QTEs will continue to smother actual proper gaming
Sure, they've been around a while and there are occasions when a QTE is the best way to interact with a scenario, but right now quick-time events are beginning to get on our tits.
As devs feel the continued pressure to make their games more accessible, these wheelchair-ramp devices are used more and more to accommodate players who would otherwise have to face up to the fact that they're crap at games. We're already encountering the proddy-button method more than we think is necessary, but we can only see it becoming a bigger and even more frequent feature in 2009.
Above: The shape of controllers to come if QTEs aren't stopped
The recent Prince of Persia took things to the extreme, with way too much of the action feeling like an extended exercise in mechanical button poking. Call it nostalgia if you like, but we used to take some perverse pleasure in overcoming a challenge that required a significant degree of skill. Recently it seems that as long as you're not cursed with the motor neurone reflexes of a binge-drinking tortoise, besting demons from another universe is as easy as depressing a digit when the game tells you to do so. And that's boring.
GTA will shake up the DS for the better
The DS is this generation's PS2. Hugely successful, stacked with great games, and installed in the homes of people who don't even have homes, its market dominance and lower production costs have also sadly led to staleness in its line-up, turning it into an easy-money dumping ground for lazy publishers.
Above: Let's see Patrick Stewart advertising this one
We can see all that changing this year. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is coming, very probably bringing with it a full-scale GTA adventure with the top-down mechanics of the originals and the monkey-punching lunacy the series has become known for. There's nothing else like that on the platform right now, and as long as it makes money - which it will - it might well kick off a movement towards many more full-sized AAA games appearing on the handheld. Super Mario 64 showed us that this stuff is possible way back at the system's launch, but a couple of notables aside, third-parties haven't really followed that example.
C'mon Rockstar. Show them how it's done.
The Wii will be good, but no-one will care
MadWorld, Sin and Punishment 2, Wii Sports Resort, The Conduit, Fatal Frame 4, Tenchu 4, Dead Rising, House of the Dead, Punchout!!, Mushroom Men, Deadly Creatures, Muramasa... How the hell did the Wii suddenly get one of the most promising exclusive line-ups of the year? It's exactly the kind of library it needed last year, but therein, we fear, lies the problem.
Above: He just wants to be loved
Don't get us wrong; providing these titles turn out as well as we hope, we're going to champion them until our fingertips bleed and the world suffers a global hyperbole shortage. We just worry that it's all coming a little too late. If the Wii had established itself with this kind of hardcore goodness a year ago, all would be fine, but with the 360 and PS3 already providing most of what we want in glorious high def, how many core gamers are even going to remember that this stuff exists?
And if we don't give it a second glance, the casual market who own the majority of Wiis certainly won't. As for those waggled up Gamecube ports, forget it. We can practically guarantee that they'll be the only core games Nintendo will bother to promote all year, but any core player who wants those games will have bought them last generation already. And given the choice of Pikmin or Wii Sports 2, if the casuals do buy any new games, which one are they realistically going to go for?
Steam will own the PC market
Sorry Microsoft, you can forget Games For Windows Live. Valve has got it all sewn up. Steam has of course been doing standardised videogame connectivity, community and digital distribution nigh-flawlessly for years now, but last year saw the balance of power really begin to shift as high profile third-parties such as Capcom jumped on board to publish their PC titles through the platform.
Above: "I am your god now"
With Ubisoft and EA just signed up, it now seems inevitable that Steam is going to be the way forward for PC gaming and software distribution. The ease of use, lower overheads and reliable DRM completely free of SecuROM means that everyone wins.