不可預測下的謹慎參考:分析師前瞻2018年遊戲產業趨勢

原文作者:James Brightman 譯者:Megan Shieh

回顧2017,遊戲產業度過了精彩的一年。在爲新年假期做準備的同時,我們很難不去想:“2018年的電子遊戲產業將會是什麼樣子?”

《絕地求生》掀起了一股吃雞熱潮,任天堂宣告強勢迴歸,《超級馬里奧》和《塞爾達》新作高調亮相,PS4銷量有望超過創造記錄的PS2。得益於升級版主機Xbox One X的真4K畫質和Xbox One S的價格下調,就連Xbox的業務都在這個節日裏呈上升趨勢。在3A遊戲領域,《使命召喚14:二戰》成爲了自《使命召喚9:黑色行動II》以來最受歡迎的系列作品,動視以此向世界證明該IP始終寶刀未老;育碧公司用2017年新作《起源》爲《刺客信條》注入了新的活力;Take Two在投資高端獨立遊戲的同時也不忘發展其自有業務。

那麼在嶄新的2018年裏,我們該期待些什麼?VR和電子競技是否有望成爲主流?任天堂能否守住Switch所創造的輝煌?會不會有新的硬件設備推出?沒有人有肯定的答案。不過業內分析人士總是很願意分享自己的看法,因此我們採訪了幾位業內專家,他們分享了自己的看法和預言。(遊戲邦注部分受訪者回顧了自己對2017年的預測以及相對的實際情況。)

Joost van Dreunen(市場調研公司SuperData首席執行官)

以下是我在2016年年底做出的預測以及2017年的實際情況:

保守估計,全球手遊總收入在2017年將達到400億美元。

傳統發行商將會引領整個遊戲市場。(這一預測並未全面實現,主要是因爲亞洲地區涌現出了一批創新者。)

隨着廣告預算的增長,電子競技將會經歷一場壓力測試,並最終發展成爲一個媒體市場。(儘管電子競技在2017年頗受歡迎,但卻尚未發展成爲我所預測的創收業務。)

Oculus VR(from oculusvr.com)

Oculus VR(from oculusvr.com)

動視暴雪和騰訊(Riot Games)將會通過出售轉播權分別賺取2億美元。(動視暴雪和Riot Games都成功實現了我預測的數額。)

VR殺手級應用將會問世。如果2016年是VR誕生的一年,2017年就將是VR正式起步的一年。(實際情況是,多數發行商巨頭都避開了VR領域,不過得益於Play Station VR的200萬臺銷量,VR領域的確在2017年實現了穩步增長。)

動視暴雪將在2017年獲得1億美元的廣告收入。該公司目前正在King Digital旗下的一些小遊戲上實驗該計劃,可能將在2017年中旬採取大範圍行動。(這一預言仍然站得住腳,只是需要更多的時間。King Digital對其遊戲目錄的重新配置需要很長的時間才能完成。)

總的來說,我的預言在數量和公司方面都是正確的。

對2018年的預測:

亞馬遜或將收購GameStop——主機硬件銷量開始放緩,VR又不太可能在短期內取代遊戲設備,GameStop這家大型零售商正被迫縮小業務範圍。該公司在全球範圍內擁有6100家遊戲零售商店,可以幫助亞馬遜將電子遊戲和其他消費電子產品傳遞到千家萬戶,成爲亞馬遜全球戰略的重要組成部分。

育碧也許會將少數股權出售給某家大型的亞洲遊戲公司——由於整合仍是整個2018年歐洲媒體市場的主導趨勢,雖然維旺迪最近對收購育碧的計劃有所讓步,但是他們不會放棄。育碧賣出少數股份能夠確保持續的創作自由,同時在其近期成功的基礎上再接再厲。

上市公司業務將被迫變得更加透明—“戰利品盒子”風波以及今年年初的監管改革將會迫使遊戲發行商更改他們的財務報告標準。

電子競技迎來了生死存亡的時刻——經歷了18個月的炒作,多數投資者都開始計劃轉手了。動視憑藉《守望先鋒》的成功被視爲整個行業的領頭羊(即使這沒有多大意義,因爲《反恐精英》和其他產品的有機增長要比精心製作的《守望先鋒》更多)。不理性的投資者退出市場以後,電子競技領域將憑藉自身實力建立一種以用戶爲中心的良好體驗、爲廣告商和平臺創造價值,從而實現復甦。

廣告收入在發行商總收入中所佔份額將持續增長——數字遊戲營收榜的前幾名被大公司所佔據,中等規模的發行商只好將目光投向廣告以維持生計,這些公司15%-20%的收入都將來自廣告,相比之下,小型發行商70%以上的收入將來自廣告。

VR公司將繼續把注意力從電子遊戲轉向企業應用——在沒有殺手級應用和明確盈利計劃的情況下,開發工作室將帶着他們的專業知識轉向其他行業並實行B2B戰略。

蘋果公司將會引入遊戲訂閱模式——在我看來,蘋果可以通過創建專用的訂閱模式,從而更好地將消費者與內容聯繫起來。Facebook已經針對兒童推出了新版Messenger Kids應用程序,我認爲蘋果公司也會效仿。例如,爲兒童推出“自助餐”式的遊戲訂閱服務。以我個人爲例,我非常樂意每月支付10美元,讓我的孩子不再接觸那些只因廣告收入而存在的低質量遊戲。

大型發行商在數字化零售方面將會越來越輕車熟路——以前的遊戲公司一直依靠零售商來完成最終交易,數字遊戲銷量的日益增長使得發行公司在這一領域做得越來越好,尤其是規模較大的發行商。具體來說,爲了繼續提高利潤率,遊戲公司會在員工和技術方面做出投資,幫助處理價格差異化、庫存管理和IAP優化等職責,取代傳統零售模式。

Mat Piscatella(NPD集團)

隨着遊戲行業繼續從產品模式轉向在線服務模式,2018年的遊戲行業將會進化,而不是變革。

訂閱服務的增長-——2018年的訂閱服務業務收入將呈指數增長。EA Access將進駐PS4,任天堂推出的在線服務將受到熱烈歡迎,Xbox Game Pass等訂閱服務將得到大力擴展和推廣,全年都將有新的訂閱服務推出。與PlayStation Plus和Xbox Live Gold等其他現有服務相結合,訂閱服務將會成爲2018年的一個顯著增長領域。

Switch有望引領主機市場——2017年,任天堂的Switch在遊戲數量,產品質量和主機銷量上都超出了預期。我預計,這種勢頭將延續到2018年。在未來的一年裏,Switch的硬件主機銷量和零售軟件相關收入將會遙遙領先。如果《Pokemon RPG》於2018年登陸Switch,那麼我猜測許多家庭都會擁有多臺Switch主機,從而提高傳統主機的潛在上限。Switch已經準備好了要引領主機市場,畢竟PS4和Xbox One上市都已經六年了。

Switch掀起的這股淘金熱將會帶來新的挑戰——任天堂的Switch在2017年取得了不可小覷的成就,但是新的挑戰也會隨之而來。一個是遊戲店面。各種各樣的遊戲正在以瘋狂的速度登陸Switch,隨着時間的推移,這種速度只會加快而不會減緩。Switch必須找到方法讓用戶更輕鬆地找到他們喜歡的遊戲,並且確保高質量的內容不會被埋沒在瘋狂的上架浪潮之中。儘管這種挑戰的規模還遠不及Steam,但是Switch必須將用戶與他們感興趣購買的eShop內容連接起來。

沉浸式VR遊戲體驗將繼續處於掙扎狀態——高端、沉浸式VR遊戲的體驗門檻對於大衆消費者來說仍舊過高。2018年,VR硬件價格將繼續下跌,然而銷量卻不會因此大幅度上漲,同時VR技術的目標也會不斷變更。VR技術在移動領域擁有不可忽視的前景,在其他領域更是潛力無限。沉浸式VR遊戲體驗也許在未來某天會取得成功,但這個“未來”不會是2018年。

最後,我預計2018年將是PS4和Xbox One的間隔年,因爲微軟和索尼將在2019年公佈新主機,並計劃在2020年正式發售。經過了長達幾年的掙扎,面對發行量和發行商數量的大幅下降之後,主機行業終於迎來了另一個春天。

Piers Harding-Rolls(市場分析機構IHS Markit的遊戲研究主管)

我對2017年作出的預測以及相關實際情況:

遊戲市場消費總額將在2017年達到1000億美元。(實際上,當我們完成了2016年的實際數據統計之後,遊戲市場已經打破了這個水平[1029億美元]。所以算是部分猜中。)

PS4和XboxOne 2017年的全球總銷量將達到2700萬。(目前尚不清楚。)

Swith主機2017年的銷量將達到約440萬臺。(預測錯誤,Swith的實際表現超出了我們的預期。)

任天堂將會推出一款新掌機。(部分猜中。任天堂正式公佈了2DS掌機的升級版2DS XL,現已正式發售。但是沒有關於下一代掌機的任何消息。)

微軟可能會將Xbox One X的上架日期推遲到2018年,而且售價會比PS4 Pro高很多。(部分猜中。雖然微軟成功地在2017年年底將Xbox One X上架,但Xbox One X的確比PS4 Pro貴很多。)

2017年,人們將越來越不看好VR技術。(沒錯,去年有衆多新聞媒體報道VR技術“跌入低谷”。)

2017年將不會有任何重要的VR一體機在中國以外的地區上市。(正確。HTC的Vive Focus僅能在中國預購,Oculus Go目前還沒上市。)

對2018年作出的預測:

遊戲產業未來還會進一步增長——根據數據分析,我們預計2017年的全球遊戲消費總額突破了1100億美元,移動遊戲爲主要推動力。目前我們估計遊戲產業將在2018年實現8%的進一步增長,推動其消費總額突破1200億美元大關。此外我們預計移動遊戲在遊戲產業中的市場份額將突破50%,而在2008年,手遊的市場份額僅佔7%。

中國已經成爲了全球最大的遊戲市場,並且增長迅速,其中很大一部分歸功於手遊消費。在2017年的中國,手遊取代PC成爲了該國最大的遊戲平臺。我們預測,2018年的中國手遊市場漲幅將突破300億美元。

2018年的索尼,微軟和任天堂——2017年可能是PS4硬件的銷售高峯,銷量預計在2018年會出現小幅度下跌。Xbox One X的上市將無法縮小微軟和索尼的市場份額差距。Xbox One和PS4今年的主機硬件銷量總和將會稍微低於2400萬臺,其中,PS4的銷量將會比Xbox One超出兩倍。

我不認爲Switch的銷量會在2018年超過PS4,但這也不是不可能。這在很大程度上將取決於Switch今年下半年的發佈渠道、遊戲數量、遊戲的受衆範圍,以及捆綁和定價策略。此外,Switch有望於2018年在中國上市。

去年我們預測,2018年大部分主機遊戲內容將會實現數字化(不包括訂閱),但是現在我們認爲2019年將會成爲一個轉折點,屆時數字分銷將會成爲主機內容的主要分銷渠道。

氪金開箱引起的爭議、《大逃殺》的過度殺傷力、Switch掀起的淘金熱潮、騰訊進軍海外市場的野心、AR內容的增長——我認爲,主機遊戲的氪金機制仍將繼續引發爭議,尤其考慮到在PC和手遊領域,多數發行商已經轉向了“遊戲即服務”模式。雖然“戰利品開箱機制”在大部分地區並未被視爲賭博,然而監管機構仍會對那些利用氪金開箱機制來獲取虛擬道具或皮膚的做法進行大規模打擊。

2018年,“吃雞遊戲”將會達到一個飽和點,尤其是在中國。單單是騰訊公司就至少有7款吃雞遊戲,無論是已經上架的,還是正在開發中的,我認爲其中一些產品可能最終會無法上市。

2017年,任天堂的Switch主機爲許多發行商和獨立遊戲開發商帶來了一個龐大的市場機遇,他們努力想要把握機會在競爭較少的時候通過移植遊戲進入Switch市場,現在這個機會之窗正在迅速關閉。2017年11月和12月份分別有57和55款Switch遊戲上架,足夠說明2018年的Switch平臺將會競爭激烈。

預計中國的遊戲發行商巨頭將會在2018年更加積極地實施擴張,騰訊和網易將加速將旗下手遊產品輸出到海外市場,也有可能對西方遊戲公司進行進一步投資和併購。

最後,我估計AR應用程序消費總額將在2018年出現強勁增長。蘋果ARKit和谷歌ARCore的推出,以及計劃將在2018年推出的AR手遊《哈利波特:巫師聯盟》或將把AR應用程序(包括遊戲)今年的消費總額推動到20億美元。

其餘預測——Steam商店在中國大陸可能被禁止訪問;騰訊將把Wegam PC(遊戲分銷平臺)擴展到中國以外的市場;一個或多個政府(除中國以外)決定,開發者對戰利品箱機制/微交易的自我監管不起作用,並進行干預;《絕地求生》將成爲2018年的電競黑馬,而非《守望先鋒》。

Michael Pachter(韋德布什證券公司)

去年的預測成績單:

PS4將在年前降至199美元。(A+,2017年索尼黑五超級大促期間PS4 Slim 1TB降至199美元。)

除了《荒野大嫖客2》之外,R星工作室不會在2017年再推出其他遊戲。(A+)

動視用旗下工作室Sledgehammer製作的《現代戰爭》再現《使命召喚》的昔日輝煌。(B-,Sledgehammer的新作是《二戰》,但我的預測是它不會是《高級戰爭》,而且動視肯定會想辦法重新拉攏粉絲。)

《超級馬里奧:跑酷》遭遇滑鐵盧。(A+,任天堂在這款遊戲的盈利模式上犯了戰略性錯誤。)

《Pokemon Go》將會跌出各大國家排行榜的前十位。(D,這款遊戲如今仍是許多大國的前十,不服不行。)

Switch將在17年9月脫銷。(A-,9月底正常出貨。)

Xbox Scorpio定價399美元。(錯,實際定價爲499美元。)

《上古卷軸》最新資料片將在17年推出。(錯)

《半條命3》始終遙遙無期。(A)

對2018年作出的預測:

Xbox One X年底前降價至349美元——這臺主機在想要升級硬件的Xbox鐵桿粉絲中很受歡迎,但是由於PS4促銷價直降到199美元,所以不好賣。

索尼、任天堂和微軟將不會發布新硬件——該有的硬件市面上都有了,除了內置Joy-Con手柄的Switch之外,我不認爲會有其他重製/升級硬件上市。

Play Station VR將大幅降價­——Oculus Rift VR再度降價至349美元,給索尼施加了一定的定價壓力,預計PS4 Pro和PSVR的捆綁價格將降至599美元以下。

我對《上古卷軸6》仍然抱有希望——Bethesda工作室在17年的E3展會上給我們帶來了驚喜,希望他們能在今年的E3再創輝煌。

《使命召喚》或將加入戰術競技模式——《絕地求生》將死亡競賽推入了大衆視野,《堡壘之夜》加入了戰術競技模式之後,銷量明顯提高,因此我認爲明年Treyarch也會在《使命召喚》中加入該模式作爲多人遊戲的一部分。

Switch 2018年的總銷量將低於2000萬臺——傳言Switch每年可以賣出2500-3000萬臺,除非任天堂可以成功打入中國市場,否則根本不可能。我個人的預測是,Switch在西方市場的銷量將低於1500萬臺左右,剩下的就要看中國了。

《魔獸爭霸》手遊——據說暴雪悄悄開發這款遊戲已經有三年多了,儘管還沒有正式宣佈,但是我們可以期待在今年中旬看到這款遊戲。

任天堂的移動業務將繼續萎靡不振——他們似乎不懂得如何將IAP構建到他們的核心IP中去,比如《動物之森:口袋營地》的盈利情況就不是很樂觀,接下來的產品估計也不會有太大提升。

R星工作室依然不會公佈新的大作——等到《荒野大嫖客2》正式上架的時候,整個開發歷程估計得有8個年頭了。除了《午夜俱樂部》之外,R星不會公佈其他新遊戲,然而《午夜俱樂部》估計2019年纔會正式發行,而且它也不算是一款大作。

Dr. Serkan Toto(東京遊戲產業諮詢公司Kantan Games聯合創始人兼首席執行官)

2018年將是任天堂的又一個成功年——2017年對任天堂來說是扭虧爲盈的一年,2018年還會更好。

3A和獨立開發商越來越多的支持、虛擬主機功能的加入、在線服務和經典IP的重製(比如《馬里奧製造》)將推動Switch成爲2018年的主機暢銷冠軍。此外,任天堂也許會將Wii的許多經典遊戲移植到Switch。

任天堂2017年在手遊領域的進展比我想象中慢,但是我認爲這種情況在2018年可能出現好轉。該公司在智能手機領域存在巨大的潛力。

任天堂或將於2018年通過與騰訊(還能有誰)建立合作關係進入中國移動市場。

微軟依然無法走出困境——和去年一樣:我喜歡Xbox One,但是PS4的獨佔遊戲陣容強大,微軟與索尼的競爭將持續加大微軟的壓力。如果單單依靠Xbox One X的力量,微軟將無法取得優勢。除此之外,2018年網上可能會出現關於兩家公司下一代主機的信息。

VR與AR——早在2017年,我就對VR進軍大衆市場持不看好態度,今年的態度也是一樣。索尼必定會在今年推出新的PSVR設備,還有可能將價格下調,Xbox One可能會發布一些新硬件。但無論如何,VR還有很長的路要走。

關於AR技術在遊戲領域的應用,我同樣持不看好態度。我知道技術在進步,但是AR技術已經存在多年了,至今都沒人開發出出色的內容。

續作、續作、續作——聽起來可能有點馬後炮,因爲我們已經知道多款遊戲續作將在2018年面世,但我的意思是,在這個基礎上將會有更多的續作公佈。主機遊戲的開發和推廣成本越來越高,因此我不認爲2018年會有太多的3A開發商原意開發全新的主機遊戲作品。所以今年不僅會有更多的續作,還會有更多的重製作品和“遊戲即服務”模式的作品面世。

移動市場進一步整合——市場整合是手遊領域2017年的主導趨勢,我敢肯定,這一趨勢會在2018年延續下去。會有更多的工作室面臨倒閉或併購,移動遊戲的總體質量將會持續上升。

《糖果粉碎傳奇》、《部族衝突》或《智龍迷城》這樣的手機鉅作都將在2018年慶祝他們的六週年生日。

此外,我預計手遊領域將會出現更多的併購活動,韓國和中國的遊戲公司都將希望通過這種途徑進入西方和日本市場。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

As we all get ready this week for the holiday break ahead, it’s hard not to think about the new year and how the games industry will continue to evolve. 2017 may have been a downright depressing year for many across the globe, but it was at least a fantastic year for games.

PUBG is driving plenty of excitement, Nintendo has come back in full force, Mario and Zelda are shining, and PlayStation 4 is selling almost as well as the PS2. Even the Xbox business is on the rise this holiday thanks to the new 4K-enabled One X and the lower-priced One S. On the AAA software side, Activision has proved that Call of Duty is nowhere near dead, having one of its best years since Black Ops II, Ubisoft has breathed new life into Assassin’s Creed with Origins, and Take-Two continues to hone its business while investing in high-end indies.

So what should we expect in the next 12 months? Can VR and esports show mainstream potential? Will Nintendo maintain its new Wii-like momentum? Will there be any new hardware announcements? No one knows for sure, but industry analysts always enjoy providing their forecasts and prognostications, so we’ve assembled our usual annual analyst panel to offer up some 2018 predictions and (in some cases) to evaluate their statementsfrom the last year. Below you’ll find predictions from SuperData’s Joost van Dreunen, NPD’s Mat Piscatella, IHS Markit’s Piers Harding-Rolls, Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter, and Kantan Games’ Dr. Serkan Toto.

Joost van Dreunen, SuperData

Last year I said:

Mobile gaming will reach $40 billion in worldwide revenues. Looks like $40B was conservative as mobile gaming is totaling $60B for 2017. The expectation that legacy publishers would figure out and lead this market, however, didn’t quite happen, mostly because of a surge in innovation coming from Asia.

Esports will undergo a real stress-test to become a media market as ad budgets grow… Activision Blizzard and Tencent (Riot Games) will generate around $200 million each from selling broadcasting rights. In spite of the hype this year, the development of esports into a revenue-based business is taking longer than expected. Both Activision and Riot did manage to make about the amounts I predicted.

VR finds its killer app. If 2016 is the year that consumer-ready VR was born, then 2017 will be the year that it starts teething. Large publishers have mostly stayed away from VR but with 2M units for the PSVR the category did grow steadily over 2017.

Activision will make $100 million in ad revenue… Activision is currently experimenting with some of King Digital’s minor titles and will roll this out further mid-2017. This one holds but needs more time. King’s retooling of its title inventory is taking the long way around.

Overall my predictions were in the right ballpark in terms of amounts and companies. But perhaps my enthusiasm for some of these changes led me to expect a shorter timeline than what happened in 2017.

This year:

Amazon buys GameStop – With console hardware starting to slow and VR unlikely to replace gaming as a product category in the short-term, the specialty retailer will be forced to reduce its footprint. The 6,100 retail outlets worldwide will play an important part in Amazon’s ability to deliver gaming and consumer electronics worldwide.

Ubisoft sells off a minority share to a large Asian game company – Because consolidation continues to be the dominant trend in the European media landscape throughout 2018, Vivendi won’t go away even if they’ve recently relented a bit on pursuing Ubisoft. The French publisher has other plans, however, and will sell off a piece to (1) ensure sustained creative freedom and (2) build on its recent successes.

Publicly traded firms are forced to become more transparent – On the wings of loot box drama and regulatory changes in early 2018, publishers will be forced to change their reporting standards (broader write-up here)

Esports has its do-or-die moment – After a solid 18 months of hype and easy money from investments, several stakeholders are on the hook to deliver. Activision’s success with its Overwatch League will be regarded as a bellwether for the entire industry (even if that doesn’t make a lot of sense because CS:GO and other titles are more organically grown than deliberately produced like Overwatch). With the eyes of the world on it, competitive gaming will be sluggish out the gate as a reconciliation sweeps the category (I’ve been throwing cold water on expectations for a while now). Recovery follows after uninformed investors exit the space and allow esports to grow on its own strength (building a great user-focused experience), creating value for advertisers and platforms.

Share of ad dollars as part of publisher revenue continues to grow – With the top of the digital charts dominated by a shrinking number of top firms, the industry’s middle class turns to advertising to pay its rent. Second-tier publishers will rely on ads for about 15%-20% of annual revenue, compared to 70%+ for smaller outfits.

VR companies continue to shift focus away from games to enterprise applications – In the absence of a killer app (which I predicted last year would happen but didn’t) and a clear consumer monetization path, dev studios take their expertise to other industries and pursue a B2B strategy.

Apple introduces game subscriptions – Maybe this is more of a want, but it seems to me that Apple can do a much better job connecting consumers to content by creating dedicated subscriptions. Facebook already created its own messenger for minors, so it stands to reason that Apple will follow suit with, for instance, a buffet-style subscription for kids games. I, for one, would gladly pay $10/month to not have my kid be exposed to all those low quality games that only exist because of ad revenue.

Big publishers become better at digital retail – Where previously game companies had relied on retailers to complete the final transaction, the growing success of digital sales has incentivized especially big firms to become better at this part of the process themselves. Specifically, to continue to drive their margins up, game companies will invest in staff and technology that will help activities traditionally handled by retailers, including price differentiation, inventory management, and in-app purchase optimization.

Mat Piscatella, The NPD Group

The coming year will be more evolutionary than revolutionary as the industry continues to shift from a product model to a live service one.

Growth in subscription services – Exponential revenue growth in this area is something I expect to see in 2018. I expect EA Access to make its way to the PlayStation 4, the launch of Nintendo’s online service to be warmly received, services like Xbox Game Pass to expand and be promoted heavily, and the launch of new subscription services throughout the year. Combined with other existing services like PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold, subscription services will be a significant growth area in the year.

Switch to lead the console market – Nintendo Switch exceeded the expectations of many in both quality and quantity of released content as well as sales in 2017. I expect this momentum to carry over into 2018 and Switch to both sell the most hardware units as well as generate the most software revenues at retail over the coming year. Pokemon RPG for Switch is the true wild card. If Pokemon RPG for Switch releases in 2018, we could start seeing multiple Switch units per household, raising the potential ceiling on traditional console benchmarks. Even without that, however, Switch is poised to take market leadership as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One enter their 6th years in market.

Switch gold rush leads to discovery challenges – Nintendo Switch has been a fantastic success story of 2017, but with that success comes new challenges. One is the games storefront. Games are coming to Switch at a furious pace that will only increase over time. The Switch will be challenged to make discovering those games easier for consumers and to ensure quality content doesn’t get buried in the avalanche of releases. While it’s a long way from facing the same scale of challenges Steam is in this regard, Switch must connect consumers to the eShop content they’d enjoy buying and playing.

Immersive gaming VR will continue to struggle – The barriers to entry for mass market consumers to enter the high-end, immersive gaming VR space continues to be excessively high. From play pattern to price point to having necessary space available, immersive gaming VR will fail to exit its canyon of despair in 2018. Prices for hardware will continue to fall, but sales lifts will fail to follow. Game sales will continue to lag and goalposts for success will continue to shift. VR has an exciting present in mobile, and a bright future in many other use cases. Perhaps one day it will find success in immersive gaming. 2018, however, will not be that year.

Finally, I expect 2018 to be a bridge year for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as a lead in to 2019 new console announcements for launch in 2020. After struggling for some time in the early part of the decade, and after facing significant declines in release and publisher count over that time, the console industry has since rebounded. I expect 2018 to follow the path set by a successful 2017.

Piers Harding-Rolls, IHS Markit

Last Year’s Predictions:

Games market would reach $100 billion in consumer spending in 2017 – Partially right. Actually when we completed our actuals for 2016 after this piece was published we’d already broken this level ($102.9bn).

PS4 and Xbox One global sell-through of 27 million in 2017 – Unknown at present. Our current end of year forecast is an adjusted 26 million for these two consoles combined.

Switch sell-through of around 4.4 million for 2017 – Wrong. Switch has well outperformed both mine (and, to be fair, Nintendo’s) pre-launch expectations. We upgraded our Switch forecast to 9.8 million for 2017 shortly after the strong launch. Our estimate currently sits at 11.7 million as of October.

Sign of a new Nintendo handheld – Partially right. We’ve had the 2DS remodel, which has elongated the lifecycle of the 3DS platform, but no news on a next-gen follow up.

Microsoft might miss its end of 2017 launch window for Xbox One X and launch at a price point significantly higher than PS4 Pro – Partially right. As we know Xbox One X didn’t miss its launch window but was priced at a significant premium to PS4 Pro.

Negative sentiment around VR to increase – Right. The number of ‘trough of disillusionment’ stories has increased significantly in 2017.

No major standalone VR headset launches outside of China in 2017 – Right. HTC’s Vive Focus is available for pre-order in China only and Oculus Go is not available yet.

This year:

Further growth to come – When the final tallies are pulled together early next year, IHS Markit is predicting world consumer spending on games to have broken $110 billion in 2017, with mobile games apps driving the most growth. In 2018, I expect the sector to deliver further growth of 8% propelling it to the $120 billion mark. Our outlook currently predicts that mobile games apps spending will break 50% share of the games market in 2018. Its share in 2008 was just 7%.

China is already the biggest games market and growing fast, much of this down to mobile spending. In China, mobile gaming is expected to overtake PC gaming as the biggest platform in 2017. In 2018, we forecast the China games market to break through the $30 billion level.

Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo in 2018 – I expect 2017 to be the peak year of PS4 hardware sales and for there to be a decline in 2018. At present, I do not expect the launch of the Xbox One X to narrow the gap in market share between Microsoft and Sony. Combined sales of Xbox One and PS4 consoles are predicted to be a little less than 24m in 2018, with Sony outselling Microsoft by over two times.

Currently, I do not expect Nintendo’s Switch to outsell PS4 next year, although it is not out of the question. Much will depend on the Switch release pipeline, availability of content which resonates with a wide audience and bundling or pricing strategies in the second half of 2018. I also expect Switch to launch in China in 2018.

Last year our outlook predicted that in 2018, a majority of games content spend on all consoles would be digital (excluding subscriptions). It will be very close in 2018, but we now expect 2019 to be the inflection point where digital becomes the main distribution channel for console content. Outlook has been altered somewhat by the strength of the less digitally-enabled Switch.

Loot box controversy, Battle Royale overkill, Switch’s gold rush, Tencent’s overseas ambition, AR content growth – In 2018 I think it’s inevitable that loot box use in console games will continue to stir controversy, especially as publishers shift their releases across to the games-as-a-service model already dominant in PC and mobile gaming.

I think it’s also inevitable that although loot boxes are not considered gambling, the unlicensed gambling of virtual items and currency with the ability to cash out the winnings will confuse assessment of their impact and use. As a result, I expect a big clampdown on sites that promote virtual item or skin gambling.

2018 is the year that we’ll hit saturation point for Battle Royale modes and titles. This is particularly true in China. Tencent has at least seven BR titles launched, licensed or in development, and I think it’s likely some of these won’t make it to market.

2017 was characterised by the opportunistic porting of content to Nintendo Switch as publishers and indie developers alike sought to take advantage of a hungry audience and limited competition. The window of opportunity is rapidly closing – 57 and 55 releases in November and December respectively suggests a much more competitive platform heading into 2018.

I predict that 2018 will be the year we see a much more expansionist strategy from China’s leading publishers. Tencent and NetEase are starting to globalise their mobile games output and that will escalate next year. Further investments and acquisitions of Western games companies are also on the cards.

Lastly, I expect there to be solid growth in augmented reality apps spend in 2018. The arrival of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore and the 2018 follow up to Pokemon Go – Harry Potter: Wizards Unite – should push AR apps (including games) spend over $2 billion in 2018.

Outside bets for 2018 – Steam to be banned in mainland China; Tencent to expand WeGame PC game distribution platform to markets outside China; one or more governments (outside of China) to decide that self-regulation of loot boxes/microtransactions is not working and intervene; PUBG to be the big esports story of 2018, not The Overwatch League.

Michael Pachter, Wedbush Securities

Last year’s report card:

PS4 to $199 before year-end (A+, happened over Black Friday weekend); No Rockstar games other than RDR2 (A+); CoD returns to glory with MW title from Sledgehammer (B-the title is WWII, but my “prediction” was that it would NOT be Advanced Warfare, and that Activision would endeavor to get fans back into the fold); Super Mario Run to flop (A+, Nintendo made a strategic error with Free to Start and the game flopped); Pokemon Go drops out of top 10 in every country with a population over 20 million (D, the game is top 10 in a handful of large countries still-I’m surprised at its staying power); the Switch is sold out through September (A-, supply showed up the last week of September); Xbox Scorpio priced at $399 (F, price was $499); the next Elder Scrolls installment comes out (F); the next Half Life does not (A).

This year:

Xbox One X price cut to $349 before year end – The box is popular among hardcore Xbox fans looking to upgrade, but is a tough sell with the PS4 having been discounted to $199 at holiday.
No new hardware from Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft – We have all the new devices we need, and other than perhaps a Switch with Joy Cons built in, I don’t see any further iterations of existing hardware.

A dramatic price cut on PSVR – Oculus at $349 is putting pressure on Sony to do something on the pricing, and I expect some kind of PSVR bundle with PS4 Pro at $599 or less.

I’m never giving up on Elder Scrolls – Bethesda surprised us with games at E3 in 2017, I expect them to do so again at the next E3.

Battle Royale mode in next year’s Call of Duty – Similar to what they’re rolling out in the Chinese free-to-play game, but offered on console in the West. PUBG popularized the deathmatch, Fortnite grew phenomenally when Battle Royale was added, and I think that Treyarch will add a Battle Royale mode to the game as part of the multiplayer next year.

Switch sales of under 20 million – I think rumors of 25 – 30 million units annually are crazy talk, unless somehow Nintendo achieves success in China. My bias is no more than 15 million units sold in the West, with any upside to that figure in China.

A mobile Warcraft game – Blizzard has purportedly been working on this for over three years, and notwithstanding that nothing has yet been formally announced, I think we’ll see the game by sometime mid-year.

Continued flops from Nintendo’s mobile effort – They don’t seem to know how to build in-game purchases into their core franchises, and I don’t see them making much progress with Animal Crossing. Whatever is next is likely to underwhelm.

No new BIG game announcements from Rockstar – RDR2 will have been in development for EIGHT YEARS by the time it comes out. I don’t expect an announcement of any new games in 2018 except for Midnight Club (good, but not a BIG game), and don’t think we’ll see that until 2019 (which will have taken TEN YEARS to develop).

Dr. Serkan Toto, Kantan Games

2018 will be another successful year for Nintendo – I think while 2017 has been called a turnaround year for Nintendo, 2018 will work even better for them.

The Switch will be 2018′s best-selling console, through increased support by triple-A developers and indies, a virtual console-like offering, the online service, and remakes of older titles (Mario Maker, for instance).

I would also not be surprised to see Nintendo bringing back a lot of the Wii classics to the Switch (which I think would make a lot of sense).

On mobile, 2017 has been slower than I predicted last year for Nintendo, but I think this might change in 2018. The company hasn’t even scratched the surface of what’s possible for it on smartphones.

I also predict a market entry for Nintendo in China in 2018, at the very least on mobile and through a partnership with Tencent (who else).

Microsoft will continue to struggle – Same as last year: I like the Xbox One, but I think Microsoft will continue to have a very difficult time against Sony. The PS4 simply has too many exclusive games slated for 2018, and there is no way big M can cover a lot of lost ground with the Xbox One X.

Apart from that, the first information or leaks could arrive next year regarding Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation consoles.

VR and AR – I was very pessimistic about VR for the mass market in 2017, and I believe VR will not break through in 2018 either. Sony will surely come up with a new PSVR headset, there will be price cuts and maybe some new hardware for the Xbox One – but VR needs more time.

About AR (in gaming), I am similarly pessimistic. I understand the tech is getting better, but AR in general has been here for years now: where is the great content? Will it be Niantic’s Harry Potter game?

Sequels, sequels, sequels – This may sound like a cheap one, as many sequels have already been announced to roll out in 2018, but my point is that we will see even more announced in the future. Development and marketing costs on console are going through the roof, and I don’t see many triple-A studios willing to experiment in 2018.

So I would not only expect more sequels but also more remakes, remasters and games-as-a-service offerings in 2018.

Further consolidation on mobile – 2017 was a year of consolidation in mobile gaming, and I have no doubt the trend will continue in 2018. We will certainly see more studios dying or joining forces, the general quality of mobile games going up and perhaps the one or other surprise arriving on smartphones. (i.e. from Nintendo).

It would be about time: after all, mobile mega hits like Candy Crush, Clash Of Clans or Japan’s Puzzle & Dragons will all celebrate their sixth anniversary in 2018.

Also, it’s safe to expect more M&A activity in the mobile game space in 2018, especially driven by Korean and Chinese companies wanting to expand to the West and Japan. (Source:gamesindustry.biz  )