Leaving the recession behind
The global economic recession made life difficult for the games industry in 2009. But the UK’s leading execs are optimistic we can leave these economic woes behind and enjoy a prosperous 2010.
“We hope that coming out of an often rocky and uncertain 2009, we as an industry can go into 2010 with the worst of the world’s economic woes behind us and with a firmer and clearer vision of how to grow our industry in the year ahead,” says Nintendo’s UK general manager David Yarnton.
Activision’s UK managing director Andrew Brown agrees: “I’m looking forward to the end of the current economic recession and the return of the full range of consumers back into games.”
And it’s also the top wish for Rising Star’s managing director Martin Defries: “I’m looking forward to an economic recovery, please God! And being offered Corporate Hospitality at the World Cup 2010. Anyone?”
The launch of Project Natal
The 360’s controller-less device is due before the end of the year. What we can expect in terms of software is unknown, but Microsoft’s creative director Peter Molyneux cryptically tells us: “I’m most looking forward to the end of 2010 as it represents the biggest year ever for both myself and the industry. If we get to the end of the year pulling off half of what’s on the cards it will be a landmark year for games.”
The digital download chart
Right about now, ChartTrack will have stated to add digital sales to its PC charts, something that excites Direct2Drive’s marketing director Rich Keen. “Hopefully between publishers, digital distributors, ELSPA and ChartTrack we can agree on and move forward with an official chart that will end the speculation around the decline of the UK PC software market,” he says.
Consoles changing how we watch, play and listen
Gamers can now use their consoles for far more than just playing games, and European vice president for Xbox Chris Lewis expects that to continue this year.
“2010 might be the year of the ‘big bang’ for consoles – when the world gets to grip with how our industry will fundamentally change the way we experience and share entertainment,” he states.
Improved broadband connectivity
Downloading games is commonplace today – something which should grow even further with improved broadband penetration in the UK.
Last year’s Digital Britain report stated that everyone in the UK should have access to 2Mbps broadband by 2012. So we can expect some big improvements this year, which is one of things industry veteran Phil Harrison is optimistic about.
“Whomever is leading the Government after the summer, I hope they recognise the culturally significant art-form that is video games and the economic benefit created by the UK games industry along with the transformational educational benefits of a properly broadband-enabled country,” says Harrison.
PEGI becoming law
“I look forward to the next step of child protection with the introduction of PEGI as the single UK classification system,” says EA’s UK VP Keith Ramsdale (above).
ERA director general Kim Bayley (left) adds: “I look forward to the new regulations on games ratings passing into law so we can put this divisive issue behind us and get on with serving the customer responsibly.”
And ELSPA’s director general Michael Rawlinson continues: “It’s been two and a half years of hard work since Tanya Byron was first commissioned in September 2007 to write her report, so I hope we can get the Digital Economy Bill passed by parliament before Gordon goes to the country in a General Election.”
The return of BioShock
The follow-up to 2K’s 2007 smash hit is one of this year’s big prospects. “I’m looking forward to scaring myself senseless with BioShock 2 and Silent Hill,” says The Hut’s product marketing manager Sarah Jasper. “I’m a big horror fan.”
MCV Awards 2010
This year’s awards will be bigger and better than ever, with new categories Supermarket of the Year, Peripherals & Accessories Brand of the Year and Best Game Creative.
Sony gets motion sensitive
It doesn’t even have a name yet – let alone any software attached to it. But Sony’s new PS3 motion controller arrives next year to go head-to-head with Nintendo’s Wii. SCEE president Andrew House says: “I’m looking forward to the PS3 motion controller. There’ll be brand new game experiences and great new ways to enjoy traditional genres.”
Best Buy is coming
They were due in 2009 before economic conditions forced them to slow their plans down. Now, we can expect Best Buy stores to start appearing throughout the UK from the spring – with a full games team already in place.
Mass Effect 2 and new Medal of Honor
EA has some impressive looking games due in 2010, such as Dead Space 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and APB. And that’s not to mention Mass Effect 2 and the new modern day Medal of Honor.
“With Mass Effect 2, Bioware is delivering a living, breathing, evocative world that any action or sci-fi fan will want to lose themselves in,” says EA UK marketing director Stuart Lang.
“I’d also nominate the rebirth of Medal of Honor and the beginnings of another heavyweight IP war for consumers and the industry to become embroiled in.”
E3 at full throttle
E3 was back to its headline-grabbing best in 2009, and expectations are high for this year’s event on June 15th.
“After years of wilderness for the UK trade, at last we are back to having a show that is supported by the British trade if not actually in Britain,” comments Koch MD Craig McNicol.
Sainsbury’s games manager Gurdeep Hunjan adds: “E3 was fantastic this year. So I’m already looking forward to the next one.”
And DSGi’s games category manager Peter Willis agrees: “Last year showcased all that was great about games. I’m looking forward to a continued return to form for E3 this year.”
The arrival of the DSi XL
The fourth iteration of the UK’s biggest selling games console will hit shelves this quarter complete with a bigger screen so the whole family can gather around.
The world’s biggest trade show moved to Cologne last year and was a big success, with 245,000 attendees from some 31 countries. On top of that, Sony revealed its new PS3 Slim and Microsoft announced Fable III. Expect more big things from this year’s event when it kicks off on Wednesday, August 18th.
You can’t knock a good zombie game, and in 2010 we’ve got Dead Rising 2, Resident Evil PSP and Crackdown 2.
Tax credits for games?
UK games developers are amongst the best in the world, churning out classics such as LittleBigPlanet and Batman: Arkham Asylum. However, publishers are increasingly looking to Canada for their development needs, as the country offers tax relief to studios.
Is it time for the UK Government to offer similar support? Eidos life president Ian Livingstone thinks so: “I am looking forward to the election and a pledge from whoever forms the next Government to support the games industry by way of implementing tax credits, addressing the skills problem in Universities, installing a high speed fibre optic network nationwide and stepping up the war on piracy.”
The World Cup kicks off
We can expect at least one World Cup tie-in to emerge, and many of us will be ditching E3 to visit South Africa this summer.
“My knowledge of football is limited, and my silky skills on the pitch have not been seen for many a year,” says D3P boss Adam Roberts.
“But I do enjoy England’s quadrennial visits to the World Cup quarter finals.”
Play.com games buyer Keith Sharpe adds: “The World Cup and E3 being on at the same time? It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The not-so Final Fantasy
It’s a big year for the RPG series. Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII arrives on March 9th, and could well be the biggest game in the series since VII. And we may even see Final Fantasy XIV before the year’s up.
Prison Break: The Conspiracy
The popular US TV drama may have finished, but Koch is set to bring it back to our screens with a new video game tie-in. Much of the TV show’s cast have supplied voices to the game.
Two new Metal Gear Solid games
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for Sony’s PSP will launch in May. It follows the events of Metal Gear Solid 3 and is directed by Hideo Kojima himself. Meanwhile, Konami is also working on Xbox 360, PC and PS3 title Metal Gear Solid: Rising. It was announced at E3 last year, although it is uncertain if it will arrive before the end of 2010.
Fable III cometh
2008’s Fable II was excellent and was a huge hit at retail, so expectations for its sequel – which is set to utilise Microsoft’s Project Natal – is understandably high. It’s currently scheduled for a Christmas release.
The general election
It is far from decided who will be leading the UK Government after the General Election this summer – with both Labour and the Conservatives pledging support to the video games industry.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity to win the election, so we can have a Government that takes the games industry seriously and champions it,” hopes shadow minister for culture Ed Vaizey.
Better trade conditions
Aggressive price cutting is forcing indies to buy stock from supermarkets over wholesale. Is it time to change how we distribute games?
“I look forward to the return of open and competitive trade distribution that provides similar competition to what we see at retail,” says Game Guide editor Chris Ratcliff.
“We cannot continue having so many titles routinely sold at retail cheaper than they can be bought through the trade. It is not sustainable.”
Star Wars strikes back
“As we get closer to Natal and Sony’s motion controller, I look forward to seeing what publishers develop with this new tech,” says LucasArts president Darrell Rodriguez.
“At LucasArts, we’re hard at work on The Force Unleashed 2. I can’t wait to unveil all the great work the team is doing. We also have some unannounced products in the works and are building upon our beloved heritage titles. You’ll definitely hear more from us in the next few months. It’s an exciting time to be here at LucasArts.”
A core-gaming focus
Forget casual gaming. There’s a plethora of hardcore games coming this year, including titles from Nintendo such as Sin and Punishment 2, Golden Sun 2 and Metroid: Other M.
Future’s publishing director James Binns says: “I am looking forward to bigger, better epic games that target tightly-focussed, core gamer audiences. Games that Future readers love.”