2012 in news: March and the great GAME disaster

By Patrick Garratt
26 December 2012 11:31 GMT

March saw GAME reach the end of everyone’s tether, Mass Effect 3 launch and Geohot get busted for pot. Get the third part of our month-by-month 2012 games news retrospective below.

GAME went into administration on March 21 and delisted itself from the stock exchange the same day. Nearly 300 stores were closed and over 2,000 people lost their jobs.

For every month in our 2012 retrospective, hit this.

GAME’s death and rebirth would be one of the biggest stories in March. CEO Ian Shepherd was still insisting everything was shipshape at the beginning of the month, and a meeting with stock suppliers was deemed to be a success, but a failure to stock Mass Effect 3, Street Fighter X Tekken and God knows what else left the world with no illusions: the writing was interfacing with the wall.

Staff were told to prepare to administration and Microsoft and Activision followed EA in pulling support. The story reached farcical levels as MCV proclaimed the store “gone” to which Shepherd twitpicced a response.

The joking ended when GAME went into administration on March 21 and delisted itself from the stock exchange the same day. Nearly 300 stores were closed and over 2,000 people lost their jobs. An OpCapita-backed company emerged as the eventual owner of the chain’s remains.

GAME’s woes couldn’t rock the month’s biggest launch, with Mass Effect 3 releasing in the US on March 6 and the EU on March 9. Over 3,000 GameStop’s held midnight launches in the States, and special editions sold out in the UK.

Nearly 1 million units sold through in the first 24 hours of release, and over 3.5 million copies were shipped for launch in total.

The euphoria quickly soured, unfortunately, as wow-high reviews gave way to controversy about the RPG’s ending. BioWare bowed to fan-pressure and confirmed it was to create new content to add “clarity” to the trilogy’s closing. Mass Effect 3’s free Extended Cut DLC would release in June.

Hello Halo

Microsoft chose March to debut its Christmas blockbusters, showing off Halo 4 and Forza Horizon at a San Francisco event.

Xbox 360’s year, we were told, would feature Steel Battallion; Kinect Star Wars; Counter-Strike: Global Offensive; the XBLA version of Minecraft; Fable Heroes, and more.

GDC immediately followed, with the show’s two main stories being David Cage’s Kara demo and EA’s Medal of Honor: Warfighter reveal. It was a quiet year for GDC as development was tipping over to the next generation, but Sony used it as a platform for boasting 90 million PSN accounts and the shipping of 10 million Move units. Portal 2 and Skyrim claimed victory in the Game Developers Choice Awards.

And Inafune said the Japanese games industry was like a “frog in a well”.

GDC was overshadowed by news that Peter Molyneux had quit Lionhead. We got to speak to him just before the news broke as he was doing PR at the San Francisco showcase with Microsoft. Ex-Lionhead staffers assured Fable was in safe hands without him, and Phil Harrison was confirmed as the head of Microsoft’s European game studios the following week.

It was oddly quiet on the next-gen rumour front on March, especially given the month hosted GDC. It was speculated that the next Xbox wouldn’t have a disc drive, and Microsoft said it was working on the “next generation of Xbox”. March saw the first mention of the word “Orbis” in relation to PlayStation 4 as a codename. Sony’s latest box would release in late 2013, it was said.

Generally, March was pretty busy in terms of news, though. Assassin’s Creed 3 got revealed, new protagonist and all. BioShock Infinite and Diablo III got release dates (Infinite would later slip), and Australians got all “21st Century” and approved 18+ ratings for games. Xbox turned ten in Europe; PS3 turned five. Rob Bowling quit Infinity Ward, and CBS bought Giant Bomb. Sony closed Zipper.

And Geohot got caught holding weed.

Next: April. Get February’s overview here. For every month in our 2012 retrospective, hit this.

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