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‘Tis the season for MMO bloggers to make grand statements that they can regret, conveniently forget about or just possibly crow over at the end of the year. Since I’m currently holidaying with the family and have free WiFi but restricted to the iPad, so no SWTOR for a few days, I figured I’d meditate on the Dark Side (not easy to do while sipping a toffee nut latte!) and see what visions the Force will grant me…

The Old Republic’s first ‘proper’ content patch will set the game’s direction
It’s hard to remember, but when WoW first launched it was unclear what the endgame was going to about. It could as easily have concentrated on open world mass PvP – there was a lot of it going on, it fitted with the whole theme of Warcraft, and DAoC had shown you could build a pretty successful game around it. Once we got rolling with Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Ahn’Qiraj it was pretty clear that this was a game all about raiding and gear progression. SWTOR is currently in the same position. There’s an upcoming patch with a bit of group and raid content, but that feels more like the odds and ends that were in development but didn’t make the cut for release. After that, though, we could either have the next tier of raid content to appease the vocal hardcore raider crowd, or it could be something more story-based – a new planet to explore, or even act 4 of the story for each class. If we get the raid, then SWTOR will indeed be WoW with lightsabers behind a veneer of more interesting levelling content (that people will skip anyway because the level cap is where the action is). I’d like to see them stick with the story approach and make it more of a game for the silent majority of players.

The Guild Wars 2 backlash will begin, and it will be terrible to behold
GW2 is going to be released, or at least in widespread beta, this year. That means that all the talk of how revolutionary the game is going to be will get exposed to the cold, hard light of reality. ArenaNet have talked their game up to an impossible degree, and their legions of Internet zealots have taken things further. They have pretty much implied that all other MMO developers are both stupid (for sticking with a holy trinity design when ANet can do a much more exciting style of gameplay) and wicked (for taking a subscription fee when ANet can provide a superior game without charging one). Since I don’t believe the entire MMO industry is a cabal of wicked, stupid comic book villains, the obvious conclusion is that the GW2 hype has overreached itself and the g will turn out to be either less revolutionary than promised, or to have flaws of its own.
That doesn’t mean it’ll be a bad game – just that it will disappoint its most rabid fans. And Hell hath no fury like a rabid fan scorned….

WoW’s post-Panda subscription drop-off will be even more precipitous than the one post-Cataclysm
Not a judgment on the Panda expansion per se, but WoW’s age is showing more and more, and there’s stronger competition on the field this year. Lots of old subscribers will come back and take a look, but I doubt many will stay for long.

Dark Age of Camelot and WAR will either go F2P or be closed down
With a successful launch of SWTOR, EA execs are going to look at Mythic’s games as being too small to keep bothering with. Better perhaps to close them and divert the resources to the successful game or to start work on the Next Big Thing. On the other hand, if Dominus carves a successful niche for an open PvP game then having the old grandaddies of the niche as F2P games could be an easy way to grab a slice of that pie. The dream outcome would be that if they can prove that there’s a market for that style of game, then Bioware Mythic’s next project may yet be DAoC2…

Well, there we go. But remember, always in motion the future is…

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