The year of 2012 is into full swing, but the gaming industry is still flexing its muscles ahead of an action packed February. With that in mind, we figured it would be the perfect time to share some thoughts about what we feel is going to happen in the world of video games this year.
Of course, this list isn't supposed to be definitive, there is going to be a lot of guess work, but we'd like to think the guesses are at least educated. We'll be revisiting this towards the end of the year to see how we faired!
No Monster Hunter For North America or Europe This Year
Although Monster Hunter has never taken off in North America and Europe as much as it did in Japan, it still has quite a dedicated fan base, but it's a fan base that has been rather neglected by Capcom. We still haven't even had an announcement for Monster Hunter Portable 3rd on the PlayStation Portable.
Monster Hunter 4 was also announced for the Nintendo 3DS, but again, we aren't expecting there to be an announcement about a western release any time soon. And even if there is one, the game probably won't release here until at least 2013. On the positive side, quite a few people might have invested in the Circle Pad Pro by that point.
New Blizzard MMO Will Be Announced
It's been in development for a long time, and with this year expecting to see the release of Diablo 3 and Wrath of the Pandas, Blizzard will surely want to maximise their efforts to take the focus away from Star Wars: The Old Republic.
World of Warcraft simply cannot sustain itself at this point, with each new expansion becoming less and less relevant. Their competition is also becoming much more fierce and we're predicting this change in momentum will force Blizzard to show something for all the work they've been doing.
Plus, it would be quite disappointing if the only other thing we have to look forward to from Blizzard is StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive Will Surprise Us
We can't help but feel that as more competitors enter a market, the more consumers are willing to try new products simply for some differentiation.
It seems like after a few years of the same franchises dominating their various sectors unopposed, developers are finally upping their game, and though Valve and Counter Strike aren't really new to the first-person shooter scene, a three way slug match between Battlefield, Counter Strike, and Modern Warfare is something every lover of the genre should look forward to.
It means more innovation from all three developers as they strive to make their game stand out, and more little guys looking to fill in the roles that the major players simply don't want to risk. That's not to say that the Call of Duty franchise is simply going to collapse, but it's hard to imagine with so much up and coming competition that they'll be able to draw in the same numbers time and again.
Also, despite the game appearing on the consoles too, Valve should make sure the PC game is spotless and that's an area of the market that Valve have nailed down already.
The PlayStation Vita Will Post Solid Sales Throughout 2012
We all know about how the PlayStation Vita is struggling in Japan at the moment, but let's just take stock for a minute. The launch line-up was pretty bad if you're a Japanese gamer. I mean, the main title was Uncharted: Golden Abyss, a game from a franchise that's never really taken off over there - not exactly something to get excited over.
In North America and Europe, things could be rather different, especially as the majority of coverage from western websites has been positive thus far.
We saw it with the Nintendo 3DS too. Sales started off at a relatively slow pace, but momentum grew once big game announcements came, the price was dropped a bit and some big games released in the lead-up to Christmas.
All the PlayStation Vita needs is one or two must-have titles and it will start to fly off the shelves, just look at the PlayStation Portable. The combination of big-name Square Enix titles and the arrival of Monster Hunter blew sales through the roof.
Let's get something straight though, we aren't expecting the Vita to blow up, we're just expecting it to post solid sales by the end of the year - it certainly won't be game over.
The Nintendo Wii U Won't Surpass The Wii
The Nintendo Wii surprised everyone, but we think it's going to be difficult for Nintendo to do it a second time. Sure, it will probably sell pretty well, but we don't think it'll do anywhere near as well as the Wii.
There are a few reasons for this, but the first is that it uses almost the same name. Most consoles do this too, but Wii U doesn't sound like its an upgrade, it sounds like it's an appendage. A lot of non-tech savvy families own the Nintendo Wii, and we believe a lot of them will be quite happy to keep their Wii and not upgrade. There's also the fact that a lot of families rarely ever use their Wiis and that kind of stigma doesn't go away.
For many, it was an impulse buy, or they got it because of something like Wii Fit. We feel that many won't feel the need to purchase a newer console because they were burned by the experience they had with the Wii. Or, they feel the Wii still does what they need it to.
Let's also not forget that both Sony and Microsoft have entered the motion controls space, and they're both selling well in those fields. The Vita is also capable of certain feats too, and some of the audience may have moved on to smart phones.
New Xbox Announced, 360 Will Stretch Its Lead Over PS3
We've had rumours, upon rumours about an announcement for the next Xbox. Call it the Xbox 720 or whatever you like, the constant speculation can't be unfounded if it keeps coming from high-end sources, including developers.
That said, we doubt it'll launch this year. Microsoft may well plump for an E3 showing to steal Nintendo's thunder, but they may also do a reveal outside of that, on their own terms, which we've seen becoming a more popular trend.
We also expect the Xbox 360 to continue its momentum this year. Kinect seems to be doing rather well for Microsoft and despite having few exclusives to get excited about, the prospect of Xbox Live seems to be more compelling for western gamers than anything Sony is offering right now. It's hard to see this momentum shifting the other way this late in the game.