With video game publishers focussing more and more on what's around the corner, rather than looking ahead to what's due a year from now, predicting the big games and moments of 2009 isn't easy. But that hasn't stopped us gazing into our gaming crystal ball and bringing you our predictions on what's going to happen next year. Here, we run down our top tips for 2009 for all you PC fanboys out there.
Half-Life 2: Episode Three
Valve has been relatively quiet in 2008 when it comes to Half-Life. With Episode Two arriving inside The Orange Box at the tail end of 2007, a Christmas 2009 release for an all-singing, all dancing conclusion to the Half-Life 2 storyline that doesn't need to be sold alongside other games seems like a solid bet. Despite Valve's lack of support for PS3, we expect PS3 owners will receive the game too. If Valve feels it has to go down the same multi-game route as The Orange Box, our money's on a collection that includes a new Portal, Episode Three and a new version of CounterStrike.
Starcraft II and Diablo III both released
You might think that predicting the release of Starcraft II and Diablo III in 2009 is playing things rather safe, but we think we're putting our neck on the line slightly. While Starcraft II has been in development long enough to make a 2009 release something of a certainty (if it's not out in 09 we'd have to question what's taking Blizzard so long), Diablo III was announced much later on. We still think Blizzard's highly anticipated RPG will arrive in time for Christmas 2009, but it'll be tight.
PC Gaming is dying, again
You could hardly read an interview with a developer in 2008 without hearing about how PC gaming is dying. Being a group of superior gaming prophets we're going to make the hugely bold statement that at least three major developers/publishers will say "PC gaming is dying" and they will all be wrong. Again. At the end of the day, PC gaming in 2009 will be rather similar to PC gaming in 2008. PC centric titles that are built for the large hardcore audience will sell well (Lich King and Football Manager are two examples from this year), and more wide-reaching games will also do well, such as EA's The Sims 3.
DRM causes games to bomb
DRM is most definitely one of the hottest topics of 2008 and don't expect it to go anywhere unless game piracy suddenly stops. We think the DRM/piracy debate will be fought with even more venom and cause even more bile to erupt from the mouths of internet forum posters, with overly draconian DRM causing offending games to completely bomb in the sales charts.
The Sims 3 will be pirated to bits and still be the best selling PC game of 2009
Spore was a huge favourite for game pirates in 2008, and we're predicting even bigger (but not better) things for The Sims 3. The Sims is one of the most popular gaming franchises of all time, so expect pirates to be all over it like flies to, well, you know, in March. While EA is bound to be upset about this, The Sims 3 is likely to be the biggest selling PC game of 2009, beating the likes of Starcraft II, Diablo III and Half Life 2: Episode Three, so it won't mind too much.
Agree? Disagree? What do you think will be the big games and moments for the PC in 2009? Let us know in the comments section below.