkan API will begin mass adoption
So this one ties in the with the Valve game above. Whatever Valve do, it’s going to be using the new Vulkan graphics API from Khronos Group. They’re big fans of its universal cross-platform, cross-vendor nature, and believe it makes no sense using DirectX 12 when this close-to-the-metal API is available. Provided its good enough, plenty of other devs are going to be jumping on-board with this for easy porting. Don’t expect it to have gamers suddenly leaping to Linux or anything like that, as Valve no doubt hope, but expect it be a popular for developers.
Mass Effect Andromeda won’t launch
It's the most anticipated game of 2016 by a landslide, as voted for by GD'ers, so I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s no way Mass Effect Andromeda is out this year. Not a chance in hell. This is going to be a ridiculously ambitious game, and I just don’t think it’s viable to get it ready in the next 12 months. We’ve seen no gameplay whatsoever. Think about Star Wars Battlefront. That game is light on content and we saw the first gameplay around 18 months ahead of launch. I’d love this to be 2016, but I really don’t think there’s a chance. Mass Effect Andromeda is the perfect game to storm the summer slot 2017.
Pascal and Greenland blow previous-gen GPUs away
I feel like this one is pretty much a given, but I’ve included it anyway. Every year we hear details from AMD and Nvidia that the next year is going to the biggest and the best, but what we usually get is a fairly standard incremental leap in performance. But these upcoming GPUs are different. The shift to a 14/16nm FinFET fabrication process means a seismic leap is possible in both performance and efficiency, combined with what is bound to be some fierce competition from AMD, who are going to be fighting tooth and nail to win back some market share. As ever in the battle between these two graphics giants, the one guaranteed winner is going to be us, the gamers.
WarCraft IV or World of WarCraft 2 Announced
Now bear with me for a second. World of WarCraft, rightly so, is absolutely huge. But it’s definitely dwindling. There’s tens of millions of players out there like me, whose subscriptions have long since lapsed. It doesn’t matter how many expansion packs you throw out, once you’re off the train, you’re off the train.
So how do you capitalise on millions of WarCraft fans? Well the simplest answer is WarCraft IV. Blizzard’s fantasy RTS series hasn’t had any love since the MMO hit, and I’ve personally always preferred its charms to StarCraft. The other, more lucrative thing to do, would be to announce World of WarCraft 2. A fresh start. A clean state. All those tens of millions of lapsed players could come back and experience what it was like to first step into that world. Go on Blizzard, you know you want to go give it a try.
What do you think then? Can you see any of this panning out to be true? What are your more ambitious predictions for the coming 12 months?