Monday, April 27, 2009

Previous predictions assesed and a bold new prediction.

Edit: This post is less than 2 hours old and I am already questioning my own sanity. To make such a bold prediction about a game I have never played and about which I have only very limited second hand information is surely foolhardy. Nevertheless the deed is done. My gut told me it was so and I wrote it down. I promise to eat humble pie in about a year or so if my prediction turns out to have been laughably incorrect.

One of the nice things about having a blog is that you can use it as your own personal soapbox to pontificate on "What is Going to Happen according to me". Of course making a prediction and it coming true are two very different things so I thought I would review some of my own pearls of predictive wisdom to try and assess a personal hit rate.

In reverse chronological order:

24 April 2009: Serious Games to Make a Comeback because Casual games lack longevity. Too soon to tell but I seem to be a lone voice on this one.

11 November 2008 Predicting the Gastronomic Singularity. The tone of this piece was slightly tongue in cheek but it did purport to use scientific methods to predict a imminent food related event of life changing proportions. I can now reveal that shortly after that prediction we took on a new aupair who thought herself a good cook but who's curiously Germanic interpretation of cuisine was indeed life changing (but not in a good sense). I am going to count this as a hit.

25 June 2008 MMO's are history: A recurrent theme of a several posts in which I posited that the dominance of WOW coupled with the failure of other games to attract new entrants to MMOing signalled the end of the MMO growth phase. It is almost a year later and not a day seems to pass without the announcement of some new MMO or other so I am going to have to count this one as a miss. However in a follow on post I did expand somewhat and suggest that in order to really succeed a new MMO would have to be radically different from existing business models and I guessed that the next big mmo success might be console based, might be casual/browser based and that it should make less demands on its customers. Sony On-line Entertainment's soon to be released "Free Realms" ticks all of those boxes. It is getting some very positive hype from beta testers. Could it become the real WOW killer? This miss could yet turn into a hit.

23 May 2007: Club Penguin to be next Big Thing I think I can safely count this as a hit. Kiddie friendly Club Penguin has been tagged as the second highest earning western MMO.

26 April 2007: PC Gaming To Make a Comeback For a brief moment it looked like the confusion over the next gen console wars had created a window of opportunity for PC games to regain shelf space on the high street. Sadly it was a fairly short lived revival. Once the new Nintendo / Microsoft / Sony pecking order was established retailers once again pushed PC games off the shelves to make way for console favourites. However the continuing success of PC based online multiplayer games, the enormous popularity of casual browser based games and the success stories of digital distribution have ensured that PC gaming remains very much alive if not the dominant force it used to be. PC games may never again rule the high street stores but maybe they don't have to. I am going to count this one as a draw.

Adding up the scores I am gong to award myself an overall score of 2.5/4 for an average hit rate of 62%. No infallible I grant you but accurate enough to give the purveyors of casual games some grounds for trepidiation based on my current prediction of their demise. PopCap take note!

You may wonder at the methods I use to arrive at these predictions: Rigorous analysis? Charting? Inside Information? Reading of tea leaves? In fact I use none of these methods. My predictions come from the heart unsullied by any brush with scientific method. They rely on a combination of gut instinct and wishful thinking.

Finally I think is is appropriate to round this piece off with a new prediction. I am hereby sticking my neck out and predicting that Free Realms will become bigger than World of Warcraft. This prediction is based on almost no evidence. I am not in the beta and I have only read a couple of blog posts and a Wikipedia article about the game. However the game meets my criteria for a WOW killer. It also has the sales and marketing clout of Sony behind it and significantly I think the fact that Sony has lost so much ground on the hardware side with the lacklustre performance of PS3 means that they absolutely need this game to succeed. Sony needs this game to be huge.

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