Top 10 Predictions for 2011

The clock has turned, the calendar has begun anew, and another year is upon us. 2010 was a year filled with plenty of surprises: Schwarzenegger v. EMA went to the Supreme Court, Infinity Ward was turned into a shell of its former self, APB and a fair share of other titles fell short of expectations, non-Nintendo motion control was introduced, Elder Scrolls V was revealed, and much more. But it’s time now to look ahead to this new year and just what it may bring us. With that in mind, I’ve come up with my top ten predictions for just what could be in store for us in 2011.

10) Duke Nukem Forever flops

Now, I’m a huge fan of Gearbox Software ever since I first got my hands on Borderlands, and the fact that Duke Nukem Forever is finally coming out after over a decade of development-hell is awesome. But that is exactly the problem I think will derail the Duke’s return. The series is more or less a dated product of 1990’s videogame storytelling. While the 90’s may have had some good game stories, there were also plenty with non-existent or hollow plots. The Duke Nukem series falls into this latter category. A blonde-haired, steroid-jacked hero fights off aliens in rather bloody fashion to save strippers. Storytelling has matured leagues since the time of Duke’s prime, and excessive sex and violence has been toned down as well (despite what California lawmakers may argue). Gearbox may make the gameplay fun, but I don’t see how an overly violent, overly sexual title can survive in this day and age when so many better franchises have faded since the Duke’s prime (Star Fox, Legacy of Kain, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot, Sonic the Hedgehog). The project was dormant this long for a reason.

9) Guild Wars 2 becomes a critical success, starts to take World of Warcraft’s crown

Much of the recent MMO attention as of late has been directed toward BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. The idea of a good Star Wars MMO leaves thousands, if not millions, of gamers salivating. But not enough attention has been given to ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2, which, although is not officially set to release in 2011, has been hinted at doing so. Ever since the game’s MMO Manifesto video released and the first playable demos became available at PAX, critics and MMO fans alike have been taking notice of this fantasy MMORPG that will not have a monthly fee. An open world with constantly changing quest events that eliminate NPCs with exclamation points on their heads, an instanced story that gives change to your own player’s personal experience, an extremely rich and diverse world, and more have gotten people talking. With ArenaNet’s consistent follow-through, I would not be surprised at all if Guild Wars 2 blows everyone away. And when it does, the lack of monthly payments will slowly but surely begin to pull players away from WoW‘s enormous subscriber base and its title as King of the MMOs.

8) Activision’s spat with EA, Jason West, and Vince Zampella gets even worse

If anyone thinks that EA, Jason West, and Vince Zampella are going to sit idly by and let Bobby Kotick and Activision’s latest shot in what is arguably the biggest legal spat between developers and publishers in the history of the videogame industry go, then they’ve got a surprise waiting for them. Activision accused West and Zampella of screwing their own Infinity Ward employees, who were so loyal to the duo that many left the studio after the two were fired, by keeping them from receiving their compensation. That is an extremely low blow, so expect West and Zampella to find a way to legally fire back. If the allegations against the duo are true, then the entire perception of not just West and Zampella but Activision as well can be flipped on their heads. This thing is far from over, and it looks to be a no-holds-barred slugfest in 2011.

7) The Old Republic won’t release this year

Anyone who loves MMOs or Star Wars is just dying for The Old Republic to hit store shelves this year. The game was expected for a 2011 release at its reveal two years ago. And while a private beta has been conducted and videos promoting the game have hit the web, there is still no solid date of release for the Star Wars MMO. It was expected to arrive sometime this spring, but was recently changed to an extremely vague “fiscal year 2011” for Electronic Arts. For those who aren’t aware, fiscal years don’t go from January to December like a regular calendar year; EA’s fiscal year goes from April to March. There have also been reports that The Old Republic is not quite as polished or finished as BioWare and EA were hoping it would be at this stage in development, so expect BioWare and EA to give themselves as much time to polish this game off as possible so as to not disappoint all of their potential customers. They’ll keep their word with a fiscal 2011 release and send the game out for the masses in March 2012.

6) L.A. Noire becomes the surprise hit of 2011

Rockstar Games took a big risk with Red Dead Redemption in 2010. The game was not on anyone’s radar to be a must-have title due to the stigma that Westerns couldn’t work in video games. But Rockstar pulled it off and made Red Dead Redemption not just a must-have title, but Game of the Year in the eyes of many. Now comes 2011 and L.A. Noire, an open-world game that focuses on detectives in the LAPD during the 1940s. Due to its setting, it seems that not many people are giving it attention. But from what’s been seen of the game’s facial scanning technology, motion-capture performances, and voice acting, I believe that everyone is going to see yet another Rockstar title that will make many gamers think Game of the Year honors are in order.

5) 343 Industries will announce the next Halo game at E3 or VGAs 2011

Halo: Reach has released, and with that comes the departure of Bungie from creating titles in the premier Xbox 360 franchise. But Halo isn’t done. New developer 343 Industries will be making Halo games from now on, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft wants to keep that money train rolling. While I don’t expect any full-on demos or even a ton of information about the next Halo title, to think that we will go the entirety of 2011 without even a teaser trailer for the first non-Bungie Halo is a bit absurd. With Microsoft’s history of doing their Halo reveals at E3, it will most likely take place there. But with the VGAs becoming a prime time for unveiling games, it could very well get a showing next December instead. Regardless, 2011 will definitely get the first look at post-Bungie Halo.

4) Kinect and its games will far outsell the Move

Even though Microsoft seems to have completely ostracized hardcore gamers with the Kinect, the company’s strong advertising campaign has brought in casual players by the boatload. Kinect devices were selling out of many stores before Christmas, which is a lot more than can be said for Sony’s PlayStation Move. The Move has not sold as well as many were expecting it to despite Sony’s attempt to cater more towards the hardcore crowd. It also didn’t help that the Move’s marketing and advertising campaign was extremely weak. The Move really needed a great head start to compete against the Kinect for better sales and winning over more casuals… and they didn’t do that. So I believe that 2011 will see the Kinect continue to outsell the Move in terms of both hardware and software, big time. Microsoft may even finally take away the Wii’s dominance of this console generation. Despite this, I do still expect the Move to sell better among hardcore gamers. Unfortunately for Sony, they’re the minority.

3) Call of Duty 2011 will sell less than Black Ops and the series will begin its decline

At launch, Black Ops sold more copies than any other game in history, made more money than any piece of entertainment to date, and kept the Call of Duty franchise running strong. So why would I predict that the franchise is about to fall? One word: Complaints. Black Ops has felt an insane amount of backlash from fans about what a poor product its multiplayer was at the start. Parties separated easily, Nuketown became an absolute camp- and spawn-kill-fest, unlockables still created an unfair playing field, and more. There were also the first naggings that Call of Duty is beginning to become stagnant. The game has not changed all that much since Modern Warfare, and fans are starting to want some innovation. The last two times this happened to a game series Activision was in charge of, they stayed the course until it was too late. So given what Activision did to the series in 2010, practically destroying its creator, I don’t think Call of Duty is going to break the trend. The 2011 Call of Duty title will once again be a step down for the series (this time being evident in sales), fans will start to get even more aggravated, and the franchise will begin to circle that slow drain into irrelevance.

2) The Supreme Court will rule in favor of the EMA

This one may not be a hard prediction to make, but it is a huge moment for the history of video games. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the Schwarzenegger side, games will be open to regulation by the government. Soon after the effect could ripple through into other forms of entertainment. But luckily for the industry and fans of entertainment everywhere, all courts before this one have completely shot down the California law. Given the lack of credibility in the law supporters’ evidence and research, combined with what appeared to be a Supreme Court that was favoring the EMA in the case’s opening arguments, I highly doubt the industry won’t come out on top. This will finally free the games industry from government control in the United States and will bring it one step closer to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with books, television, theater, and film. It will be one of the brightest days in the industry’s history.

1) Uncharted 3 wins the most Game of the Year Awards

This year is looking to be absolutely stacked with big titles. Gears of War 3, Mass Effect 3, L.A. Noire, Assassin’s Creed 2011, Call of Duty 2011, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Last Guardian, LittleBigPlanet 2, Killzone 3, and The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword are all looking to be great and gunning for the crown of 2011’s Game of the Year. But there is one game that, in the end, will be able to surpass all of those other titles. That game is Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time and took home a ridiculous number of Game of the Year Awards in 2009. Naughty Dog doesn’t appear to be taking it easy after Uncharted 2‘s success by making Uncharted 3 a mediocre upgrade. The developer will be looking to conquer sand animation, arguably the hardest element to animate in gaming. They will also be bringing another history-inspired story that will strain Nate Drake and Victor Sullivan’s relationship and be sure to pack plenty of action. Naughty Dog also vowed to vastly improve its multiplayer, which was quite successful in Uncharted 2, in order to make it one of the best in the industry. The developer did everything it said it would for Among Thieves, so it’s pretty safe to believe it will do the same with Drake’s Deception. With that in mind, I will stand firm and make my bold prediction that Uncharted 3 will amass the most Game of the Year Awards of all the best games of 2011. Drake will be the king of the videogame industry once again.


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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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