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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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  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows will let you play as a baddie

    Shovel Knight owners will benefit from the generosity of Kickstarter backers quite soon. Because Shovel Knight was overfunded during its Kickstarter campaign, developer Yacht Club Games committed to releasing free content updates. The first of these, Plague of Shadows, has now been detailed. The expansion stars baddy Plague Knight, who turns on his former allies, […]

  • GTA controversies, from Hot Coffee to PR manipulation

    GTA has a long history of controversy. The latest Did You Know Gaming tells the full stories behind the sensational headlines. Grand Theft Auto is such a byword for controversy that it’s easy to forget the full context of what actually happened to bring mainstream press, politicians and interest group awareness to the Rockstar series. […]

  • Infamous 2 one of five new PlayStation Now additions for March

    PlayStation Now will expand to the tune of five new games this month. The March PS Now additions are Infamous 2, Twisted Metal, R-Type Dimensions, Alone in the Dark: Inferno and Operation Flashpoint: Red River. PS Now will set you back $20 per month or $45 for a three month subscription. It offers all you […]

  • Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster gets PS4 release date

    Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster hits PS4 in May. The PS4 release date for Final Fantasy 10/10-2 HD Remaster is May 12 in North America and May 15 in Europe. Gematsu reports a special pre-order bonus calendar with art by Yoshitaka Amano is available through the Square Enix Store and participating retailers. In Europe, pre-ordering […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare getting 15 new Prestige levels

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players can now aspire to the ranks of Grand Master Prestige. Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games will add 15 more Prestige levels to the latest Call of Duty, giving players at max XP a chance to grow even further. According to the Sledgehammer Games blog, when you enter Master level […]

  • Destiny: Crota’s End recreated in Minecraft

    Destiny’s toughest challenge gets even nastier if you throw Creepers into the mix. The ultimate Destiny challenge – for now – is the Crota’s End raid. Taking place in an alternate dimension accessed through the Hellmouth on the Moon, the Raid takes Guardians through a pit of darkness to the resting place of Crota himself. […]

  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3D trailer introduces the Heir to the Monado

    Xenoblade Chronicles 3D protagonist Shulk is the Heir to the Monado, his distinctive red sword. Let this trailer fill you in on what that means. Xenoblade Chronicles 3D releases for New 3DS on April 2 in Europe and April 10 in North America. As well as all the content of the Wii original, it has […]

  • The Elder Scrolls: Total War mod covers Morrowind, Oblivion and more

    The Elder Scrolls: Total War is a terrific mod allowing you get get intimately involved with the history of Bethesda’s detailed fantasy universe. The first release of The Elder Scrolls: Total War dropped on the weekend, giving players their first chance to try out LoRdNazgu1‘s creation. This version runs from 3E 427 to 4E 45, […]

  • Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 out now on Steam

    Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 is out now. Yes, we’re surprised too. You can grab Five Nights at Freddy’s 3 on Steam for $8. Developer Scott Cawthon really doesn’t mess about; the game was only announced in early January. Here’s the blurb: Thirty years after Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza closed it’s doors, the events that took […]

  • EVE Online heister makes off with $13,000 worth of goods

    EVE Online is a hotbed of villainy, espionage and backstabbing, but one intrepid corporate thief has made waves even in this setting. The thing about EVE Online is that it’s a true sandbox: the game’s rules are very loose, and allow players to make careers out of theft, piracy, assassination and espionage in addition to […]

  • Marth Amiibo getting a stock refresh in North America

    Nintendo of America has announced a fresh supply of the difficult to find Marth Amiibo. The Marth Amiibo will be back in stock in the US in late April, the platform holder said on Twitter today. Planning to pick up Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. and don’t have a Marth amiibo? More are headed to stores in […]

  • Skyrim beta update upgrades creation kit file size

    Skyrim has been granted a new beta update – more than three years after launch! – to improve the experience for modders and those who use them. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim released in November 2011. I think that’s worth noting before we discuss the beta update that dropped today, even as Bethesda is working […]

  • Paradox’s next epic RPG is, uh, Knights of Pen & Paper 2

    Knights of Pen & Paper 2 is very serious business so please enjoy this very serious trailer. “Return to the dicey world of Knights of Pen & Paper for a new turn-based adventure, where players get to take on the role of players, and also of the game’s encounter-designing, rules-laywering GM in a fully customizable […]

  • Amplitude looks amazing in new gameplay trailer, has a team multiplayer mode

    Amplitude may have been delayed but we still get something this March: a fine new gameplay trailer. Amplitude is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 sometime in northern summer. It’s a reprisal of Harmonix’s classic rhythm action game, a forerunner to its later efforts with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and was crowdfunded. Update: Turns […]

  • DayZ creator’s “crazy”, “esoteric” next game developed with Improbable

    DayZ creator Dean “Rocket” Hall has dropped the first vague details of his new game project. “I do not want to make safe games. I do not want to make games the way we have been making them. What if the most experienced video game staff in the world collaborated on the most esoteric and […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will support AMD’s Mantle

    AMD has confirmed what most Battlefield fans thought. Battlefield Hardline will indeed support Mantle. Battlefield Hardline will support Mantle, AMD has confirmed. Some players weren’t sure whether the retail version of the game will support AMD’s API, due to its absence from the recent PC beta. AMD did not say whether the feature will be […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 GDC 2015 sizzle reel shows what the tech can do

    Unreal Engine 4 is a pretty versatile bit of tech, as this new sizzle reel shows. As one of the more ubiquitous engines, Unreal will be on show at GDC this week. Developer Epic produced the following sizzle reel to quickly demonstrate what it can do – cutting edge graphics (there are very few games […]

  • Survarium’s latest patch removes limit on battle ammo, rebalances experience gain

    The latest Survarium patch has readjusted the value of experience and reputation points gained and removed the limit to the maximum amount of ammo you can use in combat. Survarium developer Vostok Games has released patch 0.27a to the public, having recently finished testing it. The patch is a major one and covers changes to […]

  • The Hunt Begins in new Bloodborne TV spot

    Bloodborne is so close you can almost smell its coppery tang on the wind – and also you can watch commercials for it. Bloodborne arrives on PS4 at the end of this month (March 24 North America, March 25 Europe, March 27 UK) so excitement is starting to build. Sony isn’t helping keep us calm […]

  • World of Warcraft: you’ll soon be able to buy game time with gold

    Blizzard will soon allow World of Warcraft players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard has announced a new system that will launch soon for World of Warcraft. The system is called WoW Token. Using this system, players will be able to buy game time using in-game gold. Here’s how it […]

  • 3D Realms’ Bombshell returns with the first gameplay trailer

    Remember 3D Realms’ Bombshell? The isometric ARPG that was announced last year? Well, it’s back, and we get to see gameplay footage. The game stars Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison, a bomb technician turned mercenary with a mechanical arm. She will embark on a quest to rescue the president and save Earth, all while shooting aliens. The […]

  • Unreal Engine 4 is now free for everyone to use

    Epic Games has made Unreal Engine 4 available for anyone to download and use, for free. Unreal Engine 4 is now free. Anyone can download it and start using it, the developer announced today in a blog post. The download features the the full set of tools used by Epic, and includes 100% of the […]

  • Call of Duty European Championship winner announced

    The winner of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship has been announced. This past weekend, 28 teams representing UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the rest of Europe and Middle East attended the final of the European round of the Call of Duty Championship. UK team Epsilon eSports was crowned […]

  • GOG brings back Insomnia sale with discounts up to 90% off

    GOG.com is bringing back its Insomnia sale event with even more games. GOG’s Insomnia sale is back with double the amount of games. This year, there will be two sets of games available at once. The sets are seasoned classics and fresh new titles. Each set will feature games with discounts up to 90% off, […]

  • 2K is shutting down NBA 2K14 online servers, won’t affect career save files

    2K will be shutting down the servers for NBA 2K14 this month. The publisher revealed yesterday that online servers for NBA 2K14 will be turned offline on March 31. “You will no longer be able to play ranked games/online association,” reads the announcement. NBA 2K14 relied on online servers to store save files for MyCareer […]

  • One Dead or Alive tournament organiser is proposing ban of “over-sexualised” costumes

    A Dead or Alive tournament organiser has suggested a soft ban on some of the game’s “over-sexualised” costumes, and not everyone is happy. Tournament organiser “The HuBBs” took to the FreeStepDodge forums to suggest a list of rules that other offline tournaments can follow. The list goes over stages, characters, moves, which is certainly in […]

  • Destiny: all the news from Bungie’s open house Q&A

    Bungie hosted an open house Q&A session with the community last week and lots of exciting news have come out of it. Arekkz Gaming has gathered all the information that came out of Bungie’s open house Q&A in one handy video. The list is massive, going over Exotic weapon balance, upcoming events, PVE, Crucible rewards, […]

  • Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen to honour Nimoy with in-game memorials

    Developers behind space exploration games Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen will honour the memory of Leonard Nimoy through in-game memorials. The develops of both games have confirmed separately that in-game memorials will be established to honour the memory of the late Star Trek actor, Leonard Nimoy, famous for playing Spock. Elite: Dangerous executive producer Michael […]

  • Deal: get a PlayStation 4 + three exclusives for $399

    Amazon’s latest PlayStation 4 deal is not one to miss. With purchase of a PlayStation 4 console from Amazon in the US, the online retailer will throw in digital codes for Infamous Second Son, Killzone Shadow Fall and The Last of Us: Remastered, all for the same MSRP of $399. The Last of Us Remastered […]

  • Destiny: this is how one player predicted House of Wolves details and Xur’s inventory

    The method one Redditor possibly used to leak some details from Destiny’s House of Wolves was the same one he used to predict the inventory of Xur: Agent of the Nine. Last week, Reddit user Megamanexe4 leaked a few pieces of House of Wolves expansion content. The leaks included strikes, new Crucible mode, and a […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is coming to iOS… as a card-battler

    Mortal Kombat X will be releasing on mobile devices in some form, just not the one you except. Mortal Kombat X is coming to Android and iOS devices as an extension of the main game. It will launch in April alongside the console versions. The mobile game will be part card collecting and part fighting […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain announcement coming this Wednesday

    Kojima Productions will unveil something about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain this Wednesday. Metal Gear Solid fans should standby for a Phantom Pain-related announcement on Wednesday, March 4. According to developer Kojima Productions’ Twitter, there’s going to be an announcement at 2pm GMT on Wednesday. The developer posted the following image. The image […]

  • Reader survey: time to let us get to know you better!

    We’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey about the websites you read and the games you buy. It massively helps! You can fill out the survey right here and obviously all the information you supply is confidential. It helps us build a better picture of the people who read our site […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium: here’s everything you get for $50

    Battlefield Hardline’s Premium membership will give players access to 4 new features, early access to expansion packs and more. EA detailed the offer today – it costs $50 in total (£40 in the UK) and gives players a whole bundle of new gear and content. Check it all out in handy list form below: Masks […]

  • Hayter’s gonna hate: the voice of Solid Snake wouldn’t answer my Metal Gear question

    Voice actor and Hollywood writer David Hayter discusses the differences between movies and games. And politely declines my leading question. “It might be fun to do a crazy, over-the-top film version of Saint’s Row.” Yeah, that headline is a bit cheap but you’re reading the work of a man who once asked the maker of […]

  • Xbox One bundle gets £100 price cut in UK

    Microsoft has knocked up to £100 off Xbox One bundles in the UK. The Xbox One with Kinect Assassin’s Creed bundle is now £100 cheaper and comes with a free £20 voucher to be spent on the official Microsoft online store. Over on the Xbox online store there’s a £70 price cut on the white […]

  • Pokemon Shuffle downloaded 1m times, free stuff given out to celebrate

    Free-to-play 3DS title Pokemon Shuffle has been downloaded over 1 million times. As a reward for playing the match-3 puzzle game Nintendo has gifted players a Complexity -1 item for free. The item reduces the difficulty of a level, according to Eurogamer. By all accounts Pokemon Shuffle is a cynical game with poorly implemented microtransactions. […]