The Future is Going to Suck

And I don’t just mean because you’re going to lose your hair and put on a few pounds – here’s why gaming is set to get a lot worse.

Sony Can’t Afford To Take Big Risks

Sony spent billions making the cell chip for the PS3 and sunk further billions into selling the console at a loss. Sony can’t afford to do that again after four years of heavy losses. The company also no longer employs anyone like Ken Kutaragi, who used his position and power to create an amazing device seemingly without taking profits into consideration. That’s why rumors suggest the PS4 will basically be a PC, and not even a very impressive one.

It’s Going To Be Hard To Be A Used Gamer

Some rumors say that the PS4/NeXtBox won’t play used games, but that’s generally seen as being rather unlikely. What is far more probable is that Sony will do what they did with the Vita – Online Passes on pretty much every game, no trophies on used discs. Expect further hurdles as well, as it’s only a matter of time before companies try and implement singleplayer passes, or used game time limits.

The Death of Singleplayer

This is something that we’ve seen more and more this gen. Other than truly massive single player experiences like The Elder Scrolls and GTA, mainstream games are becoming increasingly multiplayer focused – after all, more people buy map packs than singleplayer DLC. Multiplayer also means that people don’t trade in their game or buy a competitor’s, they just sit around throwing knives until the next COD game.

Free-to-Play Might Be The Future

For developers, F2P is awesome. They can come out with a casual game, market it as free, and then entice people to pay to make the game actually any good. Which sucks if you play games for enjoyment, and not to make Zynga one of the biggest publishers in existence. Ngmoco’s Ben Cousins believes that the future will see games with the breadth of Skyrim available for free – except that you’ll probably have to pay a lot more than $60 to make the game as enjoyable as Skyrim.

Subscriptions Are Too Lucrative

You can bet that Sony has been eying the near-billion dollars of profit that Microsoft makes from Xbox Live with considerable envy. Sure, they now have PlayStation Plus, but gamers don’t need to subscribe to play online, and PS+ has to really work for its money. Don’t be too surprised if the PS4 has a more constrained and aggressive subscription policy.

Developing Next-Gen Games Will Be Even More Expensive

In 1982, Namco spent approximately $100,000 (now around $237,000) on Pac-Man. PS1 games cost around a million dollars, PS2 5-7 million and PS3 15-30 million for the average title. Logic dictates that next-gen dev costs will be even higher – after all, better detail, more complicated AI, more realistic engines all require more developers and longer dev cycles. More expensive games means that there will be less titles, possibly higher prices, and far less risk taking (innovation).

The Apple Has Landed

Apple may or may not ever get into the console space, but it doesn’t really matter, because they are already in the games space, making ridiculous profit off of the iOS platform. Most indies now develop on iOS or Android, and an increasing number of big studios like Crytek are exploring the space. Consoles are no longer the most important sector in the industry, and innovation and change is likely to happen at a far faster pace on mobile games, with the PSN and XBL taking a back seat.

What Is Wrong With People?

Call of Duty keeps selling at astronomical rates each year, despite very little change. Hell, Black Ops II has triple the preorders of BLOPS, even though no one really knows anything about the game. Look forward to more COD, and more COD-like annual titles that change little each year.

West Is Sadly Best

20 years ago, all the best games used to be from the land of the rising sun, but now the Japanese games industry has – as a whole – failed to keep up with this gen. Sure, there are a few awesome titles, but the country has mostly been unable to understand how the market has changed. Graphics and gameplay also haven’t evolved as fast as in the West. With the next generation, this gap will likely get worse.

Facebook My Tweet And Share It With Your Circle

Publishers love to advertise their games, but they hate to pay for the advertising. So they came up with a genius idea – you market their games for them! Expect far more Facebook and Twitter ‘integration’ in future games: finished a level, shot someone in the nads or bought some DLC? Games will offer you the opportunity to share it on Facebook, something that doesn’t seem like that big a deal. But then take a look at iOS games, which are beginning to adopt a policy of locking out features unless you spam your friends. Yaay.

It’s Watching You

Sure, Sony might have pioneered the EyeToy, but Microsoft mainstreamed the motion controlled camera with Kinect. As you’d expect, Sony wants a piece of that lucrative market, and is probably creating their own 3D camera. Which leads to this: