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So, 2008 then. Pretty good year, no? Bit of a shame it's over of course, but don't fret too much. After all, the best thing about the outgoing of one year is that you get to do it all over again with the start of the next one.
But what can we expect from 2009? Well technically we can expect anything we want, but wild baseless guesswork will usually end in disappointment (we still haven't got over the lack of a flamenco space-tomato invasion in 1997). So instead, take a leaf through our cast-iron, guaranteed guesswork and check out the events we think we'll all be celebrating and cursing over the next 12 months.
Something will happen to Home
It will go one of two ways:
a) The positive spin...
Above: Home - should it all go well
- Home will steadlily gain loads of desirable exclusive content and Facebook-style minigames, making it worthwhile (and fun) to walk the virtual streets.
- In June a sex pest task force is instituted naming and shaming perverts. Public lynchings are organized (after a short pause for loading).
- Men will stop living out bizarre masturbatory fantasies about chatting up men by pretending to be sexy girls.
- In November a new patch will enable Toprock moves for the running man dance.
- It will all be okay.
b) The negative spin...
Above: Home - should it all go tits up
- Sony carry on half-heartedly supporting it with Resistance 2 wallpaper downloads (for a small micro-transaction) and LBP horse armour.
- Because no-one is really using it publishers don't see the value in supporting it.
- A vicious circle is entered into.
- In March a naked lady patch is relased and everyone still using Home selects it as their avatar.
- By October tumbleweed with real physics is made available in the store.
- In November, everything goes a bit UMD.
What do you reckon will happen?
The gore will be sublimely horrible
As Joe rather excellently pointed out recently, 2008 has been one hell of a year for corporeal disassembly and detonation. There are major reasons behind it all, lying within both the world of games technology and the wider world at large, and it's very unlikely that any of those catalysts for carnage will go away in 2009.
Above: Hasbro Family Game Night '09
In fact, given that games are an iterative industry built round refining and improving previous works, we fully expect that 2009's action and horror games are going to be downright savage. Tactical dismemberment was just the start. There's every chance we'll be peeling corpses, pulling apart the insides and wearing the skins before the year is out. Ideally with the Wii remote.
Casual gaming will see a considerable drop-off
Over the last two years we've seen daytime TV hosts talking up Wii Sports or Wii Fit or Brain Training - shows predominantly watched by olds and ginned-up housewives. The face of gaming has changed - now it's okay for people who previously shunned games to say it's their favourite hobby. This vast group of people have got a name - 'casual gamers'. And Nintendo have made a fortune out of the poor suckers.
Above: Casual gamers: They failed then, they’ll fail even harder in 2009
But consider this: When we're deep into a recession and counting the pennies, who will be buying games? Buying consoles? Supporting the games industry? Not granny. She's wishing she'd bought an electric fire instead of a DS. Not 'Mum A' who can't feed the kids because she splashed out on a Wii. Bit of an non-essential impulse purchase? Sucked in by a fad were we?
The fact is, if 2009 pans out to be as economically bleak as the financial doom-sayers suggest, it will only be the hardcore who continue to spend their hard-earned cash on games. Like they have every month. The casual gamer? You can forgot about them.
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