Most game companies are currently pooping a joystick, as it's nearly impossible to forecast future sales or predict how to make hits in an era where everything from play habits to the platforms and devices themselves are changing at a breakneck pace. Slow to adapt to the innovations of social, online and free-to-play games, most publishers are reacting the only way they know how: by doubling down on proven brands, franchises, sequels and spin-offs, or spending to acquire well-known Hollywood, TV and comic book licenses.
As such, two outcomes are inevitable. One: Expect to see more familiar franchises returning, receiving reboots or being resurrected in fresh forms year after year (hello Halo 4 and Tomb Raider). In the hopes of mitigating risk, everything old truly becomes new again. And two: Publishers will need to become leaner in more agile in the face of mounting and diverse competition. Staff will be cut, more versatile developers will be hired, and past business strategies will be shuttered as game houses struggle to turn around sinking battleships in the era of light watercraft. That's not to say doom and gloom is in the air — rather, that insiders have been slow to adapt to innovations they've long known were coming, and there's still some pain to go through before we fully reach the next level.
We'll close with the biggest gaming trend of all — one that no one seems to want to talk about at a very blockbuster-focused conference like E3. As Internet connectivity continues to proliferate, bandwidth increases, mobile devices boom and the quality, sophistication and availability of on-demand gaming improves, the humble web browser — increasingly available on smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs, consoles and other devices — may soon become the most popular, and ubiquitous, video game system of all.