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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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    Even though The Witcher 3 release date is drawing closer, it still feels like a million year away. So here are some more screenshots to tide you over until then. We got to look at in-game shots yesterday, but these new screens show Geralt riding through some gorgeously vibrant mountains, in the midst of combat […]

  • Sims Gurus patch out pregnant men

    Say goodbye to The Sims 4 unique take on fatherhood, as The Sims Gurus confirm that male pregnancies are no more. The Sims 4 players have been reporting high numbers of alien abductions, leaving their male characters with sore bottoms and a bellyful of alien baby. Kotaku reports that not everyone was getting their knickers […]

  • Black Mesa countdown probably points to Half-life remake release date

    Half-life remake Black Mesa may have a release date at last. Black Mesa is a Source Engine remake of the original Half-life, which like everything related to Half-life feels like it’s taking forever to come out. The first part launched in September 2012, and it looks like we might have a release date for the […]

  • Spector puts down rumours of troubled Epic Mickey development

    Epic Mickey seemed like a surprising follow-up project from the man who made Deus Ex, but Warren Spector has put down rumours of a difficult relationship with Disney. Epic Mickey displays several qualities found in Spector’s other games and which he has always espoused in interviews – heck, this is the man whose dream it […]

  • Ubisoft makes good on Child of Light promise with free eBook

    Child of Light fans can check out a gorgeous new illustrated book set in the world of Lumeria. Earlier this month, creator Patrick Plourde confirmed that there were more Child of Light projects on the way. As we expected from the cagey wording, at least the first of these projects isn’t a game: it’s an […]

  • Half-life episode from Junction Point would have featured a magnet gun

    Half-life seems to be on near permanent hold, but at least we can glean some insight into what might once have been. Junction Point’s cancelled Half-life game came up in Warren Spector’s Reddit AMA overnight. Commenting that he isn’t sure whether he’ll get into legal trouble for discussing the project, Spector gave a few comments […]

  • Destiny: exclusive shader, emblem on offer with Nepal benefit shirt

    Destiny developer Bungie has asked Guardians to offer their aid, and they’ve already responded in troves. A new Destiny shirt added to the Bungie Store is the object of a fundraising drive to provide aid in Nepal following a devastating earthquake this week. Bungie popped the pretty stylish shirt on sale earlier today, offering an […]

  • What does the creator of Deus Ex think of Human Revolution and Mankind Divided?

    Deus Ex creator Warren Spector seems pretty positive about the direction the sci-fi series has followed under Square Enix’s hand. Deus Ex was created by Spector and his team at Ion Storm, and remained with Eidos after the developer shuttered. When Square Enix purchased the British publisher, it put new studio Eidos Montreal to work […]

  • Protest Goat secures future for Elite Dangerous destruction derbies

    One of the stranger and more beautiful stories to manifest in the gaming world this week, I think. Elite: Dangerous has given birth to an unintended, emergent style of gameplay; a destruction derby like affair where players gather in no combat areas to both race and gleefully smash into each other until a victor limps […]

  • Destiny’s stunning landscapes captured in panoramas

    Destiny has some beautiful environments, which screenshots don’t necessarily do justice to. Walking around Destiny exclaiming over the lighting effects and the tiny animated details is the best way to experience Bungie’s tremendous achievements, but these panorama images stitched together from in-game screenshots are a good second. Click to see them fullsize. Redditor CenturyEagle made […]

  • Star Wars Disney Infinity re-release on the cards – rumour

    Star Wars is a no-brainer for Disney Infinity, and at long last it looks like it’s happening. A Star Wars re-release called Disney Infinity 3.0 has reportedly leaked from German retailers. We have to lable this one a rumour as we haven’t seen the original source, but the story was originally reported by DisKingdom, which […]

  • Award-winning mobile indie Monument Valley out now on Windows Phone

    Windows Phone’s game selection can be a bit restrictive, but has expanded delightfully today: Monument Valley is now available. Monument Valley is one of those gorgeous, mind-bending puzzlers the indie scene produces on the regular, winning awards and consuming everyone’s lives for weeks on end. Developed by Ustwo Games, with beautiful, understated art from Ken […]

  • Old-school EverQuest servers safe from legal troubles thanks to Daybreak agreement

    EverQuest rights holder Daybreak Game Company given its blessing to the wonderful Project 1999. EverQuest: Project 1999 is one of those lovely ideas that it are all too often crushed by the realities of the games industry. An entirely fan-managed affair, it provides an emulated version of the classic EverQuest experience, which is no longer […]

  • Free Dragon Age short stories fill us in on Corypheus’s followers

    Dragon Age: Inquisition developer BioWare invites you to learn more about the lore and characters that make up its beautiful role-playing setting. Dragon Age is set in Thedas, a world still only partially revealed by the three core games to date. BioWare puts a heck of a lot of work into its worldbuilding, employing a […]

  • Remember that gorgeous Luminous Engine tech demo? It now utilizes DirectX 12

    Remember the gorgeous Luminous Engine tech demo Square Enix showed off three years ago? The firm showed it again at Microsoft’s Build Conference, this time utilizing DirectX 12. The Witch Chapter 0 [cry] real-time tech demo was created from research Square conducted using real-time CG technology and DX12 in collaboration with Microsoft and Nvidia. The […]

  • Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones sneaks onto GOG and Steam services

    Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones can now be purchased through GOG and Steam. On both services it will run you £12.99/€14.99/$14.99. Links here and here. The game features: Fully explorable ‘Metroidvania’ style overworld, laying siege to a diabolical cloning facility with varied and detailed environments. A variety of special equipment to unlock new […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC Ascendance has arrived on PC, PlayStation consoles

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players on PC and PlayStation consoles can now download the Ascendance DLC. The second content pack contains the OHM weapon, the OHM Werewolf custom variant, and the second entry in the Exo Zombies saga, Infection. Four new maps are also included: Perplex, Site 244, Climate, and Chop Shop. Ascendance was […]

  • Latest Xbox 360 system update is live, now supports 2TB hard drives

    Xbox 360 now supports 2TB hard drives via the latest system update for the console. Support for the drives was announced earlier this month and has been available for preview members. “In addition we will also no longer reserve space in advance on your hard drive,” said the firm. “If you are using 16GB of […]

  • Kickstarter for Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor Yooka-Laylee launches tomorrow

    Playtonic Games has announced the Kickstarter campaign for its spiritual successor to the Banjo Kazooie series, Yooka-Laylee, will launch tomorrow. The title of the game was announced today along with the Kickstarter date. Formerly known as Project Ukulele, the 3D platformer is said to be “between the size of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie,” and stars Yooka […]

  • Console version of Mistwalker’s Terra Battle is in development

    Now that Mistwalker’s Terra Battle has surpassed 2 million downloads on mobile, the developer is now working on a console version of the tactical RPG. As part of the original Download Starter campaign, the 2 million milestone means the company will begin development on Terra Battle’s console version with details to be announced at a […]

  • Prison break game The Escapists is heading to PlayStation 4 from May 29

    The Escapists, Mouldy Toof’s prison break game originally released as a timed console exclusive Xbox One, has a release date for PlayStation 4. For those unfamiliar with the title, which is also a PC release, it tasks players’ time management skills as they do a bit of digging and crafting, and other prison-type stuff as […]

  • Dead Island 2 delayed into 2016 to ensure series is “taken to the next level”

    Dead Island 2 has been delayed into 2016 by Yager in order to ensure the sequel “takes Dead Island to the next level.” According to a tweet from the developer, it set “big goal” for the game, and in order to deliver what fans expect, the team needs more time to reach development goals. “We […]

  • Project Cars: here’s a list of all available cars at launch

    Project Cars will contain many, many cars and if we are counting correctly, there will be 74 total at launch. The standard edition contains 65 total, and when factoring the free car as well as the Modified and Limited Edition cars packs, you can add an additional nine cars to the mix. Comb through the […]

  • Competitive matchmaking support is coming to Team Fortress 2

    Team Fortress 2 will soon feature support for competitive matchmaking, which Valve says is a “high priority” project for it at the moment. According to a report from TeamFortress.tv, which visited Valve headquarters recently, Valve is looking into the possibility of 6v6 or 9v9 matches 9v9, a possible quick play option and it is also […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch fixes garage, Job crashes – full notes here

    Rockstar has pushed out a 353 MB patch for GTA 5 on PC The patch fixes a number of annoying bugs related to vehicles and garages, some deathmatch issues and purchase errors. It should also fix various freezing and crashing bugs, as well as a little issue with Steam. Time will tell if the patch […]

  • Fire Emblem If will come in White Kingdom and Black Kingdom versions with amiibo support

    We’ve finally got some juicy details on the next Fire Emblem game, but the most interesting aspect is that there will be two versions of the game. According to Siliconera, who translated an interview between Intelligent Systems and 4Gamer, there will a White Kingdom and a Black Kingdom version that offer different aspects of the […]

  • Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess heads west with “Golden Toilet” pre-order bonus

    Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess will debut on western PlayStation 4 systems this summer, Koei Tecmo has announced. It is also coming to PS3 and Vita. The game was produced by Keisuke Kikuchi of Fatal Frame fame and takes up where Deception 4: Blood Ties left off allowing players to relive Laegrinna’s pursuit to free […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario demo, Paper Mario, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo of Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, Paper Mario on Virtual Console, and amiibo Tap. The full update is below. eShop update amiibo Tap – free – Wii U Star Wars Pinball DLC – Wii U Paper Mario – Wii U […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PC port handed off to Nixxes

    The PC port of the new Deus Ex has been handed over to Netherlands based studio, Nixxes software. After the initial reveal trailer at the beginning of April, we’ve only had a few morsels in the way of additional news. The most intriguing tidbit to date has got to be the fact that you’ll be […]

  • First-ever PC Gaming Show to take place at E3 2015 in June

    PC gaming will finally have its very own E3 press conference this year, thanks to PC Gamer and AMD. The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and it will be livestreamed on Twitch. PC Gamer said speakers at the presentation will include representatives from Blizzard, […]