A look back at 2004, and a look ahead at 2005

A look back
at 2004, and a look ahead at 2005

By

Michael Lafferty

 

Industry friends share memories of 2004 and expectations for
the year ahead

 

Another year is almost past and we stand on
the brink of a new one, one that has the potential to be bigger and better yet.
But 2005 will have big shoes to fill if it wishes to diminish the achievements
in the videogame industry that 2004 brought.

 

The technology was hot, and while we saw
advances in graphics boards, it was the handhelds that stole the show,
culminating with the launch of the Nintendo DS. But 2005 can answer that with
the Sony PSP.

 

It is no secret that this writer is a big fan
of the massively multiplayer online game genre, and in that regard what a
wonderful year 2004 turned out to be. There was disappointment with the
cancellation of some big titles, like Mythica, Ultima X and Dragon Empires, but
the year wrapped up nicely with the release of EverQuest II and World of
Warcraft. And 2005 will bring the anticipated releases (projected) of Guild
Wars, Middle-earth Online and Vanguard among a long list of titles that evoke a
little drool and wonder about how I am going to be able to spend more hours
playing them than there are in a day.

 

Electronic Arts will certainly be under the
microscope with its Madden title, since sewing up exclusive NFL franchise
rights. The question that remains to be answered is, with this bold move by the
NFL to give sole videogame licensing rights to one publisher, if other major
sports will follow – such as Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and maybe even
the NCAA body.

 

What I will remember the most about 2004 is
perhaps the traveling and getting to work much closer with some of the
publishers. And, of course, the glorious images and immersive stories I was
privileged to explore, as well as the incredible hardware I was allowed to play
with.

 

As I have done in years past, I want to wrap
up this year with a column that embraces what others thought of 2004 and what
they see lies ahead for 2005.

 

Several of the folks I have had the
opportunity to work with during the past year were asked what made 2004 so
memorable for them, and what are they looking forward to in the coming year. The
opinions stated here do not reflect the views or opinions of the companies for
which they work, but are personal opinions.

 

Here are the questions, and the answers:

 

What do you remember most about 2004
(either in general or from a gaming standpoint)?

 

The NCsoft PR team of
David Swofford, Janna Bureson and Mike Crouch:

 

Launching two massively multiplayer titles on
the same day, with E3 only 2 weeks later! But we’re trying to forget about that.
Thanks for bringing it up.

 

When City of Heroes won not one, but TWO
gaming awards from Billboard Magazine. That was cool.

 

Sam ‘Satine’ Russell,
Community Liaison Manager, Codemasters Software Limited:

 

Sadly, what I most remember about 2004 from a
gaming standpoint is the demise of Dragon Empires. In a strange and ironic twist
though, it has been the most fulfilling and happiest year of my working life!

 

Sean Kauppinen, PR, SOE:

 

The launch of EverQuest II was the most
memorable moment of 2004 for me. After more than 2 years of working on the game,
all of the hard work paid off and everything went really well. I’m looking
forward to a few weeks in Hawaii in January.

 

Ken Brown, PR, AEG:

 

From a gaming standpoint, I thought it
interesting that Doom 3, Half-Life 2, and Halo 2 all shipped in the same year.
What an awesome year for shooter fans.

 

From a biz standpoint, Halo 2 blew away even
Microsoft when it made sales history with $125M in sales in 24 hrs. The
anticipation and excitement for the game was kinda overwhelming. I never thought
people would line up in freezing temps for a game release at midnight. It was a
cultural phenomenon.

 

Ted Brockwood, PR, AEG:

 

The huge launch of Halo 2 would have to be it
for gaming. In general – a very crazy election season.

 

Terri Perkins, PR, Funcom:

 


I think, for me, the most
memorable gaming moment of 2004 was on Labor Day weekend during DragonCon.
Myself and a co-worker were severely sleep deprived due to our latest title
launch the day prior, we had battled horrible blinding rain, downed trees,
hurricane winds and survived non-stop phone calls to make it to Atlanta and get
set up at the last moment. Suddenly we had throngs of people staring up at a big
screen display, with their mouths wide open in utter awe while watching the
game. Little kids tugging at their mothers, begging for the game and people
wanting photos taken and fans coming by to see us that had traveled across
continents. It was a surreal moment where it dawned on me, we may not be
providing cures to the world’s worst diseases or discovering new sources of
energy to help the planet, but we’re making people happy in our own little way
and that has got to be good.

 

What do you forecast is in store for the
gaming industry in 2005?

 

The NCsoft PR team of
David Swofford, Janna Bureson and Mike Crouch:

 

From NCsoft? A group of excellent MMORPGs, as
we continue our quest for MMORPG world domination!

 

Sam ‘Satine’ Russell,
Community Liaison Manager, Codemasters Software Limited:

 

I forecast a bountiful year for MMO fans as
more and more MMOs are released and new ones are announced. I also think this
will be the bumper year as the end of quarter figures roll in. I believe that
the big 2 from 2004 will have brought a lot of ‘fresh blood’ into the genre and
when they churn out and move on, it’ll be an MMO they’ll be looking for. It’s
all good and very exciting!

 

Sean Kauppinen, PR, SOE:

 

The PSP will dominate the handheld market in
2005.  Two new gaming magazines will start up trying to reach the 18-30 gamer
demographic.  My EverQuest II character will become more powerful than you can
imagine.

 

Ted Brockwood, PR, AEG:

 

Online gaming will keep getting bigger. It’ll
be pretty tough to find a game that doesn’t include it.

 

Terri Perkins, PR, Funcom:

 

This is going to be a fantastic year for
gaming and gamers!

  • The PSP and DS will continue to make waves
    and more and more of those non traditional gamers will see the light.

  • We’ll see in game advertising take a step
    forward and we’ll see more varieties of entertainment merge into gaming.

  • I believe we’ll see competition grow more
    fierce this year in terms of business models and this will benefit the
    consumer.

  • Digital distribution will take further leaps
    and I believe we’ll see traditional retailers adapt some of their practices to
    take advantage of this.

  • There will be games announced , records
    broken and technologies revealed this year that will further strengthen the
    industry and truly make it an exciting year for gamers.

  • Online worlds will thrive and continue to
    evolve and more people than ever will become members of these communities.

What New Year’s resolution (if any) do you
intend to make?

 

The NCsoft PR team of
David Swofford, Janna Bureson and Mike Crouch:

 

Send Michael Lafferty a Lineage II coffee
grinder and a City of Heroes cape. Oh, we did that? Cool, then we’ve got nothing
to do and all year to do it!

 

Sam ‘Satine’ Russell,
Community Liaison Manager, Codemasters Software Limited:

 

None for me this year. I’m carrying over my
last one, which has worked well, but still needs improvement. That one was "to
do things as I think of them and not a minute later" 🙂 oh and to do more
exercise… *sigh*

 

Sean Kauppinen, PR, SOE:


More international PR work for me to reach emerging audiences.

 

Ted Brockwood, PR, AEG:

 

Finally finish Rainbow Six 3 and Black Arrow.
Seems I made it through half of each game, then spent the rest of the time
online. And find a cool game for my 18-month old.

 

Terri Perkins, PR, Funcom:

 

I resolve to find time to do last year’s
resolutions and to clean out my email box. Really, it’s on the to-do list …
right above clean my office and cut down on caffeine, take more time off and
take up jogging.

 

– – –

 

As for my thoughts, the most memorable part
was covered, and I have to agree with others that more people will be drawn into MMOs and the numbers of gamers in general will continue to increase. Another
price war for consoles will be to the benefit of gamers, and there will be a bit
of a price war in subscription services as publishers try to lure in the
increasing numbers of gamers.

 

No resolutions – that’s merely setting oneself
up for a disappointment … sort of like going into a shooter tourney with
expectations of victory and grandeur only to have some 12-year-old blow you away
like a gnat from the trunk of a sneezing elephant.