We like prognosticating as much as anyone does and 2012 is either going to be a big year or the demise of us all as the Mayan prophecy comes true. No one at Evolve took the Mayan option, so here’s what we’re looking forward to in the new year.
Tom Ohle, Director
2012 should be a really interesting year. Kinect will continue to success among the mainstream; the big-budget games will still be big-budget hits; studios will close because their big-budget hit wasn’t any good; Steam and GOG and other digital distributors will keep doing great. How’s that for safe predictions? What, you thought I’d go out on a limb? This is a PR blog, not some big fancy editorial site!
We’ll start to see the console life cycles winding down, while web-based and mobile games will enjoy continued success — though it’s rather obvious that developers in those areas will have to start adapting to a changing environment, as well. After all, aren’t we all getting a little sick of being nickel-and-dimed for every little feature via in-app purchases? I really hope to see some new models emerge — at the very least, I expect there to be an increase in dissent around microtransactions for the sake of microtransactions.
But since this is a PR site, I might as well make some predictions about the job we’ll be doing this year. As traditional media spending declines, print will continue to have a really tough time; last year we saw Future lay off a bunch of people and also watched sadly as GamePro folded. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another outlet or two bite the dust in 2012, while online media will face a significant challenge, as well. Oh no! Challenges!
Mainstream games-media haven’t been able to effectively jump into coverage of mobile and social games, leaving a bit of an imbalance in the media landscape. A ton of money is being generated by people who really don’t have many places to read up on upcoming and available games — particularly in the social/browser space, there are only a couple of major outlets, and those still don’t draw the traffic to coincide with a massive potential user base. To that end, watch for PR folks to spend more time with direct consumer outreach via social networks (if they’re smart), while the aforementioned mainstream outlets will likely need to figure out a way of attracting mobile and social gamers. PR reps will have to adapt, as well, as more and more consumers hit social networks to discuss games and make their buying decisions based on word of mouth.
Oh, and BioShock Infinite. Ken Levine is secretly making that game for me. He told me.
Shannon Drake, Account Coordinator
Social and mobile is where you want to be looking for innovation, since the low barrier to entry, the relatively unified platforms and the rapid development time mean it’s easy to churn out odd ideas with a low investment in both time and money. I suspect 2012 will see a rapidly-growing “bubble” of developers rushing to iPhone and Android, which will be exciting right up until it’s not exciting anymore. On Facebook, we’re starting to see developers take it more and more seriously rather than trying to copy Zynga, and that’s also exciting, especially for multiplayer RPGs. Why take on SWTOR and World of Warcraft’s budgets when you could make a Facebook game that costs much less?
On the press side, I can’t wait for some bright bulb to start the Rock Paper Shotgun of mobile and social titles. On the PR side, we’re still figuring out how to reach people. Email feels passé, Twitter too easily ignored but delightfully informal for building relationships (if you’ve been subjected to my barrage of cat pictures and sports news, you know what I mean), and phone too personal and intrusive. What’s the best way to get in touch with people while being just annoying enough to get noticed without getting too annoying? It’s something we talk about constantly with very spirited typing in our Skype channel.
As a late addition, there are a LOT of really talented games writers suddenly floating around on the market and I am extremely hopeful something cool is brewing.
I’m looking forward to the next installment of MLB: The Show, the Twisted Metal revival, Syndicate, and the Jagged Alliance reboot.
Troy Goodfellow, Account Coordinator
The gaming industry will continue to go through serious contractions as the major consoles end their life cycles and more and more big budget titles fail to meet expected sales. Studios will close, layoffs will continue but the AAA design mentality will linger on – big franchises continue, some sell well, some even makes a profit. But there will be fewer big budget announcements this year as publishers reconcile to the new way of doing things.
And the new way is good. Social networking and entrenched niche communities will continue to help midsize and small studios find their audience. Middle market titles that don’t push the technological envelope will dominate gamer mindshare and new ways of selling games will rise. The PC, tablet and mobile platforms will lead in gaming innovation.
Mass Effect 3 will be the “best” game of 2012.
Looking forward to Mass Effect 3, Crusader Kings 2, Borderlands 2, Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, and Bioshock Infinite. And the new X-Com title from Firaxis.