The nice thing about predictions is that everybody forgets them twelve months later!
With the new year upon us, that means that millions of people all over the world are looking at a brand new calendar and imagining all of the good things they can do in that time. Even if you're resolution is nothing more than sitting on your fat ass more than you did last year, it's the idea that the future is wide open and easily changeable that gives people hope. I'm not one of those people who likes to make New Year's Resolutions, so instead I commit journalistic suicide and offer up a list of predictions of things that will happen in the next twelve months.
Making predictions is both fun and hazardous. I've made an entire career out of lambasting Electronic Gaming Monthly's gossip guru, Quartermann, for getting his predictions wrong. And everybody knows about those crazy predictions from the 1950s that suggested that by now we would be driving flying cars and living on the moon. But I feel confident with this batch of video game predictions. I feel that all eleven of these topics will come to fruition in one form or another in the very near future. Perhaps we'll revisit this article a year from now and see how I did, but for now the future is wide open and I want to believe that all of these things will come true. So join me as I look at the future for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo as I explain why Gaming in 2010 Is Inevitable!
Downloadable PlayStation 2 Games via PSN
In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of really good stuff on the PlayStation Network (PSN) these days. Beyond the obvious stuff (Fat Princess, Calling All Cars, wipEout HD), the PSN allows
There wouldn't have been a need for a PlayStation 2 PSN store had Sony just left the backwards compatibility in!
you to download PSP games, PSP Minis and even classic PlayStation 1 titles. While you still can't play PSP games on your PlayStation 3, the wall has come down and you are finally able to play PSP Minis and PS1 games via your next-generation Sony console. It all leads to one very important question: When will I be able to play PlayStation 2 games on the PlayStation 3?
If you're an early adopter then you can already play the hundreds of PlayStation 2 games without doing a single thing. However, it's been a long time since Sony released a system that was fully backwards compatible. This hasn't changed the fact that there are dozens of games that not only hold up by today's standards, but are just as good as anything released this past Christmas. If Sony isn't going to give us built-in
Not every PS2 game can get a special PlayStation 3 upgrade, so just give us the originals!
backwards compatibility (something they could have done, but didn't do with the PS3 Slim), then it stands to reason that they are going to give us the option of buying these games via the PSN.
This wouldn't be completely out of line given the direction Sony seems to be going these days. They have already released a number of traditional disc-based games via the internet (Warhawk, Gran Turismo, wipEout HD, etc.), plus they released a PSP that entirely ignores UMDs. It's clear that Sony's future is all about digital distribution and right now the only Sony system not taking part in this is the PlayStation 2. Even Microsoft has started releasing classic Xbox games for download via their Xbox Live Marketplace. 2010 is the perfect time for Sony to start offering PlayStation 3 owners a chance to remember some of the best games of the past decade. It's not a question of if, but rather WHEN Sony will announce this. My guess is E3, but I hope it's sooner.
BioShock 2 Will Completely Miss the Point
In a world where first-person shooters are a dime a dozen, 2007's BioShock stood out from the rest of the crowd. Developed by Ken Levine (System Shock 2) and his team at Irrational Games (now 2K Boston), BioShock introduced us to an Ayn Rand-inspired underwater world that, for a short time, was looked at as a perfect utopia free from the
Not pictured is the incrediblely apt commentary about video game design!
shackles of governments, war and crime. Of course, by the time the main character shows up this world has been completely destroyed, overrun with mutated monsters and death everywhere. It featured an atmosphere that was unparalleled, giving us a world unlike anything we've ever seen, complete with 1950s music and a fantastic sense of style.
That was the hook for BioShock. You knew you were going to explore a broken down underwater world and that along the way you would have to take on a series of Big Daddies protecting Little Sisters. This is what you knew going in. What really makes the game special, however, wasn't the setting or the atmosphere. Instead it was the moral of the story, a twist that comes late in the game where you realize that
I hope I'm wrong, but I have a hunch BioShock 2 is just going to be bigger and louder!
you don't have as much control as you thought. This is a game that makes a point about other games, that good game design comes from you thinking you have more freedom than you actually do. You believe you are in control, but as BioShock demonstrates, you are just doing exactly what the people of Rapture (and the game programmers) want you to do.
So, what are the chances that BioShock 2 will be a searing condemnation of modern game design? Who wants to bet that BioShock 2 will offer a deep story that is more of a social commentary than just a great first-person shooter? I would not take that bet. Seeing as the completely unneeded sequel is being handled by a different studio, I suspect we'll see an action game that takes only the most obvious elements from the first game and recycles them. It will no doubt be bigger, better looking and louder, but if it doesn't have the self-aware commentary, then it is completely missing the point. I expect to be disappointed by BioShock 2 when it's released later in the year.