Editorial: Preserving The Status Quo
By all reports, 2012 should be a pretty action-packed year. We expect to hear about the next-gen systems – including the full unveiling of Nintendo's Wii U, and titles like Mass Effect 3 and BioShock: Infinite will make their mark. As much as 2012 will host a number of new experiences, in some ways I expect the past to be prologue, because sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. Here's a list of some of the things I expect to see carry on in 2012.
Publishers re-releasing old favorites is perhaps a win-win situation for everyone. For the cost of cleaning up their old titles, publishers get to make money in a way that they previously couldn't, and fans get to re-experience (or play for the first time) titles that are either hard to find or which might be due for a critical re-evaluation. Plus, fans also might be tempted to buy these games simply to avoid pulling out an old console or having to possibly deal with backwards compatibility issues.
Plus, I'd be surprised if there wasn't a connection between the games that are re-released and that publisher's larger plans for the franchise. HD collections are a great way to prime the public for what may be ahead for that series. I'd love to see companies utilize their back catalogs as a first step in reinventing those franchises.
Despite whatever misguided faith Sony might have had in its network, and its hubris in dealing with hackers, the cat is totally out of the bag at this point. It doesn't matter what company you are, someone's going to want to hack you for their own gain or just for kicks. Companies always have a hard time keeping up with hackers, and there's nothing to suggest that any of this will change in the near future, so keep changing your account passwords!
Profile Split-Personalities, Pre-Orders & More
Whether it's EA's new Origin download service, Call of Duty: Elite, or Ubisoft's Uplay program, companies aren't going to stop corralling you into their own gated communities (and harvesting your personal information). I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing, but at a time when more and more people want a unified online persona, things are only getting divided up even more.
A lot of these services and programs offer some great content and perks, but we shouldn't expect some of the hardships of this new cloud world to suddenly be solved. Call of Duty: Elite won't be fully operational until December 1st, BioWare pissed off some fans with its Origin-exclusive status for some versions of Star Wars: The Old Republic (shown) and other games – as well as concerns about its EULA, and DICE gave Battlefield 3 players the old bait-and-switch by removing Battlefield 1943 from PS3 owners. Surely this is just a preview of the growing pains that digital distribution is going through.
On a slightly different tack, in general the digital delivery of content is something that's great for gamers. Pre-order items and modes usually generate some excitement for those games, and even if you don't go out of your way to get your game at a particular retailer with cool pre-orders, you're probably getting a sneak-peek at that title's DLC. Speaking of which, I like the options companies like Rockstar and Microsoft are offering with the choice between paying a la carte for DLC or via a Season Pass.
It's always fashionable to talk about price drops, and with the expected announcements of the next Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2012, it's also assumed we'll hear about price drops for the current systems.
Again on the subject of the next-generation of systems, I'd assume new IP will continue to be in short supply, and looking at some of the game's listed for 2012, that looks to be the case. Titles like Azura's Wrath and Kingdoms of Amalur are overshadowed by sequels. I'm not saying this is good or bad, but it's not surprising given that developers are probably hoping to wrap up franchise storylines for this generation before the next systems hit. Likewise, I expect the ultimate slowdown of console exclusives to continue until these new platforms hit.