The most hopeful, the least important!
(Please note these are all just guesses, I don't have any inside info on any of these. I pretty much stayed away from gossip last year because it would have required some sort of socializing and who even does that any more.)
- Larian comes out with a new DLC for Baldur's Gate 3 because of course they do you fools! It's not a Throne of Bhall-esque "everybody's gods now, have fun" rules-shattering high level D&D escapade, but an island with More Stuff. Everyone is joyfully happy to have More Stuff. I continue to be completely unable to play the game without romancing Karlach. I'm told you can have relationships with other characters, but why?
- Bethesda comes out with a new DLC for Starfield, but more importantly releases the SDK for mod makers, which opens up the possibility of having more content than Bethesda's, uh, er, how do I say this, extremely flat writing.
- Expect a lot of AI-driven crap. And I mean horrible, awful crap. Far too many publishers and industry executives think game writers are completely disposable (just ask any currently out of work game writer) and AI can easily just crap out narrative design. And sure, it can. You know what results when you crap something out? Crap. No one wants to read AI-generated crap; Amazon currently has thousands of e-books written by AI published daily that are only purchased by accident. If the objective is to create MMO-quantity quest text that people angrily click through as quickly as possible without reading? Mission accomplished!
- In the somewhat shrinking MMO sphere, Final Fantasy XIV continues to dominate, though Dawntrail looks to be something of a let-down if only in comparison to the incredible epic nature of the past two expansions. World of Warcraft works on regaining its lost trust, while Elder Scrolls Online keeps on keeping on.
- In games that aren't MMOs, the title I'm looking forward to the most is probably Star Wars: Outlaws, because I love Star Wars and I love big fat open worlds and it just looks like a whole lot of fun.
- Western companies trying to break into the Chinese market will continue to be frustrated by an opaque regulatory scheme that sometimes explodes into an outright war on gaming itself. Chinese companies are somewhat immune from this for secret reasons.
- Thanks to widespread industry layoffs due mostly to corporate shenanigans, a situation which if anything looks likely to worsen in the coming year, considerably fewer new releases enter the pipeline. Since game companies still have a lot of work queued up from the pandemic, this won't really be noticed until 2025 or 2026 when people ask themselves "hey, where are all the good game releases?" and then shrug and queue up DOTA 2 again. On a personal note, Your Humble Scribe is OK personally... for now... maybe... (which is what literally anyone currently employed in the gaming industry would say) and also extremely fearful about trying to compete in a viciously cutthroat new jobs market while pushing 60. I guess Wal Mart is always hiring people to stand out front!
Oh, I said this was supposed to be hopeful. Whoopsie-doodle.