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Holiday Retrospective – What happened in December 2011

Tuesday, 3 January 2012 09:00 GMT By Brenna Hillier

It should still be quite fresh in your mind, but let’s seal the deal and wrap up our 2011 retrospective by recapping December, or, to give it its more common name, “Star Wars Month”.

If you could animate the shifting of the release calendar over the course of a year as new releases and delays are announced, I strongly suspect you’d see a kind of tectonic shift away from December after EA and BioWare put a date on Star Wars: The Old Republic. The long-anticipated MMORPG, spiritual follow up to the success of the Knight of the Old Republic games, dominated the month. Some of it was even news – BioWare gladdened antipodean hearts by promising an Australia and New Zealand release, probably with local servers. Less surprisingly, the game suffered massive queues and delays as demand outstripped server supply.

But when we weren’t settling the eternal Jedi vs Sith debate, we were anticipating, watching, deploring or discussing that most controversial and limelight-hogging of gaming events: the Spike VGAs.

Teabagging and Other Revealing Moments
One of the key reveals of the VGAs was The Last of Us. The mysterious new PlayStation 3 exclusive came out of nowhere, and despite repeated teasing – including inside Uncharted 3 – nobody tipped the game as Naughty Dog’s new IP.

Epic also teased a “radically different” reveal, which turned out to be Fortnite, a Minecraft-inspired build-and-survive affair.

Confirming rumours, BioWare revealed its new project as Command & Conquer: Generals 2, in the works at Victory Games, newly folded into the EA BioWare label.

One of the show’s key moments was a new trailer for the renamed Metal Gear Rising, confirming Platinum Games as the developer after Kojima Productions ran into a brick wall with its design brief.

Activision pleased fans by outing a Tony Hawk HD collection, and although it didn’t surprise anyone, BioShock Infinite’s VGAs traileris worth a look.

Other VGAs trailers included Transformers: Fall of Cybertron; Diablo III; Rainbow Six: Patriots; Hitman: Absolution; and The Amazing Spider-man.

Vita: Is it or isn’t it?
The Vita launched in Japan mid-way through the month, ahead of its February release in the west. Reports came in of an official apology over mass firmware problems, but Sony issued a denial.

Accounts of the initial shipment ranged up to 700,000, but retailers reported that the console had not sold out. Media Create later revealed the first week saw just 325,000 units sold, not as many as rival 3DS managed in its own launch. The best-selling Vita game, Hot Shots Golf, peaked at seventh place on the charts, with multiple 3DS titles above it.

But after all that, remember that we thought the 3DS was a roaring success, then feared that it wasn’t, and now it seems to be back on the up – so don’t put on your mourning garments just yet.

Digital Frontier
The 3DS turned a corner, with Nintendo announcing the console had passed the first year sales of its precursor, the DS, in just eight months. Even accounting for gaming’s increased audience that’s significant news, as the DS holds several records for best-selling hardware. The 3DS nabbed one of its own though, becoming Australia’s fastest-selling console. That’s a bit like being king of a postage stamp, but hey! Nintendo finally got around to releasing the free Game Boy Advance titles it had promised early adopters, too.

Jaws dropped as EA announced a new premium subscription service … for the mobile versions of Tetris.

New in December

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Trine 2

The Adventures of Tintin

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD

Infinity Blade II

On the trade side, Zynga prepared for its initial public offering, dropping its valuation from $10 billion to $7 billion. Shares went live at $10, and then fluctuated madly before heading into a decline. Also worth slightly less money than previously thought, Activision parent company Vivendi struggled to find creditors.

Microsoft unleashed its new Xbox Dashboard, calling it the “future of TV”. It was quite light on gaming features, and the new look raised the usual grumbles – including worrisome reports of decreased video quality. On the upside, Australians actually ceased complaining, as voice support for ocker accents finally arrived.

Loyalty program, Square Enix Members, was hacked – 1.8 million accounts were affected, but no personal information was compromised.

Telstra lifted the lid on a planned streaming games service for Australia, and still in Oz, we were shocked when Gerry Harvey, an outspoken opponent of parallel importing, announced a new games import service attached to the Harvey Norman retail chain.

Hatched, Matched and Dispatched
Not a lot of turnover hit the headlines in December, but SCE Americalost two executives, with Rob Dyer heading to Zynga and Scott Steinburg resigning without explanation.

There was lots of recruiting news, though – Rare recruiting pulled in some key staffers from Codemasters and Ubisoft, among others, and Sledgehammer started luring in staff for the next Call of Duty. Ubisoft Quebec’s MMORPG plans were outed by job ads; LucasArts similarly revealed two new games; and Lionhead’s own hustling apparently revealed an upcoming MMO.

A couple of ex-BioWare staffers, along with other notable veterans, nabbed $15 million for a new studio called Rumble, and a handful of ex-Visceral Melbourne veterans founded Playside.

EA snapped up KlickNation.

An interview revealed Infinity Blade II was the result of a crunch period so intense Chair vowed never to do it again. Also ready for a holiday. Markus “Notch” Persson turned over the lead development role on Minecraft to take a break and focus on other projects.

While refusing to comment on rumours of his resignation, Sony repeatedly assured fans Fumito Ueda was still working on The Last Guardian. Eventually, the rumours were confirmed - Ueda has left Sony, and will continue work on The Last Guadian as a contracted freelancer. Gamestop landed in hot water when it issued an erroneous message that the game had been cancelled, tpp.

The Old Republic’s launch video. The game
pretty much defined December 2011.

True or False?
Picking up an ongoing chain of rumours over unannounced EA titles, studio changes and tech sharing, whispers suggested the next Army of Two of two game would sport four-player co-op and use the Frostbite engine.

Ken Kutaragi, the Sony engineer largely responsible for every PlayStation product prior to the Vita, hinted that he was working on a “cool” new project.

Richard Garriott hinted he was in talks to make the next Ultima game, but EA denied even discussing the matter.

Square Enix gave away a first look at one of its new properties – an action RPG. Obsidian unveiled South Park: The Game, an RPG which nobody saw coming, and Sony finally gave us another look at PS Move title, Sorcery.

Marketing and PR
Nintendo of America finally gave into pressure, announcing Xenoblade Chronicles for an April release in the US. The Last Story was formally dated for February in Europe.

A scandal over the Vita’s support for multiple users ended badly for everyone. First it didn’t, and then it did – and now it definitely doesn’t, and nobody seems happy about it. On the bright side, uh, look at these pretty trailers for launch and upcoming Vita titles.

A couple of nasty bugs caused grumbles, with Bethesda still unable to date a patch for Skyrim’s PlayStation 3 stutter-bug, and Nintendo owning up to a game-breaking Skyward Sword glitch. Unusually, the company will offer a patch – or you can send your console in for a manual fix.

Although the PS3 bug is still causing rage, Bethesda announced it had shipped 10 million copies of Skyrim. In the digital realm, the game broke Steam records, and took the top of the charts from Modern Warfare 3.

Famed Nintendo creative Shigeru Miyamoto joked in an interview that he would be “retiring” – meaning he would allow younger creatives to take the reins while he pursued his own projects – but the story of his imminent departure spread like fire and elicited an official denial from the big N. Wired insisted they’d reported verbatim.

Ball’s in Your Court
After literally decades, Quake was delisted by German authorities, and on the subject of violence in games, the Red Cross launched an investigation into whether warfare conventions should apply to games.

In Australia, the lack of any content ratings category higher than MA15+ truck again – Syndicate was refused classification, effectively banning it from sale, for its frequent dismemberment, decapitation and mutilation of corpses. EA Australia proudly declared it wouldn’t submit to “arcane censorship“, sparking a furious debate in local media as to whether it meant “archaic”.

A French court ruled in favour of Namco Bandai, forcing CD Projekt to accept the publisher as distributor for the Witcher 2 on Xbox 360.

And on the homefront, we shut up shop for a well-deserved holiday. VG247 produced nearly 14,000 articles over the course of 2011, and after a few days of stuffing ourselves with food and presents, we’re back and determined to do even better this year. Here’s to 2012.

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    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]

  • Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena is a twin stick shooter MOBA for PC

    Warhammer 40,000: Dark Nexus Arena has been announced as a twin stick shooter MOBA blend from Whitebox Interactive. Set for a 2016 release on PC, the game’s beta will be on show at PAX East next month. An Early Access release is slated for Q2 2015 and you can already purchase early access for a […]

  • More information, videos for cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun surface

    A trailer for the cancelled Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun title from Climax which was reportedly set for an E3 2012 reveal, has surfaced. Along with the above video is another which is described as a pre-boss battle cutscene. It’s below. According to a source of NeoGAF’s Mama Robotnik, the game was being developed under […]

  • Three additional games added to Square Enix Humble Bundle

    Kane & Lynch Collection, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Startopia have been added to the Square Enix Humble Bundle. All three are made available when paying the average price of $7.69. Those who have already purchased the bundle will automatically be granted the titles. All three are available for PC only. The […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 gets Fast & Furious with standalone expansion

    A Fast & Furious tie-in and standalone expansion to Forza Horizon 2 will arrive for Xbox consoles next month. Titled Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious, the downloadable title does not require the base game to play. “We’ve been talking with the folks at Turn 10 for a number of years and have always […]

  • The Evil Within: The Assignment has a release date, new trailer

    The Evil Within: The Assignment will be released on March 10 in North America and March 11 in Europe, it was announced today. Along with an exact release date was a trailer detailing more information about the first set of DLC. The Assignment is the first of two DLCs centering on Detective Castellanos’ mysterious partner, […]