A popular year-end occupation for pundits of all sorts is making predictions about the coming year. All too often, though, it’s embarrassing to look back on those predictions and see just how far from reality they were. That’s why, no doubt, you rarely see pundits musing on their failures of the past, preferring to offer some shiny new predictions instead. The [a]listdaily, though, will take on the task of evaluating last year’s predictions, in the spirit of good marketing and product development. Looking back on projects and seeing how they worked and didn’t work is an important way to improve future performance, and what’s good for projects should be equally good for projections. Or, at least, amusing to the bystanders.
Nintendo Prediction for 2014
Nintendo stays the course with the Wii U, making no dramatic moves on pricing or the hardware, trusting to releases of hit software to keep the sales moving. It will, to some extent, but the energy, excitement and sales that Nintendo has seen for the 3DS line will still fail to appear for the Wii U. The year will end without a “killer app” for the Wii U that is utterly dependent on the Gamepad, which would drive sales upwards. Somewhere in a back room, Nintendo will quietly work on the successor to the Wii U which it will plan to introduce in a few years. The biggest surprise of 2014 for Nintendo is that there are no big surprises for Nintendo. The company will be profitable, though, but not hugely so.
Rating: 90 percent. This is, indeed, pretty much what happened with Nintendo in 2014. Wii U sales improved somewhat with Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros., but still on Black Friday only managed a 10 percent improvement over last year, according to Nintendo’s statement. Nintendo is working on new hardware, according to Shigeru Miyamoto. The company will be profitable for the year by a small amount, but nothing like the profits it saw during the Wii’s heyday.
Microsoft and Sony Prediction for 2014
Microsoft and Sony slug it out all year long over next-gen consoles with no clear winner at the end. If Sony starts to pull ahead a bit in sales, Microsoft can respond by cutting the price of the Xbox One or bundling in some software. Gradually, though, the Kinect will reveals itself to be a sales advantage as new products and services appear that take advantage of the Kinect being included in every console sold. Sony’s secret weapon, Gaikai, will come into play during the year offering backwards compatibility for older PlayStation games, and bringing streaming games to the PC and other platforms as well.
The Xbox 360 and the PS3 will continue to sell well, driven by their lower prices and amazing software libraries. Meanwhile, the PS Vita TV will be a strong seller in the $99 streaming-TV box market, shouldering aside the Roku and the Apple TV… unless the Apple TV finally adds some apps.
Rating: 30 percent. Not such a good prediction here, as Sony maintained a clear leadership throughout the year until Microsoft finally won November, at least in North America and the U.K. The Kinect revealed itself to be a millstone around the Xbox One’s neck, one that Microsoft finally ditched. Microsoft did find success by bundling games and cutting the price of the Xbox One. Gaikai, now redubbed PlayStation Now, is in beta doing what the prediction foretold, but not yet on a wide scale. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 tanked, along with software for them, as both console makers refused to drop the prices. The PS TV has so far had no discernable impact on the market, and Sony doesn’t seem to be paying it much attention.
Games Prediction for 2014
New IP breathes new life into old consoles as titles like Destiny excite interest. The real fire gets lit on next-gen, though as both Destiny and Titanfall drive sales of hardware. Early views of the next Halo build excitement, too. Watch Dogs may be later than expected originally, but the title will do very well. Meanwhile, the appearance of titles like The Witcher 3 and Star Citizen on PC drives a resurgence of interest in PC gaming, along with greater awareness of indie titles and Kickstarter-born software like Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera and Shroud of the Avatar.
Rating: 50 percent. New IP did help drive strong sales of new consoles, though it failed to do much of anything for old consoles. PC gaming is strong, but due more to online games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Hearthstone than indie titles.
Mobile Prediction for 2014
Everyone is rushing to stake out new genres in mobile, and 2014 is the year when we’ll see every hot genre explored on mobile by major publishers. Zynga releases a slew of new games and brings some old favorites to tablets, and returns to profitability. DeNA and Gree begin to move forward more strongly, having finally made the transition to smartphone-based games more fully. The leading titles of 2013, like Puzzle & Dragons, Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans, will fade somewhat in the charts as newer titles attract strong audiences.
Rating: 40 percent. We certainly have seen genres beyond causal and action explored on mobile in 2014, with MOBAs like Vainglory and RPGs like KingsRoad. Zynga did release a slew of games, but profitability still eludes them. DeNA and Gree are moving forward, though not hitting the highest spots in the charts yet. The leading titles of 2013 haven’t really faded, while only a few new titles like Machine Zone’s Game of War: Fire Age have really made it consistently into the top charts.
Overall Prediction for 2014
It will be a great year for gaming, though there will be consolidation among mobile publishers. Traditional publishers will do well as next-gen consoles drive software sales, but expansion into new platforms and business models will continue to be important. Some high-profile executives and designers will depart from major companies, and some of them will have a surprising new game to announce. It’s going to be a year of surprises, too, as at least one major player (perhaps Apple, Google, or Amazon, or even a dark horse like Samsung) announces a major new hardware play in the gaming area with a set-top box.
Rating: 95 percent. 2014 was a great year for gaming, with the industry growing strongly and new consoles from Sony and Microsoft selling well in their first year. Consolidation among mobile publishers hit $4.6 billion in 2014, according to Digi-Capital, though some of this is from mobile game publishers selling to other entities, like GungHo selling its Supercell stake to Softbank. A number of high-profile execs made moves, like Brian Reynolds, Cliff Bleszinski, and Andrew Sheppard — and Reynolds and Bleszinski have new games in the works. Google has introduced Android TV, though we won’t see the full impact until next year. Amazon’s Fire TV was introduced as well and is doing good business, growing its game and other content library.
Overall 2014 Prediction Rating for [a]listdaily: 61 percent. That’s better than monkeys throwing darts, at least most of the time.