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2012 Prediction Recap: I didn't do so hot edition PART 1

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*** This is a repost of a post that ran on my blog ***

Prediction season - oh how I love you. In most years its a time for me to show off just how insightful and connected I am to the games industry, this year however I suspect might be a different beast. I really didn't see the force F2P was going to be this year (I really did think it'd be Pay to Plays year to come back with a vengeance) amongst other things. So let's get right to it and look at my predictions from 2011 for 2012:

World of Warcraft has a disappointing year that sets the mark for the way forward, Blizzard doesn’t care when they redeem themselves in that fall by announcing Titan in the fall and making a boat load of cash off Diablo 3′s release. Mists of Pandaria will release late Spring/Early summer and it will be the first expansion to not break sales records (that’s not to say it won’t sell by a long shot, but the hype will be muted). The perception shift on WoW will be complete and for most people “the game they go back to” will no longer be a viable home. Subscriptions will continue a 1-2 million year over year decline in line with what was seen this past year.
So a few predictions here. 1) WoW has a disappointing year (I'll also tie in the 1-2 yoy decline prediction here) 2) Blizz announces Titan in the Fall 3) Blizz makes a boatload off D3 4) MoP releases in the spring/early summer 5) MoP does well but doesn't break records 6) WoW loses its status as the "go home to game" for many.

At first when I reread this a few days ago and started thinking about how I did I thought I was way off the mark but reading it over again I dont think I was far off at all. There was a lot of "WoW is dying" hype last Christmas as we were on the eve of TOR launching. I didn't really buy in to that hype (I use conservative language throughout the above prediction, hype will be muted, etc) but I did think WoW would have essentially its first bad trend setting year and you know I don't think I was wrong. So let's break it out:

1) Did WoW have a disappointing year? I think all and all it probably did to an extent. The subscription picture was a steady yoy decline (to the tune of 2 million+) until MOP released and even then the game did not make the subscription numbers back with the expansion. The blizzard layoffs mid year in the WoW customer service area point to the fact that Blizzard realizes that there is now no where to go but down. WoW isn't dying, it will not die, let's be clear. But its best days are finally behind it. I'll take the point.

2) Titan in the fall.


3) Blizz makes a boatload off D3

6 million in a week. Yarp. Do I really deserve points for predicting the sky would be blue though?

4) MoP releases in the spring / early summer

Oh Blizzard. I really thought you'd be able to stick to a more aggressive expansion schedule. I guess not.

5) MoP Does well but doesn't break records.

Yep. For the first time a WoW expansion did not break retail records. Between declining sales and a move to digital I dont think you'll see retailers doing midnight openings for WoW any longer...

6) WoW loses its status as the "go home to game" for many

This is impossible to get a read on. But what I do know is that many long time WoW players did retire in the last year. Lots of blogs, big name mod authors, etc packed their bags and went to greener pastures. I won't take the point here, but I might come back in 2013 to collect these as a bonus point because I'm really convinced the "mental shift" away from WoW has occurred, despite reviews of MoP being the strongest WoW expansion in a long time.

Next up TOR:

Star Wars The Old Republic continues at a strong clip. Bioware will break the SOE mould and instead of a 4 patch / 1 expansion a year model will continually deliver high quality content for the price of the monthly fee. Despite this solid evidence/leaks/well sourced rumours of a 2013 expansion will close out 2012. People’s fears that content of Bioware quality will not keep coming will be put to bed when Bioware releases two solid / high content / high quality patches before the six month mark. This does end up masking the complications of delivering Bioware’s level of quality (because the truth is they already have those first two patches virtually in the can and in QA now) and towards the end of 2012 its possible content releases will slow paving the way for the above mentioned expansion in 2013.

Star Wars The Old Republic will face a crisis within 6 months due to their tight lipped community approach. I’m not sure how it will play out but there will be a big blow up caused by lack of communication. It likely will be something silly that just grows and grows within the community (see the handling of the early game access as a microcosm for what this will look like).
Hmm. Let's break this down as follows: 1) SWTOR will continue at a strong clip through 2012 2) SWTOR will break the 4 patch / 1 expansion model and deliver content on an aggressive schedule for the cost of the monthly fee alone 3) Fears of Bioware content quality will be for naught 4) Bioware will not be able to keep with content demands by the end of 2012, as their production cycle will be too slow 5) Community stuff.

1) TOR did not continue at a good clip. I have doubts if they've even made a profit yet despite huge box sales. No points

2) I'm going to give myself a half point here. At first Bioware tried really hard to push high quality content out the door but the result was an extremely slow release cycle that would have put them at the 4 patches a year mark HOWEVER Bioware did call this out as a problem and started to change their approach to patches by shipping content as it was ready instead of waiting for mega patches. So their plan on paper was more SOE, how they ended up executing was as I predicted out of necessity They just would have never shipped if they waited for normal MMO sized patches because of the slowness of their production cycle.

3) Hmm. So far content quality hasn't really been a concern, it's been more a lack of depth. So they are maintaining the quality standard but their production cycle proving to be an unwieldy beast. Do I suffer because of a lack of depth in the content here? Hmm. I'll take half a point.

4) Bioware was not able to keep up with content demands because of their production cycle. Full points thanks.

5) There was no real large scale community crisis however when the first large of community layoffs hit the community team was gutted out and I suspect management saw the same disturbing communication trends I did. I'll take full points here.

*this is part 1, please continue reading at part 2!*

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