If you like video games at all, you liked 2005. While it may be argued that other years hold more significance for their leaps forward in technology, 2005 saw one of the most delightful occurrences in art – the swan song. With the Xbox 360 nipping at their heels, developers produced games that pushed the limits of the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube; leaving many wondering if they really needed a new console just yet. It was Monet’s water lilies; Abbey Road; the final panel of Calvin and Hobbes.
As the big three consoles saw the light at the end of the tunnel (or three red ones), they also began to see the most impressive and groundbreaking titles to date. PS2 rolled out Shadow of the Colossus, Guitar Hero and God of War; and the spectacular platformer Psychonauts was featured on both PS2 and Xbox. The Xbox also hosted two great ports in GTA: San Andreas and Half-Life 2. GameCube’s only really impressive game of 2005, Resident Evil 4, can probably be counted a dozen times.
And the best part of all of this? We knew that it was only going to get better. As my jaw went slack watching Kratos butcher innocent civilians I couldn’t help but remember that the PS3 was on its way with impossibly boner-inspiring graphics and hardware. Unlike so many other swan songs, this party wasn’t going to end anytime soon. With soft rumors of a potential 2014 (at the absolute earliest) launch date for either/both Sony and Microsoft’s next consoles we can’t help but wonder what swan songs we can expect this time around. With the Wii HD already announced, the gauntlet has been thrown down to Sony and Microsoft to one-up Nintendo. So what if Sony and Microsoft decide the teat is dry and 2015 is their year for a new cash influx? What games should we expect?
EA/Activision – SSDD
The best part about huge Orwellian developers is their predictability. 2015 will not be any different for either EA or Activision, who will keep on chugging like a freakish freight train without brakes. EA proved this in 2005 when they launched Madden 06 simultaneously on PS2, GameCube, Xbox and Xbox 360. Count on EA to blur the line, or perhaps ease the transition, between this generation and the next. We may be graced with Mirror’s Edge 2; but that game also seems to be in the early stages of Duke Nukem Forevering (people say that right?). Oh and at least four Sims titles.
As for Activision, they will continue to produce and develop a number of licensed superhero games with the occasional diamond in the rough. Pending an unlikely flop from Modern Warfare 3, we can expect at least two more Call of Duty titles; one from each Treyarch and Infinity Ward. Also count on far too many racing games.
Epic Games – a toss up
It’s a bit too early to make a call on what we can expect out of the burgeoning Epic Games, with Gears of War 3 so close (and yet so far), but I’ll take a shot. While Epic will definitely produce with the undoubted sequel to Bulletstorm, the development team is going to get started soon on another project. While GOW3 has been confirmed as the end of the story arc don’t count out Marcus and the team just yet. Much like Halo: Reach surprised Halo fans who had given up on the series, a prequel remains possible. The preliminary story of Sera is so rich and bloody (thanks mostly to Gears novel writer Karen Traviss) that a Pendulum Wars story for Gears wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
We can definitely expect another title from Epic subsidiary Chair Entertainment; possibly a sequel to 2009’s Shadow Complex, or perhaps another engaging iOS game. While People Can Fly and Chair will undoubtedly be working on new titles, Epic’s direction remains unclear, although a new IP seems unlikely. They have shown a penchant for sequels and fleshed out universes in both Gears of War and the Unreal series, and a launch title for the next Xbox seems much more probable.
Bungie – Amidst an identity crisis
Bungie is still brushing their hands in satisfaction after pulling out of one of the most successful video game series of all time, but the time for slacking has passed. In fact, they have been increasing their staff and moved into a much larger building last year. However, through all of this they have remained aloof as to what projects they may be working on. Keep in mind that Bungie originally worked on the strategy game Myst, before being sucked into the insanely successful vortex that is/was Halo. And after a decade-long stint of blowing up aliens, Bungie may feel like it’s time for something completely different. 2015? We can’t even guess what they’re doing tomorrow.
Rockstar – More gold
Rockstar is likely the best poised of any developer for 2015. With the wildly successful Red Dead Redemption in their back pocket and the stalwart Grand Theft Auto series lying in wait, Rockstar is in a win-win situation. The upcoming Agent will likely launch well before 2015, but sequels to RDR and GTA have a better chance of evoking a final “wow” from this generation’s gamers. Because we haven’t even seen hints of either of these sequels, we can’t really expect them any time before 2013. And if there ever was a developer to push the limits of a dying console, it’s Rockstar.
Valve – We seriously only care about one game
If it’s not Half-Life 3 I don’t want to hear a peep out of Valve. The studio notorious for producing games on their own elongated or non-existent timeline has yet to say a firm word about Half-Life 3, but if they aren’t making it I can’t figure out what they would be doing after giving birth to wunderkind Portal 2. The Xbox port of Half-Life 2 came out in 2005 bringing the joy of crowbars to console gamers, so perhaps Valve will be so kind as to grace us with a similar experience in 2015.
2015? More like 2020
In truth the PS3 and Xbox 360 have the hardware to guarantee their shelf life stretches long into the foreseeable future. Honestly, the Department of Defense made a supercomputer out of PS3s. And MIT students who hacked the Kinect found it could do just about anything except fly the Space Shuttle (too soon?). As for which console will make the first move, the Xbox seems the obvious choice. Lacking the increasingly necessary hardware of a Blu-ray player, the 360 can only go so far into the future. Of course this is all still a large amount of speculation based on the assumption that Microsoft and Sony are saved from the Mayan apocalypse in 2012. And perhaps I ignored the biggest question of all: what the hell is Microsoft going to call the next Xbox? I’m partial to the Xbox 4nicate, but that's just me.
Nationally unacclaimed freelance writer Jonathan Deesing has been writing about video games for dozens of weeks. His professional knowledge ranges from skiing to Peruvian history and of course, anything with buttons. If you can't get enough of his musings, check out his Twitter feed.