April 2012 was a slow month marked by the first mentions of E3 press conferences, Sony’s continuing struggle, the ramping up of Diablo III and the virtually unnoticed release of the first episode of Telltales’ The Walking Dead.
Sony posted some stunning losses and dropped 10,000 staff, with gaming divisions apparently unaffected. While Sony’s financials weren’t quite the disaster they appeared to be, the news was hardly “good”.
For every month in our 2012 retrospective, hit this.
While April was a relatively slow month, the year’s gaming news started to pick up at this point. We were in the aftermath of the GAME collapse story. The reborn store got a new CEO and a ticking off from TIGA about its slowness to adopt digital. Most were keen to move on from the chain’s trouble, as the UK market was taking lumps from ongoing uncertainty. Thankfully, larger publishers such as EA and Nintendo moved their stock back into stores in April.
It wasn’t just the UK under financial pressure. Sony posted some stunning losses and dropped 10,000 staff, with gaming divisions apparently unaffected. While Sony’s financials weren’t quite the disaster they appeared to be, the news was hardly “good”. Nintendo, too, was hurting: the firm posted its first ever yearly loss.
Sony’s Vita effort was raising eyebrows in April. After a promising release, news related to the handheld was limited to firmware updates and the odd success story. There may have been social media updates and lots of ads, but there was very little in the way of software.
More positively, April was the month platform-holders started confirming E3 showings. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all started talking about the June show, and Nintendo said it was to air Mario and Pikmin 3 on Wii U. Warming news after a bleak spring.
Excitement was also building over Diablo III. We got trailers of barbarians, monks and witch doctors, and the first public beta saw more than 300,000 concurrent users. May 14’s launch was starting to look large.
Crysis 3 got announced in April, with a first video and a bit of press from Crytek doing the rounds. Max Payne 3 continued its trickle towards May release, with ex-developer Remedy describing the game as “fucking brilliant”.
Mid-April saw the internet have a little fit over a rumour that Valve was in talks with Apple’s Tim Cook (it wasn’t true). The Seattle firm kept itself firmly in the headlines throughout April with news of a Linux version of Steam, wearable hardware and “input and output” tech development.
Please release me
Another surprise release stuck its head up at this point, with Dishonored getting a first proper trailer. Arkane’s first game would stop the presses when it hit in October.
Sleeping Dogs got an August release date.
The next-gen rumours were high in April. Despite Warren Spector claiming new consoles weren’t the answer to gaming’s future, chatter told of a pre-Xbox 720 release for PS4, PS4 specs being outed and Sony’s next machine using native OpenGL. Xbox 720 was to have always-on netcon and Blu-ray, and Wii U wasn’t up to 360 and PS3’s snuff.
DICE said it was hiring for new consoles.
In the here and now, however, Star Wars: The Old Republic started to stumble. One analyst predicted huge subs losses, and while the MMO branched out into other European countries and the Middle East, BioWare was already talking about server merges.
There was more. We got a first sniff of PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale; Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick said THQ would be dead by October; Notch showed first screens of 0x10c; World of Tanks turned a year old with 24 million players; and Rob Bowling founded Robotoki.
But, obviously, the month’s most important piece of news was that VG247 got an iOS app.