Where will the video-games industry be in five years? (Predictions time!)

KITATUS
KITATUS
Mar 26, 2017 · 12 min read

Coming off the entertainment that was looking back at the Nintendo NX predictions, coupled with my personal moonlighting hobby of being an industry analyst, I thought it would be a fun experiment to try and predict where the industry is in the next five years.

This is only a for a little bit of fun, but I would enjoy hearing if you agree with my predictions or even what your own predictions are in regards to the state of the industry or any key events that you believe will occur over the next five years.

Feel free to play along, either by joining in or by joining me in five years time to see if any of the predictions made have come to life! Now that is out of the way, let’s jump in with a prediction I feel fairly confident about:

Nintendo Switch VR

The signs are all there, open-ended comments by Nintendo, a patent for using external power to give a gaming device extra juice and the fact that the Switch supports “Handheld only mode” titles but not “TV only mode” applications. I am a firm believer that the Nintendo Switch will feature some form of VR / AR.

Don’t misconceive my prediction, this isn’t about VR being a success or a failure, this is simply the fact that there will be an official method to play certain titles in VR on the Nintendo Switch. I believe Nintendo are waiting on more concrete statistics and the right developers to bring this idea to reality, but I do indeed see this venture taking place within the next five years.

Could this be a a hint of Virtual Reality? Image taken from NeoGaf

They’ll give you a housing to stick your Switch screen to your face, which connects (possibly wireless my, but I doubt it) to an external unit that plugs into the Switch dock to give the Switch extra juice to meet the high-performance expectations of virtual reality.

Whether or not this external power is used for non-VR titles is inconvenient, a whole prediction in itself.

A mock-up by Antoine Beynel of what Nintendo Switch VR could look like. Credit: Antoine Beynel

So you’ll have the Nintendo Switch-to-your-face housing, which connects to the external power but how about the controls? I reckon you’ll be using the Joycons for positional/rotational VR interfacing. Think the HTC Vive controllers or the Oculus Touch minus the need for cameras. If the early Nintendo Switch games are anything to go by, the Joycons have no issue emulating the Wiimote experience (with MotionPlus) so I believe acting as VR controllers are just one of the many use cases they were designed for.

Another Nintendo patent that strongly suggests a VR headset casing akin to Google Cardboard / the Snake Eyes for PSP. Credit: Nintendo / US Patent Office.

Nintendo will take a backseat in terms of VR titles, they’ll produce a small number of experiences, maybe 1–3, not counting the tech demos. Their main focus will be third party VR games.

The VR add-on pack will be cheaper than Vive / Oculus and maybe around the same price if not slightly cheaper than the PSVR, which in turn means developing for it will be significantly cheaper too (especially if the £400 dev kit rumours are true).

A mock-up of what Nintendo VR could look like. Credit: Antonie Beynel

Whether or not I’m a fan of VR is inconsequential, I am almost certain we’ll be seeing Nintendo Switch VR before the five years are up, at least in an announced state.

Metal Gear Remasters

If you know me personally or have read into some of my rambling, you’ll know Metal Gear Solid is a series I hold near and dear to my heart. I have said a few times that Metal Gear Solid, and by association Hideo Kojima, is one of the reasons I decided I wanted to follow a career of being a video-game developer.

It is well known that Hideo Kojima is longer working on the Metal Gear series, thanks to a shake-up at Konami — which I doubt we’ll ever hear the details of.

Since Kojima’s departure — Konami have been very quiet about the future of the series. Apart from the pachinko machine, which was actually in development before Kojima left/was fired from Konami, if the hints from Benjamin Kinney (Konami’s social media manager) are to be believed.

A hint that Metal Gear Solid Pachinko was in development prior to Kojima leaving Konami? You be the judge. Source: Reddit / MetalGearInformer

Aside from the pachinko project, Metal Gear Survive and the film that feels like it has been stuck in limbo for quite some time, there has not been a lot of movement (at least on the public facing level) for the series. Where does it go from here?

My guess is that we’ll get a number of things from Konami in regards to the series within the next five years. Obviously, I have no crystal ball; if they’re working on new entries in the series, due to the relatively closed nature of the internals of Konami, it would be hard to gain information on such projects.

Were the HD cutscenes / assets made specifically for the Pachinko machine, or are they remnants of a cancelled Fox-Engine remake of Metal Gear Solid 3? Better yet, were they made for dual purpose — Pachinko AND a remake? Only time will tell. Image Credit: Youtube / GameRant

Instead, I will be focusing on the Metal Gear Solid back-catalog; where I can see statistics on audience demand and relative comments in response from Konami about these demands being met.

What I guess we will see:

  • Metal Gear Solid HD Collection re-release — Updated for PS4 / Xbox One (Could we dream PC?) — This collection is the same collection that was released for PS3 / Xbox 360 — Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 and Peace Walker.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes — Re-released on Nintendo Switch as part of the rumoured GameCube titles on the Virtual Console (more on this in a while).
  • Metal Gear Solid 3 Remake — Metal Gear Solid 3, remade in the Fox Engine for PS4 / Xbox One / PC using assets from Metal Gear Solid Pachinko.

Just because I’ve made these predictions, that doesn’t mean it is fact. None of them could turn out to be true, all of them could or some of them — we have no way of telling just yet. But seeing as the 30th anniversary of the series is right around the corner, I remain hopeful.

An image taken from Metal Gear Pachinko. Credit: Youtube / GamesRadar

There are some points that pose a plausible arguement for these predictions, however.

Some of this was reported in the Metal Gear Informer article I listed earlier, which contained snippets of comments from Benjamin Kinney during his AMA on Reddit.

When asked about HD collections and the future of the series in general, he had this to say:

“Answering some more questions on a HD collection for PS4 (e), adding co-op to MGSV (f) and the future in general (g):

e) First party like MS and Sony are doing a lot of work to make games easier to port. So you never know there. Sometimes, like Castlevania SotN the approvals and turn around was very quick because we had direct support from microsoft. This applies to all retro titles and is something that many publishers are looking at. It is also one of the reasons you see Microsoft moving forward with there “super compatible” business model they announced at E3.

f) Co-Op game play is often requested and many of us enjoyed Peacewalker, so that feature has been noted and reported as a suggestion for future content.

g) Hah, well next year is 30th anniversary, my crystal ball is broken, but I will go shake the 8 ball and get back to you

Edit: 8 Ball said future unclear, check back in a few months. Huh.”

Whether or not plans change, if he was trolling or just keeping the peace — we won’t know. All I can say is his comments can be perceived in various ways. To me, it sounds like we will indeed see a Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (re-HD’d) in the near future.

“But what about the Metal Gear solid 3 remakes? Why make such a baseless prediction!” I hear you preparing in an anger filled email to me. Well, there are a few pieces that validate this prediction, which can be taken as varying degrees of believability.

A rendering of Ocelot from Metal Gear Pachinko. Image credit: Konami / Metal Gear Informer.

Exibit A is the arguement that they have been put an enormous amount of work, love and attention into Metal Gear Pachinko, just to be released in Japan. I understand the Pachinko market in Japan is worth a lot of money, reported in 2014 to be around the £115 billion mark, however I would argue that they would be focusing on maximum profitablity.

If the assets are already created, the development time and cost of bringing them in tandem with the gameplay systems of Metal Gear Solid V (both projects <Pachinko and MGSV> were created in the Fox Engine) would be significantly cheaper than developing a game from scratch.

This, obviously, comes down a business decision that we can only speculate if they would do or not. From a business perspective, it makes sense. Demand — Cheaper to produce than regular projects — maximum profits is the simplification of the a tasty business desision for many companies.

It’s weak in terms of building credibility to speculation but it is still a usable reasoning.

Promotional artwork showing off “The End” in Fox Engine (Metal Gear Solid Pachinko) Source: Youtube / Konami.

Exibit B comes from… you guessed it — the interview between Reddit users and Bejamin Kinney. When questioned about Metal Gear Pachinko, there was another hint.

Hello! In the interest of our continued efforts to be more involved with you all, there are a few things you should know/understand about this:

Hey, seriously, the graphics look great. And we (social/PR) report actively your expressed interest in remakes and updates.

Another comment that can be percieved in multiple ways. To me, it sounds like he’s letting people know that they’ve heard for the calls of using the assets for a remake. This is the strongest arguement (apart from common sense in the business front) that we might see a remake of Metal Gear Solid 3 within the next 5 years. Only time will tell!

So what about the Twin Snakes on Nintendo Switch? There is actually some evidence to support this. Again, two exibits to pose to you.

A custom paintjob of the Nintendo Switch Joycons made to look like the Nintendo Gamecube. Credit: bossfightprops.com

Exibit #A is the rumour that Nintendo Switch is getting Gamecube titles added to it via Nintendo’s “Virtual Console” initiative, Eurogamer reported.

Eurogamer has gone on record to say three seperate sources confirmed them that three GameCube titles have already been tested and are working on the Nintendo Switch, with the plan to include a number of Nintendo GameCube games playable for Nintendo Switch via the Virtual Console service.

Eurogamer seemed pretty confident in these sources and their information, however I should remind you that the information could always end up being proven incorrect or things can happen that end up with the Virtual Console Gamecube initiative being ditched. I do, on the contrary, believe in the sources and article — so I remain hopeful.

This leads us to Exibit B and to Twitter.

Twin Snakes is seen as many as superior to the original Metal Gear Solid. Exclusive to the Nintendo Gamecube, the only way to legitimately play it now is to fork out the expensive prices that it goes for from video-game resellers. Image credit: Nintendo

For pre-reference, Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes was not created by Konami internally but was instead crafted by Silicon Knights, a now defunt video-game developer who created such titles as Eternal Dakness, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Too Human.

Denis Dyack was the president of Silicon Knights when it was in business 1992–2014.

Recently, with the GameCube virtual console rumours floating about, a fan of Metal Gear Solid reached out to Denis via Twitter to ask if we would ever see Twin Snakes on Nintendo Switch.

Denis replies with a simple three letter answer “Yes”.

Does this mean we’re going to get Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes on Nintendo Switch? Source: Twitter

This could mean a number of things: Yes it’s possible, yes it’s happening, yes we’re testing the waters — who knows. All I know is that it is concrete proof that something is going on and I hope that something is the ability to play Twin Snakes on the Nintendo Switch.

PS4 Retaliation

I had written a piece of how I believe there is another Playstation 4 in development. However, I had to delete it all. As of writing this prediction, there has been rumours that started to circle about a new Playstation 4 in development.

According to DigiTimes, sony is planning to release a thinner version of the PlayStation 4. This seems to be an offhand comment. If this means a new thinner Playstation 4 Pro or a Playstation 4 base version — who knows. It was a simple offhanded statement sandwiched in between talk of Nintendo and Microsoft’s hardware plans for the coming future.

I believed they were working on a new console before this rumour begun, so this rumour only adds fuel to the fire that was in my mind in regards to Sony’s next move.

It’s no revelation to anyone that the Xbox Scorpio is on the way and if the hardware rumours and Microsoft’s comments are anything to by, it will give the Playstation Pro a run for its money performance wise. This could knock Playstation “off the throne” as the best selling console of this current generation.

I feel they will be working on either making the current Playstation products cheaper or making a more powerful console to go head-to-head with the Scorpio.

But… there’s not enough evidence to substanciate this claim. It’s again, just business common sense. Verdict: Eh, might happen.

I definately think we’ll either a new, more powerful console or a new console that makes the current PS4 hardware even cheaper to gain the extra user base.

— -

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my predictions? Do they have merit or am I going to be wrong? Now is the time to reach and let me know. Also, please feel free to let me you YOUR predictions or event you think will happen in the next five years, I’d really enjoy to hear your thoughts!

Apart from that, that’s all from me — thanks for being awesome and peace out — see you in five years!

Sources:

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