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2009 will be a dull year for gaming

In contrast to 2008, headlined by a slew of great titles and increasing popularity of gaming in general, the year ahead isn't shaping up to offer much industry excitement.

Nintendo Wii
Nintendo of America

If 2008 was the Year of Gaming, 2009 will be just the opposite. At least, that's what Lionhead Studios' Peter Molyneux said he believes in a recent interview with the BBC.

Speaking to reporters, Molyneux said he thinks 2009's upcoming game releases are "all looking a bit dry...All the triple-A titles came out this Christmas, and while there is stuff in 2010 we can look forward to, off the top of my head, I cannot think of anything next year that really excites me."

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few upcoming games that excite me: Halo 3: ODST Killzone 2, Halo Wars, BioShock 2: Sea of Dreams, and Resident Evil 5. But besides those, after looking at the upcoming release calendars for the three major consoles, as well as the Nintendo DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable, I have to agree with Molyneux.

But maybe my skepticism is rooted in the fact that 2008 was such a great year for gaming. It was the year that was headlined by a slew of great titles, such as Fable 2, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and Grand Theft Auto IV. Most importantly, it was the year that saw gaming increase in popularity by an astounding rate.

In comparison, 2009 is shaping up to be an incredibly dull year for gaming.

Out of the hundreds of titles that will hit store shelves, did you notice that I was only able to pick a handful out of the bunch about which I'm really excited? The rest are either derivative games that will offer little value to the gamer or are unknown titles that could set a new standard or fall flat. Based on the information available for most of those games, I'm guessing the latter will be the most likely result.

But if we step away from games for a moment, what else can we really get excited about in gaming? I doubt any of the console makers will announce follow-up hardware this year, and unless Sony decides to drop the price of its PS3, don't expect any changes in the sales of the three major consoles.

We might see a DS and PSP redesign during 2009, which would make some happy, and surely one title will make its way to the PC that will captivate audiences the way Crysis did during 2008. And maybe the iPhone will play a bigger role in gaming, thanks to the App Store and its relative popularity.

But is that really all that we can look forward to? Just one year ago, we were looking down the barrel of what would become, arguably, the greatest year in gaming. It saw the Wii take off, a slew of games receive high marks from most major reviewers, and a couple titles set new standards in the market. Meanwhile, more people became gamers, and the video game industry itself made an even better case that it's the logical replacement for film as the chosen form of entertainment for millions of people across the globe.

Although 2009 will probably see an increase in gaming's popularity (largely thanks to the Wii), it's not shaping up to be a memorable year for those who are already gamers. With just a handful of possibly exciting games, no prospect of hardware changes, and a slew of derivative titles, 2009 looks as if it might be a gaming year that's best forgotten.

Obviously, I hope that won't be true. But so far, I'm looking forward to 2010.

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