It’s that time of year: time to make astrology-like generalities in the guise of concrete predictions for 2013.  My charts were decent last year, so I’ll try to repeat that performance, hopefully with a tad more specificity.  This is (most likely) not an exhaustive list of all that will happen in 2013.  Some notable omissions include developments that will take place in consumer privacy, patents, the broader economy, and the startup scene (such as LA being THE hotspot for venture capital this year).

  1. Consoles have to be rethought.
    • Perhaps Microsoft or Sony can cleverly integrate with Android.  Otherwise, continued death spiral.
  2. Google will buy Facebook.
    • They may not, but they do realize that as we become more integrated with our devices, context, intent, and synthesis will be huge differentiators in search, and social is a big element of those.
  3. There will be better social integrations into the mobile app shopping and searching experience.
    • Search and discovery continues to be a huge headache/opportunity for all app developers.  Amazon has a huge (and under-reported) potential edge here.
  4. Me2 Games will be the norm.
    • And this is good.  This is how industries move forward.  A dozen subtle changes from a dozen games in one genre is the same as a dozen changes in one game from a seemingly new genre… the latter just feels outsized because it happens at once from a single source.  Likewise, new blogs will start, new restaurants will open, and so will new coffee shops.
  5. We’ll be no closer to legalized mobile gaming in the US at the end of the year.
    • This had a lot more momentum when states felt like they needed a lot more money.
  6. UA rates for mobile games will stabilize.
    • December 2012 was less expensive per user than December 2011.  We’re seeing more devices, and more channels for UA.  I think we’re also seeing game publishers recalculate LTV’s and/or the timeframe in which LTV’s are earned, and ratcheting down some UA thresholds.
  7. Mobile game publishers will continue to stratify.
    • First, there’s been a real stranglehold on the prized feature slots by just a few publishers this year.  (I don’t know how much more encouragement I need to download N.O.V.A.3)  Second, with all the focus on how much SuperCell is making at the top of the charts, there wasn’t as much focus on their daily marketing spend of $60,000.  I’m not sure how much that equates to per month, but I bet it’s more than most devs spend on user acquisition in a lifetime.
  8. Activision’s market cap will come down this year, but they’ll still be #1.
    • Toys… physical goods, are their biggest growth segment… which is fine, just not fine for a video game company.  And they simply haven’t ventured into mobile in a significant enough way.
  9. Zynga will figure out how to run games with fewer people (or at least, they better).
    • Incredible that they have to shutter games with the number of people (a lot) and the number of games (a few) they had (mind boggling).  They consciously went down the path of recruiting from the biggest, heaviest, oldest-schooliest console publisher, and brought all of those bad old traits to their previously nimble, disruptive company.  Their focus for the future appears to be doubling down on this bet, which is not a recipe for success.
  10. RIM doesn’t return to prominence.
    • In a Q4 interview, one of their dev relations managers said that they already had all of the important devs on board for BB10.  Wow.  I hope other developers didn’t read the same article.  But even then, does getting all the same software that’s available on iOS, Amazon and Android enable them to regain market share?
  11. Neither does THQ.
    • They have an opportunity to reformulate as a nimble, novel company… but they seem to be staying the course of heavy games (big development, big license, big retail price) on heavy devices.
  12. Apple will tout device security with the iPhone 5s.
    • They usually focus on more cool-consumer features, but this is a big advantage for them in 2013.
  13. Mobile Web vs. Apps will still not be a debate.
    • It’s apps.  It’s native.  (It’s freemium and ads, too; I heard that was still being debated.)