The fog was pretty thick
Amazing to think I am writing this space-intro with my space-fingers in the space-year of 2015. And yes, I'm using the space bar between words. No wait! Don't go, I'm just setting the scene. You see, we're now in the future, whereas this article was originally written at the very beginning of 2014, taking a guess at what delights the then-new year would hold for Xbox One owners. 12 months later, we have the answers. And yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing. That's why pigeons have eyes on the sides of their heads.
Foolishly, I said last year that "You can mark my words, one by one, and I'll sit and read about my impeccable accuracy from my yacht in the Bahamas, in-between driving my Ferrari around the deck-top pool." Well, I'm still in the GamesRadar+ office (although it was plain old GamesRadar last year which just goes to show how unpredictable the world can be), so my 2014 self's words are arguably questionable. Let's see how accurate my Microsoft predictions were...
1. Next-Gen GTA 5 will be announced as a timed MS exclusive
What I said: "Xbox received a superior port of San Andreas back in the day, GTA 4s DLC was a timed-exclusive for Xbox 360 and now GTA 5, while clearly brilliant, is starting to fade from the public consciousness. Rockstar has said that GTA Online will continue to be developed, but lets face it, it's only going to survive on last-gen tech for so long. No, it needs to come to next-gen, Microsoft needs exclusives I predict XBO will get at least GTA Online announced at E3 this year, and released in time for Christmas."
Right or wrong? Wrong! Arguably, a timed exclusive is exactly what Microsoft should have secured, but as it turned out, both new-gen machines got the game at the same time.
2. Dead Rising 3 will be the first full-fat 'Games with Gold' XBO title
What I said: "Even though Dead Rising 3 carries an 18 certificate, I think it's the launch title most likely to be the first to go free on Xbox Live's Games With Gold service. It's a decent technical showcase, is published by Microsoft (so they should have the rights already), offers mindless zombie-mashing fun and is a big enough franchise name to make people think 'ooh, now that's pretty good for free'. I also suspect Assassin's Creed IV will appear on the service, maybe around the same time."
Right or wrong? Wrong. Games With Gold has improved, but this didn't happen. Crimson Dragon did come to the service... but that wasn't a full-fat, boxed release in the first place.
3. USB compatibility will not be improved. Quite the opposite...
What I said: "If you plug a Xbox 360 USB arcade stick into Xbox One, hoping to be able to play some Killer Instinct with lovely, lovely micro-switched accuracy, nothing happens. There is such thing as a CronusMAX which allows you to use pretty much any controller on any PC or console, including allowing last-gen fight sticks to be used on an Xbox One. Expect a firmware update to kill off CronusMAX and other solutions asap. USB drives are a prime entry point for hackers, and Microsoft doesn't want to open the door to anyone."
Right or wrong? Right. Kinda. Legacy USB compatibility has not been improved. But CronusMAX still seems to work. 2015 me does think 2014 me was a bit crazy when he wrote this slide, though.
4. There will not be a price cut. But there will be incentives
What I said: "I dont think Microsoft will - or even needs to - reduce the price of XBO just yet. Reports suggest the consoles are keeping relative pace with each other right now and the higher price point for Microsofts new console is arguably necessary when you consider the pack-in Kinect peripheral. Obviously theres no way Microsoft will drop Kinect as a pack-in any time soon. But I do think Microsoft will add more incentive to buy the machine over a PS4, such as free Gold membership or Netflix subscriptions. And these will be announced at E3."
Right or wrong? Wrong like drinking sellotape. Microsoft did drop Kinect and the price came down too. To below PS4, incredibly. Good job I don't write about games stuff for a living, eh? Oh.
5. Microsoft will not announce a handheld Xbox
What I said: "The handheld gaming market is all sewn up thanks to Nintendo and smartphones. If smartphone gaming isn't dedicated enough for you, 3DS should be. Theres absolutely no niche left from Microsofts point of view in which to force another handheld device. It wouldnt sell. And Microsoft's already investing in Surface and Windows Phone, which will do everything just fine in terms of second screen functionality. Even though a Windows/Xbox/Phone hybrid has been on the cards for years, I am certain it will not be revealed this year."
Right or wrong? Right! Handhelds are poison unless your company name starts with 'Nintend' and ends in 'o'. So unless Microsoft changes its name to Nintendromino, it's probably not worth exploring this sector.
6. The PC version of Skyrim will come to XBO, complete with mods
What I said: "A new Fallout will be great, sure, but I still love the Elder Scrolls universe enough to want to play it again in glorious next-gen shinyvision. However, Microsofts Windows-based OS for Xbox One means there is a slim but definite chance that modding could play a part in any conversion. I think XBO Skyrim will be announced at E3 2014 and some sort of modding pack will be available with it. Thats my prediction. And I've got a fully-charged Fus Ro Dah waiting for anyone who says otherwise."
Right or wrong? Wrong. More like 'Fus Ra D'oh'. Even though every game ever made seems to be getting some kind of new-gen remake, Skyrim did not. FOR SHAME.
7. Internet Explorer will become free to all users
What I said: "It doesnt make any sense to have one of the worlds most popular browsers included in the OS of Xbox One and then have its use restricted to only those who have a Gold Xbox Live membership. Everyone has IE on their home PC already, so its not like anyone needs to pay for the privilege of experiencing it. I predict the restriction will be lifted within the next six months."
Right or wrong? Right! Xbox Live Gold is still a very useful service to subscribe to, but the free tier now gives you access to a load of stuff it didn't before, including IE. I am so amsrt. And yes, I genuinely did typo 'smart' just then.
8. There will be at least one major firmware update to fix the UI
What I said: "Major Nelson has already said that Microsoft is listening to what gamers want to see, so expect rollouts throughout the year. The small updates will tweak minor things, but I suspect we'll see a 'New Xbox Experience'-sized dashboard rejig before the year is out--but it probably won't come with much fanfare from Microsoft. Not unless it adds anything significantly more useful than just fixing the original version."
Right or wrong? Wrong! We've seen several updates, but no 'New Xbox Experience'-style redesigns. No, I don't know why not.
9. Forza Horizon 2 will be released this year
What I said: "All signs point to this being a certainty. Developer CVs have hinted at undisclosed next-gen Forza titles, car manufacture leaks of a new licensed Forza game were hastily covered up and suggestions of a new Project Gotham Racing have been met with we dont need three racing franchises. Why? Because (apparently) Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon count as two separate, active Xbox franchises, according to Phil Spencer. Go figure. So I predict well be playing Forza Horizon II by the end of November. Itll have seamless online integration, more Drivatar shenanigans and a game world rivalling Ubisofts The Crew in scale. Get excited."
Right or wrong? Right! Totally on the money. I didn't foresee Sumo Digital making a 360 version, but that's besides the point. I didn't claim to. Chalk one up for the yessirs.
10. Gears of War 4 will not be shown this year
What I said: "Even though Xbox One needs new games and the big-hitters must surely be on their way I dont think the Gears series is anywhere ready for another installment. Now that Cliff Bleszinski is no longer at the helm, the series needs a rethink, and recent interviews suggest it could go grittier. And bigger in terms of scale."
Right or wrong? Right! The game is happening now that Microsoft owns the rights to the series, but it's still early in development. Exciting to know it's coming, but it's an unknown quantity at the moment.
5/10 ain't bad, right?
OK, so I was pretty far off in some instances. But I did manage to get half of them right. So by that logic, I should be able to bet all of my possessions on two separate horses and still come out on top. A plan with no visible flaws.
Want more? Check out 10 bold predictions for PS4, PS Vita and PS3 in 2014, which will be updated with an accuracy rating very soon, and Old predictions of the future of gaming.