2021 Predictions

I really need to learn to make simple headlines… a whole lot easier to find them later!

2020 was a real crapshoot when it comes to predictions. The only one I consider that held true is that cross-play is the expectation for multiplayer games (Destiny is getting it in 2021). Now, I’m not saying Marvel Avengers tanked because it didn’t support cross-play, but I am saying that it’s a massive factor when the foundation of end-game activity is group-making.

For 2021, I do expect a lot of stuff from 2020 simply shifts to the right. I don’t see much happening until after March, otherwise

  • High speed internet moves further towards commodity (like running water) than a luxury. This will mean more competition and more municipal offerings.
  • Netflix will lose subscribers to alternative services, who don’t end up cancelling series on cliffhangers.
  • The break-up of Ant/Alibaba will spread to other large IT companies, with Alphabet/Facebook the next global targets
  • There will be no repeal of section 230, and no further progress of holding liability to internet falsehoods. The general lack of a spotlight on a mediocre boy-child peddling conspiracy theories will be put into a corner, where it will fester and grow.
    • Section 230 is the bit of US law that protects IT companies from being sued from what their posters put up. The only alternative to 230 is to have the Blizzard RealID (remember that?) on the majority of the internet. The companies would validate your real identity, and hold you liable for posting. What this means is that if THEY get sued, YOU get sued. And by proxy, would mean that only people that CAN get sued have access to the service. E.g. Twitter would no longer be global, and the user base would drop by ~90%. The only winners here are the lawyers.
  • 2021 will be the death of the western movie going experience, which was already struggling before the pandemic. Does mean that global filmmaking will come into a larger being.
  • Related, 2021 is the year of affordable 4K and smaller audio equipment, allowing for a cinema-like experience at home.
  • This is not the year of 5G, because there’s no incentive for it to be deployed anymore. 5G’s major benefits are in the mesh network, allowing for high speed connections while travelling. Everyone’s home network is 5G already, just that your provider doesn’t give you the speed needed.
  • Life will get back to normal in time for the new school year. The summer months will be a massive vaccine push to the masses, and in some places, you’re going to get “a card” to prove you’re vaccinated. Cue the outrage.
  • The dumpster fire in the US does not go quietly into that good night. “Whatabout-ism” becomes a default policy.

Games are a different beast. Large dev shops are learning to work effectively remotely, though the serendipity aspects of development are going to be harder to figure out.

  • Diablo Immortal will launch, make the news for a month or so, then go away.
  • Blizzcon will focus on Overwatch 2, and give a target date for Diablo 4 (2022). WoW will have a Classic BC launch this summer. Pathfinder in retail will come out in the first major patch.
  • Blizzard implements a “social score” system for Acti-Blizz games. It works similar to ranked matchmaking, so that similar scored people play together. Player PvP ranking would take precedence.
  • The Fall of 2021 will be the major launch window for most big-budget games (God of War, Horizon, FarCry, Hogwarts)
  • Sony will continue to dominate the first party exclusives domain for the foreseeable future. Bethesda won’t release anything until 2022 at the earliest.
  • An updated Nintendo Switch will be announced in the spring, or at least a console that plays Switch games. Long shot – but Nintendo finds a way to make game streaming work for the masses.
  • The PC equipment shortage continues until the summer, due primarily to supply chain disruptions from the pandemic. This will leave consoles as the available and importantly, cheaper alternative.
  • Star Citizen won’t launch.
  • BioWare gets a new lead after the launch of the Mass Effect remaster, then they are rebranded. Anthem NEXT is confirmed vapourware.
  • Crystal Dyamics pulls a Hail Mary and launches a working expansion of content for Marvel Avengers that rewards group play.
  • Everquest (1&2) each launch a new expansion, while LOTRO goes into permanent maintenance mode.
  • Monster Hunter Rise will sell a ton and see a related spike of Switch sales. (MH:World is still in the top of Steam charts.)
  • The New World will launch. And it will close in 2021, joining the other Amazon game studio projects.
  • 2021 will continue the trend of indie/small devs creating some knockouts that make you question why AAA studios can’t do the same.
  • Ubisoft will the first company to support a developers union, if only to protect itself from the chain of lawsuits of harassment from nearly every person in a leadership position.
  • 2021 won’t be the year of VR, driven primarily from Occulus’ insistence of a Facebook account.

Relatively safe bets all around, with the union entry the real longshot. It’s going to be an interesting year.

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