GamesRadar's predictions for gaming in 2009

More publishers and devs will focus on higher quality DLC to extend the life of their games

Anyone else hear about that pesky recession thing? It seems the games industry certainly has, with Microsoft and Sony already cutting jobs and major companies like Midway on the verge of bankruptcy. Unless developers are in the rarefied position of being backed by publishers with bottomless, recession-proof pockets, most simply won’t be allowed to take risks when making new games. In fact, making any new game - even if it is in an established franchise - in the current economic climate is risky, as many folk simply can’t justify spending their money on luxury purchases like games.

Above: During these tighter financial times, steaming bowls of DLC are the only way to survive the lean winter months

This could well lead to developers trying to prolong the life of existing titles. Not only is it cheaper for them to release new map packs or weapons for their existing software than make a sequel, but DLC is also much cheaper for the consumer. Extending the life of games you’re currently playing is good for your wallet and developer’s budgets, and that’s why we should expect lots of add-ons or GTA IV-style expansion packs this year. And, with the developers focusing more of their time and other resources on DLC, we can expect the quality of the content to be grander and more ambitious – Halo ODST, for example.

More notable studios will close

Above: Oh Monkey Chief, we barely knew thee

Devs were prophecising it at the beginning of this generation, and it finally seems to be coming true. The spiraling costs of HD development, huge staff requirements and an increasingly crowded marketplace dominated by super-publishers and first-party funded blockbusters are all putting a major financial squeeze on game studios, and with a recession on the way we can only see things getting worse. We've already lost Ensemble and Free Radical recently, and additions to that sad list now look to be a case of when rather than if.

Sony will give PSP a shot in the arm

At the last count Sony had shifted some 41 million PSPs worldwide. That may only be half of what the DS has sold but it's still a very respectable number. The problem for Sony, though, is that it's just not seeing any significant return in terms of game sales. After recently announcing some pretty drastic cost-cutting, Sony absolutely needs PSP to start making good on its massive money earning potential. So, we're anticipating plenty of PSP bang-drumming from Sony in 2009.

Above: LittleBigPlanet on a little big screen? We would say almost certainly 'yes'

And with all the lovehugs gamers - and not just PS3 owners - have given Sackboy, a portable jump for LittleBigPlanet and its stitched together star is surely the gift horse that Sony needs to straddle if it wants to get gamers - and a broader audience - excited about PSP as a gaming platform again. It's been rumoured for a while, so it's a pretty safe bet, but we fully expect to see an LBP PSP title to materialise in some form over the next 12 months.

Jade Raymond will return

Above: Jade Raymond. She's probably working on Assassin's Creed 2

Not so much a prediction as a longing wish, this one. 2008 was distressingly free of Raymond and the industry was a lot less lovely because of it. We don't care what game she's working on, we just want her to start promoting it in 2009. We miss her smile. And all the photos we've got of her are well over a year old now, so we're in desperate need of some new ones. If we close our eyes and rub the inside of our lucky pocket vigorously enough, we're pretty sure our dream will come true and Jade will come back to us.

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