May's RPG Carnival invites us to engage our preferred prognostication methods and scry the future of roleplaying games to answer this set of cunning questions.
What games do you see emerging as the big players in the near future?
When/if it comes - D&D 4.5 may be as significant a sea-change as 3.5 was for 3E - particularly if Wizards review the GSL and bring it back closer to the OGL's flexibility (if they don't Paizo will get a lot more market share with Pathfinder and Wizards will have nobody to blame but themselves).
Consider how well received 4E is at the moment and there's another set of core book add-ons planned next year, it won't happen just yet.
Yet DDI is not exactly being forward in adding features and WotC seem content just to put out core materials in different formats (e.g. power cards) rather than focus on world settings other than the Realms or the core 'Points of Light' setting. Remember Eberron?
Maybe they're making enough money for now?
Dark Heresy will continue to gain more ground as more original material is put out - there's a lot of 40K canon that hasn't been touched on and now FFG are running it, there's going to be more support than previously. Given GW's current situation, I suspect it'll gain attention from gamers looking for that 80's nostalgia hit that the grognards just can't... quite... reach...
West End Games Open D6 may be the dark horse that surprises us all. If it happens.
What companies should we be watching out for to release the next big product?
Wizards of the Coast will continue to dominate the roleplaying field with Paizo, Green Ronin and Necromancer Games following in their trail. For those of you of a gothic or manga high fantasy persuasion, White Wolf will feed your fix. West End Games may do well to launch an Open D6 reboot of Paranoia if they want to recoup their old fanbases.
How will technology become more integrated into roleplaying games?
There is a sea change coming. Campaign wiki platforms and Web 2.0 tools are becoming more common and content through subscription services, online magazine publications and print-on-demand are making the distribution of games easier than ever - and this IMHO has always been the 800lb gorilla reason why tabletop games have never realised their full potential.
What industry writer do we need to be on the look out for?
Mike Mearls currently has his finger on the pulse. Liz Danforth's recent interview suggests a grass-roots revival around gaming skills. And Berin Kinsman who has so far been able to predict with uncanny foresight a number of major trends in gaming - he was talking campaign wikis and stripping out mechanics long before we were. There's three. Pick any one.
What blogs do you see exploding into becoming the next big thing?
Blogs aren't individually a big thing. Blogs are an army ant phenomenon - take a look at the RPG Blogger Network right now and you'll appreciate there is strength in numbers. I don't think all will survive, burnout will stalk the blogosphere like Death stalks Conan? Blogs will continue to mark grass-roots trends and if the industry is smart, it'll glom onto this more than it is currently.
What do you see for the future of the industry?
Assuming things stay as they are - there's going to be more subscription services running in the wake of DDI & Dungeon-A-Day and more convergence of online/tabletop gaming using tools like RPTools. Until someone works out a few unwritten assumptions of course but that may mean giving away my master plan for world domination. Wait & see. :)
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