Wednesday 5 January 2011

The best way to predict the future is to invent it

It’s that time of year, so let’s have a little look back at the predictions for 2010 to see how accurate they were.

1) Star Trek Online will be released on February 2nd (February 5th in the EU). That’s not very far away from the end of 2009 when these predictions are definitely being written, so that date might already be known. I can’t really remember that far back. I mean, I don’t have access to that information just at the moment. It will be reasonably well received, with a metacritic score around 66, and the Extra Super Deluxe Limited Special Platinum Edition will be in particularly high demand due to its inclusion of a life-size anatomically correct action figure of a foxy blue-skinned alien who asks “Can you show me this earth-thing you humans call ‘kiss-ing’, Captain?”

Off to a reasonable start there, the metacritic score prediction is surprisingly spot-on, though the Special Edition was scaled down a bit so it just included an in-game version of the old Enterprise or something. Enough for one point, I reckon.

2) About halfway through the year Blizzard will demand players use their real name on forum posts in order to tap into the power of true names through Old Magic (though the official explanation will be something about accountability). Massed protests will force them to backtrack, including every World of Warcraft player in Minnesota officially changing their name to “Damn You, Blizzard, Damn You To Heck”.

I don’t think anybody else predicted the RealID furore, that’s got to be worth a point, even if Minnesotans weren’t quite so militant.

3) On August 5th, a cave-in will trap a number of miners somewhere in South America. They will all be successfully brought to the surface 69 days later, and massive international interest in the rescue operation will result in great success for an indie game currently in alpha called Mincraft, which news organisations will use to simulate tunnelling operations in great detail (though question marks will be raised over whether an exploding zombie really caused the initial cave-in).

Has to be another point there for the uncanny date and duration, though you might have missed the Minecraft tie-in unless you were paying really close attention to Extremely Low Budget News on one of the obscure satellite TV channels.

4) Payment model of the year will be “Free to Play”. Established titles EverQuest II, Champions Online and Pirates of the Burning Sea will all go free-to-play in the second half of the year, and Turbine will build on the success of Dungeons and Dragons Online by removing the subscription requirement of Lord of the Rings Online in September in North America, though they’ll only remember that Codemasters exist and run the game in Europe around November.

Not the most outlandish of predictions there with the groundwork in place towards the end of 2009, but still worth a point I think.

5) NetDevil’s Lego Universe will be released towards the end of the year, but nobody will notice as they’re all in Minecraft.

Sorry, NetDevil. I’d be tempted to have a look at Lego Universe if there was no subscription, though. Another point makes it five from five so far, let’s see if the last prediction can keep up the 100% record…

6) APB: All Points Bulletin will finally launch at the end of June or beginning of July, and the extended development time will really pay off for Realtime Worlds. Early access for media representatives will result in a tidal wave of overwhelmingly positive reviews a couple of weeks before launch (certainly no ludicrous post-release embargo or anything) and an unprecedented metacritic score of 136 as magazines invent new scores like “seventeen out of ten” and “125%”. Every human on the planet will buy at least two copies as the game massively outsells the entire Call of Duty series and Rockstar’s whole catalogue combined on day one.

Hmm. Call it half a point for being close?

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