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Holiday Retrospective: What happened in November 2011

Monday, 2nd January 2012 08:43 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, Skyward Sword, Assassin’s Creed Revelations and Saints Row: The Third all released in November, making for the year’s most intense ship period. Here’s what happened.

New in November 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

GoldenEye Reloaded

Sonic Generations

Modern Warfare 3

Super Mario 3D Land

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Halo: CE Anniversary

Saints Row: The Third

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Uncharted 3 launched globally in the first few days of November, and Eurogamer’s 8/10 caused a storm of protest from the faithful. The furore marred the release of a fantastic game, but the general stink surrounding review scores was pushed to an absurd level with Uncharted 3: we took a look at the entire issue in mid-November.

Naughty Dog, for its part, went straight into talking about future development. It was later confirmed that Uncharted 3 sold 3.8 million copies in its first day.

Uncharted aside, one news story completely dominated the start of November: Rockstar released GTA V’s first trailer. The game will be set in California and will most likely be released next year. The movie released in the run-up to Saints Row 3′s launch: THQ didn’t appear to be phased in the slightest. Analysts, again, predicted more than 20 million sales for GTA V. A ton of supposed info leaked from a mag’s January issue, but this is still to be confirmed.

Battlefield 3 was still at the front of the news as we waltzed out of October, with server issues still dogging the game’s multiplayer, but the focus was shifting to Modern Warfare 3. EA was convinced BF3 DLC would retain players in the face of the Infinity Ward juggernaut, but a giant launch was inevitable for the latest Call of Duty.

Microsoft warned of Live bans for early playing with leaked copies as Elite launched, and Sledgehammer moved to assure the game’s shocking content hadn’t been included because it was shocking content.

A star-spangled live action trailer heralded the launch itself on November 8, with Microsoft simultaneously confirming Xbox 360 had hit 57 million unit sales worldwide. The UK launch was streamed live. Activision claimed 1.4 million people played the game online on launch day. MW3 sold 6.5 million units in the UK and US in its first 24 hours and pulled $775 million in five days, a new entertainment record.

There were hints Call of Duty may have peaked, though: UK week one sales for MW3 were actually down on those achieved by Black Ops in 2011; the Treyarch effort has now sold 15 million units. Another downside was a heavily botched Elite launch, which rendered the service initially unusable. Problems dragged on for days.

Just after MW3, Skyrim launched on November 11 with a string of midnight launches. Review scores were off the chart, and more than 200,000 people were seen playing the RPG on Steam in the first day. It sold 3.5 million units in the first 48 hours.

PlayStation 3 turned five on the day Skyrim launched. Oh, the irony: the RPG’s PS3 lag-gate mess emerged about a week later.

Skyrim’s launch trailer. The video that
signalled the end of your life.

October’s NPD was static at $1.08 billion year-over-year. BF3 had moved just under 2 million units in the US and Nintendo announced that American 3DS sales were at 1.65 million.

Saints Row: The Third, Zelda and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations made up the rest of November’s triple-A releases, all crammed into Thankgiving week.

Rainbow Six: Patriots was one of the month’s biggest announcements. The game was confirmed for a 2013 release by Ubisoft. A target render video was released later in the month showing an edgy scene on a bridge.

Vita, too, kept the bombs dropping: Vodafone was announced as the handheld’s EU 3G partner, and SCEE confirmed its launch line-up for February 2012.

Another November story that caused a stir was an Xboxygen report that claimed we were going to hear something about the next gen Xbox at CES. You’ll have another week to see if anything comes of it.

The main product ramp-up after Thanksgiving was towards Star Wars: The Old Republic, which was set to release on December 20. It was suggested the game could take a sizeable chunk out of WoW, and various videos kept appearing. ToR would be the last major launch of the year.

Other November biggies: Angry Birds went passed 500 million downloads; Minecraft hit 4 million sales; Kaz Yamauchi said things about Gran Turismo 6; Limbo beat 1 million sales; The Witcher 2 sold more than 250,000 copies digitally and was pirated 4.5 million times; Torchlight II got delayed; League of Legends beat 4 million DAU; GamePro closed after 22 years.

The month rounded off with Black Friday numbers. Wii sold 500,000 units in the US on Thanksgiving week, while 360 sold more than 960,000 consoles.

All eyes then turned towards December; and the VGAs.

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