My Hopes for the Year Ahead
It is a new year, and with that, we should all have plenty to look forward to, the FA Cup Third Round, Superbowl and Wrestlemania will all take place in the coming weeks and months. While I am certainly looking forward to those events, I have a few hopes for what I will occur in the gaming world over the next twelve months. Kevin is running through his Top 10 Games to look forward to, so my hopes will largely avoid specific games. Apart from my first choice of course.
SimCity being a success
EA are bringing their classic city management sim out of the archives with the release of the new SimCity title in March. I greatly enjoyed my limited hands-on time with it back at last year’s Eurogamer Expo and saw a lot of potential to fill our days with city management woes and fears of horrific meteor strikes destroying everything. I just hope that it remains true to the series and doesn’t turn into another game like Cities XL which overreached and fell apart. The connected cities idea in SimCity sounds promising, but the requirement to be constantly connected to the EA servers, even for singleplayer concerns me. I don’t want to see a repeat of Cities XL; I want SimCity to be a wonderful PC title not dragged down by awkward DRM. I’m just hoping that things turn out for the best with it.
The Vita not slipping into obscurity
The Vita makes the list as it will reach the one year anniversary of its UK launch in a few weeks and yet I don’t feel like it has lived up to its potential. Sony’s handheld has seen a bunch of really strong titles appear on it (along with a few duds of course), but it really hasn’t exploded in popularity and certainly hasn’t had the impact that Nintendo’s handheld gizmos have had. The Vita has certainly become more appealing in recent months with latest firmware update adding some much needed email functionality and the addition of PlayStation Plus to the store. However, when looking for upcoming games to be released on the device, things are looking very sparse. I think the Vita has a really big upside and I just hope it doesn’t slip into obscurity. I just fear that ever improving mobile games on iOS and Android will make the Vita footnote in gaming history.
The Wii U becoming relevant
My worry for the Wii U is that it so far doesn’t seem to have had quite the same immediate impact upon critics and consumers that the Wii had, and that when Microsoft or Sony announce their next machines, as the undoubtedly will at some point this year, people will think twice about purchasing one. It is still early days for a new console, and the economic environment certainly won’t help it with its relatively steep pricing. Reports that the machine sold below expectations at GameStop in the United States don’t paint a good picture.. I hope that the Wii U finds its footing in the marketplace soon and becomes a relevant console, maybe if it was easier to explain to general consumers in the same way as its predecessor it would find its place in the industry.
Announcements of next-gen consoles to be timed right
The current consoles from Microsoft and Sony are certainly becoming a bit long in the tooth right now, but as Kevin is highlighting, there are still a few major titles yet to be released on the current systems. I hope that whenever the new machines are announced, and it is more than likely we will hear about at least one this year, the timing is right so as to give the upcoming blockbusters the chance to shine in their own right. I for one would hate for the launch of a title like Watch Dogs to be completely buried by the announcement of new machines.
A reveal of a Steam-box or Half-Life 3
This might be wishful thinking on my behalf, but I am certainly hoping that Valve come out with something big this year. They have been making great strides with developing Steam, and the massive success of Dota 2 so far can’t be denied, but I, and probably many others would want something that would grab the headlines outside of the gaming world. A Steam-box would certainly do the trick and would really throw the gauntlet down to the big three while some hard facts about the next Half-Life would either cause the world to explode in joy, or lead to numerous parties for those starved of any hard news on the series.
Gender equality both in-game and development
My most genuine hope lies within gender equality. I, like many, am tired of female characters in games following the same old pattern of simply being there as eye candy. I want to see an increase in strong female lead characters this year, but I see things only really changing if sports games can get on board. After the amazing year of sport in 2012, it is impossible to ignore the achievements made by women, yet sports games largely ignore or push women to the background. This was most evident for me in the London 2012 videogame where there wasn’t an equal balance between male and female sports. Further, I wonder how difficult it would be women’s teams and league to be included in FIFA or Football Manager.
I also hope to see an increase in gender equality in game development; this was brought to light with the #1ReasonWhy Twitter discussion last year, as discussed by Lily here.. If more female developers are given the opportunity to influence the direction games take during production, maybe we will see an improvement to in-game equality as well.