Three Plausible 2016 Events that Could Alter the Gaming Landscape

On the surface, every video game debate seems to center around either the negative or the positive, the pro or the con. It’s simple to think about opinions in binary terms like right and wrong, even though the existence of a debate itself indicates that neither side is truly right or wrong. Extending this vague logic outwards a bit, isn’t it totally normal for some things to have elements of good and bad? Could something immediately bad end up becoming a net positive for all who are involved?

I’ve been thinking about nonsense like this for the better part of two weeks now, and eventually, like all things is my dorky existence, it all led right back to video games. Namely, what are a few events that could conceivably happen next year that would leave behind a potentially positive wake. These aren’t predictions, as anyone who spends any time on this planet knows that predicting the future is impossible, but they are based upon logic that shouldn’t seem too far out of the ordinary. Without further ado, here are three plausible gaming events that could conceivably occur next year and end up changing the digital entertainment in noticeable ways.

1) Uncharted 4 ends up being underwhelming or broken

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At this point, we’ve seen two instances of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End malfunctioning during gameplay demonstrations at PSX 2014 and E3 2015. Granted, this could simply have been bad luck on Naughty Dog’s part, meaning that the final release could wind up being incredible and those were two isolated incidents that happened to be on large stages during major press events. Those who err on the side of pessimism might wonder whether the final release could be in rough shape, as the most important displays of this anticipated title couldn’t even function without some sort of issue. Combine this with multiple delay announcements, and you wouldn’t be strange to wonder whether or not Naughty Dog is setting themselves up for failure.

If Uncharted 4 ends up being a technical mess, or just a fall from grace from one of the most heralded studios (and perhaps my personal favorite) in the business. Would Sony be forced to lean into new IP if its biggest mainstream first-party exclusive franchise falls flat next spring? A world where Uncharted 4 falls flat could wind up lighting a spark under Naughty Dog that fuels the impassioned development of its next game, whether that’s The Last of Us 2 or not. In order to prove that the PlayStation 4 actually has worthwhile first-party AAA exclusives, Sony will have to either lean further into third parties or back games like Horzon: Zero DawnDreams and whatever Sony Bend and Sony Santa Monica are working on. One bad Uncharted sequel could wind up inspiring Sony to step up its game, which could subsequently cause Phil Spencer and his crew to continue to make the Xbox One an awesome place to play games. The video game industry is best when competition is strong, and sometimes it takes some stepping back in order to launch yourself forward.

2) No Man’s Sky does not launch in 2016

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Maybe No Man’s Sky, the ambitious space exploration title from Hello Games, will wind up being all that it’s cracked up to be. That would certainly be awesome, as the idea of No Man’s Sky is absolutely fascinating. The concept of a procedurally generated universe that exists dynamically with or without your presence is certainly mind-boggling, and the hope is that this is a title that absolutely blows us away. The thing is, No Man’s Sky is still talked about far too vaguely, and its team is far too small (not to mention burdened by an office flood two years ago that reportedly took some progress with it) not to at least question whether this title will need even more time in the oven. If it’s possible for No Man’s Sky to be the amazing game that we all hope it will be, couldn’t it also be possible that Sean Murray and his team need a bit more time to achieve their vision?

There has already been a ton of backlash against the way that No Man’s Sky has been shown to us, as still, to this day, it’s a bit unclear what this game is going to wind up being. Perhaps a world where one more game is revealed far too early, not to mention too vaguely, will prompt developers and publishers to hold their cards a bit closer to their chests. Just take a look at how well received the Fallout 4 announcement and release was. Wouldn’t it be better to have games revealed and not demoed to death? Think about it: how many times have you forgotten about The Division or The Witness since they were first revealed? At some point the hype bubble will burst and multi-year marketing campaigns will come to an end. Maybe the small team making a game in which you explore endlessly throughout a procedurally-generated universe will wind up being the ones who inadvertently set this ball in motion.

3) Nintendo reveals and subsequently releases the NX, only to see it bomb at launch

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As someone who desperately wants to see Nintendo right its ship and become the amazing company we all know it can be, it’s scary to think that its fate rests on the back of the mysterious NX. If Nintendo has another failed console launch after the Wii U’s disastrous sales performance, then we could be looking at a major shift in the Japanese game giant’s gameplan. We know that Nintendo is going to tell us more about the NX in 2016, and some rumors have suggested that production is set to begin during the first half of the year. What would happen if the NX, which may or may not be tied to the horrid touch-screen controller device from a recent patent you see above, winds up being a complete failure? If this is the hybrid device that we all have assumed it would be, what if the technology simply doesn’t function at a level that modern day gamers expect?

Some may balk at the ultimate dream here, as it seems incredibly far fetched at this point. What if another failed console could prompt Nintendo to exit the hardware business and partner with either Sony, Microsoft or Valve? Past history might suggest that there could be bad blood between Sony and Microsoft after the failed PlayStation partnership back in the early 1990s. A partnership with Microsoft could make an Xbox One successor, depending on whether or not it’s an actual console or simply functionality on Windows PCs, arguably the most desirable gaming platform on the planet. The interesting wild card in this mildly insane hypothetical scenario is Valve. If Nintendo games were exclusive to a platform like Steam, would we see more people flock to PC gaming?