We'll get more new additions to classic retro franchises
It's going to happen. The only question is which ones. Bionic Commando, Mega Man and Street Fighter II were all reinvigorated beautifully in 2008 by way of sequels, remakes or something inbetween, and the kind of critical and commercial success those games recieved cannot be ignored. Factor in the success of new retro-style games such as Castle Crashers and Braid, and its quite clear there's a market for quality 2D now that the gamers of the '80s and '90s have grown up and have money to spend.
Above: "Squash me flat and make me happy"
Okay, we know that Capcom is partiularly good when it comes to giving hardcore fans what they want, and we know that we already have far too many crappy lazy ports on XBLA, but just imagine the potential if the big C's example inspires other top-notch devs to do this stuff properly. Three words. Nin. Ten. Do.
E3 will be more like the glory days of the early '00s
Some people celebrated the 'slimming down' of E3 in 2007. They were mostly XXXL-sized tech editors for irrelevant US regional newspapers and self-important game journalists who didn't like the fact that a man who was actually excited about games was standing in front of him in the queue. They were also wrong.
Above: This gentleman...
No booth babes. No deafening big screens. No celebrity appearances. None of that hilarious hierarchy of the show floor where EA buy up 85% of the main hall and NCSoft end up in a little cabin in the parking lot. No trying to avoid Lead Reclamation Companies and firewall software developers in the Kentia Hall. And worst of all: no one fat and inferior getting feral over free schwag to look down your nose at.
But we predict a return to all that in 2009. Why? The ESA (the body that runs E3) know that everyone who went to E3 08 spent less time doing 'business' then ever before. Mainly because there was little 'business' to be done - that and we were all too busy bitching about how shit it was. The ESA knows it has to shake things up and put on a SHOW again, not a convention. Otherwise it risks losing out to the burgeoning Kraut extravaganzas in Liepzig and, this year, Cologne.
Above: ... is way better than this
The ESA is yet to announce all their plans for 2009, but there are a few positive facts out there: more people will be invited (basically anyone who's posted on a forum about a game), non-members of the ESA will be able to exhibit (so the defectors can come again - Activison for example) and the CEO of the ESA has publically stated that E3 will be "upgraded to reflect the growth, innovation and excitement of our industry".
Just don't forget to un-ban booth babes please.
Co-op gaming will be even more prevalent
Above: Marcus and Dom just hate animal cruelty
With the return of Gears of War, it's no surprise that co-op was a major focus of 2008. CoD: WaW, Left 4 Dead, Army of Two, Fable II, Haze, LEGO Indy and Batman, Mercenaries 2, Resistance 2, LittleBigPlanet and stacks more besides all made with the primary school alligator formation and buddied up, and as stated previously, the industry's reliance on fads and trends means we're going to see a hell of a lot more of it this year. In fact, given the evolution of co-op with GoW's Horde mode and CoD's nazi zombie killing, it will probably become as important and rounded an element of shooters as multiplayer deathmatch currently is.
The iPhone will become a legitimate gaming platform
Yeah yeah, mobile gaming... Less fun than herpes and more pointless than a concrete boomerang... Well it certainly was, but ever since Apple cheated the system and tacked phone functionality onto a respectably-powered multimedia handheld, we've seen more and more actual proper games sneaking into the mobile sphere.
Above: Rumors that Apple will enter the home console market with giant iPhones are unconfirmed
Regular mobile phone games are still horrible, of course, but thanks to the App Store and companies like Gameloft, the iPhone is starting to look like a serious prospect for the gamer on the move. Given the recent ad campaign specifically pushing the iPod Touch as a handheld console, we'd say Apple agrees, so don't scoff at the thought of them making proper steps into the gaming market this year. We didn't believe Sony or Microsoft would do it either, remember?