The 6 biggest things to expect from video games in 2019: New PlayStation and Xbox consoles, the first core 'Pokémon' game for Nintendo Switch, and much more

Sony
  • 2019 is rapidly approaching, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming year.
  • Both Microsoft and Sony are expected to begin revealing the next versions of the Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
  • Nintendo says the next major main series “Pokémon” game is arriving this year on the Nintendo Switch.
  • Will this finally be the year that Apple, Google, and/or Amazon start competing with Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft?

In 2019, the next versions of the Xbox and PlayStation are likely to be revealed – and one or both might even arrive in the next 12 months.

And that’s just the beginning!

Next year, the first-ever Pokémon game for a home Nintendo console is scheduled to arrive, and Microsoft’s Netflix-like streaming service for gaming – Project xCloud – is likely to light up. How about a new game based on Harry Potter made by the infamous studio that created “Pokémon Go”? That’s also in the works!

Here’s a rundown of everything we expect from the world of video games in 2019:


1. New game consoles from Microsoft and Sony.

SonySony’s fake ad for the ‘PlayStation 9.’

Indeed, it’s that time once again: Both Microsoft and Sony are gearing up to announce new versions of the Xbox And PlayStation platforms.

In the case of the next Xbox, things are a bit more clear – Xbox chief Phil Spencer has outright announced Microsoft’s ongoing work on new Xbox consoles.

“The same team that delivered unprecedented performance with Xbox One X is deep into architecting the next Xbox consoles,” Spencer said on stage in Los Angeles on June 10, “where we will once again deliver on our commitment to set the benchmark for console gaming.”

The latest rumours point to multiple tiers of Xbox console, similar to the current line-up with the Xbox One S and Xbox One X consoles. Rumours also say the new Xbox will be compatible with all previous generations of Xbox; the codenames are reportedly “Lockhart” (for the less powerful/less expensive version) and “Anaconda” (for the higher-end version).

Sony has also announced its ongoing work on a successor to its current game console, the PlayStation 4. Starting as early as May 2018, Sony executives have been discussing work on what many expect will be the “PlayStation 5.” And with PlayStation skipped the game industry’s annual June trade show, E3, for the first time ever, it’s entirely possible that the company will hold its own event specifically to announce the next PlayStation.

That said, we know little about what the console will be. We do know that it might not arrive until 2021. “We will use the next three years to prepare the next step,” PlayStation head John Kodera said in May.


2. A huge new Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch.

The Pokemon Company

Pokémon is coming to the Nintendo Switch – prepare yourself!

Nintendo says a “core RPG Pokémon title” is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Not a spin-off, like “Pokémon Stadium” and “Pokémon Snap” way back on the Nintendo 64, but a full-on main series entry.

The beloved Pokémon series of games has always been a portable affair. With few exceptions, the only way to engage with the long-running series was on Nintendo’s handheld consoles. But with this new entry, that’s about to change.

Nintendo says the next main entry in the long-running Pokémon game franchise – the successor to “Pokémon Ultra Sun” and “Pokémon Ultra Moon” – will arrive in “late 2019.” For now, that’s all that we know.


3. The continued crumbling of barriers between game platforms.

Nintendo

Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 are competitors, and each runs its own paid online service. Those services don’t work with each other, and thus you’re unable to play games across the two competing platforms.

But things began changing earlier this year, and it’s all because of “Fortnite.”

“Fortnite” is one of very few games that you can play with friends across every platform it’s on – and that’s a lot of platforms.

Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, iPhone, and Android all run “Fortnite,” and all seven versions of the game work together. Players on iPhone can play with players on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch and every other combination of those platforms that you can imagine.

And now, “Fortnite” maker Epic Games is releasing the tools it uses to make its game work across all those platforms. Better yet: It’s making those tools completely free to any game developer who wants to use them.

It’s a huge move with massive implications for the larger game industry. The most important impact is clear: The end of siloed off gaming platforms. In some utopian vision of the future, it’s not so hard to imagine a world where owning one copy of a game means you own it on every gaming platform!


4. The potential rise of the Epic Games Store.

‘Fortnite’/Epic Games

The Epic Games Store is a smart, logical move for Epic Games – the veteran gaming company that also made “Fortnite.”

The company is already processing millions of digital sales through “Fortnite,” and it’s already scaled across every game platform. Epic is also in a financial position to take the risk: A recently announced $US1.25 billion funding round, in addition to the hundreds of millions in monthly revenue generated by “Fortnite,” are enabling Epic to make the risky push from game publisher to platform operator.

Whether game makers and players flock to the Epic Games Store remains to be seen.

By offering game developers a far deeper cut of profits – 88% compared to Steam’s 70% – and having such a massive userbase already because of “Fortnite,” the company is laying a strong foundation.

Epic is in the rare position to actually give Steam some serious competition. It will be fascinating to see that play out in 2019.


5. A continued push into streaming video game platforms, from both Microsoft and Google.

Google

With Google’s “Project Stream” and Microsoft’s “Project xCloud,” two major tech companies are pushing into the sporadically popular world of streaming video games.

Sony notoriously spent nearly $US400 million buying Gaikai back in 2012, a video game streaming service that eventually became “PlayStation Now.” That service still exists, though it’s not very popular.

For $US100/year you can stream over 700 games from various PlayStation consoles, directly on a PlayStation 4 or PC. PlayStation Now recently shifted its focus to game downloads rather than streaming games.

In the case of Microsoft and Google, they’re seemingly interested in solving the problem of local processing. Rather than relying on whatever device you’re using, streaming enables you to offload that processing elsewhere. Rather than upgrading your computer or game console, you could simply upgrade your streaming plan for more horsepower.

Google’s service is in beta, and only functions with one game: “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.” Microsoft’s service is still in development, and is widely expected to arrive with the next version of the Xbox consoles.


6. A new Nintendo Switch.

Getty Images/Michael Kovac

Not a new Nintendo console, mind you, but a new version of an existing one: It looks like Nintendo is already deep in development of a new version of the Nintendo Switch.

Rumours point to logical upgrades like a brighter screen, bettery battery life, and slimmer profile – Nintendo has yet to say anything officially.

That said, Nintendo has a long history of iterating on its game consoles.

There are several different versions of the Nintendo 3DS handheld, for instance, some with more horsepower and bigger screens than others. The same could be said for the Nintendo DS before it, and the Game Boy Advance before that.

More than just a rumour, it’s entirely likely that Nintendo will release new iterations of the Nintendo Switch. And 2019 is said to be the year that we’ll see the first of those iterations.

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