Hi everyone –
It’s that time of year again where I speculate on what the big technology announcements and impacts are going to be for next year 2012. The lens I use for this are those things that will in some way have a profound short or long term impact, or implications, for the various gaming ecosystems.
I also want to preface this by saying that I intentionally try to close myself off from various discussions that would implicate me from divulging anyone’s roadmaps. In instances where I do have some inside foreknowledge of what’s going on I have to remain mute on those topics. In those instances where I’m dangerously close it would be by sheer coincidence and is tied to my own predictive models.
Before we get started though, I’d like to recap some of my 2011 predictions; of which a few came true. I was only 4 for 10; and am kicking myself for not posting so you’ll have to take my word for it. Some of the things I didn’t accurately predict I’ll actually ‘carry-over’ into 2012. What I did predict accurately for 2011 was:
1) Microsoft would sign some major deals with additional content providers & pipelines. (In this case Comcast, Verizon, and a host of other TV networks)
2) Microsoft would pitch Xbox 360 as an Entertainment System (Expect even more of this)
3) Knew that GameStop had to buy some digital distribution partner. (Impulse)
4) Free to Play would start hitting the Western Hemisphere’s shores like a sledge hammer. (Too many games to list)
So what’s in store for 2012? Let’s get started. Some of these may seem painfully obvious, but there are often some things taking place between the lines that may not be so apparent. (Note: These are stack ranked in ‘my-view’ of importance)
1) Voice and Artificial Intelligence (AI) (Bucket I’ll use for things like Apple’s Siri, Personal voice assistant)
There are big implications here and I expect this to be a huge battlefield for the likes of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Will be very fun to watch! Will obviously be used by Games in the future. I’m hoping this sparks a new renaissance in voice recognition software coupled with artificial intelligence. Doesn’t everyone want a protocol droid? Oh wait… that’s just a few more years off… before becoming more affordable. This does however; segue into a stronger #2 below:
2) Cloud Services: Sure, this may sound painfully obvious but I truly believe we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg here. The biggest implications come back to more and more content that can be digitally delivered or consumed. So expect things like the DECE Ultraviolet initiative. Things like Ultraviolet could very easily be extended to also include the various gaming devices. The big players here will continue to be: Apple with iCloud, Valve with Steam, Sony with PSN, Xbox with LIVE, and so forth. However; expect Amazon to come on very strong. I also predict we’ll see a few more *Uber* consortium pacts formed as well. Where does it settle? I’m not sure it does. However; the first partner that delivers something on the order of ‘Jarvis’ from Iron Man, my own ‘personal cloud’, will be who I crown the winner.
3) iPad and Slate/Tablet mania begins to wear off: By the end of 2012 we’ll likely see Microsoft spend more on Windows 8 and “Project Denver” marketing than what’s left in the Federal Reserve. However; what I find more fascinating is that the form-factor is already evolving beyond a simple ‘slate’ like form factor. (e.g. Asus Transformer) We also have Amazon playing in this space with the Kindle. How many more 100’s of knock-offs will we see in the meantime? Don’t get me wrong I think they’re nifty and cool little devices. Perfect for easy to do tasks and some PC usages. However; it’s a device that I’m likely to buy in addition to a PC; and not as a replacement for. Given that the #1 peripheral bought for these are the keyboard – why not just get a thin and light laptop? (e.g. Ultrabook, Macbook Air?) IF I were a Console Mfg… this is the form-factor I’d adopt for a next gen console. Why? Tough to crack the case open.
4) Smart’er TVs and All in One’s converge: I was hoping to see more of this in 2011 and it didn’t happen. However; I’m still hoping for at least (1) of the big HD TV Mfg’s, like Samsung, or LG, to offer a compelling All in One in the 42” range or greater. I’m hoping for moderate upgradeability, WHDI/WiDi; and an integrated Kinect/Primesense-like sensor in the bevel or stand. I’ll keep that on my wish-list for Holiday 2012 if the Mayan calendar proves to be incorrect.
5) China lifts it’s Console ban? Perhaps… however; as a PC Gamer I’m hoping not. For their culture’s sake I hope not. Otherwise they can suffer along with our W.Hemisphere’s culture of fostering more PC illiteracy. Yes… I feel it’s extremely important for our kids to understand the inner workings of any form factor a Personal Computer has evolved into.
6) CES News (Project Denver on multiple Form Factors/TVs?): I think the biggest news splash for the 2012 CES will likely be around Windows 8 and Xbox LIVE services, new partners, form factor announcements. My best guess here, and I could be wrong, would be around the Project Denver stuff from Nvidia running Windows 8. The conspiracy side of me expects a bait & switch; so expect to see Win 8 Metro running on a host of devices and screens. In other words, not just Slate like devices, but mobile SmartPhones, HandHeld Devices, PC Form Factors, and last but not least - TVs. This would all dovetail well into Microsoft’s long term vision of attaining the 3-Screen, now Multi-Screen initiative.
7) E3 News (New Console Splash): I’m hoping to see an announcement for at least (1) of the Next, 8th Generation of Consoles. Good luck! My bets are on Sony. If they’re smart about it they’ll go with a cross device, cross platform play. If for any reason it helps the Game Publishers/Developers get to a better ‘buy once, plays anywhere’ scheme.
8) Google goes big in 2012: I expect Google to do bigger things in 2012. Especially along the lines of some things I’ve previously mentioned. 1) Imagine a Google-voice(Siri) offering couple with Google Search? 2) What Google Android did on SmartPhones will likely be attempted to be duplicated on the Slate/Tablet form-factor. Sure.. they’re there now, but I expect it to be much finer tuned for 2012. It has to be fine-tuned given Microsoft’s push, with Metro, on that form factor. Google and a bigger push towards gaming. Not sure if that will entail an acquisition or not. We’ll have to wait & see.
9) Large name Game Engine Company gets acquired by a bigger fish: Well… I keep expecting to see this happen and it doesn’t. However; I’m keeping it on my list.
10) Globalization and Economic Climate continues to remain flat: Believe me when I say I hope I’m wayyyyy off on this one and dead wrong. There is however always the random act of nature, or conflagration in the Middle East, that we can almost bank on. So domestically speaking, continue to pay off those credit cards, keep your debt to income ratio down, expect taxes to go up. The implications here, if I have to spell them out, for technology are: 1) Continued ASP erosions, 2) Lower disposable income rates, 3) Discerning and savvier buyers. This all translates into smart business leaders will want to ensure they can offer more compelling content at low rates; and may require or warrant another look at new business models. Proprietary devices with lower Total Available Markets (TAMs) will be very unattractive places to be.
So there you have it, my predictions for 2012. I hope you enjoyed this. I have other predictions for 2012. Some others that frankly I can’t post. I’d love to hear if you have anything to add to my above predictions.
Hope you all have a great Holiday!
Hi everyone –