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Three Predictions for the Future of Gaming

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Gaming moves at a pace that means in but a few months this article will most likely seem ridiculous. It will only be this blogger's new found position as world king that will save the populace from openly scoffing at its predictions.

But, like a digital Nostradamus, I shall offer my thoughts and remember anything that may come to appear false is simply a code for a greater truth. Besides as we all know the world will end when Justin Bieber has his first thought. Probably about waffles. The delicious harbingers of death.

Despite our future selves' dismissal of our attempts to anticipate gaming and technological trends, it is becoming increasingly important for the industry to make predictions as more and more companies compete for our few spare Quazaks (future world currency).

Our future selves may well be busy enjoying games with the niche colon-o-pad, but what they may not know is that the big firms had these latest trends planned years ago.

More interesting, however, are the signs that many companies have no idea what the future holds. Take SEGA for example, the once gaming giant, recently announced financial difficulties and their decision to concentrate on core titles like Sonic. Following the time-tested SEGA approach: When in doubt, dress up the blue hedgehog.

Then you have Namco developing Resident Evil franchise's disastrous latest title Resident Evil: Operation Racoon City. A team shooter universally panned by critics and fans alike. More worryingly however was Namco's dubious claim that "survival horror is dead". Perhaps someone should send them a copy of Deadspace.

It can be argued that Japanese companies are struggling the most in the current climate being unsure what the West wants and frustrated by the piles of glittering Quazaks raked in by Western titles like Call of Duty. Ironically, what it seems most Western gamers want from these Japanese developers is for them to do what they do best: original games, rather then pander to fads.

We loved the space bending obese plumber, we adopted the blue suspiciously fast hedgehog. We even liked beating people up as a sexually frustrated panda (Tekken) so maybe Namco should relax and forget asking SEGA if sonic wants to fight zombies.

Clambering back in the direction of the point: trends in gaming are hard to predict with even the big boys in the industry treading carefully. Who after all would have predicted the rise of mobile games as a huge industry? (I would). Who would have thought that XBOX LIVE Arcade could already become the source of many of this years best titles? I would, but then I'm the digital Nostradamus... beware the Bieber. So what are my actual predictions I hear you cry? Relax young Jedi, here are just three:

1) Nintendo's new console the Wii U will flop.

The Wii's popularity was largely due to the unique experience it offered: waving your arms around. Families were captivated. Finally they could jiggle about in their living rooms without Mr Motivator.

The Wii was a hit, but the problem is with the Wii U Nintendo hasn't moved on, instead relying on the same selling point of movement based gaming. Now, while Miyamoto's boys may have added a interesting new controller to the mix its is undoubtable the sale of the Wii U will require a more subtle sell, with even the name suggesting an update rather then something new and exciting.

Nintendo risk a serious misfire in the west as their casual gammer demographic miss why they need a new system. To make matters worse for Nintendo, Xbox continue to push their own leprous Mr Motivator substitute the Xbox Kinect, whilst Playsation offer the Harry Potter Tron wand.

Then, and not wishing to sound like Jeremy Clarkson here, there's the issue of processing power with the Wii U weighing in below the current Xbox. This is a dangerous gambit for Nintendo as without strong initial sales they risk loosing customers to more graphically impressive competitors.

As always though Nintendo can offer some impressive in-house titles, but with the companies shift away from the core gamer along with stiff competition for the casual market Nintendo may find their niche lost. we can only hope Mario calls Sonic for a makeover.

2) XBOX Live will go from strength to strength

As more A-list titles premier on the digital marketplace Xbox Live, and we get used to buying digital games it's hard to see many resisting, linking arms to saves the glossy instruction manual.

Being a full paid up gold member of Xbox Live I can't help but be informed of the latest games titles, and with free downloads offered only one click away, and purchasing the game only two clicks, how can it fail? Shops may be disappearing from our high streets, but they're making camp in our homes.

That is not to say that Xbox Live itself is a pleasurable experience with awkward navigation designed with the lumbering Kinect in mind, and burdened with a heavy mass of advertising obstructing me from my own content. It is an area one hopes may benefit from tougher government regulation. Should we pay to see advertisements? Should Xbox be on a closed network that even Neo would find a bit 'clicky'?

One thing that has helped temper my feelings towards the advert laden Xbox Live has been the excellent free review series Inside Xbox featuring the charming Dan Maher. The web shorts offering a rare human face to Microsoft. Although I was saddened to find out this week, via his Twitter, that the show has been cancelled.

Despite the brilliance of Microsoft's Xbox Live as a model I can't help but think more mature gammers will slowly escape to more free environment like Valve's excellent STEAM service, and hopefully Dan can entertain us independently too. Good luck Dan.

3) The Grand Theft Auto series will continue its trend in realism becoming the first game to demand defecation.

Failure to do the 'dirty squat' will result in inhibited running and a negative romance rating with prospective female suitors (except Kinky Lota).

All deposits will be automatically uploaded to Facebook for ratting by your friends, and will reflect your diet and confidence levels. Completing the game will mean uploaded shots feature your 'glitter balls' a trend yet to hit, but anticipated to do so by the game developers Rockstar after the success of bejazzling in the office.

Jay Cowle is performing a preview of his new show We The Chemicals this Friday May 11th, 8pm, at the Camden Head alongside the brilliant Bec Hill. £5, The Camden Head, 100 Camden High St, London NW1 0LU.

All views are not Jay's own but that of a frog he saw this morning.

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