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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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    GPU manufacturer AMD has released a new SDK compatible with “a broad set of VR devices”. Called LiquidVR, the tech is designed to “bring better content, comfort, and compatibility to VR applications” including games, simulation, entertainment, education, social media, travel, medicine, real estate and ecommerce, apparently. AMD said maintaining comfort and realism in VR environments […]

  • Danganronpa 3 in the works, but a long way off yet

    A new Danganronpa is happening. Danganronpa 3 is in the very, very early production stages, writer Kodaka Kazutaka has confirmed. Nothing about the project is “set in stone”, Kazutaka told Polygon, so there are no details to share yet; the characters and story may change several times before being finalised. The writer said he’s weighing […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League 2015 schedule announced

    Major League Gaming has announced the full schedule for the 2015 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare MLG Pro League. The eSpots firm revealed two more seasons of Pro League, a live Relegation tournament for Season Three, and a season ending World Championship with $250,000 up for grabs You can watch all the action on MLG.tv […]

  • Happy Birthday PlayStation 2, you are almost old enough to drive

    Amidst all the GDC 2015 hoopla today, we forgot to wish PlayStation 2 a Happy Birthday. The system turned 15 years old today, going by its March 4, 2000 launch date in Japan. It was released in the west that autumn, and had shipped 100 million units in less than six years post launch. PS2 […]

  • Here’s what the final version of Valve’s Steam Controller looks like

    A look at the updated Steam Controller has surfaced via a hands-on post from Polygon. Valve said what you see in the images below is the final version of the controller. The controller has gone through numerous revisions since it was first revealed, but it seems Valve has decided on two touch pads which work […]

  • The Sims, SimCity developer closed down

    The Sims 4 developer Maxis has been shuttered, EA has confirmed. The Sims, SimCity and the rest of the Sim franchise has traditionally been helmed by Maxis, which had its flagship studio in Emeryville, California. Now EA has confirmed with Kotaku that this studio is being closed. “Today we are consolidating Maxis IP development to […]

  • Gigantic MOBA coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One with cross-play

    Today during GDC 2015, Microsoft announced that the new IP from Motiga called Gigantic will be cross-play enabled. Slated for Windows 10 and Xbox One, the five-on-five third-person battle arena game allows the player to select from an array of heroes with distinctive powers and play styles. Players will then make their way through areas […]

  • Here’s a look at Unreal Tournament DirectX 12 gameplay

    Epic Games is creating Unreal Tournament using Unreal Engine 4 running on DirectX 12, which Microsoft says “sets a new bar for visual fidelity.” DirectX 12 is a single API developers can access across Windows devices, which can result in a 20% improvement in performance over DX11 running on the same machine. The Unreal Tournament […]

  • Wireless adapter for Xbox One controllers out later this year

    Microsoft announced at GDC 2015 today it will that all wireless Xbox gaming accessories will be designed for and supported on both Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs moving forward. Later this year, a wireless adapter will be released, allowing current Xbox controllers and future devices to be used wirelessly on PCs. This will […]

  • Microsoft offers up more details on Spencer’s GDC 2015 talk

    Microsoft has provided more details on Cross-Buy functionality between Windows 10 and Xbox One as well as the Xbox Live SKU and other announcements made during Phil Spencer’s talk today. During the session, the head of Xbox shared “the next step” in the company’s plans for a unified platform across all Windows 10 devices which […]

  • Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 this summer

    Wasteland 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 as a Game of the Year Edition. inXile Entertainment announced the news on the PS Blog, noting the edition contains enhancements and improvements. The game has been ported to Unity 5, which was announced over the weekend, providing upgraded visual effects, “improved character models, upgraded environments, and Unity […]

  • Cross-Buy detailed for Windows 10 and Xbox One; Elite: Dangerous coming to Xbox One

    During Xbox boss Phil Spencer’s session at GDC 2015 today, it was announced Elite: Dangerous would release on Xbox One. Spencer also outlined cross-buy functionality across Windows 10 and Xbox One. Spencer’s talk started off with Frontier Developments announcing Elite: Dangerous for release this summer as a console debut on Xbox One, suggesting the Elite: […]

  • Longbeards Culture Pack available now for Total War: Attila

    The Longbeards Culture Pack is now available for Total War: Attila and it comes with three new playable factions. The Langobards, the Burgundians and the Alamans can be played in both single and multiplayer campaign modes as well as custom and multiplayer battles. A new feature called The Lay of Ybor is also included. It […]

  • Nvidia unveils Titan X as world’s “most advanced GPU” – video

    Nvidia revealed Titan X as “the world’s most advanced GPU” during Epic founder Tim Sweeney’s State of Unreal session a t GDC 2015 today. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang took the stage during the panel stating it contains “8 billion transistors,” and has 12GB of RAM. Pricing wasn’t announced, but it was rumored back in January […]

  • Steam sale discounts titles announced for SteamOS

    With many of the year’s most popular games heading to SteamOS, Valve has decided to host sale in celebration. Here’s a short list of titles on sale. The full list of PC, Linux, Mac and SteamOS discounts can be found through the link. The Banner Saga Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Batman: Arkham […]

  • PayDay 2 announced for SteamOS, celebrating with franchise sale

    PayDay 2 is coming to SteamOS, Overkill has announced. Still under development, a release date will be announced at a later date. “Making sure PAYDAY 2 is available on SteamOS felt like a no-brainer,” said Bo Andersson Klint, CEO of Starbreeze in the press release. “With PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition coming to the next generation […]

  • Magicka 2 has a release date and a crazy new trailer

    Magicka 2 has a release date for PC and the PlayStation 4, and Paradox Interactive has released a trailer featuring “Vlad’s latest lyrical triumph,” which is his rendition of the Game of Thrones theme. Magicka arrived on PC and PS4 May 26 and the game can be pre-ordered on PC beginning today, with PS4 pre-orders […]

  • Nintendo eShop schedule: Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone, others

    Nintendo has sent over a list of titles heading to the eShop in 2015. The schedule contains titles such as Affordable Space Adventures, Runbow, Swords & Soldiers 2, Don’t Starve: Giant Edition, Never Alone and Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars. Below a preliminary list of games scheduled to launch in the Nintendo eShop on […]

  • Week 8: Can you win the weekly VG247 GTA Online playlist? Play tonight at 8pm UK time!

    We’re hotdogging tonight. I don’t even know what that means. Eight weeks of ridiculous death. Such a brave, true milestone. We’re going to celebrate two entire months of playing weekly GTA Online playlists with VG247 readers with Hotdogging, a set of six jobs I named completely at random. This one ends with a straight-up border […]

  • Puzzle platformer Four Sided Fantasy coming to PC, consoles in early 2016

    Curve Digital and developer Logan Fieth’s studio Ludo Land are bringing puzzle platformer, Four Sided Fantasy, to PC all major consoles in early 2016. Ludo Land are developing the PC version, with Curve Digital handling the console and Vita versions. Four Sided Fantasy tasks players with venturing across “dreamlike levels” by controlling and manipulating the […]

  • Tropico 5 arrives on PS4 in April – video

    A release date for Tropico 5 on PlayStation 4 has been announced. This is the franchise’s first foray onto PlayStation consoles. It arrived in Europe on April 24 and in North America on April 28. A Limited Edition has also been announced, and it includes The Big Cheese DLC and the Bayo Del Olfato sandbox […]

  • Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Limited Edition PS4 releasing in Asia

    A limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PlayStation 4 system will be released in Asia. The system and its DualShock controller were designed in collaboration with Konami Digital Entertainment and targeted for the Asia region, per Gematsu. It will be released as part of PS4 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain […]

  • This video shows Sid Meier’s Starships being played on iPad

    Sid Meier’s Starships will be released on iPad alongside Mac and PC, and to give you an idea on how it plays on the tablet, a new video has been released. Watch below as Pete Murray and lead producer Stuart Zissu show off the iPad version. The 4X space-strategy releases on March 12.

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood announced as standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood, a standalone prequel to The New Order, will release May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. The game takes pace in 1946, and and players take on the role of B.J. Blazkowicz as he embarks on a two-part mission in Bavaria. Part one, Rudi Jäger and the Den of Wolves, […]

  • Observer Mode coming soon to Evolve as a free update

    Observer Mode will be released for Evolve as a free update for all platforms, 2K and Turtle Rock have announced. The community feature was designed to give Evolve players the ability to observe and add commentary as well as livestream, allowing a sixth user to “passively enter a custom game” with the ability to switch […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes and PS4 top Media Create charts in Japan

    The PlayStation 3 and PS4 skus for Dragon Quest Heroes were the top sellers on the Media Create charts in Japan, moving a combined 594,749 units. Elsewhere on the chart, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D was in third place with 39,751 units moved, and last week’s top seller, God Eater 2: Rage Burst, […]

  • Watch Hideo Kojima answer lots of your burning Phantom Pain questions

    What’s better than learning the official release date of MGS5: The Phantom pain? Hideo Kojima talking more about it, of course! Hideo Kojima has decided to answer a few fan questions about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, to help boost everyone’s hype to insane levels. He talks about the game’s story, his relief […]

  • MGS5: The Phantom Pain Day 1 and Collector’s Edition revealed

    Konami has officially revealed the release date of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain alongside the game’s Day 1 and Collector’s Edition. Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will release September 1, worldwide, as previously leaked. It will be available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The PC Steam […]

  • EU Club Nintendo: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack back in stock

    Club Nintendo members in Europe can once again pick up The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds soundtrack. For 3000 Stars, members of the program will receive the double-CD soundtrack which features 89 tracks with liner notes from Ryo Nagamatsu and 12 sheet music excerpts. It also comes with 16 Milk Bar Musician pieces. […]

  • HTC apologises over “confusing” Half-Life VR comments

    HTC has misspoke when it talked about Half-Life coming to VR headset Vive. HTC chairwoman Cher Wang has apologised over the comments she made yesterday about the possibility of Half-Life coming to Vive, the VR headset it’s manufacturing with the help of Valve. Sources close to Valve, have indicated to the BBC that the developer […]

  • What do Heists and Daily Objectives tell us about the future of GTA Online?

    Daily Objectives could be more important to GTA Online than Heists. These theories and more, from a giddy Matt Martin. Yesterday Rockstar dropped a bombshell. Not only is it releasing Heists next week – the mythical 4-player missions for GTA Online – but it’s also going to be introducing daily challenges and more modes to […]

  • Breaking down Hardline Premium, is it worth it?

    Having been announced just a few days ago, the Premium service for Battlefield Hardline has been a topic of constant debate among the Battlefield community. Many look at Hardline as a Battlefield off-shoot that will just tide everyone over until Battlefront comes out in the fall. EA has other plans however, announcing a $50 Premium […]

  • Watch Dogs sold more than GTA 5 and FIFA 15 in Australia in 2014

    Watch Dogs outsold GTA 5, and FIFA 15, at retail in Australia last year. According to data obtained by the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (IGEA) from the NPD Group Australia, last year’s year retail sales charts look a bit different in Australia. The top-selling game was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, followed by Watch […]

  • Watch PC footage of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt from GDC 2015

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a new gameplay video available that shows a bit of action from the PC version. The video below was captured from Nvidia’s GDC conference live-stream. Developer CD Projekt RED was on hand to show off The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt‘s graphical prowess running on a PC. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.