A Look to the Future – What does 2009 hold in store for us?
Written Friday, January 02, 2009 By Dan WebbView author's profile
So we turn our back on the two of greatest years in the gaming industry; 2007 and 2008 have yet to be matched in terms of quality in the history of the industry, but that’s to be expected with growth right? Of course, but early signs for the year ahead aren’t as strong as they were this time last year, so 2009 may not continue this trend. I say they aren’t as strong, but some of the best new games in 2008 weren’t announced till towards the end of Q1 at the earliest. Titles like Mirror’s Edge and Dead Space were late to be announced and so, you can never tell what the future has in store for us ... we can only guess and speculate, but hey we’re pretty damn good at that.
Could 2009 be Alan's year?
2009 could be a tough year for Microsoft and we say that because we frankly have no idea what they’re up to. Of course they are spear-heading their 2009 line-up with two Halo influenced titles; Halo Wars and ODST, so you can expect sales to be solid. Other than those and of course, Ninja Blade, the rest is pure guesswork. This doesn’t mean a lot considering Stephen McGill told Videogamer just before Christmas that Microsoft had “lots more” planned for 2009 that people “don't know about” yet. What could that entail? Well, we hope one of those is Alan Wake, because the recent showing by Remedy at the Finnish release of Max Payne has grabbed our attention ... again! And according to Xbox World, Remedy have at least stated that it’ll be out in 2009. If that isn’t fantastic news, I don’t know what is. Other than that, we’re not sure. Is it a little too early to expect a Mass Effect 2? A resounding yes smacks me in the face, but we can hope anyway, although it’s an EA property now.
Speaking of EA, what can we expect from them this year? Well, Brutal Legend and Dante’s Inferno are already confirmed and there will no doubt be the usual rehash of sports titles, but like 2008, other announcements are all but expected. Of course, there is Skate, Lord of the Rings Conquest and the Godfather II, but they all seem to be Q1 releases ...As for the rest of the year, it stands a good chance that Fight Night Round 4 will hit, but expect more.
Is 2009 too early for Altair's return?
Ubisoft are another publisher, like Microsoft, that are playing their 2009 hand close to their chest. With only Hawx confirmed, the rest of the year is a mystery. Could we see Splinter Cell: Conviction and/or Assassins Creed 2? Those are real possibilities at the moment as they will surely need a couple of key properties to push their sales for 2009 and what better than two of their biggest properites? Could 2009 be the year for Ubisoft’s new IP that they took time to unveil at E3 this year; I Am Alive? Little has been seen or heard of from the title since the teaser trailer hit the net last year, so who knows, maybe Ubisoft will pin their hopes on this title.
Will 2009 be the year for Eidos to strike back? Little has been heard of Just Cause 2 and their upcoming Hitman sequel for some time now and the clock has started to tick well past the two year mark. Enough time for the sequels to be published? I wouldn’t be quick to say no, let’s put it that way. And who can forget about the impressive looking Batman: Arkham Asylum? Early signs point towards a dark, comic like Batman; something reminiscent of the Batman that appears in the new films.; but as usual, with all character tie-ins, looks can be deceiving. So we’ll call that a “maybe.”
SEGA have a pretty strong line-up for 2009 it seems, with Bayonetta and hopefully Alpha Protocol leading the way. Both titles we saw extensively at Leipzig this year and they both looked great, but the little we’ve seen of Alpha Protocol up to now is a little worrying; however we still have faith in Obsidian though. In addition, 2009 may be the year we see Gearbox’s Aliens Colonial Marines as well ... provided the belly up rumours don’t prove to be true, even though Gearbox President, Randy Pitchford debunked them already.
Resident Evil looks to start 2009 off in style.
Capcom seem to be the leader in terms of announced releases, in Q1 anyway, with 3 of their premium properties set to ship; Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter 4 and Bionic Commando. Capcom seems like the only publisher who refuses to get involved in the pre-Christmas brawl and I for one hope that pays off dividends. The pre-Christmas run in was just too hectic and could end up being more damaging to the industry than good. If there is one major change in 2009 and beyond we want, it’s this more varied and stretched release schedule. I mean, when was the last time we had more than a few titles in the summer months?
Two of the biggest titles of 2009 are sure to be sequels of two of 2007’s biggest and brightest games; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams, which both have confirmed 2009 release dates. Modern Warfare 2 is back in the hands of industry wizards, Infinity Ward who really know how to make and improve a shooter. The step up from Call of Duty 2 to 4 was impressive, and we expect the same sort of step up this year as well. As for Bioshock, what game in 2007 was as artistically impressive and as engaging as Bioshock? None. So we definitely can’t wait to see what the 2K crew have done to top that.
For those wondering where the mention of Final Fantasy XIII is, well, Japan will surely see that title in 2009, but for those in the West ... don’t expect it this year. Don’t get us wrong, we’d love to see it and going by the trailer that was released towards the end of last year, it’s already a shoe in to be the best looking game of 2009, but with all the trans-international edits and voiceovers that will have to be done ... we don’t plan on seeing it until Q1 2010. At least we’ll get a bit of Star Ocean 4 this year and how that will turn out is anyone’s guess at the moment. Sleeper hit like Lost Odyssey or underperformer like Infinite Undiscovery? It could go either way.
GTA IV DLC is sure to be a big hit.
2009 for all intents and purposes looks set to be the year of the DLC with premium DLC promised for the vast majority of 2008’s big titles and then some. January alone sees Mirror’s Edge, Fable 2 and of course, Fallout 3, get a hefty dose of new content to see the new year off in style. That isn’t it though, oh no, games like Prince of Persia, Left 4 Dead, GTA IV and Tomb Raider (although the announcement press release said before Christmas 2008) are all set to get this new gaming fascination known as DLC. Throw in to the mix new Lips, Guitar Hero and Rock Band songs and it may be possible to spend more on DLC than on actual retail games in the early part of 2009.
With the current economic crisis going on, I think 2009 will be the year that games finally get the permanent price reduction. At current, the prices sit around 40 English Pounds and 60 US Dollars for new fully fledged titles, but 2009 could see those drop by up to 25%; as was the trend with the last generation of consoles. I mean, the Christmas sales were shifting titles for half price, and these were titles that had only been out a matter of weeks, so is it really that hard to imagine?
Is this the new hub for Europe's games show?
2009 could also be the “year of the show” with bigger shows planned and more of them. E3 will regain some of its public access as it intends to recapture the glory days by opening its door to some of the public. However despite that, the attendance cap means it will fall short of PAX’s monstrous numbers which will again no doubt be the same this year, before it breeds a second show for 2010 ...
Although 2009 may not have much set in store yet as we’ve come to expect from years gone by, chances are it’ll still be a good year and we’re bound to see some big surprises throughout. All the publishers seem to be holding their cards close to their chest; a side effect of the global recession? Stands a good chance, but the industry is gaining more momentum year after year and we suspect 2009 will continue that trend. So there you have it, 2009 is the year for cheap games, shed loads of DLC and more Halo than you know what to do with.