Musings from the Crystal Ball 2017 Pro Edition – NerdBacon’s Predictions for 2017
The final pages of 2016 have finally been written, and we are now knee-deep into 2017.
Much ado has been made on social media outlets in regards to 2016 being a year of utter turmoil and horror. Endless cries and plea’s for the year to finally end, however, as much as 2016 made headlines for shocking celebrity deaths and ceaseless political strife, it really wasn’t all that bad.
I mean, how can anyone who has not experienced personal tragedy complain about a year in which the Chicago Cubs became World Series Champions?
2016 was especially pretty good for us gamers.
We saw a number of games we thought we’d never see, like: Final Fantasy XV, Street Fighter V, King of Fighters XIV, The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, No Man’s Sky, and Doom all come out in the same year.
Blizzard continued their Midas touch with the brilliant Overwatch.
The planet’s love of “catching ‘em all” was rekindled in Pokemon Go, which quickly dominated headlines during the summer and became a brief cultural phenomenon.
We also saw fantastical announcements for games like: God of War, Death Stranding, Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy, Red Dead Redemption 2, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and friggin’ Last of Us: Part II.
In short – 2016 was an amazing year for games!
But, time marches on, 2016 is old news, and we are now firmly into 2017.
So that means it’s time to peer into the fabled Watchman’s crystal ball to figure out what sort of insanity we will witness in the year ahead.
Before we begin though, let’s look back at my article of prophetic scribblings from last year to see how accurate I was.
Although I missed the mark on some things, such as us seeing an announcement for Half Life 3, a new Conker game being announced for Xbox One, and Capcom announcing a new Onimusha, (not to mention the vexing defeat in my assertions that the Nintendo Switch would be out in 2016) I did get the bulls-eye on quite a lot..
I accurately predicted we’d see Red Dead Redemption 2 announced, Final Fantasy XV hitting at the end of the year and being good, the next Mario game being revealed with the Nintendo Switch, (and that it would be more like Super Mario 64) and amazingly; that Naughty Dog would announce a sequel to the Last of Us.
All-in-all, I’d say that I did pretty darn well with my predictions last year. (No one, and I mean NO ONE else predicted that Last of Us: Part II announcement)
So let’s all sit back, relax, and take a gander at the tantalizing things that I say we’re going to see in 2017.
Please keep in mind that I don’t have any sort of inside track on any of these predictions. I don’t have sources leaking info to me, nor do I have the ability to remotely view the inner sanctuaries of various game companies through astral-projection techniques.
All I have are news sources, historical reference, and my own special feelings deep within my guts that somehow travel up to my brains, and eventually make their way out through my mouth, or in this case, my fingers onto a keyboard.
As I write this, we are less than two full weeks away from Nintendo fully disrobing and letting us see the Switch in all of its glory.
While every Nintendo system has had rampant speculation exploding in the rumor mills prior to their releases, the extra secretive nature of Nintendo’s forthcoming home/portable hybrid created a feavered, orgiastic frenzy over the tiniest morsel of info.
With Nintendo’s big coming out party scheduled for January 12th, here’s what I think you’re going to see:
Price: Nintendo learned from the mistakes of the Wii U, which was anchored to that expensive game pad, which made it difficult to adjust the price of the machine for a changing market.
The Nintendo Switch’s singular nature, and the deals they have for chip production from their partner, Nvidia, will allow Nintendo to sell the Switch for no more than $249.
The new Super Mario adventure will be the focal-point of the Nintendo Switch launch. As I’ve said last year, the new game is going to ditch that terrible isometric nonsense with which they experimented in Super Mario 3D World, and this game will feel much more like a spiritual successor to Super Mario 64.
Nintendo mogul, Emily Rogers has confirmed we will see enhanced versions of Splatoon, Super Smash Bros, and Mario Kart 8, and I believe these will be out very close to the March launch of the machine.
There has been a debate as to whether or not The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild still needs more time to congeal before launch. The assumption after its move last year to 2017 was that it would launch the Wii U version would launch right alongside the Switch version when the machine debuts in March, however, reports later surfaced from folks like Rogers, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, and another high-profile leaker, Laura Kate Dale, which frantically tried to correct everyone, and asserted that there was no official time-frame for Zelda’s launch.
Then, on 1/2/2017, both Rogers and Dale popped up again to contradict those earlier reports, and assured everyone that Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will indeed be a Switch launch game.
Finally, a Eurogamer report came out claiming that Zelda might hit the U.S. and Japan at Switch’s launch, but localization issues would force it to be delayed for Europe.
It’s so confusing.
Reports have also indicated that the new Mario game for the Switch is finished and ready for launch.
So if you’re Nintendo, what do you do? Do you go with both Mario and Zelda at launch, which doesn’t give both title
proper space to breathe, or do you launch with one and hold the other? If so, which one? Mario kind of markets himself, so you don’t have to do much to explain to the public what you’re going to get in the new game, however, the public is acclimated to Zelda on Switch, and that’s been the expectation for a while. However, if you decide to launch with Zelda and hold Mario, that means Europe is missing out on Zelda at launch, and that’s unacceptable.
So bottom line: If the reports are accurate that Nintendo Europe needs time to localize Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then my prediction is that Nintendo will hold the game so that they can launch the Switch with a unified flagship brand. So see ya in the fall Breath of the Wild..
Getting back to the launch of the Switch for a moment:
Expect Nintendo to pull their normal supply shenanigans to inflate the already high demand for the machine through the fall, however, once they do open the flood gates, I expect that the Nintendo Switch will do extremely well.
My prediction on sales is that Switch outsells the lifetime sales of the Wii U within its first year on the shelves. More surprisingly, however, is that the Switch will see a stronger level of support in its home base of Japan which will allow the Switch to overtake Microsoft’s Xbox One within a few years time.
Yup – 13 million units year one – eventually outsells Xbox One. (not including Scorpio)
Sony is going to have a fantastic year, backed by one of the best lineup’s in their history!
The lack of exclusive titles that plagued the PlayStation 4 during the first couple of years of its life will all be a thing of the past as we finally start seeing the fruits of first and second party labor.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is going to be one of the best titles that will ever come out on PlayStation 4.
God of War is coming this year.
Knack 2, Gran Turismo Sport and Spiderman, are on the horizon, as well as plenty more games that escape me at the moment.
The problem is: Sony has been so adept at giving us everything we ever wanted, I’m not sure what’s left for them to wow us with anymore.
The Last of Us: Part II teaser was supposed to be the E3 2017 bombshell, but we got that revealed early.
So this year, I’m expecting Sony will have to lay off the huge, bombshell announcements to which we have become accustomed as part of their last big E3 press events. It’s still going to be a solid show and I do expect at least a couple of fun surprises are in store; however, it’s may not be earth-shattering stuff here.
I know that’s not really much of a prediction. Just think of it this way – Sony’s theme this year is promises fulfilled.
Getting back to VR for a moment – unless something impressive appears on the horizon soon, PlayStation VR will be all but forgotten by the summer.
There is one big piece of Sony-related news that I say is going to drop in 2017….
That big prediction being: by the middle of the year, we will start getting our first solid rumors on the PlayStation 5.
We won’t get much, but we will find out that it is absolutely real, and that it’s on track for a 2018/2019 release.
Microsoft is going to be the true wild card in 2017, because we have no idea what to expect.
My guts tell me Halo 6 and Forza 7 are safe bets for this year, but does anyone really care about Halo anymore?
Trust me, I feel like sort of a jerk for saying that, however, in this wold of Call of Duty’s, Battlefield’s, and now Overwatch’s (and soon, Destiny 2 later this year) do we really have room left in our gun-toting hearts for more Halo?
Other than Halo and Forza, what else does Microsoft have in their repertoire that is truly a reliable title? They could try and bank on nailing a big name exclusive like they did with Rise of the Tomb Raider a couple years ago, but that turned into a debacle for Square Enix.
Looking at Microsoft’s Xbox One release schedule doesn’t provide many clues, as it’s pretty darn quiet right now compared to Sony’s stacked schedule.
Perhaps that silence is a clue in and of itself.
My thinking on why all appears quiet on the Xbox One front right now is because developers are shifting their attention to the Scorpio.
Let’s talk about the Scorpio for a bit, shall we?
Microsoft keeps touting this as the true high-end console experience. “The most powerful console ever developed.”
This added oomph to your gaming experience is going to come with a price.
I fully expect Scorpio to launch for about $500 – $600 dollars when it releases later this year.
While it will be backwards compatible with all the Xbox One titles that are out and in development right now, that lovely harmony won’t last long.
This is due to the fact that Scorpio is going to be much more than the enhanced experience that was the PlayStation 4 Pro and the disparity between the Xbox One and the Scorpio is going to be much wider than the one between PS4 and PS4 Pro.
In fact, it will become readily apparent this year that Scorpio is pretty much the Xbox One 2, or whatever you want to call it.
They came off a really great 2016 that saw a successful episodic release of their latest in the Hitman franchise, and capped it all off with the launch of Final Fantasy XV.
This year, the company will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise. It’s a truly remarkable
milestone in gaming and we’re going to be up to our eyes in Final Fantasy goodness by the time the year is out.
We already know about the HD remaster of Final Fantasy XII that will be arriving early in the year, but the big kahuna will of course be Final Fantasy VII: Remake, which shocked the world with it’s E3 2015 announcement.
Square will be releasing this as an episodic game, and we will definitely see the first episode launch by the end of the year – which just so happens to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII’s release.
I want to say that Dragon Quest XI, which is looking quite lovely, will make it to U.S. shores by the end of the year, however, I think Square Enix might just hold that back so FF VII: Remake can have the spotlight.
What we definitely won’t see, yet again, is Kingdom Hearts III. Sorry, but that’s a 2018 game.
However, that’s not the big prediction that I’m making for KH III – That’s because my old guts are telling me that Kingdom Hearts III will lead on Nintendo Switch.
Yup. That’s crazy talk – there haven’t been any rumors to that at all, yet my guts are telling me that it’s going to happen, and that the deal has been in the works ever since Square Enix decided to scrap KH III’s custom engine in favor of the Unreal engine.
Square Enix has also shown a willingness in their recent history, to allow a major franchise become a timed console
exclusive, as they did with Rise of the Tomb Raider having been pledged to Microsoft for one year.
Nintendo is also going to be more aggressive in courting third-party developers for the Nintendo Switch, which leads me to have this gut-feeling that this is part of the reason mum’s been the word for a while on Kingdom Hearts III for quite a while.
So put that in your pipe and smoke it: Kingdom Hearts III – Leading on Nintendo Switch.
Minds will be blown!
And now it’s time for the lightning round!!!!
Half Life 3.
I still say this has to happen at some point, but I’m not going to be crazy like I was last year and claim you’ll see an announcement this year. If I kept doing that, I’d be a broken Half Life 3 clock.
The fact of the matter is that if VR is going to survive and thrive, then it needs a killer app. I can’t think of any stronger killer app than Half Life 3.
This year we will hear of a very strong whisper in the wind that will all but confirm the game is in development, and that it will be the most compelling case for VR ever.
Otherwise, without a killer app on the horizon, VR will be dead by the end of the year.
First off – damn you for releasing those terrible iOS ports of Mega Man!
All indications are that the ports of Mega Man’s 1-6 are complete dog meat and should be avoided at all costs.
It’s such a terrible way to treat Mega Man’s legacy, especially considering this year is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the franchise.
However, all is not lost, and Capcom will try and make it up to us this year.
That’s because Capcom will be announcing a brand-new revival of Mega Man this year at E3!
They also will be bringing back Dante in a new Devil May Cry, and even though I missed this prediction last year, I’m still convinced there’s a new Onimusha coming.
Hi there Namco! The build of Tekken 7 that I played at EVO 2016 was really fun and I can’t wait to finally get that sucker home!
But what’s this!? You have more in store for us in 2017!?
You say that we are going to once again, enter the stage of history, in a tale of souls and swords, eternally retold?
That’s right friends! Namco is going to announce a new Soul Calibur game this year!
It’s going to try and return to the roots of what made the series so special: taking its pages from Soul Calibur/Soul Calibur 2.
If you haven’t played SNK’s King of Fighters XIV, then you’re missing out on the best fighting game that came out in 2016. Yes – I don’t care what the Video Game Awards Show said: KOF XIV was better than Street Fighter V – and I love the Street Fighter series.
SNK has their old fire back. Word is that teams at SNK are competing with each other in a friendly way, to get their ideas into production.
My money for 2017 is on an announcement to the long-lost sequel to Garou! That’s right, Mark of the Wolves 2 is coming baby! Minds will be lost among those in the fighting game community.
SNK is also going to bring out a new Samurai Showdown too, but I think Mark of the Wolves 2 will come first.
It’s going to be a rough year for Ubisoft.
The Assassin’s Creed movie bombed, and that will cost the developer its independence, as Vivendi finally gains majority shares in the company.
That’s a pretty big bummer, I know. So let’s talk about something pleasant!
Development on the new Assassin’s Creed game has been humming along after a much needed year off for the series.
We will finally see the new title leaked prior to E3 – my guess is in April – with the full reveal coming at the big show.
The rumors about the game going back to ancient Egypt will all prove true, and I predict that the new game will be a fantastic return to form for the series – and that there will be a lot of lessons learned from Watch Dogs 2. Namely, the new Assassin’s Creed will let up a bit on the seriousness of the plot, and will learn to have fun with itself. It won’t be a comedy by any stretch of the imagination, but you’ll be able to tell that the developers had a bit more room to breathe.
And there you have it folks. A look into what I think we are going to see in the wild world of gaming in 2017.
As always, let me know what predictions you have for 2017, or what you think of my predictions in the comments section below.
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