January 17, 2018 // 2:30 p.m.
What would the dawning of a new year be without a bunch of entirely serious and not-at-all facetious predictions about what will happen in the games industry over the next twelve months? If any of you just thought 'better', please feel free to insert yourselves into the nearest bin. This was a lot easier to do when I didn't have children, okay?
Microsoft's launch of the Xbox One X went better than anticipated, but in 2017 the machine still sold fewer units than the PS4 and the Switch overall. So for 2018 Microsoft is committed to a new marketing push, spearheaded by the creation of several new Xbox One X branded products designed to raise the console's market visibility.
Kicking off this new marketing venture is the Xbox One X Box, which is a large, heavy-duty plastic box designed for Xbox One X users to store their Xbox One X in. This Xbox One X Box is entirely different from the Xbox One X box which the Xbox One X comes packaged in, being a far sturdier container designed for protection rather than transportation. For additional hardware safeguarding, players can also invest in the Xbox One X Box Box, an additional box which players can use to store their Xbox One X Box inside.
The Xbox One X Box is not to be confused with the Xbox One eggs box, an entirely separate branded product designed to cater for players who need additional kitchen storage while also wanting to express their brand loyalty to Microsoft. Food-oriented Xbox fans may also be interested in the new Xbox One OXO Box, a joint marketing venture that will bring Xbox One X-themed stock-cubes to kitchen cupboards around the globe. Mmm, is that brand engagement I smell? Delicious.
Other branded products rumoured to be in prototyping include Official Xbox One X Socks, Xbox One X Locks, and the Xbox One X XXX Box, which will enjoy a limited run in shops that have chains hanging from the doors. Microsoft anticipates that this new marketing push will see it top the console tables by this time next year.
After the backlash to Star Wars: Battlefront II's progression system, Electronic Arts is keen to get back on the right side of players by making proper, wholesome games designed to wring money from its player base in a morally appropriate way. This new, player-centric lineup will commence with an ambitious open-world fantasy RPG in the Skyrim mould, focussing on a travelling bard called Kate.
The story sees Kate embark on an epic quest to find the fabled Lute of Oah-Pee, an instrument of extraordinary power that imbues the player with a talent far beyond the capacity of any other lute player. The legends say the Lute is hidden in one of over three hundred chests secreted around the magical Realm of Avarice. The Lute is placed randomly in one of these boxes at the start of each game, while the remaining 299 chests are filled with other random items that Kate probably already owns.
EA is developing some innovative new mechanics for the game. Combat will be based around dice-rolls, in that Kate and her enemies will literally sit down and roll dice together to determine who gets all the equipment, thus dispensing with all the faff involved with exciting, meaningful combat. Kate can also earn money to fund her journey by gambling in taverns, although EA is keen to point out that it's not technically gambling because you can only buy items from inside the game with your winnings.
As a gesture of good faith, EA will release Lute Kate on all platforms for free, albeit with some content missing, such as the file Lutekate.exe. Players can, however, go to the Lutekate website and download the file in exchange for a small donation, this will transfer them to a slot-machine-like minigame which provides players with a one-in-three chance of receiving the Lutekate.exe file.
After five years of hard work making Star Citizen mediocre, Cloud Imperium Games will shoot for an even more ambitious goal this year. Chris Robert's massively wealthy company is in talks to purchase the wildly successful Bluehole Inc, with a plan to merge its half-finished space-sim with Bluehole's massively popular Battle Royale format to create a new Star Citizen spinoff – PublicationUnknown's Spaceshipgrounds.
Spaceshipgrounds will see one hundred spaceships warped into a star system to fight it out until only one fighter remains, although for the first eight years of development the play area will comprise five spaceships fighting over a moon. The ships will be equipped with nothing but a small amount of fuel and oxygen, and will have to scrounge what weaponry and equipment they can once the developer finally gets around to adding it into the game.
As the match progresses, the play area will gradually shrink as it is sucked into a black hole, although the developers are still trying to work out whether or not this is a bug. The winner will be the proud recipient of one chicken dinner, provided they're willing to invest £300 in contribution to the virtual chicken dinner's creation.
Cloud Imperium anticipates that the first version of Spaceshipgrounds will be available to play at some point in the 2100s, coinciding with the advent of actual spaceships and actual Battle Royales. It's expected to be insanely profitable, mainly because Cloud Imperium just seems to have a knack for raking in exorbitant amounts of cash.
Planned releases include Team Fortress Dating, What Remains of Gordon Freeman, Steam Link's Awakening, and Left 4 A Misguided Focus on VR development.
New European legislation will come into force in 2018 that makes comparing any game to FromSoftware's venerable RPG Dark Souls a crime. The move from the European Court of Justice comes as a response to combat lazy games criticism, with the Court observing that, due to its wide-ranging influence, virtually any modern game can be compared to Dark Souls.
While all Dark Souls comparisons will be made criminal under the It's A Bit Like Dark Souls Act, the Court recognises the nuances involved with the crime, and hence has adopted a tiered classification scheme of Dark Souls Comparisons by degree, with appropriate mandated sentencing. These classifications are as follows:
Third-degree Dark Souls comparisons – covers any comparison that refers to Dark Souls' complex, holistic world design. This being the most important and overlooked aspect of Dark Souls, the Court recognises that such comparisons are made with the best of intent, and mandates sentencing at a small fine of a maximum 100 Euros.
Second degree Dark Souls comparisons – covers any comparison that refers to Dark Souls' lore and storytelling. The Court observes that just because a game has a narrative that demonstrates either subtlety or ambiguity does not mean it is therefore like Dark Souls. The Court mandates sentencing at a large fine or a short prison sentence no longer than one year.
First degree Dark Souls comparisons – covers any comparison that refers to the game's difficulty. The Court observes that comparing any game to Dark Souls on account of a shared commitment to challenging the player is 'monumentally asinine', and that 'Hard games existed before Dark Souls, and the fact that they continue to exist after Dark Souls does not therefore mean they are like Dark Souls.' The Court mandates sentencing at 30 years to life.
An amnesty on Dark Souls comparisons will be held until July 2018. Anybody who has committed a Dark Souls comparison to writing is encouraged to hand in the article, review, or forum post into a local Dark Souls comparison collection point. No questions will be asked.
'Dear God, we'll give it to anything. Just help us forget,' said a spokesperson from The Game Awards. 'We'll even consider Lute Kate.'