11 Things That Will Definitely Happen In Gaming In 2019 (Maybe)
By Peter Brown on
Look into the crystal ball…
With 2018 behind us we've got a whole new year of games and gaming news to look forward to. There are a lot of upcoming games we're already excited about--check them out in our Most Anticipated Games of 2019 hub--but we all know that platform holders and publishers alike love to keep surprises close to their chest. It's the reason why shows like E3 are so exciting, after all.
Though we work in a corner of the video game industry, GameSpot rarely finds out about the biggest announcements ahead of time. So, just like you, we're left wondering "what if?"
As we've done every year in the recent past, we put our heads together and came up with a handful of predictions that we believe are most likely to occur in the new year. Sometimes our hunches are on the money, and other times we're admittedly way off the mark. Only time will tell how our best guesses will pan out in 2019.
Curious what we fared last year? You can hop over to our original predictions from the start of last year, and then check out of recap of everything we got right, and wrong, about gaming in 2018.
Microsoft Will Release A Disc-Free Xbox One | Eddie Makuch
The video game industry--like the music, TV, and film businesses before it--is moving away from physical media. Digital sales of games are increasing at every major publisher. When I think about my own buying habits, I recognise I'm skewing towards downloadable purchases and away from physical games. No doubt discs and even carts for portable systems will remain in the market and continue to be popular, but it is clear video games are increasingly becoming more of a digital-first business.
Microsoft knows this, and I believe the company will release a disc-free Xbox One in 2019.
There are already rumours that say this is true, and it could be an attractive package. Without a disc drive, the console would presumably cost less, weigh less, and use less energy.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has spoken often about providing players with choice when it comes to everything Xbox. Already, you can buy into the Xbox One ecosystem with the lower-price Xbox One S or the mega-powerful Xbox One X. A disc-free Xbox would be yet another welcome option. The company will absolutely continue to offer Xbox consoles with disc drives (there are too many markets in the world that require it), but for those who are ready to more fully embrace the digital revolution, a disc-free Xbox One sounds like good news.
A Crash Bash Remaster Will Be Announced | Oscar Dayus
May as well cash in while you can, right? We're living in the Age of Nostalgia--where Sony can put a seemingly random collection of games on a flash drive with an emulator and call it a PlayStation Classic--so of course Activision could do another '90s mascot remaster while everyone is still caught up in the Crash Bandicoot hype. We've of course already had the N. Sane Trilogy, which still charts highly even over a year after its initial release, while the Spyro Reignited Trilogy appears to be performing well too. Furthermore, a remake of Crash Team Racing, subtitled Nitro-Fueled, was announced at the Game Awards this year and will launch on June 21, 2019. After this, what next? While no further remasters have been announced, one for Crash Bash makes perfect sense.
Eurocom's take on a Crash Bandicoot party game was an unappreciated gem that still holds up today. Many fans remember it with a similar level of affection as they do the original Crash or Spyro trilogies. This means the game is ripe for a remaster: fans will likely fall back in love with their multitap-laden memories and Activision will likely make dollar after dollar from that sweet, sweet nostalgia. Make it happen @bobbykotick.
Sony Offers Combined PlayStation Plus And PlayStation Now Service | Chris Pereira
The introduction of Xbox Game Pass has been one of Microsoft's best moves of the generation. Sony already has a somewhat equivalent (but I'd argue inferior) service in PlayStation Now, and I think 2019 will see it try to expand the reach of Now.
One of Game Pass's biggest advantages was the ability to download games, rather than stream them, as was the case with PS Now. Sony has addressed that, but it still doesn't release its new first-party games right away on Now, as Microsoft does with Game Pass. While I find that unlikely to happen on PS4 in the near future, Sony could still try to make it more appealing by leveraging the audience it has with PS Plus.
We already know that PS3 and Vita games will no longer be offered through Plus beginning in early 2019. Taking something away and offering nothing to replace it is a bad look, so why not try spinning this into a positive by introducing some form of limited access to PS Now for Plus subscribers? I'm not expecting Now--which Sony charges $10 per month for--to be included in its entirety with Plus, but it would be smart to have a limited version that could lure in more customers. That could even be combined with a new, premium subscription that offers full access to both Plus and Now--PS Plus+, perhaps?
Mother 3 Will Get An English Release on Switch | Matt Espineli
My old boss, Justin Haywald, always wished for Mother 3 to get a western release--so much so, that he wrote about it threeyears in a row. However, he has since left the company to pursue the adventure of fatherhood. While I admit I don't have a personal stake in this, it doesn't feel right not to include a mention of Mother 3 in our 2019 predictions. After all, there are countless fans out there who still want this just as much as Justin does.
Admittedly, the biggest question in this discussion now is how Nintendo could release Mother 3 in 2019. We've learned since last year that the company is replacing the Virtual Console with its online service, which currently seems more focused on the NES library. My guess would be that Nintendo might expand the legacy games you'll see in its online service in 2019, possibly starting with SNES and N64, but then moving into Game Boy territory by the end of the year--a perfect opportunity to unveil Mother 3 to western audiences.
This would be a fantastic way to make it happen, but I think we can all agree that for a highly-requested game like Mother 3, a standalone release would be the true crowd pleaser. Heck, Nintendo could do us one even better by making a Mario & Luigi-style remake on Switch (Not on 3DS, please)--possibly with new gameplay features, bonus commentary, and a physical version that includes a handwritten apology letter for taking so long.
Regardless, Nintendo is certainly paying attention to the possibility of a western release of Mother 3, seeing as Reggie Fils-Aime has repeatedly proclaimed his awareness of the matter. Of course, I'd be remiss not to point out once again that much of the heavy lifting in translating Mother 3 has been handled by an unofficial patch, which I'm told is excellent.
With each year that passes, a western release of Mother 3 seems all the more attainable, so please, Nintendo, make it happen in 2019. Not for me, but for all the Justins out there who have been desperately wanting this for over a decade now.
Nintendo Will Announce A Metroid Fusion Remake For 3DS | Jordan Ramee
Metroid: Samus Returns is a phenomenal remake of 1991's Metroid II: Return of Samus. The 2017 3DS game takes the core concept of one of Metroid's weakest titles and enhances it in almost every way. Simply imagining the possibility of Metroid Fusion, my favorite game in the franchise, receiving the same treatment gets me more excited than I can possibly express.
All the signs for a remake are there already. Samus Returns' post-credits scene includes an X parasite-infected Hornoad, the very first enemy seen in Fusion. Also, depending on your completion rate for Samus Returns, you can unlock the history of the Chozo, X parasites, and Metroids, which is the entire set-up for Fusion. Nintendo has to be hinting at a Fusion remake. It's either that or the company somehow knows how much I want this and is purposely teasing me.
I'd be perfectly fine with a Fusion remake on Switch instead of 3DS. That said, how cool would it be to see Metroid Prime 4 on Switch and a Fusion remake on 3DS release on the same day, just like the original Prime and Fusion did back in the day? It's too perfect a nod for Nintendo to pass up, and I can't imagine the company would. Plus, it would give players like me a reason to pick up a 3DS again, which--aside for playing Samus Returns and Style Savvy: Styling Star--I tucked away with the release of Switch.
Fusion remains the only game in the mainline 2D series that isn't readily available on 3DS, as it's only playable for those in the Ambassador Program. C'mon Nintendo, give the people--namely me--what they want and announce a remake in 2019.
Red Dead Online Will Make, Like, All the Money | Nick Sherman
Much like Valve has shifted their focus away from games with the success of Steam, or Epic halting development on Paragon after Fortnite took off, Rockstar found themselves in a very similar situation when they released GTA Online after GTA V in 2013. The immense success of not only how much time players were spending back in Los Santos, but how much money they were spending on “Shark Cards” (its in-game currency) led Rockstar to cancel two planned GTA V single-player DLC releases. In their place: a steady stream of cheaper content drops for the online component that to this day, has yet to run dry.
In addition to profiting off of GTA Online’s “games as a service” design (which was relatively new for consoles at the time), they re-released GTA V on PC and next-gen consoles. With a first-person mode and slightly better graphics, they not only welcomed back an entirely new audience into San Andreas (and also, it’s economy), but brought back those who had purchased it on PS3 and Xbox 360 for another round.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Rockstar follows the exact same distribution plan for Red Dead Redemption II. Why wouldn’t they?
Kingdom Hearts III Will Be Good, Not Great | Nick Sherman
Kingdom Hearts III has a lot of things going for it leading into its January release. Square Enix has put out some flashy, dramatic trailers, and the game looks gorgeous. I’m excited to ride the wave of tears that will be streaming from my face from all the nostalgia induced by teaming up with Buzz Lightyear. That said, I’m hesitant that at this point, 13 years after Kingdom Hearts II, it won’t be able to tap into what made us fall in love with the series in the first place due to how disjointed its storytelling has become.
When I think of what makes Kingdom Hearts Kingdom Hearts, I don’t think of the Keyblade war, dream-eaters, or Sea-Salt Ice Cream, I think of floating away from Kairi after defeating Ansem (and don’t even get me started on who that actually is) or reuniting with Riku in The World That Never Was. At its heart (heh), Kingdom Hearts was a story about three friends doing everything they could to reunite.
I fully anticipate we’ll have those moments in Kingdom Hearts III, but I’m worried they’ll be clouded by everything else going on—all the loose ends we’ll have to tie up from 13 years of spin-offs that as much as I may have enjoyed some of them, have made the story needlessly complicated and melodramatic. I was a bit more forgiving of that when I was playing the series for the first time as a teenager, but myself, and gaming as a whole, have grown up. I’m worried that Kingdom Hearts, in its sometimes floundering meandering, never got around to it.
Sony Comes Back With PSX, Officially Announces PS5 Development | Michael Higham
Another generation of consoles is almost certain; the more enticing mystery is when they'll launch and what new features they'll offer. Microsoft has already confirmed that it's working on the next Xbox, but haven't given any details as to what exactly it is. So now we're looking at Sony to say something about what's in store for the next PlayStation console.
Timing is everything as it lays the groundwork for how and when development teams build their next games, but it can also inform expectations for consumers over the next couple of years. It's been five years since the launch of the PlayStation 4 and while it shows no sign of slowing down, it's only a matter of time before we get details on the PlayStation 5. Comments earlier this year from Sony's head of PlayStation John Kodera have also suggested that new hardware may land sometime in 2021.
Considering the fact that Sony did not hold a PSX event in 2018 and has pulled out of E3 2019, it's not out of the realm of possibility that the company is saving its efforts for a much bigger showcase in the second half of 2019. I predict that PSX will come back, and Sony will take advantage of the spotlight to show off the next wave of PS4 exclusives with an official PS5 announcement as the headliner to top it all off.
BioWare Will Announce A Mass Effect...Something | Phil Hornshaw
The last few years have been a bit rough on the Mass Effect franchise. First there was the controversial ending to the original Mass Effect trilogy, which brought an unsatisfying conclusion to a series beloved for its story, characters, and reaction to player choices. Next there was Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game that tried to expand the franchise in new directions but which was marred by plodding gameplay, a weak story, and goofy technical gaffes. The response to Andromeda was so rough that even though the game included story hooks for DLC expansions--something pretty widespread in the trilogy--none have been released. It feels like BioWare has hung up Mass Effect for good.
Or at least, it did until this year. On November 7, known among Mass Effect fans as N7 Day, BioWare boss Casey Hudson gave some cryptic remarks that suggested there could be more Mass Effect on the horizon. It would make sense; despite its missteps, the Mass Effect franchise was a strong success, with lots of spin-offs in comics, novels, and even mobile games. But EA has shelved franchises for less (pour one out for Dead Space).
Hudson's words (and intense, prolonged eye contact with the camera) are enough to bring back some hope for the Mass Effect franchise, and with Anthem coming out in early 2019, BioWare might be banking on some renewed goodwill from fans. That'd make the coming year a good time to announce a revival of Mass Effect. Maybe that's a remastered version of the original trilogy in one giant package, as we predicted last year, or maybe it's a new offering in the franchise. Either way, it'd be a good time for BioWare to try to renew some faith in its beloved sci-fi series.
Bethesda Will Relaunch Fallout 76 | Alessandro Fillari
To say that Fallout 76 had a particularly rough launch would be putting it mildly. What should have been a bold step forward for the post-apocalyptic RPG series turned out to be a misfire, due in part to several poor design choices and debilitating technical issues. As the first online-only Fallout, 76 left many players feeling a bit burned--myself included. Though the game isn't in the best shape at the moment, I predict Bethesda will take a long hard look at Fallout 76 for a much needed relaunch later in 2019.
A fresh start can sometimes be for the best. With other successful revamps including Final Fantasy XIV and No Man's Sky: Next, both of which were in dire straits, Fallout 76 is by no means a lost cause. Despite the reception and the poor state it's in, the developers have been cranking away with updates and hotfixes. Though it has many faults to be sure, it still offers a lot of content for players to dive into, highlighting some of the best moments of exploration and discovery that the series is known for. As Bethesda VP of Marketing Pete Hines stated in an interview before release, the developers aim to keep Fallout 76 going for the long term.
Since the core team behind the franchise is knee-deep in their new IP Starfield, Fallout 76--developed by Bethesda Game Studios Austin--will be the Fallout game for the foreseeable future. As with the game-changing update for No Man's Sky, a relaunch for 76 can offer a number of new innovations and revisions to the core gameplay, making it feel worthwhile for fans and newcomers alike. It was clear that Fallout 76 needed some more time to cook, but now that it's out in the wild, all the feedback from players can be used properly to make a better game. And if they're going to take the time and effort to whip it into shape, they may as well do it in grand fashion.
Nintendo Will Release Updated Switch Hardware | Kallie Plagge
I'm aware that this isn't the riskiest prediction, but hear me out. Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nintendo would release a new Switch model sometime in 2019. While nothing is set in stone, it's a safe enough bet. However, the WSJ report indicated that Nintendo was still deciding on the exact features to be included in the new model, so I'm here to predict what some of those features could be.
The most obvious one is better battery life. The Switch's battery isn't terrible, but if you prefer to play in handheld mode, you likely won't be able to play for more than a handful of hours without having to charge the console. With both Animal Crossing and Pokemon launching next year, being able to play in handheld mode for long stretches is a must.
But that's not all! The Switch could benefit from features that are commonplace in other consumer electronics: Bluetooth (it would be nice to be able to use my AirPods with the Switch), a larger screen capable of 1080p resolution, and perhaps even official Joy-Cons with proper D-pads on them. Also, Nintendo, if you're reading this: I will buy an Animal Crossing Switch bundle with any such upgrades included.