Big Three Predictions 2021

The new year would not be complete without a healthy chunk of industry predictions. My second post ever on Max Frequency was my 2020 predictions. It is a sacred pastime and one I enjoy throughly. Before we recap my 2020 predictions and look into my crystal ball for 2021, here are the rules I have set for myself:

  • Everything written down must come true for the prediction to be counted as correct.

And that’s it. I do three predictions each for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft. I also close them all out with a “Kiefer”-level prediction. This is some outlandish, over-the-moon prediction inspired by the wackiness of having Kiefer Sutherland be the voice of Venom Snake in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Let’s see how I fared in 2020.

Nintendo

  1. The next 3D Mario game is revealed and released in 2020.
  2. Switch revision with more power is announced. Switch lifetime sales will surpass 70 million units.
  3. The next Mario Kart game announced.

No strictly new 3D Mario game was announced nor was released in 2021. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury was announced but is releasing on February 12, 2021. So some new 3D Mario content, but off by two months!

No new Switch model, despite earlier rumors. The Switch console most assuredly surpassed 70 million units sold though. The last official numbers were reported on November 5, 2020 with 68.3 million units. That specific quarter was 6.86 million consoles alone. Since this was before the traditional holiday shopping season, I feel safe claiming that the Switch has surpassed 70 million units by the end of 2020. We’ll find out officially on March 31, 2021 when the annual shareholders meeting occurs. Still doesn’t give me the point though.

Not quite what I had envisioned, but a new Mario Kart game was announced and released this year! If only I didn’t have carpet in half of the new apartment…One point locked for the Nintendo chunk!

PlayStation

  1. PS5 will be fully revealed in a Wired article with a press event around E3 that reveals price and date. Backward compatible with all systems, including PS3 and Vita.
  2. Horizon Zero Dawn sequel will be launch window title for PS5.
  3. PS VR 2 will be mentioned by Sony. 

So believably wrong. The reveal of the PS5 was whacky, cancelled E3 or not.

What is a launch window anyway? Completely subjective, I’m sure. The closest thing to a release date for Horizon Forbidden West is a window of the second half of 2021. While it possibly could happen within the first year of the PS5, I don’t think it counts as a launch window title. Wrong again.

While Sony didn’t talk about the PS VR 2 in the way that I had hoped for, they did talk about VR on the PS5 and the future of their VR plans.

“PlayStation believes in VR. Sony believes in VR, and we definitely believe at some point in the future, VR will represent a meaningful component of interactive entertainment. Will it be this year? No. Will it be next year? No. But will it come at some stage? We believe that…” – PlayStation CEO, Jim Ryan in an interview with The Washington Post on Oct. 29, 2020

Is that specifically mentioning PS VR 2? Who’s to say? No one is here to stop me. So I give myself the point.

Xbox

  1. Series X will be the only “next-gen” Xbox available this holiday shopping season.
  2. While Halo Infinite will be a lunch title, it will have some differentiating feature from the Xbox One edition of the game, despite being cross-generational.
  3. The Initiative’s first game will be revealed.

I just did not believe the idea that Microsoft would launch two consoles simultaneously and undercut themselves in price, performance, and game design limitations. I do think that them launching two consoles and Sony launching two variants makes for a far more interesting, if not unprecedented, market.

My Halo prediction could still come true, except for the part about being a launch title.

All hail Geoff Keighley and The Game Awards. This was almost too close for comfort. I never played Perfect Dark on the N64, but this new game seems pretty dope. I am curious how building an entirely new studio from scratch to revive an old IP will pan out.

Lastly, there is the matter of last year’s Kiefer prediction:

The next 3D Mario game will be Super Mario Odyssey 2 and will launch this summer, while Nintendo’s big fall game will be the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Oh so very wrong. Well, maybe we could drop the “very.” Like I mentioned before, Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury is on the horizon. While Nintendo’s big Fall game wasn’t the sequel to Breath of the Wild, we did get the prequel to it with Age of Calamity. Maybe we can say I was “oh so close, yet so far away.”

Out of all the predictions, I nabbed 3/10. That is terrible. I hurt myself with some two-sentence predictions. Don’t worry, I’ve learned my lesson. I will fare much better in 2021.

Nintendo

  1. Nintendo will acknowledge the GameCube’s 20th anniversary.
  2. For The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary, Nintendo will release a 3D Zelda collection, just like they did for Mario in 2020.
  3. There is no new “Pro” Nintendo Switch model released in 2021.

2021 is a huge anniversary year for the Big N. The biggest by far is The Legend of Zelda. There was a huge celebration when Zelda had its 25th anniversary, most notably with the release of Skyward Sword. I can’t imagine a 2021 where Nintendo doesn’t celebrate Zelda’s 35th anniversary. It also happens to be Metroid’s 35th anniversary, but hoping for any major form of celebration is a fool’s hope.

The other notable anniversary is the launch of the GameCube, arguably my favorite Nintendo console of all time. Ideally (read as another fool’s hope) Nintendo would do some sort of GameCube library like they currently do for the NES and SNES on Switch Online. The GameCube is the second Nintendo home console (I see you Virtual Boy) to not have any sort of digital presence on Nintendo’s current consoles and shops. It’s time for the GameCube to get the respect it deserves.

Since the rumors were so prevalent heading into 2020, I’m deciding to swing the other way when it comes to the Switch Pro. I think Nintendo is happy riding out one more year before releasing the Switch Pro. That’s not to say they won’t announce it this year, but I don’t see it releasing in 2021.

PlayStation

  1. Sony will buy Bluepoint Games.
  2. Naughty Dog’s next project will not be announced in 2021.
  3. Backward compatibility will come to the PS5 for more than the PS4.

Sony and Bluepoint Games have an incredibly tight second-party relationship. I think Sony will look to lock that in as a first party. Sony has an incredible library of games that would thrive off a full-blown remake from the best of the best. Demon’s Souls being a launch title for the PS5 continues to showcase the prowess of Bluepoint Games and Sony’s hardware. It’s time for Sony to lock Bluepoint down.

Historically, Naughty Dog doesn’t wait long to announce their next project. I say they pivot and fully embrace the silence that they took for the bulk of the development of The Last of Us Part II. Now, I could be proven wrong in January or February when they announce a PS5 port of The Last of Us Part II with some fully featured multiplayer game, but I’m thinking the Dogs may be quiet for awhile.

This is my vague way to say that Sony better let us play those digital PS1 and PS2 games we bought back in the day. Heck, go the way and figure out PS3 compatibility and bring along the PSP and the Vita. Make the PS5 the end-all-be-all PlayStation.

Xbox

  1. Halo Infinite is delayed again.
  2. At least two games previously confirmed for cross-generational support will drop their Xbox One versions.
  3. Microsoft will announce that the Xbox One consoles will receive an xCloud app, turning them into streaming boxes.

As much as it pains me to write it, I feel like Halo Infinite is going to slip again, likely to early 2022. Maybe 343 will release a multiplayer beta to soften the blow, but I think Chief slips one more time.

Which some what ties into my next prediction, I think this cross-generational support is going to slowly vanish from Xbox. I can’t see Halo Infinite making its way to Xbox One. Throw Fable, Forza, or whatever else in there too. It’s already begun with Microsoft Flight SimulatorAfter both Sony taking the “announce cross-gen titles as they come” approach and the utter debacle of Cyberpunk 2077’s console launch, I can’t imagine Microsoft will want their studios to support six different platforms.

And building upon the blow that would cause, I think Microsoft will announce that an xCloud app will come to Xbox One consoles. Most likely the One S and One X, since they both can output 4K video. If my phone can “run” The Master Chief Collection, I think the One S and One X can stream some games. Not only would this technically mean that you can play these games on your older hardware, but it also helps bolster Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, which is what Microsoft and Xbox really want their customers to sign up for.

I’ve kept you waiting for my Big Boss Kiefer-level prediction, haven’t I? Well no longer! Behold!

Nintendo will release a 3D Zelda collection that includes an HD port of Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D, as well as Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD. The long-rumored HD port of Skyward Sword will be a standalone release.

I think what makes this “Kiefer”-levels is the versions of the 3D Zelda games I chose. The biggest shock would be porting the 3DS remakes of the N64 classics in HD. Nintendo could easily just use their N64 emulation from Super Mario 3D All-Stars and call it a day. I think they’ll go above and beyond for Zelda though and utilize those recent remakes. They already gave the GameCube Zelda games the HD treatment and have been porting Wii U games left and right. Releasing Skyward Sword alone would be inline with other decisions that Nintendo has made with new releases of older games.

2021 feels like it will be a banger of a year for video games to me. There’s just enough shrouded in fog that amps my excitement. Nintendo could really come out with all the pomp and circumstance for Zelda, Metroid, Super Nintendo World (the theme park, not the similarly named, theme park inspired Wii U game Nintendo Land). PlayStation can keep the train chugging along by making big purchases and popularly demanded features a reality. Xbox can continue their resurgence with a laser focus on playing their games on any screen that will have their app. There is plenty of potential, all that remains to be seen is if the industry goes for it.