Some predictions (note that I’m forbidden to indulge in insider trading by the SEC, so nothing NC-specific with one exception):
- World of Warcraft will continue to be an unholy juggernaut of a cultural phenomenon. Burning Crusade will launch, people will burn through it in a couple of months and crusade for more content patches, which Blizzard will dribble out in a fashion quick for the rest of the industry, and not nearly fast enough for the players. At some point, they will announce breaking the 8 million user mark world wide, but won’t talk about their NA/Europe numbers. (Traditionally expansion packs help with retaining current customers but do little to attract new blood.)
- Vanguard will attract the most dramatic forum drama for 2007 as the launch community turns out to be entirely different from the beta community, and the two sides implode into violent hellfire.
- Second Life’s torrid affair with the media will end. As they attract more users they’ll run into scaling issues (this is a safe prediction because it’s happening already) and will adapt or die.
- Raph Koster’s Areae will go public with what they’re doing. I haven’t the foggiest over what it actually is; based on their employment ads it’s something very web-centric and based on Raph’s oft-stated beliefs it’s something very virtual worldy. It will attract violently passionate fans immediately despite not having anything even vaguely playable on the horizon.
- Bioware Austin will finally reveal what they’ve been working on, and everyone will go “oh, is THAT what you wouldn’t tell us?” (Note: I don’t actually know, I just know it’ll have to be anticlimactic)
- Warhammer Online will ship near the end of 2007 and the geek forum wars between “Dude, this game totally ripped off World of Warcraft” and “Dude, World of Warcraft totally ripped off Warhammer” will begin in all-too-earnest. Sanya Weathers will roll her eyes a lot (which is a neat trick when you do it online).
- The media will fall on an RMT story (either involving defrauding a lot of kids or some organized crime involvement — or both) and an American politician will get involved, to appear relevant and net-wise.
- Very, very few gamers upgrade to Windows Vista.
- Assuming all goes well, I’ll actually be able to go public a bit with what I’ve been working on. Some of you will like it. Some won’t.