World of Warcraft makes more money than many small countries

It’s hard to believe, but one of our biggest predictions is for a game that’s busy enjoying its sixth birthday and shows no sign of heading for retirement: the ever-popular World of Warcraft. Blizzard’s MMORPG has enjoyed the kind of success that's the stuff of dreams for its many competitors and imitators, and the game’s popularity and vice-like grip on its players’ attention spans – not to mention wallets – will continue to grow throughout 2011.

We reckon that the launch of the Cataclysm expansion at the end of 2010 will prove to be the catalyst for a new wave of interest in the title, bringing fresh players into the fold and convincing those who had managed to give up their addiction to return for just one more hit. We predict that its meteoric rise will see the game keep its well-deserved place at the top of the MMO market, and the total revenue generated by the game will, throughout 2011, surpass $3 billion. To put that into perspective, this is substantially higher than the GDP of the island of Fiji. If only we had shares in Blizzard.

2011: The Year Ahead What do you think will happen in 2011?
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm sold 3.3 million copies in 24 hours.

While we wouldn’t dream of suggesting that Blizzard will use this incredible success to declare World of Warcraft a nation state, demand a seat on the NATO Council and start using its unimaginable wealth to begin refining uranium to craft its own nuclear deterrent, we would say that it’s surprisingly possible. Just about, anyway.

Duke Nukem Forever goes on sale

To round off our look at the year ahead, we finish with a prediction that would have seemed plausible in 1997, an almost sure bet in 1999, a bad running joke in 2003, and a delusional fantasy in 2009: the impending launch of Duke Nukem Forever.

The gaming world’s longest-running development project seemed dead in the water last year. However, we reckon that 2011 will genuinely be the year that gamers are finally invited to kick ass and chew gum once more, stepping into the Duke’s best boots after a 14-year absence as he blasts his way through a game that, by all rights, shouldn’t exist.

2011: The Year Ahead What do you think will happen in 2011?
Does Duke Nukem Forever stand any chance of living up to a decade of hype?

We have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the game, thanks to our hands-on preview of the title, and while it’s going to be a challenge for Gearbox to compensate for the game’s crazy delays, it’s sure to be a bestseller regardless. We’re even confident that the company will be honouring all the pre-orders it received throughout the game’s development cycle, leaving no fan behind.

So far, Duke Nukem Forever looks to deliver on its long-term promises. The run and gun action brings no surprises, but it manages to maintain the humour and general fun of its predecessor, which isn’t too shabby for a title that’s changed hands more often than a Premiership footballer.

So these are our predictions for the year to come. If you think we’re way off the mark, or if we've forgotten to mention something that you're certain is going to occur in 2011, then make yourself heard in the forums. Don’t forget that we’ll be looking back at this article and its comment thread in a year’s time to see how everyone did with their predictions. Good luck.
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July 1 2020 | 17:34