PS4, next Assassin's Creed, Battlefield 4 − we reveal everything we know about PlayStation and Xbox in 2013
Christmas 2013 is the full stop for this generation's very long story. In the year to come, PS3 will get the send-off it deserves after seven years of hard work.
January will bring all those games that didn't make the Christmas rush. That's Platinum's Anarchy Reigns, Capcom and Ninja Theory's Devil May Cry reboot, Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 and PS3 exclusive Studio Ghibli RPG Ni No Kuni. Then in February studios will be getting some of the biggest games in the world out of the door before the financial year ends. That means three of this generation's longest-delayed games - Metal Gear Rising and Aliens: Colonial Marines - finally appearing, alongside another always-on-time Dead Space sequel.
And they'd better make their release dates because reliable sources suggest Microsoft will announce their next-generation Xbox at their annual showcase in February. They'll make their play for the next generation alongside Epic, Forza developers Turn 10, Alan Wake developers Remedy and Lionhead's Fable team.
March is everyone's last chance to bump up their figures and impress the AGM. Square Enix will release Tomb Raider, EA will release Army Of Two: The Devil's Cartel, and PS3 and X360 will each get an ultraviolent exclusive in God Of War: Ascension and Gears Of War: Judgment. War and colons for everyone! This month is also the likely release date for Grand Theft Auto 5. The biggest game in the world will finish off a spectacular year for 2K and keep their share prices obscenely high when boss Strauss Zelnick is busy making conference calls.
April brings uncertainty. Ubisoft will probably want to get Splinter Cell Blacklist out for spring, Injustice: Gods Among Us will almost certainly make its scheduled release date, and EA and Square Enix might even have Fuse and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ready by then. They better had, because any delay will see current-generation games become last generation games.
May will almost certainly bring GRID 2, Lost Planet 3 and Crysis 3 (if they're not ahead of schedule), and Sony would be smart to get Beyond: Two Souls out before E3. Activision will announce Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 in time for all the industry talk to focus on the coming E3 conference, Microsoft's second round of next-gen Xbox reveals, and Sony's response to Microsoft's new console.
Then the circus really starts with E3 on 11 June. But before the conference proper, Microsoft and Sony show their hands at their platform-holder conferences. On 9 June, Rare will almost certainly present Kinect Sports 3 (to be followed by the usual grumbling about motion controlled games), you'll see Lionhead reveal their Fable MMO and maybe you'll even get a glimpse of Halo 5 from 343. There'll be more from Turn 10, Remedy and Epic, and lots of third-party support from the likes of Ubisoft who'll be keen to show off Watch Dogs running on a next-generation console.
Then the day after, Sony will respond. They'll offer the first glimpse of PlayStation 4 - or more likely PlayStation Orbis - and their first round of next-generation games. Expect Killzone 4 to steal the show on a stage shared with Gran Turismo 6 and Media Molecule's next big game. MM will also show Tearaway for Vita, a platform in need of a saviour.
Gaikai game-streaming support might be Vita's last, best hope and you can expect it to be teased for every Sony platform - Vita, PS3, PS4, smartphones and Bravia TVs. The Last Of Us will open the show and PS4 will close it. EA will announce the first game from Respawn, Battlefield 4 will be demoed, and something curious will happen: games will be announced for 360 and PS3 (as cut-down versions) as well as the next Xbox and PS4 (full versions).
AUTUMN AND WINTER
July and August will be as dead as they've ever been, but this year we're in for an uncommonly quiet autumn too, with one big exception. The Tokyo Game Show in September will pick up where GamesCom leaves off, and the home debut of PS4 will be the very definition of spectacle. Meanwhile Microsoft make their third attempt to crack the Japanese market. Nobody in Japan will care.
At some point around October Sony will release The Last Of Us and it'll be as good as you'd expect from Naughty Dog. Assassin's Creed 3: Subtitle will appear on current-generation platforms, along with Battlefield 4, Dragon Age 3 and Modern Warfare 4, but nobody will care because all three will have next-generation versions on shelves in November. However, it's here that the fog of war rolls in.
We know Microsoft's new console is on shelves in November. Enough sources have named it as the date to convince us, and November is always Microsoft's release date for console hardware. All those big Christmas games will get a port of their high definition PC version, and Bill Gates will pause momentarily between doling out fistfuls of money to charity to smile at the new console's success.
Sony's plans, meanwhile, aren't quite so clear. Some sources suggest November while others point to April 2014. Sony hit shelves last in the current generation and it hurt them, and a Microsoft lead gives them dozens of de facto exclusives. Sony have gone for staggered releases in the past, so maybe the next PlayStation will arrive in Japan in November, then make it west in early 2014.
That was the pattern for Vita, PS3, PSP and PS2, but the world has changed and Vita is struggling. Can Sony afford to gamble everything on a global launch in November, or will they play it safe and stick to Japan where their only threat is the last-gen Wii U? We're calling it now: you'll likely have two next-gen machines by winter 2013.