Here's my 2017 time capsule to the future.
It's October 2017 and Nintendo is riding high right now. The Nintendo Switch released earlier this year and remained sold out for several months. Sales have remained high ever since and it's expected the rapidly catch up with Xbox One in terms of install base in the medium term. Its long term prospects are still unclear, but what is clear is that Nintendo has bounced back from the poor showing the Wii U had.
The 3DS is still trucking along but is looking quite aged now and it feels like this year or the next could be the last in terms of it getting major new releases. This year it will receive its final mainline Pokemon - no more after that, it's been confirmed. Earlier in the year it received quite a lot of exclusives but most of them underperformed in the west, like Ever Oasis, Mario Sports Superstars, Fire Emblem, and Hey! Pikmin. As with the Vita, Japan is doing the heavy lifting. Will Nintendo ever make another dedicated handheld again? Or is the Switch well enough positioned to capture that demographic?
Sony's PS4 continues to sell crazy well (slightly ahead of the Switch on a weekly basis) and this year received a number of notable exclusives/timed exclusives/console exclusives - you name it, they had it. Horizon: Zero Dawn, Crash Trilogy, Nier Automata, Uncharted: Lost Legacy (I wonder how many Uncharted games will release in the years to come), and Nioh were the big ones. Even Sony's sales monster of a console still has the odd bomb here and there though - spare a thought for Gravity Rush 2 and WipEout Omega Collection, which sold much worse than they should have. Elsewhere Knack 2 was memed into existence. The memes didn't result in critical or commercial success, so thankfully we should be spared a third game. Has Sony announced a PS5 yet?
The Vita is, and has been for like two years now, essentially a walking corpse of a platform. At least, that is, in terms of hardware and retail software sales outside of Japan. Even Japan seems to be starting to move on, now that Switch is out, with publishers and developers clearly shifting development focus onto Nintendo's new hybrid. I would ask if Sony has announced another handheld but that looks so unlikely at this moment in time as to be a ridiculous question.
Microsoft is the quietest of the three right now. Whod've thought Xbox fans would be looking back wistfully on the years when MS would basically release yet another Halo, Forza, Fable, and Gears every year or two? Now they're lucky to get more than one of them in a year, and Fable is completely dormant. It feels like Microsoft is faltering and stagnating when it comes to AAA development, is scaling back its support for exclusives, and is once again far too reliant on third party titles. At least those third parties continue to deliver for it in terms of sales, as does the digital marketplace, with console exclusive Cuphead most notably launching to near universal praise just a few weeks ago. In terms of sales the Xbox One isn't doing too bad, but as the months pass it falls further and further behind the PS4, even relative to how it was doing just a year or two ago, and the software split for third party titles is swinging more and more in favour of the PS4. I'm curious to know what's going on with Xbox several years from now.
On a personal level I'm also curious to know if I still play pretty much nothing but Dota 2. Have I moved on to another game? Have I started playing consoles again? Right now I doubt it.
In the PC market Valve's Steam continues to dominate, and everyone continues to hate Uplay and Origin. Some recent trends have surprised a bit - Japanese devs and publishers have found out about Steam's existence and far more of their titles are being released on the platform. Western publishers, too, are now more consistent in their support for PC thanks to Steam's continued success. Day and date releases alongside the console launches are now pretty much the norm.
Virtual reality hasn't taken off in the way many advocates hoped and predicted, but nor is it viewed as a total dead end. VR is getting lots of releases, but no killer apps. The consensus seems to be that it just needs time - for the tech to catch up with the imagined possibilities; for the 'next generation' of VR to release. Does that actually happen? Has VR truly taken off in the future?
Super Mario Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 are probably the two upcoming titles generating the most hype right now. In terms of new releases, PUBG has been something of a sales and mindshare monster on PC in recent months, breaking all sorts of Steam records. Cuphead just released and was as good as those who had been hyping it for years had hoped. That hasn't been the case for Gran Turismo Sport or The Evil Within 2, both of which represented a departure from their predecessors that angered many fans for various reasons.
Top 3 current controversies:
- Lootboxes are public enemy number 1 right now
- Gran Turismo Sport's online-only single player is pissing off even the dedicated GT fan base
- NeoGAF's owneris currently embroiled in a sex assault row, causing many to boycott the site
Current sales successes:
- Crash trilogy (>2 million in 2 months)
- PUBG (17 million and counting since it launched in March)
- Any game Nintendo personally releases on Switch (Zelda, MK8 Deluxe, and Splatoon 2 are the big ones right now)
- Cuphead (1 million in 2 weeks)
- Horizon: Zero Dawn (~3 million in 3 months)
As for VGC, TalonMan recently returned and is once again working on developing the website, alongside Trucks. Brett's still awol but with TalonMan back on the case I'm hoping that Brett's lack of engagement with the site won't hold us up much any more. Will I finally get the adjustment tool I've been waiting for ever since I took over the SW sales? If you're reading this in the distant future you'll know the answer to that - I'm just sitting here with my fingers crossed.