In January I made a few predictions about video games, technology, anime and manga. So, did I hit the mark or not? Let’s find out:
Nintendo Finally Sees Strong Wii U Sales:
I was right on the money with this prediction. Wii U sales were dismal for much of 2014 until the release of Mario Kart 8 in May started to turn things around. The momentum really got going when Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was released in November, and was accompanied by Amiibo figures. In October Wii U sales pushed past 7 million units. Of course, I have to toss in some caveats. Compared to Playstation 4 and Xbox One sales, the Wii U’s numbers still leave much to be desired because it has been on the market for a year longer. Sales of the console still pale in comparison to the Wii, and I doubt any future console will ever pull those kinds of numbers within its lifetime.
I should also note Hyrule Warriors was highly regarded, but didn’t move systems as strongly as Mario Kart and Smash Bros. Also, there’s still no release date for Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei, but the next Zelda was revealed, and X, now Xenoblade Chronicles X, is coming in 2015.
PlayStation 4 Sales Will be Sluggish in Japan:
Another mark in the “spot on” column for me. The PlayStation 4 had a strong launch in Japan, but interest in the console never matched the enthusiasm of North America and Europe. In fact, sales of the Wii U in Japan were stronger for a few months, thanks to Mario Kart 8. In December the PS4 got a much needed bump with the release of the Grand Theft Auto V bundle, and a Metal Slime PS4. That said, hardware sales in Japan have been fairly weak, and the 3DS is the only system consistently topping sales charts. I wouldn’t say the console has been doing badly in Japan, as it is expected sell 4 millions by the start of 2015.
Microconsoles Bite the Dust:
This one’s kind of a mixed bag for me. On one hand, Ouya, which kicked off the microconsole craze is pretty much dead. A number of Ouya owners are unhappy with their system, and the creators of the console have decided to become a software platform. That’s pretty bad. That said, the Nvidia Shield and the Madcatz Mojo are still hanging on. The overall reception for these microconsoles has been muted, but they have decent reviews, and are readily available for sale. Furthermore, the Shield just got the Android 5.01 update, which many phones haven’t even received yet.
To further complicate matters, Sony threw its own microconsole into the ring with the PlayStation TV, also known as the Vita TV in Japan. This microconsole allows users to play most Vita, PSP and PS1 games on their TVs, or it can be used to stream PS4 games. The lack of full compatibility with all Vita games is confusing at best, given the touch pad on the DualShock 4. Even so, I believe the PS TV has some staying power thanks to its ability to play a variety of PlayStation games, and being a cheap way to access Vita games. (Full disclosure: I received a PS TV for Christmas. I’m impressed how much faster this system’s OS is, compared to the PS3.)
Google Glass and Smartwatches Will Be All the Rage:
This prediction has also returned mixed results. Going into 2014 Google Glass was one of the most hyped wearables around. The glasses-like device had the potential to be a tech game-changer and a major consumer device. The reality turned out to be so very different. As of this writing, it still costs a hefty $1500 to buy Google Glass, many private establishments banned wearing the device, a few developers stopped making apps for it, oh, and it has NO consumer release date or mass production plans. Even a few of the developers responsible for its creation have left Google. On the upside, Google Glass could have major industrial uses, especially in manufacturing.
Smartwatches may not have the overwhelming presence that smartphones enjoy, but manufactures are pushing them hard. Samsung, Motorola and a few other manufacturers have been leading the market with some surprisingly stylish and affordable watches. Apple finally unveiled the Apple Watch (not the iWatch), which is set to release in 2015, and is sure to garner lots of interest. I’m comfortable with saying smartwatches aren’t going anywhere.
Crunchyroll Manga Really Takes Off:
Wow, my first absolute dud prediction. Hey, I can’t win ‘em all. First off, Crunchyroll manga isn’t a failure by any means. It has a small but steadily growing collection, and even a few major titles such as Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail. That said, no one is really talking about Crunchyroll manga in the same vein as Viz Media’s Shonen Jump Weekly. The service also hasn’t has had the same impact on manga fans that anime streaming has had on anime fans. I.E., it isn’t a completely viable legal alternative to illegal sites. Even so, the name of the game seems to be brand awareness, and Crunchyroll has been going through great lengths to make people cognizant of the service.
The Worldwide Broadcast Premier of Space Dandy Kicks Off More Simultaneous Anime Broadcasts:
To be honest, I’m not surprised this prediction fell flat on its face. There are no worldwide broadcast premier anime projects like Space Dandy set for 2015, this sci-fi comedy is an outlier in that respect. I tossed it into the mix as a joke, and I would have been more shocked if it came true. Space Dandy DID pay off for Adult Swim and FUNimation, as the show enjoyed fantastic ratings in North America, especially compared to Japan’s lukewarm reception. The anime even did well enough to secure a second season in July with a satisfying conclusion.