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Holiday Retrospective: What happened in May 2011

Tuesday, 27 December 2011 10:57 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The US industry hit a serious low; Sony stumbled through the new, hacktastic dawn; one of the year’s biggest games was finally revealed; and E3 excitement started to build. Let’s remember May 2011.

New in May 2011

L.A. Noire

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword

Section 8: Prejudice

Brink

MX vs ATV Alive

Dead or Alive: Dimensions

Dirt 3

Frozen Synapse

Hunted: The Demon’s Forge

PSNgate
A generous two weeks on, the PlayStation Network was still down, as Sony scurried to determine the extent of the Mid-April hack and repair the holes in its security. Top executive Kaz Hirai addressed the world in a live-streamed broadcast, apologising deeply, and the company’s troubled stocks recovered slightly.

Then – horror – Sony Online Entertainment went down, too, citing a similar attack exploiting the shared architecture of the two divisions.

12,700 credit cards were said to have been compromised, and Sony has put on the defence in denying sticky rumours that passwords had been stored in unencrypted form and that lists of PSN users credit card details were being sold, as well as persistant criticism of its delay in informing the public.

The US Congress started asking hard questions, and a Canadian lawsuit targeted a $1 billion pay out. One expert claimed the company had ignored his warnings of the PSN’s vulnerability, and developers admitted the down time had hurt.

Sony added another expert team to its investigation, and offered customers free identity protection services as well as a bundle of free games.

Sony Online Entertainment was back up and running less than two weeks after its own attack, but the PSN remained down. In early May, we were told the newly secure PSN was in the final stages of testing, and by half way through the month, we expected it back at any moment. But in Japan, Sony was barred from going back online until it could meet new security requirements, after credit companies expressed concerns. Sony predicted full restoration by the last week of May, but as the month closed, we were still waiting.

Nevertheless, the end was in sight. Although the intrusion was estimated to have cost the company $106 million, hardly anyone cancelled their accounts.

Hacking as Headlines
Anonymous, widely blamed for the attack, issued another denial, this time specifically stating it had not snaffled anyone’s credit card details. A small group of long-time members, however, admitted that a splinter group or cell could have been responsible. Another statement expressed the group’s disappointment in Sony’s actions. Rumour had it another attack was on the way, and certainly a number of Sony’s satellites were troubled by cybercrime over the next few months. “This is the beginning of the end for Sony,” hackers warned.

L.A. Noire launch trailer.

In fact, it was the beginning of an ordeal, as gaming websites and networks fell victim to a barrage of hacking incidents. The Deus Ex website was one of the first to be hit, with personal data pillaged.

Sony’s So-net service was smacked, as was Codemasters and Heroes of Newerth. This trend continued over the months to come.

Wii U Join The Dance?
When we weren’t having kittens over Sony, we found the time to be excited about Nintendo’s upcoming hardware. At the end of April, the Big N had confirmed an E3 2011 debut, so speculation and sleuthing went wild – along with a bit of trolling.

It will have a touch screen you can feel, they said. It will have 8GB of flash memory and no HDD, they said. It will have a front facing camera, they said.

“Let’s just say, there’s room for a unique console,” was Miyamoto’s irresponsibly paraphrased response to these varyingly accurate predictions.

Releases
The headline release this month was undoubtedly Team Bondi’s loving – if glaringly inaccurate – tribute to the Los Angeles that was. L.A. Noire seemed an entirely new kind of game, with the open-world Rockstar touch, and the world went mad for it.

Both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players reporting various system issues, but otherwise, the game drew good reviews and became the UK’s fastest-selling new IP. Team Bondi leader Brendan McNamara chortled happily that the game’s sequel wouldn’t take anywhere near as long to make.

Ha. Ha. Haaaaa. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion to that.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings.

CD Projekt also scored a win this month with The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The action RPG sequel hit a couple of bumps in Australia. A quick bit of editing leaped the refused classification hurdle, while an adjustment to local pricing was quickly circumnavigated.

A week before release, the company hit its upper limit on pre-orders in its home territory of Poland, and achieved 111,842 worldwide. Critical reception was equally positive, and before the dust had settled, the first reputable hints of an Xbox 360 version arrived.

We caught up with Splash Damage in time for the release of the shooter-focussed company’s first new IP, Brink. Reviews really were a mixed bag, with some outlets refusing to give a verdict until online play could be assessed. In its launch-day form, Brink drew a lot of fire for its bugs, but Splash Damage was quick to respond with patches and even freebies.

Dead or Alive Dimensions was added to the 3DS’s limited fighter roster – but not in Nordic territories. This molehill-turned-mountain would later spread to Australia, too. THQ went a bit experimental with its budget-priced, DLC-supported MX vs ATV Alive. Dirt 3 hit stores, but its multiplayer was out of reach for disgruntled PS3 players. InXile’s action title Hunted: The Demon’s Forge also dropped, but it failed to make waves.

On the indie side, sci-fi shooter Section 8 received a digital-only sequel in the form of Prejudice, while popular medieval multiplayer title Mount & Blade jumped forward a few centuries to With Fire and Sword. Frozen Synapse, the turn-based tactical title, hit Steam, and its buy-on-get-one-free policy helped countless players find friends to test their skills on.

The NPD Group’s report on US sales for May, L.A. Noire topped, with Brink in second place. Otherwise, the chart was largely dominated by April’s big releases and the same old Just Call of Zumba Dance Duty perennials.

Depressing? Indeed. May saw the US industry slump to its lowest point in five years, with total sales dropping a whopping 14% year-on-year to $743.1 million. The NPD blamed consumer disinterest on a lower number of releases than in previous years – but also pointed out that Black Ops DLC probably diverted more than a few dollars into the digital sphere.

Brink launch trailer.

Digital Frontier
DC Universe Online, barely five months old, started merging servers, which some interpreted as a danger sign.

Sony announced a new, Japan-only range of PS3 titles under the banner of PSP Remasters. Monster Hunter Portable Third was the flagship of the scheme, which updates visuals and adds in DualShock support, as well as sharing saves between PSP and PS3. The company also showed off some new AR technology which would later appear in Vita launch titles.

Money, Money, Money
End of financial year results started coming in during May, with Sony’s PlayStation division boasting a $535 billion profit, with over 14 million PS3 consoles shipped over the year.

THQ’s own financials briefing was less inspiring, although we were still willing to bet on Danny Bilson’s vision, and Square Enix blamed poor console sales for its own 35% drop in sales.

Ubisoft reported a poor final quarter but a positive result over the whole year. EA put a bit of spin on its own efforts, highlighting static sales and reduced spending rather than another annual loss.

Activision’s financial year is out of step with many others, so it posted its first quarter results, which included increased profits of $503 million. Disney’s second quarter brought losses again.

Dirt 3 launch trailer.

Marketing and PR
Proving it has rather more sense than many credit a multi-national corporation with possessing, Sony kicked David O Russell off the Uncharted movie adaptation, apparently unimpressed with the director’s strange, family-art-heist-Mark-Wahlberg interpretation.

Irrational games debuted a new BioShock: Infinite demo to press; we all got a look at it during E3, and it remains one of the most memorable bits of media of the year.

Continuing its new tradition of charming humility, EA admitted again that it had made mistakes – but insisted it had done so with balls and brass.

BioWare won hearts two months in a row, this time by declaring that Mass Effect 3 would feature all kinds of love interests for those put off by Mass Effect 2′s heterosexual tunnelling.

True or False?
On the Operation Rainfall front, hopes for a Western release for Mistwalker’s The Last Story where lifted when rumours and team leader Hironobu Skaguchi agreed a localisation was under way.

A new Carmageddon project was outed, with Square Enix handing the IP back to its original developers.

Duke Nukem Forever went gold, after eleven years in the works. What else can you say? We’d say it anyway, in the months to come.

In London, Sony gave Starhawk a glamorous debut, and Ubisoft announced the inevitable annual Assassin’s Creed. Square Enix admitted to Hitman’s revival at last, and at an impressive media event in Dubai, Namco Bandai made it official with Soul Calibur V.

First Modern warfare 3 trailer.

But the biggest announce of all was also the least surprising – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Officially, we didn’t know what the next entry would be, but unofficially? The logos leaked. Teasers were quickly deconstructed. Retailers opened pre-orders. A planned suprirse trailer debut during the NBA Playoffs wasn’t, in the end, all that surprising.

This ship was so leaky that at least one crew member chose to bail out: Kotaku got hold of most of the contents of Activision’s planned media blowout and ran with it. Activision was pretty gutted.

Getting E3-cited
If you’d like to relive E3 2011 as it was meant to be, maybe come back tomorrow for June – but if you want the true to live experience, read on. This years’ event was thoroughly plagued by leaks, rumours and too-explicit hints from marketing departments, making most major “announces” pretty dull affairs.

Sony’s reveal of its newest console’s name, the Vita, was outedmore than once. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition was outed. Sega tipped its Aliens: Colonial Marines hand very heavily.

Plus, Hideo Kojima said he wouldn’t be showing up, dashing hopes for something Metal Gear related. Fumito Ueda gave the show a miss, too – we’re still waiting to see The Last Guardian.

Hatched, Matched and Dispatched
Atari, one of the oldest and most dramatically transformed brands of our industry, announced another of its periodic reinventions. Chasing the casual, social and mobile dollar meant dropping support for triple-A MMOs, and Cryptic Studios – developer of Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter – found itself on the market, although not for long. Perfect World was all over that.

EA continued its bid for world domination by snapping up Australian studio Firemint. Meanwhile, Black Rock was hit by lay-offs.

The last remaining “founding father” of the original Xbox parted ways with Microsoft, which was a little sad.

Finally, the US government adjusted one of its grant schemes to include games, thereby officially settling the debate: games are art. it’s the law.

Check back tomorrow as we dive head-first into the silliest of seasons: E3 is just around the corner.

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5 Comments

  1. Quasar

    witcher 2 >all

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Maximum Payne

    Oh I remember when I install Witcher 2 it was so good felling installing something new,fresh with great graphic great sequel and all free time in the world to explore the game.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. The_Red

    @1
    Correction:
    “Mortal Kombat > All”
    I know, it’s a game from previous month but I was still enjoying that. As for May games, LA Noire was my fave. Sadly didn’t get to try Witcher 2 :(

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Hunam

    Mortal Kombat was probably the surprise of the year though, I mean, it was a great game and not shit. Everything else this year was either as expected or worse, MK9 was basically the game that give us a bit of faith.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. teribithia

    Dead or Alive: Dimensions in youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDwSDsesTMQVia Apple.

    #5 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Pop star Britney Spears has signed a five-year deal with Glu mobile for a new, untitled game. The mobile game will feature her “voice, likeness, and creative influence,” and is due for release sometime next year. Glu also signed a deal with Katy Perry in February, so expect a game revolving around her to hit […]

  • Large Activision publisher sale on Steam discounts Call of Duty, Prototype, more

    Activision has put the majority of its library on sale through Steam this weekend, and if other titles weren’t included, it could be referred to as a Call of Duty sale. Below are a few standouts. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Gold Edition 25% off Call of Duty: Ghosts 67% off Call of Duty: […]

  • The Dota 2 International Compendium is out, second Stretch Goal almost complete

    The International Compendium has been released for Dota 2 with the prize pool sitting at a lovely $1,917,155 as of press time. Valve said over the weekend to expect the International Compendium to drop sometime this week. As with previous years, those who purchase the Compendium can earn rewards by completing challenges, making predictions and by […]

  • If permadeath RTS games are up your alley, check out indie project XO

    The Square Enix Collective showcases projects for a limited time to help drum up community support and potential backers, and RTS title XO from Jumpdrive Studios is worth taking a look at. The teaser trailer is fairly brief, but if you visit the page for XO over at the Square Enix Collective, it’s understandable – […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch disables mods. Here’s how to get them working again

    A new patch for the PC version of GTA 5 was released yesterday and, as it turns out, has wiped the ability to use mods with the game. The wasn’t great news for some players, but YouTuber taltigolt has already figured out how to play the PC version with mods after installing the patch. Matt […]

  • Xbox One ad stealth launches a mysterious Halo 5 competition

    A new Xbox One advert released today isn’t as straightforward as it appears. The trailer has a couple of pretty conspicuous ‘glitches’ throughout, and members of NeoGAF wasted no time in breaking it down. The first item of interest is the screen from the hunt the signal site, which displays an error message when accessed […]

  • Battlefield 4 Jungle map improved with latest update

    DICE LA has updated the Battlefield 4 Jungle map, adding more foliage and a new route. As demonstrated by Westie in the video above, the map now has the kind of foliage you’d expect in the jungle, helping to conceal infantry players. The update also tweaks positions of objective points and has added a concealed […]

  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate free DLC pack for May includes Metroid and Mega Man armour

    The May DLC pack for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate boasts some big ticket items, including Metroid, Street Fighter, and Mega Man gear. This big fat chunk of free DLC, detailed on the capcom unity blog, includes Hunter equipment: Metroid’s Varia Suit Metroid’s Zero Suit Metroid’s Arm Cannon Taiko Drum Master Hunting Horn USJ’s Star Rook […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for May 1, 2 – Hard Light edition

    Here he comes with his weird face, dealing goods and gear for Guardians. It’s Friday. Xur: Agent of the Nine is back in the Tower. Of Course he is. Got your Strange Coins? Here’s what’s in his bag this week: Ruin Wings [Exotic Titan gauntlets] – 13SC Don’t Touch Me [Exotic Hunter gauntlets] – 13SC […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC drops for PS4 on May 26

    Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC has now been announced for May 26 for PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360. The announcement was made on Twitter via the official Dragon Age account. Mark your calendars! #DAIJawsOfHakkon pic.twitter.com/mU1WfkSrQV — Dragon Age (@dragonage) May 1, 2015 The DLC was released for PC and Xbox One back in March thanks to […]

  • New Witcher 3 screenshots highlight Geralt’s questionable fashion choices

    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 […]