6. The industry will have a chance to build an open platform for the Metaverse, but it will fail to do so
Tim Sweeney of Epic Games painted a beautiful vision of how to create the Metaverse, the virtual world envisioned by Neal Stephenson in the novel Snow Crash in 1992. That novel’s vision of a pervasive cyberspace where we live, work, and play has inspired many a startup including Second Life maker Linden Lab. Linden Lab itself has its own Sansar virtual world spaces coming this year as one of the opening bids to create such a Metaverse.
Sweeney argued how this platform should be open for everyone to build upon, but I don’t see the industry coming together to do so. It’s the “tragedy of the commons” playing out all over again. Each company will pursue its own self-interest, but it won’t sacrifice anything for the greater cause of an open platform Metaverse, which could foster a much bigger market for everyone.
7. The number of traditional Triple-A console games will continue to slip
Electronic Arts published 60 games in 2008, and it published eight in 2016. It still makes a lot of money, but it has fallen back on the fewer, better, bigger strategy. So have many of its rivals such as Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and Take-Two Interactive. Many Triple-A game studios are closing, and a lot of game veterans are moving over to mobile games or virtual reality. Many of the companies who are still standing are taking more time to do their titles. It doesn’t take a genius to do the math.
8. The next generation of consoles will surface at E3
The console cycles are just about over. Nintendo cut short the five-year cycle, dumping the Wii U early in favor of its upcoming Nintendo Switch. Microsoft will introduce Project Scorpio at the close of 2017, just four after introducing the Xbox One. And Sony introduced its PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation VR mid-life upgrades in 2016.
I will guess that Microsoft will describe a lot more about its new system at E3, and Sony will likely respond by dropping a hint about what is coming next for its platform. The Switch will debut on March 3, and that will put pressure on the others to talk. But it’s not clear to me that the Microsoft and Sony systems will materialize in 2017.
9. The walls between science fiction, real world tech, and video games will come down
This is the theme of our GamesBeat Summit 2017, which will take place on May 1 and 2. We’ll delve into this a lot more, but I love how the ideas that were once science fiction — self-driving cars, voice controls, and 760-mile-per-hour trains — are becoming real. What was once science fiction will be tomorrow’s science fact. We see the creative visions of plausible science fiction becoming the inspiration for real-life technology and video games.
I expect that science fiction worlds like those in Blade Runner, The Matrix, Minority Report, Inception, Black Mirror, Ex Machina, and HBO’s remake of Westworld will inspire new visions for technology companies and new plots for video game stories. This will play out over time, but we’re already seeing it with Square Enix’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The company Open Bionics is creating 3D-printed artificial limbs inspired by the arm of Adam Jensen, the hero in Deus Ex, where “natural humans” and “augmented humans” come into conflict.
10. Donald Trump will inspire game developers to be more creative
If angst can spur creativity, then Donald Trump’s inauguration will likely have a positive effect on games. Troubled artists can be productive. They can produce everything from comic satires to apocalyptic visions. I don’t detect a lot of enthusiasm for Trump among the core game design circles, and a number of game developers are actively urging their colleagues to resist any really threatening changes that Trump has promised to make, like dumping the Affordable Care Act.
Trump Dump did surprisingly well in 2016 on mobile, even though it didn’t have much gameplay. Perhaps the new President will strike back with his own mobile game based on a reality show in the White House. But you can expect that the struggle for the hearts and minds of the American consumer will play out in gaming as much as in other forms of entertainment.
I think that there are plenty of other projections to make, like the rise of China in mergers and acquisitions, the growing momentum for esports, and big gains for game streaming. But I’ll stop at 10.
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