I’ve never been to Gen Con, and won’t be there this year either, but here are a few predictions for what will be announced.
Product Line Building on Essentials
I expect the Essentials line to be the new basis of D&D 4E. The builds from Essentials will get support in new products and supplements will build off of those ideas when developing new power sources. The core rules won’t change, but I expect that the older builds and classes will see less support going forward. Beyond game mechanics, I predict that marketing will also follow the lead of the Essentials line with a focus on keeping prices down (especially for player supplements) and books accessible to new players. Part of this will be making player-focused supplements into paperbacks rather than expensive hard cover books. I also expect numeric naming to be abandoned in order to avoid the false impression of a required ordering within a series (for example, a new player could be confused and think that they need to buy PHB2 before being able to use PHB3).
2011’s Setting is the Points of Light World
Since D&D 4E’s launch, Wizards has published a new setting each year: Forgotten Realms, Eberron, and Dark Sun. Each of those settings were packaged as two big books plus a single low-level adventure. My prediction is that 2011’s setting will be the core world, commonly called Points of Light, and that it will be packaged differently than the previous settings. Rather than the 2+1 model, I expect several regional books, adventure sites, and adventures that together present more of the world. This offers the setting in more affordable parcels while also making it easier for DMs to pick and choose elements from the setting to mix into their own homebrew worlds.
More D&DI Applications
It’s been a while since any new D&DI apps have been released or even mentioned, but it’s clear that Wizards has continued investing in the existing applications. For instance, the UI of the Monster Builder was updated recently and it was quickly modified to support the new monster stat block format. I’m predicting that they have been working on more apps and will offer some preview (or even announce a release) of at least one new application during Gen Con.