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Holiday Retrospective: What happened in February 2011

Saturday, 24 December 2011 10:44 GMT By Brenna Hillier

February was a crowded month, chock-full of financial reports and tailing off with the Japanese release of Nintendo’s 3DS. Head in for a full round-up of the month’s news.

New in February 2011

Two Worlds II

Test Drive Unlimited 2

Stacking

Marvel vs Capcom 3

De Blob 2

Bulletstorm

Killzone 3

Knights Contract

Rift

The 3DS arrived in Japan on February 26, and as we learned in later months, shifted over 370,000 units in just two days. Excitement was high – even before the console hit shelves, Famistu doled out reasonably high review scores for its launch line up. It would be weeks before the optimism wore off, and in the meantime, we were jazzed for western launch – although the Australian pricing caused more than a few raised eyebrows.

Those uncertain about the 3DS were further tempted by the first footage of NGP games, and raving developers certainly helped spike excitement.

But it was Sony’s other handheld that made headlines – even prior to its official debut. Its launch trailer was leaked to YouTube a good five days before the covers came off ahead of a full reveal at the Mobile World Congress.

Releases
One of the year’s most controversial releases arrived in February: People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm. The Epic co-developed shooter threw out any pretention at gravity and approached the shooter genre with absolute levity – and quite a lot of swears. Although reviews were mainly favourable, and later reports showed decent sales, the game proved highly divisive – a real love or hate release.

Sony’s PS3-exclusive shooter Killzone 3 proved almost the opposite, taking its usual deadly serious approach and mostly winning praise for it.

Knights Contract, an action-slash-AI-escort effort and what would prove to be the last major release from Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom developer Game Revolution, arrived and promptly fell flat. Meanwhile, Trion Worlds’ MMORPG Rift did the opposite of that, going on to carve out and maintain a significant player base over the coming months.

Bulletstorm launch trailer.

Still with RPGs, Two Worlds II released – and didn’t. The UK and PAL territory release was delayed, apparently due to a damaged shipment, with the game later becoming an Amazon exclusive due to limited stock. After all that, it didn’t raise much of a buzz.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 launched, pleasing fans of racers but drawing 70-average reviews, whereas the equally genre-specific Marvel vs Capcom 3 was praised to the rafters.

On the more whimsical side, Double Fine released another of the digital titles born from brainstorming days, the charming and clever Stacking, while the Australian-developed de Blob 2 proved a wonderful successor to the Dutch original, although it didn’t exactly set the charts on fire.

According the NPD Group’s February Report on US sales figures, Call of Duty Black Ops remained top of the charts for the fourth month running. Marvel vs Capcom 3 came in second place, with Bulletstorm and Killzone in seventh and eighth respectively.

Although total software sales took an 8% year-on-year tumble, hardware jumped 10% and accessories, 22%, resulting in an overall 3% boost over 2010′s figures.

Sony boasted of the PlayStation 3′s 18th consecutive month of growth, While Nintendo hit the 35 million millstone for Wii sales in the US. The Xbox 360 took out its 11th month as top console and hasd its biggest non-holiday month so far.

Financials Season
Going from strength to strength – at this stage – Sony released its quarterly financials, showing doubled PlayStation 3 software sales year on year, a narrowing of the gap between the PS3 and the Xbox 360, and a massively improved profits prediction.

EA’s financials were quite eventful, too, with the first hints that BioWare’s long-awaited Star Wars MMO might actually in 2011. An “exciting” new shooter was teased for 2011, too – surely you remember how that played out.

Marvel vs Capcom 3 launch trailer.

THQ also had an exciting announcement to make, slapping Saints Row: the Third down for a third quarter release – which was almost enough to make us overlook posting another quarterly loss, especially when we got the first leaked images.

Square Enix didn’t fare so well, with a massive drop in profits and the sad admission that Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days had sold like the titular dog’s breakfast. Sega has similar news, and although its numbers jumped, Platinum Games’ excellent shooter Vanquish was revealed as a sub-1 million seller.

On the positive side, Namco Bandai boasted a win and growing Tekken sales, and Take Two not only pulled in money – Red Dead Redemption had shifted 8 million units by this point – but was named Metacritic’s highest rated publisher for 2010.

Hatched, Matched and Dispatched
Now for the gloomy part: February brought carnage. Activision Blizzard axed its entire music game department – at least temporarily – and that put paid to DJ Hero developer 7 studios close. ActiBli’s guillotine wasn’t finished, either – UK-based racer specialist Bizarre Creations bowed out after months of tense waiting.

As if Activision had started a trend. MTV announced it would close its Games venture, resulting in lay-offs at Harmonix. The company struggled on as an independent and continues to push out DLC for MTV Games-published titles.

Hudson’s Entertainment banner announced it would close doors by the end of the month as part of its acquisition by Konami, and THQ cut 14 jobs at its flagship Australian studio, offloading its mobile division, too.

True or False?
After reading that, you probably need a laugh. Here’s one: a report claimed Ubisoft staff had said I Am Alive had been transitioned from full retail product to digital offering. Ubisoft claimed the report was a joke. As you probably know, I Am Alive is a digital only release. Oh you wacky publishers!

Killzone 3 launch trailer.

After weeks of speculation, From Software put a name to its mysterious Project Dark: Dark Souls. For business reasons, Namco Bandai was keen to stress the game had no relation to Demon’s Souls, but it did, of course – and went on to become on of the year’s most important releases.

Our ongoing longing turned up yet another Mirror’s Edge 2 rumour, but the question of its eventual appearance remains unanswered. More satisfactorily, we heard that Grashopper Manufacture was working on something called “Lollipop Chainsaw”. Vincdicated, amirite.

Hints suggested something major was going on at Fallout: New Vegas and Dungeon Siege III developer Obsidian Entertainment, with a CV outing “Project Virginia”, strongly suspected to be a Wheel of Time game. Officially, the team had two unannounced titles in the works – one for XBLA, and one under wraps, but possibly the South Park RPG announced late in the year.

To the horror of eager fans everywhere, strategy veteran team Gas Powered games put its passion project, Kings and Castles, on hold. It wouldn’t be long before we found out why, but at this point, it was all tears, all the time.

But DICE and EA had an antidote, using Game Informer as a platform to announce Battlefield 3 at long last.

Ball’s in your court
Legal eagles had a busy month, mostly because of Sony. The great LG vs Sony case continued, with LG attempting to pull the consoles off US shelves and succeeding in blocking shipments to Europe.

On the political side, Australian minister for home affairs Brendan O’Connor vowed that an R18+ratings category for video games would be in the works by mid-year. Maybe he wanted to play Mortal Kombat – the games was refused classification, and Warner chose not to censor it, effectively banning it from Australian retail.

RIFT launch trailer.

In its war on hackers, Sony was denied subpoenas on practically every site ever, but was said to be set to inspect GeoHot’s PC. GeoHot wrote a somewhat obscene and decidedly homophobic rap about it. On a related note, one hacker claimed that user’s credit card information was transmitted to the PlayStation Network in unencrypted form.

Digital frontier
For other companies, the digital frontier proved less hazard-filled, and February was full of positive signs of change. Apple began allowing subscription fees through its App Store, and Steam was reported to hold 70% of the PC market, and to be making money hand over fist.

Retail chain GAME announced it would begin retailing Xbox Live Arcade content in-store, and vowed to triple its digital revenue by 2013.

Even Sony scored a win by announcing it planned to bring the PlayStation Suite to other manufacturer’s devices – paving the way for a hardware to software platform transition in the future.

The refreshingly open EA executive John Riccitiello reiterated the publisher’s growing investment in digital, and went so far as to admit the company had dropped the ball at first. Stock soared.

Did I say there was no gloom in this part? that was a fib. Crytek was bitterly disappointed when an incomplete Crysis 2 build leaked, and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime made an impassioned rant against cheap mobile games. He had some good points, but he also came across as a bit of a jerk.

Marketing and PR
Speaking of coming across as a jerk, EA launched a marketing campaign called “Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2“, which ruffled feathers for pandering to stereotypes.

Ubisoft confirmed it wouldn’t use its hated always-on DRM from the Steam page for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood; another blip in its up-and-down graph on this issue.

“That” Dead Island trailer.

E3, long the mecca of hardcore gamers, decided to close ranks against bloggers with smaller audiences, denying them press passes, which was a major blow for non-commercial sites.

Rumours suggested 2K had made some drastic changes to XCOM, the shooter revival of the classic 90′s tactics series, following negative fan and press reaction. 2K denied the reports. (Spoiler: That was a fib.)

Gearbox’s troubled relationship with announces came to a bit of a head when a quote snaffled from VG247 itself began doing the rounds as “confirmation” of Borderlands 2. The game was due for a massive media reveal later in the year and Gearbox was in super-deny mode, so Randy Pitchford did not take kindly to the misquote. We scrambled to control the story.

TechLand won praise for its emotional and artistic Dead Island trailer, but copped a bit of flack for depicting the death of a child.

Speaking of kiddies, Bethesda offered a lifetime pass to its entire catalogue of games for any baby born on Skyrim’s release day and named “Dohvakiin”. They were totally not joking, and someone did it.

And on the homefront, VG247 relaunched with a new, even spiffier look, some new features, and some structural changes which let us get out the big stories faster, as well as extend coverage to more kinds of gaming.

February was even busier than January, and this trend was to continue unabated all year – so tune in again tomorrow as we head into March.

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1 Comments

  1. AHA-Lambda

    “Platinum Games’ excellent shooter Vanquish was revealed as a sub-1 million seller.”

    I done my part goddammit!! :(

    “and the sad admission that Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days had sold like the titular dog’s breakfast.”

    1 million sold was 1 million too many already for that game -_-

    #1 3 years ago

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    The Alpinestars Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 is out now on Xbox One and its the only way you will ever be able to afford a 1992 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport. Unless, of course, you win the lottery or are left in some rich person’s will. In that case, I’ll take the ’53 Corvette, […]

  • Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition is now available in North America

    Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Game of the Year Edition has been released in North America. It will be made available in the Europe on May 7 and in the UK May 8 for £49.99 on consoles and £34.99 on PC. As previously announced, this edition contains all previously released DLC content as well as […]

  • Two GAME exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians now available for pre-order

    GAME has announced two exclusive versions of Halo 5: Guardians, and both are now available for pre-order exclusively through one of the retail chain’s 318 stores or online. The £79.99 Limited Edition Halo 5: Guardians, which delivers new digital content wrapped in a steel book. There’s also the £199.99 Halo 5: Guardians Limited Collector’s Edition […]

  • Deals with Gold: Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Bioshock Infinite, more

    Microsoft has announced its latest Deals with Gold discounts for Xbox Live Gold members. Franchises on sale include Far Cry, Call of Duty, along with individual titles Assassin’s Creed Unity and Bioshock Infinite. The full list is below. Bioshock Infinite discounts are available for both Xbox Live Gold and Silver members. Xbox One Far Cry […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has released, watch the launch trailer here

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood has launched on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can watch the launch trailer for it below. Boxed copies in Europe arrive from May 15, and in Australia/New Zealand on May 14. You can grab digital copies from the following online services: Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Store.

  • GOG’s online service GOG Galaxy is now in open beta

    GOG Galaxy, the DRM-free online gaming platform from the folks at GOG, has left Alpha and is now in open beta for all to try. As previously announced, the online service, similar to Steam, is option. Players do not need to play online as all games are stored by the service and can be played […]

  • DayZ-inspired Goat Simulator DLC GoatZ is out this week on Steam

    Goat Simulator players can download DayZ-inspired DLC this week called GoatZ. According to Coffee Stain Studios, GoatZ is “the only survival game on Steam that isn’t in Early Access.” Jokingly of course. The DLC features: Mandatory crafting system because everyone else is doing it. Zombies that bug out. There’s a pun here about actual living […]

  • No, Far Cry 4 is not currently free on PSN

    You may have seen a few Tweets from people saying that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 is available to download from PSN for free. This is not true. A few readers have tipped us off to what looked like a glitch on PSN that allowed players to download the full version of Far […]

  • Metal Gear Solid: The 1984 Collection confirmed to be a clothing line

    Konami is teasing a Metal Gear Solid thing called “The 1984 Collection.” The Metal Gear Solid Facebook page posted this image about an hour ago: The caption reads, “Step back into the 80′s with our new MGS collection coming very soon! Stay tuned!” This is supposedly in reference to the clothing line that was announced […]

  • Portal, The Simpsons, Jurassic World & Scooby Doo packs listed for Lego Dimensions

    Lego Dimensions is likely getting a few unannounced content packs. One of which is themed around Valve’s Portal. A set of unannounced content packs for the upcoming Lego Dimensions have been revealed by US retailer Walmart. The listings include packs for The Simpsons, Scooby Doo and Jurassic World, and most interestingly, Portal. The listings have […]

  • This is the most authentic recreation of GTA 2 in real life ever

    Affordable drones have many uses. Most of them are not nearly as exciting as recreating GTA 2 in real life. I am surprised it took us this long, but someone has finally captured footage using a drone that resembles the protagonist’s experience in the classic GTA 2. These aren’t just shots of cars from a […]

  • PlayStation 4 sales reach 2m in the UK

    Sony has sold 2 million PlayStation 4 consoles in the UK, faster than it did with the PlayStation 2 – the company’s best-selling machine in the country. MCVUK is reporting that as of last weekend, 2 million PlayStation 4s have been sold in the UK. The data is based on GfK Chart-Track estimates. This makes […]

  • H1Z1 gets female characters, skin colour options planned

    In an effort to improve diversity in the game, H1Z1 developer has added female characters. Female survivors can now be found throughout the world of H1Z1. Developer Daybreak added the new feature in a patch released last Friday. You will be able to choose a female avatar in the main game and in Battle Royale. […]

  • Possible teaser site for Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi’s new game opens

    Either Castlevania creator Koji “IGA” Igarashi is working on a soon-to-be-launched Kickstarter for his new game, or someone is pulling an elaborate prank. At PAX Prime last year, during Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 panel, a flyer was handed out to attendees that showed what appeared to be a 2D game of some sort with […]

  • Destiny weekly reset for May 5: Heroic and Nightfall strikes detailed

    Tuesday is here and Destiny’s weekly reset is also here. Bungie announced that your weekly Destiny grind has now begun. The Nightfall and Heroic strikes are now live too. This week’s strike is Winter’s Run. Rainbow burn is back for the Nightfall, which means you do more damage with all elemental weapons, but also receive […]

  • PC version of Project Cars delayed in Australia due to severe weather

    Recent weather conditions in Sydney, Australia are responsible for a slight delay of the PC version of Project Cars in the country. Sydney recently suffered from storms that caused flooding in some areas. One of those is the place where publisher Namco Bandai was storing PC copies of Project Cars. The stock was “severely damaged,” […]

  • Twitch’s new process makes it easier for streamers to appeal flagged content

    Twitch has updated its appeals process concerning videos that have been flagged by the audio ID system. Towards the end of last year, Twitch introduced a new audio recognition system that scans archived streams and automatically mutes the audio whenever copyright music is identified. The system has been in-use ever since and Twitch has today […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a day one patch, but it’s not a major one

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will indeed have a day one patch, to make the first-time experience as smooth as possible. Like many modern games, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will have its day one patch. According to the developer however, it wasn’t born out of necessity. Miles Tost, level designer at developer CD Projekt […]

  • CoD: Advanced Warfare owners get free pistol today

    Advanced Warfare developer Sledgehammer Games is adding a new pistol to the game, free to all players. The M1 Irons is a new pistol that comes to Advanced Warfare starting today. The weapon is offered as a thank you gift from the developer. Sledgehammer says the Irons is good at range and packs a punch. […]

  • Fall down the Skullgirls Big Band music video rabbit hole with me

    Skullgirls is a pretty amazing fighting game, but did you know it’s also a passable music creation suite? Earlier today I was idly perusing an episode of PlayStation Underground showing off Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a re-release of the indie fighter packing in loads of new features and coming to PS4 – with full cross-play! – […]

  • The many uses of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood’s pipe weapon

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood adds a sick new weapon to BJ’s arsenal: a pipe. In Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a pipe is not just a pipe. Not only can you bash nazis with it, you can use it to climb walls, reach hatches, and even break through some walls. Plus? You can dual wield it. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X teaser gives first look at Predator

    Mortal Kombat X’s next celebrity guest was teased during the latest Kast. Today’s Mortal Kombat X Kast was mostly about all about Jason, but also included a very brief nod to Predator. You can watch the full livestream to see the tease in situ if you’re really keen, but IGN shared this convenient edit: There’s […]

  • Rock Band 4 has count-ins, drum fills and vocal harmonies

    Rock Band 4 will more closely emulate the feeling of being a real musician with some neat personalisation touches. For Rock Band 4, Harmonix elected to double down on player ownership of their experience rather than technical precision. To this end, it has implemented a number of cool new features. I am wildly envious of […]

  • Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Lost Planet 3 developer shuttered

    Spark Unlimited has gone down with all hands. The Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Lost Planet 3 developer has been shuttered and all staff laid off. Chief technical officer John Butrovich confirmed the news in a statement issued to IGN. “Spark Unlimited is closing as a video game developer. The ongoing opportunities for smaller mobile […]

  • PS Now subscription available on PlayStation 3 this month, Vita coming soon

    PlayStation Now’s all you can eat service has finally been dated for PS3. Subscriptions to PS Now, Sony’s cloud-based gaming service, will be available on PS3 from May 12 in the US. The all you can eat package will also be made available on select Bravia TVs and Sony Blu-ray players on the same date. […]

  • GTA 5 is even better with a gravity gun

    GTA 5 modders have made a dream come true, adding a gravity gun to your arsenal of mayhem-causing weaponry. GTA 5 isn’t ready for this. It looks like a heck of a lot of fun, but the poor old Los Santos po po can’t deal with the resulting carnage at all. If Rockstar were ever […]

  • “Mod makers should be able to make money from their creations,” says DOOM creator

    DOOM co-creator John Romero has weighed in on the paid mods debate. Paid mods are a hot issue right now. For years, Valve has been enabling content creators to make money from their work on Counter-strike: Global offensive, Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2, but when it partnered with Bethesda to offer the same for […]

  • Watch WRC driver Kevin Abbring smash through a DIRT Rally challenge

    WRC driver Kevin Abbring has been participating in Dirt Rally’s daily events – and kicking ass. Dirt Rally seems to have ticked one of the most difficult to attain boxes of racing development – creating something professional drivers like to play, and which rewards their years of experience. Codemasters published the video below showing Hyundai […]

  • Mortal Kombat X patch to bring PC version up to console standard

    Mortal Kombat X PC will be fixed tomorrow, NetherRealm has promised. The PC version of Mortal Kombat X has come under fire for poor performance, including stuttering frame rate and bugs as plenty. About 45 minutes into a recent Twitch stream, NetherRealm boss Ed Boon said an update will drop tomorrow to address many of […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: all new Crucible maps detailed

    Destiny’s House of Wolves DLC will add four new maps to the Crucible, the game’s competitive multiplayer mode. Let’s take a look at all of them. Alex brings you new footage showing all of the four maps that will drop with House of Wolves. He goes over the layout, landmarks, gameplay styles, and other important […]

  • Custom Xbox One Star Wars controllers look very tempting

    Microsoft is celebrating May 4 by showing off concept designs for Star Wars-themed Xbox One controllers. May 4 is of course Star Wars Day and the controller concepts you’re about to see are just that, concepts. Or at least that’s what they said they are. There are four designs and they don’t look very practical. […]

  • Project Cars launch trailer is an anthology of race cars, set to the beats of Deadmau5

    Project Cars comes out this week and there’s just enough time for one last trailer. Project Cars, Slightly Mad Studios’ ambitious racer that has been in development for ages, is finally coming out this week. The racer received plenty of changes throughout its development based on community feedback and the final product will be in […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront dev reveals planet Sullust

    Sullust, a planet that has not been previously shown, will be featured in one of Star Wars Battlefront’s maps. Star Wars Battlefront developer DICE revealed today that planet Sullust will be one of the game’s locations. The planet was mentioned in the films and other Star Wars works, but was only shown today. DICE posted […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: Tower vendor changes

    House of Wolves will change the inventory of some of Destiny’s vendors and add new roles to others. Here’s everything that has been announced so far. You know that House of Wolves will bring a new social space to the game in the form of The Reef. But did you also know that the good […]

  • Nintendo apologises for Amiibo shortages, will reissue some out-of-stock figures

    Nintendo released a statement today to apologise for fan’s frustrations in finding some Amiibo figures and promised to handle distribution better going forward. Nintendo has been criticised recently for its lack of communication when it comes to new Amiibo figures. Something which has lead fans to not know if certain figures are limited to some […]