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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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  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory Feb 27, 28

    It’s Xursday again – what treats does he have for you this week? He’s in the North Tower, to the right of the Stranger’s room. Let’s take a look at the latest weapons and gear from your favourite Destiny trader. No Backup Plans [Titan Gauntlets] – 13SC ATS/8 Arachnid [Hunter Helmet] – 13SC Heart of […]

  • Battlefield Hardline will be stable on PC at launch, Visceral assures

    PC format is “by far the best gaming platform around,” says Hardline producer. “We’re doing what we can to take advantage of people’s different system with the graphics, framerate, controls, etc. We’re not just porting it over.” Battlefield Hardline developer Visceral is reassuring players that there will not be a repeat of the disastrous Battlefield […]

  • Win Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One

    We have 10 download codes for new indie puzzler Pneuma: Breath of Life for Xbox One to give away. The be in with a chance of winning a code, just enter your details below and we’ll pull the winners from the hat on Monday March 2nd, after 2pm GMT. Pneuma: Breath of Life is a […]

  • Life is Strange Episode 2 delayed

    Life is Strange Episode 2 won’t make its expected release date. The first Life is Strange episode released on January 30, and we had expected the second to follow on March 13. Square Enix has since confirmed to Destructoid that the next chapter won’t make its release date. There’s been no word of the new […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: which character will be revealed tomorrow?

    Mortal Kombat X director Ed Boon is teasing a new character reveal. During today’s Mortal Kombat X livestream, NetherRealm said that a new character would be revealed “very soon”. Boon followed up with this teasing tweet suggesting the reveal will occur tomorrow: Very soon? As in tomorrow? :/ — Ed Boon (@noobde) February 26, 2015 […]

  • Halo played by Twitch is an exercise in great patience

    TwitchPlaysHalo is ridiculous. Halo: Combat Evolved is the latest game to be sucked into the “TwitchPlays” phenomenon, and the results are somewhat painful to spectate. If you’re not familiar with the setup, which debuted with TwitchPlaysPokemon, the game accepts commands from the channels’ chat stream. Although it doesn’t have the strategic RPG elements of Pokemon, […]

  • Gold Amiibo sold out, selling at five times RRP on auction sites

    Gold Mario Amiibo are expected to sell for pretty astounding profits on eBay and other auction sites. The Walmart-exclusive Gold Mario Amiibo is already completely sold out. Plenty of people managed to snaffle them to resell, though. There are now dozens of listings on eBay and other auction sites. One of the average asking prices […]

  • Canadian new game prices jump to $75

    Canadian gamers are in for an unpleasant price hike. As spotted by HardcoreGamer, the local Canadian branches of Amazon and EB Games have raised the prices of upcoming games to CAD$75. The CAD$5 increasing comes within a year of prices hitting the CAD$70 point. CAD$75 (£38/€53) currently exchanges for $60, the standard US pricing. The […]

  • New Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows weather, day-night cycle

    The latest Xenoblade Chronicles X footage shows off a gloriously beautiful world. Xenoblade Chronicles X is Monolith Soft’s first solo Wii U game, and the developer is clearly enjoying being able to build a big open world with all the features we’ve come to expect. Missed the whole Xenoblade thing? Chronicles X is a sort […]

  • Dead Rising: Watchtower teaser talks up the benefits of Zombrex

    Live-action Dead Rising movie Watchtower is almost upon us. Dead Rising: Watchtower will release on Crackle on March 27, and via other digital distributors thereafter. Enjoy the short teaser below, courtesy of IGN.

  • We Happy Few debut hits you upside the face with a frying pan

    Contrast developer Compulsion Games has revealed its next project – the delightfully creepy-looking We Happy Few. We Happy Few is set in “a drug-fuelled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England” where “a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial”. Players are tasked with blending in with […]

  • Slender: The Arrival creeping onto PS4, Xbox One in March

    Slender: The Arrival sold like hotcakes on PC and last-gen consoles, so why not terrify yourself on PS4 and Xbox One, too? Slender: The Arrival will release on PS4 on March 24 and on Xbox One on March 25, developer Blue Isle Studios has announced, for $10. No word on that Wii U version, though. […]

  • GOG weekend sale celebrates German debut

    DRM-free games vendor GOG is celebrating its German-language launch with a tasty sale. The sale offers discounts over 25 “German favourites”. Highlights inclue 97% off Deponia, and less steep but still tasty savings on Memoria and Blackguards 1 and 2. The sale will run through March 3, and you do not have to be, speak, […]

  • Humble Weekly Bundle goes back to Japan

    The latest Humble Weekly Bundle is called Made in Japan, and I’m sure you can guess the theme. Pay what you want for Cherry Tree High Complete Pack (PC; Steam or DRM free), Fairy Bloom Freesia (PC; Steam or DRM free) and Influent + Language Pack (Linux, Mac, PC; Steam or DRM free). Pay more […]

  • Capcom “looking into” solutions to Resident Evil: Revelations PC co-op issue

    Resident Evil: Revelations 2 fans should sit tight for a bit, as Capcom is working on some sort of solution to the co-op issue. Resident Evil: Revelations 2 doesn’t have local co-op on PC and fans are pretty mad about that, as it was advertised ahead of release as a key feature. Although Capcom has […]

  • The games industry is disruption, says Assassin’s Creed producer

    Former Assassin’s Creed producer Jade Raymond has characterised the games industry as one long series of upsets. The games industry changes all the time, and that’s one of its best qualities, Raymond said. The ex-Ubisoft leader told Polygon that the reason seh got into games in the first place was because it “is this undefined […]

  • GTA 5 made $31 million in digital revenue in January

    GTA 5 is the highest-grossing title at the moment in terms of digital revenue, and the PSN is absolutely minting it. Digital games industry analyst Superdata has extended its scope to include console games, which means we suddenly have access to a whole bunch of data we’ve only been able to guess at, or extrapolate […]

  • Destiny: Inferno playlists debut next week

    Destiny PvP will shake things up next week with a new way to slaughter your mates in the Crucible. Destiny is already a skilled PvP game, but the new Inferno playlists will turn things up a notch with a focus on “basic gunplay”. The first of these, Inferno Control, kicks off on March 3 and […]

  • First-person camera coming to Guild Wars 2 next month

    ArenNet has announced its adding nonrestrictive first-person view to Guild Wars 2. Here’s what top expect come March 10: First-person Camera: Zooming in all the way will allow players to experience a first-person view. First-person mode is available while standing in place, walking, running, jumping, playing PvP and just about anything else. There aren’t any […]

  • Shadowrun Online signs on with Nordic

    Shadowrun Online has been given a nice little boost thanks to a distribution deal with Nordic Games. Shadowrun Online is a new team tactical RPG from Cliffhanger Productions. Although it’s already available through Steam Early Access, Nordic has agreed to distribute the finished version, which is due on Linux, Mac and PC in the second […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 is 60% finished, game world ten times the size of demo

    Final Fantasy 15 is 60% finished, according to director Hajime Tabata. Speaking with IGN, Tabata said development will kick into high gear once the Episode Duscae demo is released. “It’s about 60% now. People may look at that and say ‘well, you’ve only done five more percent!’ [since 55% in September] but it’s actually a […]

  • Destiny: you don’t need to visit the tower to access your vault

    Destiny players, you asked for it and Bungie has delivered it: you can now swap items in and out of the vault using the companion app. “Destiny needs more vault space” you cry – and yes, this is true. But while we all struggle with the limitations imposed on us by Bungie, we face all […]

  • Mortal Kombat X will contain over 100 Brutalities

    During the Mortal Kombat X stream today, NetherRealm Studios revealed Brutalities are back for the game, and stated there will be over 100 to pull off. You won’t gain any extra experience for being overly cruel with your painful moves, but you will at least get to laugh at some and “cringe” at others, according […]

  • Numenera: Strand is a film based on the game up on Kickstarter

    Numenera, the 2012 Kickstarter success and foundation for Torment: Tides of Numenera, could become a film if the Kickstarter for the movie is successful. With five days left, Monte Cook Games and Swedish film company Valdes/Eriksdotter needs £22,542 to reach its goal. Titled Numenera: Strand, it tells the tale of a drifter who “roams a […]

  • Gran Turismo 6 update adds MINI Clubman Vision, more

    A Mini Cooper has invaded Gran Turismo 6 via a new update. The Mid-Field Raceway track has also been added, and its a new and improved version of the original track from previous Gran Turismos. The new B-Spec Mode feature has also been added which allows the AI driver to race on your behalf. Additional […]

  • Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and some playable titles to PAX East

    Nintendo is bringing New 3DS Xl and Splatoon with it to PAX East next month. The E3 2014 build of the game lets eight players transform into squids in a race for “splattered-paint dominance.” Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. will also be playable and featured in stage presentations at the Nintendo booth. Upcoming or newly released Nintendo […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Premium information seems to have slipped out early

    Battlefield Hardline Premium perks have apparently leaked a bit early, according to a post on Reddit. Over on the Hardline subreddit is an image which was take at a GameStop location, noting two week early access to content additional Battlepacks and more. Here’s the rundown: Four expansions Two weeks early access 12 additional Battlepacks Exclusive […]

  • Final Fantasy: Record Keeper arrives in the US this spring

    Final Fantasy: Record Keeper will be released in the US on iOS and Android this spring, DeNA and Square Enix today. The mobile titles allows players to “relive favorite moments” across all Final Fantasy installments and build a team of classic characters from across the entire franchise. If you sign up for email updates, you […]

  • Battlefield Hardline now available for pre-order, pre-download on Xbox One

    Battlefield Hardline is now available for pre-order and pre-download on Xbox One. You can pre-order it now from the Xbox Store and once you have paid for it, you can start your pre-download. Battlefield Hardline releases on March 17, and will be made available to pre-downloaders come 12.01am EDT. Check pricing and availability for your […]

  • Dying Light interactive video allows you switch between day and night

    A new video for Dying Light has been released, which allows you to hit the Z key to change between day and night. Titles Life and Death in the Quarantine Zone, the interactive story video showcases how the game changes between day and night. Daytime and nighttime are shown side-by-side but the z key allows […]

  • Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare out on PS3, PS4; PC delayed

    The Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is now available for PlayStation 3 and PS4. Havoc contains the four multiplayer maps Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban along with the AE4 directed energy assault rifle, its custom variant, and the Exo Zombies cooperative mode. You can purchase the DLC separately or pick up the […]

  • Here’s a teaser for Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2

    A teaser video for the second episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available, so if you’ve yet to play the first episode, you may want to skip this. Resident Evil Revelations 2′s first episode is out now. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • North American eShop update is full of Donkey Kong games

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Titan Attacks, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Country and more. eShop on 3DS Ironfall Invasion Titan Attacks! Donkey Kong Land – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 2 – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 3 – Virtual Console Luv Me Buddies Wonderland Around the World […]

  • Venture into the Valley of the Yetis next week in Far Cry 4

    The next batch of Far Cry 4 DLC, Valley of the Yetis, releases in March and Ajay Ghale will be tasked with surviving violent cultists and the mythical Yeti. Apparently the cult is looking for a secret hidden in the valley, and Ajay has discovered their motives. The DLC features co-op with a friend taking […]

  • The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack out for Payday 2, has dino masks

    The 19th DLC pack for Payday 2 title The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack is available on Steam from today. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: 11 new weapon modifications for the AK rifles in the game 11 new weapon modifications for the CAR rifles in the game Four new masks together with their […]

  • Battle Chasers slated for PC, consoles; comic picks up where 2001 storyline left off

    Darksiders creator Joe Madureira and Vigil co-founder Ryan Stefanelli have confirmed a Battle Chasers game and a new comic are in the works at their new studio Airship Syndicate. Speaking to Polygon, Madureira and Stefanelli wouldn’t provide details on the the game, but did divulge it will be an adventure RPG with player-controlled Battle Chasers […]

  • Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami 2 discounted for Sony’s annual Spring Fever Sale

    Sony is hosting its annual Spring Fever Sale which runs for eight weeks and features a new title each week. The sale starts next week on March 3 with the launch of Helldivers. Here’s just a few items included in the sale: HELLDIVERS (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March 3 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March […]