Happy New Year from Armchair Arcade and Personal Thoughts on 2012

Bill Loguidice's picture

On behalf of Armchair Arcade, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone out there the happiest of new years. While nothing actually changes when we cross over from December 31st to January 1st on our rather arbitrary calendars, it still provides a good opportunity to reflect on the past 365 days and what may come in the next 365. As always, we welcome your own reflections, resolutions, and thoughts in the comments.

On a personal level, of course, I continue to be thankful for my family, which remains my primary focus. I'm not really one for resolutions, but I still plan to keep fighting the good fight for continued personal improvement on all levels. Since this is Armchair Arcade, however, I can say that as it relates to videogame, computer, gadget, and technology stuff, 2011 was a very good year, and 2012 promises to be even better. From my end, for 2012, Christina and I will have our next book, My Xbox, available everywhere as early as next month. Matt and I will have our classic 2009 book, Vintage Games, go into its second printing. Matt and I also expect our documentary, Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution, affectionately dubbed, "Gameplay Forever," to finally reach completion in 2012. Matt and I are also negotiating a new book deal that should make both college professors and students, and videogame history buffs, very happy. Christina and I should also start another console book some time mid-year if things continue to progress as they are. A good portion of the Armchair Arcade team is also finishing up an exciting new ebook project this month that we think will really strike a chord with the ever growing ereader crowd (me, among them, of course). Of course, that's all just the stuff we're anticipating, and the list will likely grow.

To the wider industry, we're all anticipating the release of the PlayStation Vita outside of Japan and how that will ultimately fare, the Nintendo Wii U some time mid-year, the release of the iPad 3 (and possible downgrade of the iPad 2 as a budget tablet) and iPhone 5 (and yes, maybe even the mythical Apple television), continued advancements in Android tablets and phones, the release of Windows 8 and some associated tablets, and all kinds of other exciting new releases, developments and announcements, both known and as yet unknown. Of course, it's not all expected to go well in 2012, with some of us expecting the start of a RIM death and/or takeover watch and a whole lot more companies getting their hurt on due to continued struggles of the worldwide economy and general business missteps. I'll of course continue to make my predictions right here on Armchair Arcade on an ongoing basis (my track record in 2011 was quite good, actually), but I'd certainly love to hear your thoughts as well for the record, so sound off below... Happy New Year!

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Matt Barton
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Great post, Bill. 2012 should

Great post, Bill. 2012 should definitely be an interesting year for gaming, especially if we see the launch of any new consoles. Assuming there's not some kind of miracle spike in the economy, I think things will be tough on hardware sales and probably great for software, since developers will likely have another couple of years to improve their optimizations. It wouldn't surprise me if we started seeing "Donkey Kong Country" level innovations soon on the current gen as more tricks are discovered.

Seems like the economy is also pushing lots of casual and super-cheap software at all levels, the key being to make up for in quantity what it lacks in quality. All those designers hoping their $.99 cent game will sell a million copies and make them rich. All they need is ONE reasonable hit, after all. The result will be tons and tons of junk, but also a few treasures (and what some consider junk, others consider treasure). Assuming the economy gets worse instead of better, I think open source software will buck up, too, since hardly anyone will be in a position to spend thousands on commercial products when free alternatives exist. With more people switching to the free stuff, the demand for enhancements will increase, and hopefully start bridging the gap between products like GIMP and Photoshop.

I'm tempted to say "It's the economy, stupid." Everything hinges on whether it goes up, goes down, or maintains at the current dreary levels. If it's worse, I doubt new consoles will appear and, if they do, will underwhelm. I think when money is tight, people have a tendency to want to hang on to their current machines and get the most out of them. A marginal improvement in graphics seems marginal indeed when you're out of work.

The election won't be until November, but with the pressure on, we might see some bold moves from Obama to try to spur the economy. I think he'll be re-elected no matter what, but perhaps they'll finally do SOMETHING worthwhile. On a personal note, I won't be voting for him this go round. I also don't see myself voting for any of the Republican candidates (with the possible exception of Ron Paul, who at least is interesting), so might end up with a third party or just staying home.

It'll also be a fascinating and historical year for Apple with the death of Steve Jobs. I guess we'll finally see the extent of his influence now that it's gone. Will Apple maintain its hype factor? I doubt it. Indeed, I consider it nothing short of incredible that they've been able to hold on as long as they have, considering the abundance of cheaper (and arguably better) alternatives in every one of their product lines. If the newer iPhones and iPads start looking like "me too" devices with no bold innovations or effective marketing, I think Apple will decline fast, probably replaced by some synthesis of Google and Amazon (imagine those two teaming up).

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Bill Loguidice
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Some counter thoughts and predictions...
Matt Barton wrote:

Great post, Bill. 2012 should definitely be an interesting year for gaming, especially if we see the launch of any new consoles. Assuming there's not some kind of miracle spike in the economy, I think things will be tough on hardware sales and probably great for software, since developers will likely have another couple of years to improve their optimizations. It wouldn't surprise me if we started seeing "Donkey Kong Country" level innovations soon on the current gen as more tricks are discovered.

I don't even think any new consoles will be announced, let alone any new consoles released outside of the Wii U, which is a sure bet for some time in 2012 (most likely around June), hopefully with at least added support for a second touchscreen tablet controller to make it all the more compelling a purchase. I think both Microsoft and Sony will start to hint at their next consoles, but we won't get solid details until 2013, with probably a 2013 holiday release for both (at least in certain territories). Sony will have enough to worry about with making the Vita a success in 2012 and Microsoft can probably continue to succeed with evolving the 360's offerings for the time being, particularly if the Wii U is not noticeably more powerful than either the 360 or PS3.

I think instead of Google and Amazon teaming up, they'll continue to drift apart. Amazon's success with the Kindle Fire is not exactly a help for Google or other Android devices because it completely takes Google's influence out of the equation. I think any help Amazon provides is in getting more developers into the Android pool. If they develop for the Fire, it should be easy to develop for other devices in the Android ecosystem. I believe this will also be the year that Amazon releases a "Kindle Inferno" or "Kindle Blaze" (guesses at the name), a 10" tablet that will be a more direct iPad competitor. They may also release an Amazon branded phone since the hard part, the app store, is already in place and thriving.

I do agree with you about politics, even though it's not something we should necessarily talk about in polite company. If anyone other than Paul gets nominated on the Republican side, I can't see it as being anything but a slam dunk for Obama, despite his issues. I think the other candidates are too polarizing in their views for most Americans.

As for Apple, I think they'll do fine without Jobs in 2012, due in part to a plan already being in place and underway since before his death, easy anticipation for the iPad 3 and iPhone 5, and continued momentum. We probably won't see any potential cracks in the Apple armor until 2013, when new ideas start coming into play. With that said, I think they have the right people at the helm, so it shouldn't be a major concern for the Apple faithful.

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clok1966
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Happy new year to all.. I

Happy new year to all..

I cant see oboma being a repeat, and personaly i dont think he is any worse then any other Pres.. but we had some economic years tht people will tagg to him no matter what (economies dont change overnight). Guess we will know in about a year. The one thing he has going ofr him is historicly (lately) teh US doenst seem to want to swap.. they just go with what they know.

APPLE: wow.. ". Indeed, I consider it nothing short of incredible that they've been able to hold on as long as they have, considering the abundance of cheaper (and arguably better) alternatives in every one of their product lines. If the newer iPhones and iPads start looking like "me too" devices with no bold innovations or effective marketing, I think Apple will decline fast, probably replaced by some synthesis of Google and Amazon (imagine those two teaming up)."

Have to disagree with this.. WHile the phones havent changed much... they have improved a great good product every release. As for the Ipad..there simply isnt a tablet as good as it yet? and with everybody playing catch up.. quite possibly never will be. Inovation comes from leading not copying. APPLE with some changes to some policies would make the Iphone and Ipad all but impossible not to chose unless you are Anti Apple. Apples only mistep (opionion) is it draconian rules.. While there is alot of great things to come from those rules.. time and time again it proved the undoing of counties, companies, people.. you cant tell people how to use products they own for forever. I wont own a iphone for this simpel reason.. If i could pick my apps up on Amazon (or other places like websites). Policeing harmfull apps, no problem.. policeins apps in genral.. NO WAY! Let me pick from 200 Fart apps if i want.. not your handpiked 50 (i use this as it was all over the news a coupelyears ago... a Fart app refused).

Applie will stumble when they sit and use the current products up.. APPLE has aboute very 3-4 years come out with something "cool" they are due again an.. as far as I know Apple TV (re attepmt) is about it.. ipod, ipod video, ipond small, Mac Air, mac Cinima Display, Iphone, Ipad.. they have kept the HYPE at a great level for 10+ years.. if they dont keep the new (good) products comming they could be the old APPLE.. enouhg to stay going, but not not growing.. Ont hting I do agree with ya (sorta) if the new win tablets are even remotly usefull they will damage teh Ipad in a big way.. a dOS that 80% of the world uses in a portable tablet, or Ipad that 20% of the world uses? one would run almost anything, the other would run apps from the app store.. no more converters. no more using new app to replace an old comftble one. Companies would be all over this.. Ipads whre put into our company and they strugled with them.. and teh experament was cancled.. and we have web based programs.. so they all worked.. but after calls after calls.. on outlook, excel.. etc.. we game up.. we support it ONLY on web. Of course i cant see a Wintab haveing batery life, or even be remottly thin, and that could trip it up.. and of course adapting a keyboard /mouse os to a tablet.. but the new OS is suposed ot be buitl with touch screen in mind... if its good.. I honestly think it will be the end of the Ipad (at least as the permier tablet).. .. Bill is far better at prdicting then me so im problebly 100% wrong.

Bill Loguidice
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More...
clok1966 wrote:

Ont hting I do agree with ya (sorta) if the new win tablets are even remotly usefull they will damage teh Ipad in a big way.. a dOS that 80% of the world uses in a portable tablet, or Ipad that 20% of the world uses? one would run almost anything, the other would run apps from the app store.. no more converters. no more using new app to replace an old comftble one. Companies would be all over this.. Ipads whre put into our company and they strugled with them.. and teh experament was cancled.. and we have web based programs.. so they all worked.. but after calls after calls.. on outlook, excel.. etc.. we game up.. we support it ONLY on web. Of course i cant see a Wintab haveing batery life, or even be remottly thin, and that could trip it up.. and of course adapting a keyboard /mouse os to a tablet.. but the new OS is suposed ot be buitl with touch screen in mind... if its good.. I honestly think it will be the end of the Ipad (at least as the permier tablet).. .. Bill is far better at prdicting then me so im problebly 100% wrong.

Indeed, there are lots of "ifs" with Windows 8 tablets. I think Apple is completely safe in high end tablets on the consumer side for at least 2012, but they could prove vulnerable in corporate usage if Windows 8 tablets can provide solid performance (more iPad-like responsiveness rather than Honeycomb-like responsiveness) and battery life (8+ hours). If Microsoft can work all the kinks out in 2012, then they'll be set up to make some inroads in 2013 on the consumer side. After all, if a tablet can truly replace a laptop for 99% of use cases like a Windows 8 tablet could have the potential to do, then it could be a real growth category and provide genuine competition outside of budget alternatives like the clearance-priced TouchPad or limited Kindle Fire.

One of the x factors is whether or not Microsoft bothers to release Office on iPad or not, which is really the only major productivity hurdle left for Apple's tablet to clear (there are of course plenty of Office-like apps, just not the real deal). If they're smart, they'll keep it exclusive to Windows 8 machines, but they've been slowly branching out with the apps on iOS and Android devices of late, so they may just follow the money and do it. That could certainly impact things one way or the other. With all that said, I think Microsoft will have their hands full in 2012 trying to launch Windows 8, get some decent tablets out, and trying to keep Windows Phone growing. The latter in particular is a concern. In fact, it still baffles me why Microsoft has not made a play for getting Windows Phone into the enterprise, as iPhones and Android phones are starting to fill the void being left by RIM and their Blackberries. Perhaps 2012 is when Microsoft makes their move. Regardless, Microsoft better get moving on ALL fronts soon, because, as was seen with Windows Phone, you CAN enter a market too late with an otherwise solid product and not be able to make any inroads...

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I was just thinking that in

I was just thinking that in some cases, people out of work and/or pinching pennies might unexpectedly make a big hardware purchase, with the idea that the spike in productivity and resources might be key to getting a job. I see this more of a factor in mobile phones and computers, of course, though I guess a guy sitting at home might think - well, I'm unemployed, I'll finally have plenty of time to play games. :)

I'd like to see Paul get the nomination just to see the debates with Obama (assuming he wouldn't be too chicken to get on stage with Paul). Paul's far from a good speaker, but he doesn't just rely on sound bites and party slogans like the rest of them. I think people would watch the debates and really start getting involved in the issues, especially when Paul voiced his more "far out" ideas and started needling Obama on constitutional issues, where's he's UTTERLY FAILED and could end up looking ghastly once it was all out in the open. Ordinarily, I'd think Paul wouldn't have a chance over Romney, but who knows. I don't think many people would've taken Obama's victory in the last election for granted either.

My prediction now is that Paul will quickly fade and Romney will end up with the nomination, and all the debates will be so staged and predictable that there will be no point in watching any of them. Romney is like one of those toys; push the buttons to hear canned messages. He reminds me of one of those human-looking robots that kinda creeps you out. Obama will win in a landslide, since Romney's camp will be too divided over his Mormonism to get any real enthusiasm going, and he's just not an exciting or interesting guy in the least. If Paul does go third party, that might have interesting effects, since it's unclear whether he'd take more votes from Obama or Romney. I guess it depends on how fed up people are with the status quo and whether he could bully his way onto televised debates. If he could miraculously pull that off, I still don't think he'd win, but at least the debates would be worth watching.

I won't rule out the possibility, either, that a new candidate might suddenly appear and steal the GOP show, since none of my Republican friends seem keen on any of the existing candidates either. My grandpa, for instance, loathes Paul, is ambivalent about Romney, and thinks Gingrich is smart but has too shady of a past. Given the choice, he'd probably go for Bachmann, as scary as that is. ;)

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