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Welcome to 2013: predicting this year’s biggest trends

Monday, 7 January 2013 14:13 GMT By Dave Cook

Just as the global New Year’s Day hangover has worn off, 2013 promises to kick gaming into overdrive. VG247′s Dave Cook looks ahead to what will be a scorching year for the industry.

You can usually label each year in gaming with a few watchwords or by name-dropping a handful of key releases. Take 2005 for example: it was the same year that brought Xbox 360 into our homes, and along with it, the concept of fully-integrated online functionality across the board.

2006 will be remembered by some as the year of motion, thanks to the launch of Nintendo Wii, while 2012 could arguably be dubbed the year of Freemium, Kickstarter, the DLC season pass, or even the year that The Walking Dead caught us all off guard and became highest-rated game of the period on Metacritic.

With these examples in mind, I thought it’d be neat to look forward at what 2013 has in store for gamers – not from a vanilla-flavoured ‘year in preview’ perspective – but to try and pre-empt some of the year’s biggest trends and watchwords based on what we already know to see where all of this is heading.


‘Services’
One thing that we’ll start to see seeping through the cracks this year is the concept of gaming as a service, rather than a single-purchase piece of entertainment. I’m highly doubtful that we’ll see such a service launch in the console sector this year, given that Microsoft’s next Xbox looks to be a shoe-in for an E3 2013 reveal, and as our sources have told us that PS4 is being revealed before E3.

The age of the physical console unit isn’t going away just yet – not this cycle anyway – but the wheels are definitely in motion, thanks to Sony’s costly acquisition of GaiKai which could hint at Sony’s software catalogue hitting the cloud in a streamed format at some point. The notion of a Spotify service for games is interesting, but we’re likely still a while off from seeing the big console holders embracing it just yet.

However, Sony did launch a web store in December that collated its game, music and film content across a single unified marketplace, which is something you will be seeing a lot more of in 2013. One look at Xbox 360 and Wii U’s apps – such as Netflix, Love Film and other tools point to the notion of games as multimedia hubs, rather than something you simply play games on.

This has been a long time coming of course, as consoles have been multimedia-enabled for some time, but 2013 will see the key platform holders push the concept in a big way. You’ve also got Steam’s Big Picture Mode in the frame too, putting high-end PC gaming into the living room, giving a broader demographic of consumer reason to dip into gaming. Either way, the days of consoles being pure game systems is firmly at an end, and looks set to stay that way in 2013.


‘Dynamic’
Speaking of next-gen, gamers everywhere are eager to see first-hand what new tricks Sony and Microsoft’s boxes of wizardry are capable of. Back at E3 2012, both the Luminous Engine from Square-Enix, and Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 were shown running in real-time, giving us a taste of what these new console and PC experiences will look like.

One watch-word that we often saw used in conjunction with both tech demos was ‘dynamic’, used to describe elements that react on the fly and often in great numbers, such as Unreal Engine 4′s spark effects among others. We also caught a glimpse of what could be Valve’s ‘Source 2′ engine, by way of a leaked swarm tech demo.

The ability to create so many individual elements that react to the user’s interaction in real-time will have huge implications on what is possible in the next generation, and what’s more exciting is that it’s right around the corner – as in, actually happening this year – and we should all be excited about what these new engines are capable of.

Plus, we already know that Epic’s Fortnite and Blacklight developer Zombie Studios’ next game will use Unreal Engine 4 and are coming this year, so it will be interesting to see how they both turn out.


‘Transmedia’
Ah this old thing again. Although word of movie adaptations are often met with many groaning and calls for Uwe Boll’s head on a platter, it seems like the games industry is starting to get serious about the way its creations are treated on the silver screen. For one, Ubisoft has now set up its own movie label to oversee its IP’s transition to film, presumably in a bid to see them handled with care and to retain greater creative control.

Ubisoft is busy on the whole adaptation front as a matter of fact, with a Raving Rabbids kid’s show to air this year on Nickelodeon, Michael Fassbender taking the lead in Sony Picture’s treatment of Assassin’s Creed, Tom Hardy donning Sam Fisher’s sneaking suit in the New Regency adaptation of Splinter Cell and most recently, a film adaptation of Ghost Recon.

There’s also this month’s release of animated flick Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, a reboot of the Mortal Kombat movies and somewhere lingering in the back are the long-stalled World of Warcraft film, and movies based on Uncharted and Gears of War that will probably never see the light of day.

Transmedia is a popular notion already – the idea of spinning out a game brand across merch, toys, films, soundtrack discs, comics and other media – rather than simply release a game and call it a day. The truth is that transmedia sells a brand and helps grow a franchise, and we all know how much the console industry loves a god franchise don’t we? Expect this notion to explode in 2013.


‘Asynchronous’
2012 saw the word ‘asynchronous’ bandied around a lot thanks to the very special relationship between Nintendo’s Wii U and its GamePad controller. Devices that talk to each other and function in tandem might seem like a fad, but you might want to get used to it because it’s going to be a big industry watchword in 2013.

The Wii U may have failed to light up the pre-xmas charts in 2012, but in 2013 the idea of tablets as controllers is going to grow. You can already see the signs today, with Microsoft’s SmartGlass crossing the bridge between Xbox 360 and tablets, Sony’s ‘PlayStation Certified’ line of devices helping the brand branch out, and again, Valve’s Big Picture Mode crossing the gap from PC monitor to TV.

Even something as simple as using your iPhone as an Apple TV controller is a prime example of where the industry is heading in 2013. Let’s not forget that several patents for asynchronous wearable computing and Xbox 720 tablet controller specs have been unearthed in conjunction with next-gen formats or emergent tech.

Not only does the notion of asynchronous play get a console manufacturer’s brand on third-party devices, it ensures that no matter what you’re doing on that external device, you’re doing it on software designed by the company. Just look at what Microsoft is doing with its Windows 8 and Metro devices – covering all bases from PC to mobile and tablet.

If you’re not a fan of what Wii U proposes with its tablet controller then you might be out of luck, because that kind of asynchronous play is going to be a big deal in 2013. The controller is the last part of a console’s make-up that needs a serious reboot before the industry can potentially call time on physical consoles. We’re certainly getting to that point now.


‘Indie’
To be fair, the term ‘indie’ has been popular in the console domain since Braid launched in 2008, as it was the game that proved the big console market could be a suitable home for the untested new guy. Granted, that dream hasn’t rung true for everyone, but if PS4 and Xbox 720 are to compete with the indie PC market dominated by Steam, GOG and other providers, it really needs to become more accommodating to indie devs.

In 2012 we heard testimony from Prison Architect developer Introversion that Xbox Live proved to be a money sink that saw very little in the way of returns for the developer, while some developers and gamers cry foul at how poorly Xbox Live’s indie selection is signposted.

As more developers turn to services like Kickstarter, and indeed follow Notch’s paid alpha model, there is a danger that Sony and Microsoft could start losing out on some of the big PC titles in 2013. That’s not to say both PSN and Xbox Live don’t have their fair share of stellar indie hits – because they absolutely do – it’s just still a costly place to publish compared to outlets like Steam. It simply has to change.

Consoles aside, I just mentioned Kickstarter which will, of course, continue to prove a popular platform for developers to follow their dreams, even if the UK equivalent has seen several projects creak along at a slow pace. Will the bubble burst in 2013? Probably not, but it would be nice to see more finished projects releasing to see, tangibly, where our money has gone. Pat wrote a cracking piece on the demise of the Kickstarter gold rush here. Check it out for more on the matter.


‘Quitting’
No, I’m not quitting VG247 so you’ll have to put up with me for much, much longer I’m afraid. I’m talking of course about the number of developers quitting their positions at the industry’s biggest studios and setting up shop on their own. Peter Molyneux was one of the first high profile departures from the triple-a fold – leaving Microsoft and Lionhead Studios to found Project Godus studio 22 Cans.

Cliff Bleszinski fled Epic Games to do ‘something’ – which may or may not be published or developed by Ubisoft – and may or may not be codenamed ‘Silverstreak’. Nah, it totally is, and we have no idea what it’s about, but 2013 could be the year we see what he’s up to.

Bioware co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka also fled the coop in 2012, we saw Keiji Inafune flee Capcom to oversee Soul Sacrifice, and Infinity Ward’s Rob Bowling set up Robotoki, which is now working on a game called Human Element, due to release in 2015.

Why mention all of this? It’s because we will likely see this trend continue in 2013. Truth be told, we can’t go a quarter without some big studio posting a financial loss, or worse a closure announcement. Something is rotten in the triple-a sector, production costs are spiralling while the indie, small-to-mid size teams are prospering thanks to having more routes to market than ever before.

Moving into this space makes perfect financial sense if you have an idea and cash to back it, not to mention giving creators more room to, well, actually be creative. Kickstarter, paid alphas, App Store, Google Play, PSN, Steam, Xbox Live, WiiWare, 3DS eShop. These are all easier, more flexible routes to market that tired, quashed industry veterans are embracing. Don’t be surprised if a few more big name developers jump ship in 2013.

That’s all we have time for folks, but what do you think of the above watchwords, and what terms, concepts or ideas would you throw into the mix? Let us know below.

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11 Comments

  1. Sherif Saed

    This year we might just learn about what the ex-Infinity Ward guys are up to.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. JPickford

    When talking about Wii U did you mean Asymmetrical?

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Dirk_Dexter

    Half-Life 3

    #3 2 years ago
  4. manamana

    D E S T I N Y

    #4 2 years ago
  5. manamana

    Oh yeah and a Vita price drop.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. OlderGamer

    Great read Dave, again.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. fearmonkey

    2013 will be the year of the tablet controller, for good or bad.
    I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, I will have to see how it helps gaming in a huge way, something I haven’t yet seen.

    With MS coming out with a tablet controller, the Wii-u having a tablet controller, the next Playstation possibly having a tablet controller, it looks to be a sure thing. What I wonder is if Apple will finally be forced to bring out a controller or tablet with controls themselves. If Samsung creates one after seeing the new consoles all using it, Apple might have to jump in whether they want to or not. Touchscreen controls suck!.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    All I can say FM is that the WiiU GamePad works exclecnt and really enhances the games(and the system). Some people will tell you it doesn’t. People will always disagree I guess.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. NocturnalB

    I really want a Sony console due to the fact that i haven’t owned one since the ps1, but they are starting to dive into things i just do not want in my gaming experience, cloud gaming, gaming as a “service”, and DRM tech. None of that is for me.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight

    @9

    Get used it because that will be the norm. At GDC thats all developers would talk about is that games as a service and not as a one time buy and forget it thing.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. NocturnalB

    @10

    Well… i guess if i have to live with it, but if i can still avoid DRM i will.

    #11 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Playtonic Games has announced the Kickstarter campaign for its spiritual successor to the Banjo Kazooie series, Yooka-Laylee, will launch tomorrow. The title of the game was announced today along with the Kickstarter date. Formerly known as Project Ukulele, the 3D platformer is said to be “between the size of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie,” and stars Yooka […]

  • Console version of Mistwalker’s Terra Battle is in development

    Now that Mistwalker’s Terra Battle has surpassed 2 million downloads on mobile, the developer is now working on a console version of the tactical RPG. As part of the original Download Starter campaign, the 2 million milestone means the company will begin development on Terra Battle’s console version with details to be announced at a […]

  • Prison break game The Escapists is heading to PlayStation 4 from May 29

    The Escapists, Mouldy Toof’s prison break game originally released as a timed console exclusive Xbox One, has a release date for PlayStation 4. For those unfamiliar with the title, which is also a PC release, it tasks players’ time management skills as they do a bit of digging and crafting, and other prison-type stuff as […]

  • Dead Island 2 delayed into 2016 to ensure series is “taken to the next level”

    Dead Island 2 has been delayed into 2016 by Yager in order to ensure the sequel “takes Dead Island to the next level.” According to a tweet from the developer, it set “big goal” for the game, and in order to deliver what fans expect, the team needs more time to reach development goals. “We […]

  • Project Cars: here’s a list of all available cars at launch

    Project Cars will contain many, many cars and if we are counting correctly, there will be 74 total at launch. The standard edition contains 65 total, and when factoring the free car as well as the Modified and Limited Edition cars packs, you can add an additional nine cars to the mix. Comb through the […]

  • Competitive matchmaking support is coming to Team Fortress 2

    Team Fortress 2 will soon feature support for competitive matchmaking, which Valve says is a “high priority” project for it at the moment. According to a report from TeamFortress.tv, which visited Valve headquarters recently, Valve is looking into the possibility of 6v6 or 9v9 matches 9v9, a possible quick play option and it is also […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch fixes garage, Job crashes – full notes here

    Rockstar has pushed out a 353 MB patch for GTA 5 on PC The patch fixes a number of annoying bugs related to vehicles and garages, some deathmatch issues and purchase errors. It should also fix various freezing and crashing bugs, as well as a little issue with Steam. Time will tell if the patch […]

  • Fire Emblem If will come in White Kingdom and Black Kingdom versions with amiibo support

    We’ve finally got some juicy details on the next Fire Emblem game, but the most interesting aspect is that there will be two versions of the game. According to Siliconera, who translated an interview between Intelligent Systems and 4Gamer, there will a White Kingdom and a Black Kingdom version that offer different aspects of the […]

  • Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess heads west with “Golden Toilet” pre-order bonus

    Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess will debut on western PlayStation 4 systems this summer, Koei Tecmo has announced. It is also coming to PS3 and Vita. The game was produced by Keisuke Kikuchi of Fatal Frame fame and takes up where Deception 4: Blood Ties left off allowing players to relive Laegrinna’s pursuit to free […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario demo, Paper Mario, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo of Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, Paper Mario on Virtual Console, and amiibo Tap. The full update is below. eShop update amiibo Tap – free – Wii U Star Wars Pinball DLC – Wii U Paper Mario – Wii U […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PC port handed off to Nixxes

    The PC port of the new Deus Ex has been handed over to Netherlands based studio, Nixxes software. After the initial reveal trailer at the beginning of April, we’ve only had a few morsels in the way of additional news. The most intriguing tidbit to date has got to be the fact that you’ll be […]

  • First-ever PC Gaming Show to take place at E3 2015 in June

    PC gaming will finally have its very own E3 press conference this year, thanks to PC Gamer and AMD. The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and it will be livestreamed on Twitch. PC Gamer said speakers at the presentation will include representatives from Blizzard, […]

  • Majora’s Mask light available now on Club Nintendo for 6000 stars

    Club Nintendo shuts up shop on September 30 and members are being encouraged to spend accumulated stars before then. And what better to spend them on, than this adorable Majora’s Mask light? If you’re a member based in Europe you can nab it for 6000 stars. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, it’ll only […]

  • Unity support announced for HoloLens, will work with Windows universal apps

    Microsoft is partnering with game engine developers Unity in order to make HoloLens compatible with apps and games which use the cross-platform engine. The partnership was announced yesterday during its Build Developer Conference. Universal apps for Windows 10 systems will also be available on Xbox One later this year, suggesting possible HoloLens functionality with the […]

  • Splatoon Nintendo Direct airs Thursday, May 7

    A Nintendo Direct focused on Splatoon, the Wii U multiplayer title, on May 7. It will kick off at 7am PDT/10am EDT/3pm UK and it can be watched via the Nintendo Direct website. You can also have a look at the game through Nintendo’s Twitch channel. The last game-specific presentation took place last week and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: clean up the streets as a member of the San Andreas PD with this new mod

    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]

  • Has Watch Dogs 2 been leaked?

    Ubisoft employee, Julien Risse, may have inadvertently confirmed Watch Dogs 2, thanks to his online CV over at LinkedIn. Videogamer.com spotted the slip up, in which Risse lists Watch Dogs, the DLC Bad Blood, and Watch Dogs 2 on his profile. Creative Director Jonathan Morin has already talked about his ideas for improvements for the […]

  • GTA 5′s Trevor makes his Jackass debut, complete with leopard-print knickers

    YouTuber Abstract Mode has shared his vision of what Trevor Philips’ life might have been like, had he not been completely batshit crazy. Watch Trevor get mauled, run over, and hit by a train, before taking a majestic swan-dive into someone else’s pool at the climax. Thanks, Kotaku.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 season pass will cost you £35

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 isn’t released until November 6, but you can already hand over your cash for the Season Pass. The Season Pass is available for pre-purchase on Steam for £34.99, and will cover four DLC packs – although the details we have on the content are limited to ‘exciting’ at this […]

  • GTA Online’s cheating assholes are no match for this player’s vengeance

    Think you’re smart for using invisibility and infinite ammo glitches? You need to be taught a lesson, sucker. You can have all the hacks you want but if your GTA Online game is weak, you’ll still get your ass handed to you. As this fool discovered when attempting to hassle another player. There’s a fair […]

  • PS4 sales help Sony’s games division swing to profit

    Sony’s PlayStation business has made an operating profit of 48.1 billion yen ($404m / £261.5m) in the past 12 months. That’s thanks to stellar sales of the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus, even as sales of the PS3 have stalled and the company wrote off costs for the PSTV and PS Vita. The profit puts […]

  • New patch for Dirt Rally gives co-driver’s attitude a tune-up

    Dirt Rally gets a new patch three days after release on Steam. On Monday, we reported that the newest Dirt game has popped up on Steam’s Early Access and is available to pick up for £24.99, as well as giving you an eyeful of tasty screenshots. The patch – released yesterday – fixes some issues […]

  • New The Witcher 3 screenshots show combat, exploration and general carousing

    New screenshots released on the official facebook page for The Witcher 3 show Geralt annihilating a winged beast, out and about in the world exploring, and living the life of Reily amidst a bustling feast. We were already treated to some glorious screenshots a few days ago, but these new ones are in-game and give […]

  • Destiny: 14 things you might have missed during House of Wolves intel drops

    Destiny: House of Wolves does a great deal more than just slap some new content on the existing game structure. House of Wolves changes Destiny in a lot of interesting and very welcome ways. Bungie showed off many of these changes in its livestream, and let both me and Arekkz come and have a look […]

  • Scratch that cyberpunk itch with Technobabylon on May 21 – new trailer

    Technobabylon more like Wrecked-yo-babbling with my smooth flow about how good Wadjet Eye games are. I don’t know y’all, it’s clock off time and everything feels like a reach. Wadjet Eye makes pretty good adventure games – award winning, in fact. The latest project to spring forth from the benevolent, sheltering hand of the label […]

  • Skullgirls 2nd Encore brings exclusive new features to PS4, Vita in northern summer

    Skullgirls, the little indie fighter that could, is getting another crack at it. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the second re-release of the one-time troubled 2D versus fighter from lab Zero Games. Having survived the shut down of its developer and collapse of its publishing contrast, Skullgirls re-emerged as Skullgirls: Encore, adding in a ton of […]

  • Danganronpa series generates “impressive” sales for Vita exclusive

    Danganronpa is selling quite nicely, thank you, says NIS America. Danganronpa is a series of murder mystery visual novel puzzlers in a similar vein to games like 999. Two of these have been released for Vita in the west – Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. Speaking to MCV, NIS America CEO and president Takuro […]

  • I have no idea what is going on in J-Stars Victory VS+ but I kind of like it

    In this J-Stars Victory VS+ trailer, we see – uhh. Well. We certainly see some things. Look y’all, I was a massive weaboo in high school, but that was back in the dark ages when we had to take out Manga Entertainment VHS tapes from dingy little specialist rental joints that were literally underground, and […]

  • Please just watch this terrific trailer for Toren

    Toren is the kind of game I dream about when I drift off to sleep at night. This indie puzzle adventure strikes a spark in my little soul in the same way as Ico and Tequila Works’ Rime do. Mysterious, almost ethereal fantasy setting – check. Chance to actually walk around in that setting – […]

  • Play classic MS-DOS games on your own tweets

    In today’s episode of “what will they think of next”, someone’s figured out how to post playable versions of classic games in tweets. For some time now, Twitter has allowed you to embed various forms of media in tweets, most noticeably YouTube videos, simply by pasting a URL into the compose field. Turns out this […]

  • VR: Unreal Engine to add HTC Vive support

    The biggest digital PC game distributor and the most popular game development engine have both backed VR. It’s going to happen. An upcoming Unreal Engine 4 update will expand the development suite’s support to the HTC Vive, Valve’s VR headset. In this glorious new future where work on one of the most important engines in […]

  • WWE 2K15 PC supports modding

    WWE 2K15 may be the series’ PC debut, but it’s already getting into the spirit of the platform. WWE 2K15 does indeed support mods on PC, 2K’s Marcus Stephenson has confirmed. @ElementGamesTV you can. Now buy. — Marcus Stephenson (@stephensonmc) April 28, 2015 As Destructoid points out, this opens the door to all sorts of […]

  • Overkill’s The Walking Dead coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016

    Overkill’s The Walking Dead is one step closer to your grasping little paws. Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be published by 505 Games, Overkill parent Starbreeze has announced. 505 also published Payday 2, Overkill’s previous title, so the two companies have established a working relationship. In a press release, the publisher said the co-op title […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 pre-orders net Advanced Warfare DLC

    Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for later, enjoy bonus Advanced Warfare content now. Blacks Ops 3 is being supported by a rather cunning pre-order incentive even more likely to get you to lay your cash down sooner than you might otherwise. Gamespot reports a Black Ops 3 pre-order will receive a couple of […]

  • Steam Game Ban system lets developers determine who to block

    Steam users can now be blocked from individual games by their developers. Steam has always supported multiplayer bans for disruptive users, but a newly-implemented system allows developers to ban users from individual games using their own anti-cheat systems. Game Bans are enforced by Valve, but are enacted at the developer’s request and discretion. This change […]

  • Far Cry 4 devs matching Red Cross donations up to $100K to aid Nepal earthquake victims

    Far Cry 4 developer Ubisoft Montreal will match any pledges made to The Red Cross up to $100,000 to aid Nepal after the 7.8 earthquake struck the area in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. According to Ubisoft: “Having spent the last few years working on Far Cry 4, a game heavily inspired by Nepal and […]

  • Tales of Zestiria retail listing notes September release date, PS4 version

    Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, and while it’s confirmed as a PlayStation 3 release, a Dutch retailer has it listed as coming to PS4 as well. Of course, listing it for PS4 could also be a typo, not that I would personally know about that sort of thing, really. However, according […]