New Hardware Platforms (3D/Internet-Connected TVs, Smartphones, App-Enabled Home Theater Components, etc.) Extend Gaming’s Appeal
“Get ready to see massive developments shortly on the hardware front courtesy of Project Natal; Sony’s new motion-sensing wand; more inventive titles in the active games category; and a bevy of newly game-friendly devices such as Internet-connected HDTVs with app capability, tablet PCs, and Android smartphones,” says Steinberg. However, in his mind, these initial efforts won’t wow for their groundbreaking play so much as serve as early proof of concepts for the eventual viability of these platforms. Translation: “Don’t expect to see these gizmos offering killer apps the likes of Mass Effect 2 or God of War III just yet – rather, they’ll simply serve as conversation pieces to rally excitement for what will ultimately be possible in a few short years on these platforms.”
Old Franchises Get Dusted Off, Resurrected, Possibly Buried Again
Desperate to cut costs, boost brand recognition and regain some semblance of predictable financial results, Steinberg expects many old gaming franchises to return and/or receive a reboot in 2010. From Namco Bandai’s upcoming Splatterhouse 3D revamp to custom-designed Facebook updates of Sid Meier’s Civilization and virtual arcades chock full of Atari coin-op favorites in Xbox Live Game Room, he suggests, release schedules will soon be stocked with familiar names. “Everything old is truly new again,” he muses, finding irony in upcoming releases such as Blood Bowl (Steinberg actually worked as a beta tester on the 1995 MicroLeague version), Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Aliens vs. Predator and Tron: Evolution. While many seem ill-advised, e.g. Electronic Arts’ upcoming modern-day repositioning of Medal of Honor, he admits that “there’s no substitute for name recognition.” Still, he says, “We’ll likely see the best efforts here in the downloadable space, as digitally distributed titles for set-top consoles like the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360, and remakes for PC and iPhone offer value-minded packages that stay truest to their subject matter, pleasing old and new fans alike.”
Video Games Go Mainstream
We’ve heard pundits jabber on for years about game sales eclipsing Hollywood returns and how the Wii is bringing electronic entertainment to cruise ships and nursing homes. But 2010 is “the year mainstream media really begins to take gaming more seriously, affording more titles the same respect as comparable works of film or literature,” says Steinberg. Citing efforts like BioShock 2 and God of War III, which stand to potentially raise the bar for virtual storytelling and digital cinematography, plus an upsurge in serious games, which repurpose real-world scenarios as engaging interactive experiences that teach and inform, he remains optimistic for the medium’s future. “Thus far, we’ve seen relatively few titles that really scratch the surface of games’ capacity to captivate, educate and spark audiences’ imagination.” However, the situation should be remedied soon, he anticipates – even if more traditional outings (i.e. furious shootouts, sci-fi/fantasy sagas and candy-colored platform hoppers) won’t be disappearing anytime soon either.