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Holiday Retrospective: What happened in January 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011 13:10 GMT By Brenna Hillier

This year was massive for games, and was VG247′s biggest to date. Join us every day over the holiday break on a detailed journey through the year’s most important and entertaining news.

New in January 2011

A Shadow’s Tale

DC Universe Online

LittleBigPlanet 2

Mindjack

Mass Effect 2 (PS3)

Dead Space 2

Magicka

Kingdom Hearts re:Coded

The early weeks of a new year are generally a slow time in gaming news, as developers and publishers take some much needed time off over the holiday season before firing up the machines again. 2011 was no exception, although a growing trend to push releases and announces out of the crowded November and December crunch period means we weren’t exactly twiddling our thumbs.

Perhaps the biggest story of the month was Sony’s reveal of the long-rumoured PSP successor at a press conference on Tokyo. The device was given the codename of NGP, or Next Generation Portable, and sported all the features we’d expected.

The announce should have put paid to the rumours and confusion surrounding the equally shadowy PlayStation Phone, but this month, new photos and images surfaced of what we would later come to know as the Xperia Play, Sony Ericsson’s flagship smartphone for the PlayStation Suite set of PlayStation Certified devices.

Sony continued to dominate headlines, finally launching the PlayStation 3 in China, quite a bold expedition into a traditionally resistant territory. At the Las Vegas Consumer Show, the company unveiled its 3D headset, which debuted as a prototype but went on sale before the end of the year. (It was a little more eciting than Microsoft’s big reveal – Avatar Kinect.)

Our first look at the Vita – or “NGP”.

It wasn’t all good news, though, and this month saw the sowing of seeds which would later blossom into one of the biggest – and messiest – stories of the year. Hackers published the PlayStation 3′s root ket, opening the door for less skilled individuals to run pirated games.

Sony, controversially, responded by suing the hackers, most notably George “GeoHot” Hotz, the man responsible for jailbreaking the iPhone. Justin Kranzl offered a timely and informative summary of the delicate situation which is still well worth a read.

Nintendo
Sony wasn’t the only Japanese company having a trouble month. Nintendo announced its quarterly financial results for the tail end of 2010, announcing a grim 46% tailing off of profits. The Big N was struggling with a plunge in demand for the DS, while the Wii continues its slow fade.

The 3DS, its new handheld, was touted as just the ticket for turning the company’s fortunes around. Interest in the device, at the time just two months from launch, was extreme, with a set of images leaked from a Chinese factory snapped up and pored over.

But hopes were tempered by caution when Nintendo finally unveiled its launch plans for the device, due in March with a hefty price tag and a much smaller software line-up than previously expected. The console certainly didn’t look set for a dead-on-arrival release, but some quietly cashed in their stock.

Square Enix
Final Fantasy developer turned rising publisher Square Enix held one of its famous press briefings this month, offering both carrots and sticks to long-term fans.

A new FF Versus XIII trailer, goodness.

The Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII sequence, originally announced as three games with a shared setting, was given an official shake up, with Final Fantasy Agito XIII retitled to Type-0 to reflect its shift in focus and separation from the project.

The eagle-eyes which spotted Squeenix’s Final Fantasy XIII-2 domain registration were joined by smug grins when the game was made official, along with a gentle, largely uninformative trailer.

Even the suspiciously silent Final Fantasy Versus XIII benefitted from a new cinematic trailer, embedded in the boxout – but we didn’t keep our party hats on for long, as it slipped back into the vapourous depths, surfacing just a few times over the year and never attached to a release window.

Releases
There were some big releases this month, especially in the Sony camp. DC Universe Online brought premium MMORPG gaming to the PlayStation 3, while anticipated sequel LittleBigPlanet 2 released to strong reviews.

Mass Effect and PlayStation, together at last.

Less satisfyingly, the intriguing-sounding A Shadow’s Tale and Mindjack both fell rather flat, failing to live up to their interesting mechanisms. Kingdom Hearts re:Coded went down well with fans, though.

Mass Effect 2 arrived on PlayStation 3 at last, but as many of us had already played it, we turned our attention to another kind of sci-fi: Dead Space 2. Critics loved it – no, really – and the game seemed set to cement EA’s hope for a franchise by outselling its precursor. We had a chat with producer Shereif Fattouh about the game, too.

On the indie side, Arrowhead’s whimsical and addictive spell-’em-up Magicka shifted 30,000 copies in less than 24 hours. We’re still seeing expansions at the end of the year.

The NPD Group’s January report on US sales figures had Call of Duty: Black Ops at the top of the charts, with LittleBigPlanet 2 and Dead Space 2 coming in at third and fourth respectively to represent new releases. DC Universe Online struggled in at tenth – not bad for an MMORPG.

Overall, the US industry saw a 4% decrease in spend year-on-year, with accessories – like the newly released Kinect and Move – the only sector to post a positive bump of 6%. On the hardware side it was all about Xbox 360, with 15% growth year-on-year, but Sony did note a 25% jump in software.

Announcing:
Sega announced its latest project with Platinum Games, Anarchy Reigns, but the multiplayer brawler failed to make much of a stir despite a slew of trailers and assets.

Silent HIll fans had a mixed reaction to Game Informer’s reveal of the next core entry in the Silent Hill franchise, Downpour, which would be developed outside Konami. The project has been disturbingly quiet, and was later delayed into 2012.

Although it wasn’t technically an announce, another of Game Informer’s exclusives went down a treat – the first proper coverage of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. We got so excited that we cornered Bethesda vice president Pete Hines, who highlighted the coming year as the biggest in the company’s history. LOoking back, he was clearly right – and not just because Skyrim topped charts and wowed critics.

On the DL
For every game we knew about, there were a dozen secret projects in the works. Bungie made a handful of new trademarks which we’re yet to learn the meaning of. Cryptic was discovered to be at work on a new secret project, which is still under wraps – and possibly shelved, as you’ll see when we hit May.

Ignition, which had an extremely troubled year, got off to a strong start by promising that its vapourous shooter Reich was still in development – for the time being – and Blizzard finally revealed one tiny piece of information regarding its long-running, top secret project; the MMO is indeed codenamed “Project Titan”.

Tron: Evolution, Propoganda’s swansong.

Hatched, Matched and Dispatched
2011 was a year marked by an even greater number of expansions, lay-offs, closures, foundings and acquisitions than our fluid industry usually experiences. The continuing transition from a financial world dominated by traditional retail to one in which any number of business models has an equal chance of success is not without its casualties.

Things started off in a very messy fashion, with Tron: Evolution developer Propaganda wiped from the map. That was far from the end of the carnage at Disney Interactive, as the publisher chose to cut its losses and restructure as a digital only affair.

In news better equipped to raise a smile, rumours bagen to fly that PopCap was preparing to make its initial public offering. The privately held company has long been suspected of making money hand over fist, and everyone wanted a piece of one of the few companies to make casual gaming really pay.

Digital Frontier
A couple more headlines rounded of January’s most important highlights. Ubisoft’s troubled relationship with PC gaming and DRM displayed a pattern for which the publisher has since become notorious for, first saying one thing, and then doing another. The company announced it was over that unpopular always-on DRM; and then, it changed its mind.

From those who detest having to be constantly on the Internet to those who love it, OnLive announced its plan to make the streaming games service hardware agnostic. The company made mention of HDTVs, Blu Ray players, and even smartphones; some of this, though not all, would indeed become a reality by the end of 2011.

And on the homefront, VG247 expanded its borders with the addition of an Australian news editor – that’s me! – and became the first 24 hour gaming news source in the UK. For several months it was “first and only”, too – but imitators soon followed.

Our first story of the year rather fittingly concerned the series dearest to our editor’s heart – Gears of War. The Triple Pack seemed like a sure deal but later turned out to be US only. Aww.

This was the month in which Pat began toying with a new site feature which would take several forms over the year before being unceremoniously shelved: a daily audio round up of headlines.

January was an auspicious start to what would be a tremendously busy year, packed with some amazing games, some enromous headlines, and a great deal of fun. Tune in tomorrow to continue our journey through 2011.

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3 Comments

  1. Quasar

    magicka rules :D

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Charlie Sheen

    And on this day not a single fuck was givin.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. arvydas

    great job! can’t wait to read another article about this year games industry events :)

    #3 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]

  • Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena is a twin stick shooter MOBA for PC

    Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena has been announced as a twin stick shooter MOBA blend from Whitebox Interactive. Set for a 2016 release on PC, the game’s beta will be on show at PAX East next month. An Early Access release is slated for Q2 2015 and you can already purchase early access for a […]

  • More information, videos for cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun surface

    A trailer for the cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun title from Climax which was reportedly set for an E3 2012 reveal, has surfaced. Along with the above video is another which is described as a pre-boss battle cutscene. It’s below. According to a source of NeoGAF’s Mama Robotnik, the game was being developed under […]

  • Three additional games added to Square Enix Humble Bundle

    Kane & Lynch Collection, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Startopia have been added to the Square Enix Humble Bundle. All three are made available when paying the average price of $7.69. Those who have already purchased the bundle will automatically be granted the titles. All three are available for PC only. The […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 gets Fast & Furious with standalone expansion

    A Fast & Furious tie-in and standalone expansion to Forza Horizon 2 will arrive for Xbox consoles next month. Titled Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, the downloadable title does not require the base game to play. “We’ve been talking with the folks at Turn 10 for a number of years and have always […]

  • The Evil Within: The Assignment has a release date, new trailer

    The Evil Within: The Assignment will be released on March 10 in North America and March 11 in Europe, it was announced today. Along with an exact release date was a trailer detailing more information about the first set of DLC. The Assignment is the first of two DLCs centering on Detective Castellanos’ mysterious partner, […]

  • Steam and GOG cross-platform multiplayer added to AvP Classic 2000

    Steam and GOG have announced Aliens vs Predator Classic 2000 owners will be able play multiplayer with each other across both platforms. With the recent online multiplayer update for for AVP Classic 2000, Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley has made good on his promise from June to offer cross-platform play between the Steam and GOG platforms. […]

  • OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood arrives on PS4, Vita next week

    Roll7 has announced it will release OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood next week. The developer announced the dates on Twitter this morning alongside the launch trailer. You will be able to download the game for PlayStation 4 and Vita March 3 in North America and March 4 in Europe.

  • Week 7: Play GTA Online with VG247 tonight at 8pm UK time!

    Heists got a date! Come play GTA Online with us to celebrate. We’re playing GTA Online on PS4 tonight with whoever else fancies it. That means you. This week’s playlist is Happy for Heists, because we kind of are. The six jobs involved will last about 45 minutes. Anyone can turn up. Here’s how. We’ll […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight – first look into the story

    Batman: Arkham Knight has a new trailer available that gives us a peek into Scarecrow’s plan to unite all villains against Batman. The trailer below has a different tone to the ones showing Arkham Knight. Instead, we get a look at Scarecrow’s team of super-villains including new footage of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. There […]

  • Vita knocks New 3DS LL out of top slot on Media Create charts

    Thanks to four new titles, one of which was God Eater 2: Rage Burst, PlayStation Vita has knocked New 3DS LL out of the top slot on the Media Create charts in Japan. The handheld, which came in thrid place last week, moved 35,203 units for the February 16-22 period, compared to 10,901 units the […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes coming west in 2015, PS4 only

    Dragon Quest Heroes will be making its way to west this year. Square Enix has announced that it’s bringing Dragon Quest Heroes to the west this year. The press release mentioned only PAL territories (Europe & Australia). Though it’s unlikely it will miss the US. The game will release on PlayStation 4, both digitally and […]

  • Destiny: how to make sure Crota stays down for longer

    If you’re familiar with the final encounter of the Crota’s End raid, then you know every second Crota is immobilised counts. Arekkz Gaming has a handy tip for anyone who’s played Crota’s End or anyone attempting it. The trick is simple to execute and will ensure Crota stays on his knees for longer, making for […]

  • NBA Live 15 added to EA Access just four months after release

    EA has added NBA Live 15 to the list of games available instantly to anyone with an EA Access subscription. NBA Live 15 has been added to EA Access’ Vault, EA has announced. As of today, anyone with an EA Access subscription on Xbox One can play it alongside other available games. NBA Live 15 […]

  • Deal: get Advanced Warfare Limited Edition Xbox One bundle + extra game for £299

    UK retailer GAME is offering a good deal on the Advanced Warfare Limited Edition 1TB Xbox One bundle and is throwing in an extra game. The retailer has reduced the price of the bundle to £299, which is the usual price for the standalone console. The bundle is of course Advanced Warfare-themed. The console and […]