I'm pretty uniformly horrible about making accurate predictions for our gaming hobby. If my word was the gospel truth, Guardians of Order would still be around, and WotC would be making a Harry Potter RPG.
And let's not forget my earlier predictions for 2009 (although, to be fair, has anyone actually seen Professor Edwards lately?).
But since this month's Blog Carnival topic is "the Future of Roleplaying", I'm going to give it a shot and dutifully answer the questions below.
-What games do you see emerging as the big players in the near future?
As usual, I think it'll be D&D and everyone else. I do think Paizo is poised to capture a nice market share with Pathfinder, but I have no idea how much that'll be.
I think from the Old-Schoolers, we'll see at least one product make the jump and get some (relatively) serious outside attention. We've already seen this to a point with Fight On! winning the lulu contest.
-What companies should we be watching out for to release the next big product?
Pathfinder's release is going to rule Gen Con Indy this year, hands down. I'd like to think Open d6 will make some minor waves, but I've given up trying to predict how that'll end up.
-How will technology become more integrated into roleplaying games?
Well, I think sites like Epic Words and Obsidian Portal will continue to grow. I also think we'll see a slow slump/decline in RPG forum quality participation as people look at outside social networking options (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.).
If Wizards of the Coast continues to indefinitely delay their Virtual Tabletop, we might see one of the other competitors break free from the pack, but I doubt it.
-What industry writer do we need to be on the look out for?
I don't think there's any one writer to look out for in particular. I think what to watch for is a lot more labor-of-love, collaborative, DIY products made by a group of gamers & authors working together.
-What blogs do you see exploding into becoming the next big thing?
Dude, they're tabletop gaming blogs. They aren't Big Things. :)
As for who is poised to see a Grognardia or Chatty DM level of hits, I don't know. There are too many great bloggers for me to nail this down. It'll be whoever doesn't burn out and keeps getting out solid content. I've been there--and it's hard to keep up.
-What do you see for the future of the industry?
We'll see another D&D edition in a few years, though I'm still not 100% convinced we don't see D&D in print form go away or be very quiet for a few years in the future before a reboot. Small press pdf and print-on-demand means there will always be gaming stuff out there for folks who want it.
To paraphrase Gleichman and some prevaricating faux-Frenchman, my game will remain the same.