As you can see from the above mockup from Let’s Go Digital (updated based on a leaked dev kit photo), the next generation of consoles is just over the horizon. The PS5, Microsoft’s Project Scarlet, Google Stadia, and whatever Nintendo has planned will be out before you know it.
With new generations come sweeping changes in the gaming landscape. So I figured I’d take some time (as a person who pays too much attention) to make a few preditions. Here’s what I think might happen during the next console cycle.
Capcom is Gonna Capcom
Capcom has had a great year in 2019. It has been such a great year that folks are acting like Capcom is experiencing some kind of renaissance. But if there’s one thing the gaming community loves, it’s revising history.
Capcom has always been a house of great development talent, but it has an ongoing history of milking itself to death. Every time something good happens, its leadership runs it into the ground until it isn’t good anymore. Capcom has undergone some significant changes recently, but I won’t be surprised if we see another “wtf Capcom” wave over the next gen.
The Rise of Koei Tecmo
Over the course of the last two generations, Bandai Namco went from the goofy anime game developer that only occasionally localized games to the big ol’ Dark Souls publisher that pretty much does whatever it wants now. I believe something similar is happening over at Koei Tecmo. While Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden used to be big deals, that stuff has since fallen to the wayside. Koei Tecmo has stayed afloat with Dynasty Warriors and niche JRPGs.
But lately Koei Tecmo has been doing a lot of mercenary work, which has led to notable projects with Nintendo and Square Enix. Warriors games are getting more popular as a result, and Nioh was a huge hit that might be a solid franchise.
More China Drama
There has been a lot of drama about China in the western games industry lately. Geopolitics, especially economics, have really put a giant spotlight on China/US relations. That conflict has leaked into video games pretty significantly. From companies owning large share percentages of game developers to things like the whole Blizzard travesty , it’s only gonna get more weird as time goes on.Hopefully everything works out and we don’t collectively turn to “yellow peril” because of video games.
The Service Bubble Bursts
Frankly, I think the games as a service bubble already has burst. As the next gen of gaming progresses, I think we’re going to have a World of Warcraft situation with games like Destiny 2 . A few of the heavy hitters will stick around, perhaps indefinitely, while most devs and publishers move on to new things. Too many service games are failing before starting, and too many jobs and businesses are lost. Just look at games like Anthem and LawBreakers . The risk/reward balance eventually won’t be worth it once the dust settles.
EA and Konami go to Rehab
Over the course of the current generation, both EA and Konami tanked their reputations with gamers in a dramatic fashion. While these two are far from the only awful corporations contributing to the horrible world we live in, EA and Konami made such blaring, public-facing mistakes that they’ve taken the brunt of the backlash. But, for different reasons for each one, I think both will be able to build their reps back up to at least respectable levels through the course of next gen. Konami is headed back towards gaming after Japan started relegating gambling more, and EA is probably sick of getting owned by European politicians. Both of these things could have great consequences for games.
Nintendo Upgrades the Switch
We recently saw the Nintendo Switch Lite come out, and most people love it. It’s just a 2DS-like form factor change for the base Switch, embracing both younger audiences and people who don’t ever dock the thing to their TVs. But by the time the fancy powerhouse platforms come out, Nintendo will probably want to take things a bit further. I imagine a more powerful Switch or some kind of major upgrade will happen, although not for another couple years at least. I’d assume it’ll still play normal Switch games too, since splitting the audience too harshly when Nintendo has completely given up on competing in horsepower would be a bad idea.
Smaller Games Get Bigger
AAA gaming is in a lot of trouble with the way it is being run right now. While there are exceptions, there is far too much instability in big blockbuster games. Meanwhile, indie games are growing, and stuff like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice proved not every game needs to compete with Call of Duty . I bet AAA starts to dissolve, with some big exceptions, and companies end up moving away from spending more money than they can recuperate on games without predatory microtransactions. And those games will still look nice and play well; they just won’t be as bloated.
A More Level Playing Field
This generation, Sony got a running start with the PS4 and never let up, dominating all the competition. It was never much of a contest, even though the other platforms did well. Sony just did that much better. But for a number of reasons, I think things will level out more in the next generation. There are several factors, including cross-play, Nintendo’s big comeback with the Switch, and the Xbox brand recommitting to games and exclusives. Also, Google Stadia entering the mix could help stabilize the landscape as well.
The Wii U is Erased
I wasn’t entirely sure of this possibility until recently. During the September 2019 Nintendo Direct, Nintendo revealed that Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE , a Shin Megami Tensei / Fire Emblem RPG, is coming to Switch. Originally, it was a Wii U game that was well-received, but totally bombed in sales everywhere. That getting ported to Switch anyway tells me Nintendo may truly be planning to port over every major exclusive on that platform, effectively rewriting its own history. I wouldn’t be surprised if we even saw The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess HD reappear.
Backwards Compatibility Becomes a Big Deal
Last generation, the discrepancy in hardware between consoles was so drastic compared to the gen before that it caused a lot of problems. Namely, nobody could do any sort of backwards compatibility. While it isn’t a widely-used feature, it’s always a demanded one, especially during the generational transition period. But as time went on, backwards compatibility became a great PR point, especially as Microsoft worked on ways to get people excited about the Xbox One again. Also, services and libraries are extremely important right now and only growing with platforms like Stadia looming. I expect the PS5 and next Xbox to be thoroughly backwards compatible in some form, and Nintendo will continue expanding its online subscription service.