The peer pressure has grown too great, therefore, this year, I will do a predictions list along with all the other bloggers. Here it is:
RMT: I'll get this one out of the way right away. RMT will continue to be introduced by online game publishers. The vocal minority will cry foul for a variety of (mostly) unfounded reasons. Meanwhile, the silent majority will pony up the cash. As a result, we'll have much less insight into how the game companies are doing financially because we won't be able to rely on NPD numbers and voodoo-subscription-math to get an idea regarding the health of a game. This will contribute to surprises in both the negative and positive category.
NCsoft will abandon North America and Europe. Aion will have dismal western-world subscription numbers. Lineage will plod onward but the subscriptions will quietly slide into the sub-40K range. No new titles will be announced this year. No experienced developers will enter employment at NCsoft. No new publishing deals will be made in the west. Any effort to maintain a community team will be abandoned. In an extreme version of this sad story, ArenaNet will go independent or be sold off to UbiSoft along with the CityOf franchise.
Flying Labs will close its doors. SOE scoop up and maintain PotBS with a skeleton crew of 5 people.
Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment and Space Time Studios will fail to launch their titles (Star Gate Worlds and Blackstar) and will close doors.
Eve Online will not launch ambulation in 2009. The game will maintain its subscriber numbers but will begin to lose all but the most dedicated players as the carebear audience begins to grow tired of the lack of real developments and the high rate of ganking and ISK-based exploits and cons. In 2009 CCP will begin to truly understand the population limitations caused by embracing an audience solely made of up of the hardest of the hard core.
Wold of Darkness will remain in the dark in 2009 and the internet community will start to get nervous. CCP will fail to respond in any effective way.
Age of Conan will NOT be closed in 2009. Why not? Because Funcom isn't NCsoft. They keep Anarchy Online alive, they'll keep Conan alive for many years to come, after all, it wasn't the most successful new MMO in 2008, but it probably was the most worthwhile one. Conan will run a path similar to EQ2. In mid-2010, many of us will find ourselves playing it and saying it is "one of the best" fantasy MMOs available.
Netdevil, one of the last remaining established independent MMO developers, will be purchased by a publisher.
Lego Universe will not launch in 2009.
Jumpgate Evolution will launch in 2009 and will quickly become recognized as the number one space faring MMO, topping Eve's numbers almost immediately.
EverQuest will enjoy a small boost in popularity around its 10th anniversary and then will sit by the fire and tell stories about the old days. A full round of server merges will occur by the end of 2009.
Warhammer Online will file in next to LotRO and EQii. They'll have private meetings where they sit around and make fun of World of Warcraft.
Mythic Entertainment will start to tease us with talk of a new project. They won't give any specifics, but EA CEO John Riccitiello will make wild claims about the project. EA's PR team will suffer massive panic attacks.
Blizzard will do nothing of note and announce even less on the MMO front, but will offer an exclusive in-game pet to BlizzCon attendees.
Darkfall will become the fantasy version of EVE Online. It'll start weak, but slowly climb as it finds its audience.
Bioware will not release The Old Republic in 2009, but we'll still be really excited about it at the end of the year. Bioware will continuously use Blizzard's line, "When it's ready" without promising a date. At least one additional title from Bioware will be launched and we'll all start singing that Andy Samberg song.
Carbine, Red 5 and 38 Studios will come clean and announce their products. 2012 release dates will be kicked around. The internet community will react with a healthy dose of skepticism and will go back to maxing yet another character in WoW.
Free Realms and the Agency will launch in 2009. Free Realms will enjoy massive success and the term "WoW Killer" will be tossed around freely. The Agency will get rushed out prior to the holidays and might be a bit content-light.
VirginWorlds will start to move into video content, but the Collective will stay the same size due to an even balance of retiring podcasts and new podcasts. (Self fulfilling prophecy? Perhaps.)