The following are my picks for the top news stories of this year:
15. Skyrim's Notorious Glitches
Bethesda's open world releases are known for their horrendous and absolutely laughable glitches, but the universal GOTY had the most troublesome of all. With the first patch slated to fix only minor problems, it caused a slew of major issues including backward-flying dragons and ineffective magical resistance. Easily fixable on PC, but my console brethren were left vulnerable for over a month. A laundry list of bugs is here.
14. The Year of the Emotional Trailer
Dead Island earlier this year and The Last of Us at Spike's Video Game Awards, each focusing on survival, caused a splash with heavily emotional trailers. Especially The Last of Us that trended fourth globally on twitter after the broadcast. Movie talks began almost immediately when the Dead Island trailer made the rounds, and Lionsgate quickly acquired the rights. Hopefully 2012 will bring more recognition to deserving trailers.
13. Mass Effect 3's multiplayer fiasco
Bioware caused a stir when the studio confirmed rumours of cooperative gameplay coming to Mass Effect 3. To not take away from single-player, multiplayer features customizable characters from every race, each with different abilities. Bioware's move continues the trend of other exclusively single-player franchises making the jump, especially when the series is supposedly meeting its end. As I've stated previously, this is Bioware preparing for something bigger, possibly an MMO in the future.
12. The New Xbox Dashboard
Lots of squares. Very block-ish. In a bid to integrate all the company's services, Microsoft follows the path of competitor Sony in trying to establish a solid network between various platforms. Evidently, the response wasn't very enthusiastic; the design was berated by indie developers because the redesign makes it challenging to find indie games. In somewhat redeeming fashion however, beacons were added so instead of mindless sending invites, a neat message pops up saying one is looking for friends to play.
11. Zynga's Soft IPO
Once called "the most profitable company in the world", FarmVille developer Zynga was recently listed on the NASDAQ. Extremely hyped, the stock's debut was meager after skeptical analysts accused Zynga of being overpriced and a deal "too good to be true". Turns out they were right. But the social media mogul still managed a cool $10 billion, though well short of its projected goal of twice that.
10. Some Notable Anniversaries
Few franchises rarely withstand the test of time, but somehow The Legend of Zelda and Sega's darling Sonic the Hedgehog have remained strong for 25 and 20 years respectively. It should be noted that each franchise is going separate directions. Popularity of Sonic has fallen dramatically in recent years while Skyward Sword graced the GOTY conversation. Still, a remarkable milestone for both and congratulations are very deserving.
9. Australia's Rating Debacle
Exactly why Australia is having a crisis with its video game rating system is unknown, but punishing consumers (who can make their own decisions) because lawmakers believe false accusations of how games influence children is ridiculous. Even though the country had instituted a Mature-like rating, games like Mortal Kombat are still banned for extreme violence. Let consumers make their own choices and raise their kids how they wish, not how the government wishes.
8. EVE Online Players Riot
The latest major EVE Online patch allows players to venture out of their ships for the first time. With the update, CCP instituted an in-game store, allowing customizable items for avatars. What players didn't realize was the outrageous prices. $80 for monocles. Just a pair of digital glasses for more than the average game these days. Players took to the streets -- literally -- by entering the main square and firing lasers into the air. A classic Hitler meme video shows the frustration.
7. The Rise and Fall of Team Bondi
Who knew a game's launch would lead to the fall of a studio? Considered innovative, L.A. Noire released to critical acclaim and sales to match. But poor mishandling after seven years of development and a failing relationship with Rockstar lead to the studio's demise. Overworked employees and despicable management caused a firestorm after IGN questioned the long development time, forcing investigations into the studio's inner-workings. A hefty shame too because L.A. Noire is actually a decent title.
6. Grand Theft Auto V Gets a Trailer
Questions arose when a mysterious logo suddenly appeared on Rockstar's website with a countdown. Everyone knew news was coming, but no one knew when or where, or by what means. After the trailer hit, it was listed immediately on the globally trends and every site did a comprehensive analysis. Every frame, agonizingly glanced at over and over. Los Santos was later confirmed as the setting, with a conspicuous shot of an older Tommy Vercetti (what everyone thinks) sending the twitter-verse ablaze. 2011 was the year of the trailer undoubtedly.
5. Nintendo Embraces the Third-Dimension
Nintendo launching a new product is always exciting, and the industry got a double whammy this year. The 3DS, capitalizing on the three-dimensional craze, had a problematic beginning as overpricing meant an early downfall. But a price cut, a Mario game and a new colour saved the handheld from demise. The 3DS has quintupled sales over its newest competition, Sony's PlayStation Vita, a trend to continue into the new year.
4. The Vita is Finally Here
It's been a long time coming. Seemingly every week from last year until now featured a new rumour regarding the PSP's impending sequel, but early hype (at least in North America) has fizzled. Avoiding the Christmas rush, reports surfaced claiming depressing sales figures from Japan, usually a hotbed for anything Sony. Let's hope once February comes, Sony is looking more attractive.
3. EA Makes a Gamble
TechCrunch first reported that Popcap was looking for buyers. Later, news came that Electronic Arts was the likely buyer, with the amount ranging from $500 million to a billion. Huge numbers considering the size of this industry. A mighty gamble on EA's part, spending upward of 15% of the entire company's worth, but smart since the publisher lacked a formidable standing in mobile gaming. We'll see how the deal unfolds next year.
2. Breaching the PlayStation Network
An unprecedented breach by a renegade sect of Anonymous left many PlayStation users wondering about their financial future. 90 million accounts were compromised in one of the biggest security breaches in history, and Sony's horrible response and elongated maintenance period put the future of the PSN in peril. Once the debacle was over, network users approached the situation like nothing had transpired. And Sony learned a valuable lesson.
1. Prepared for the Wii U?
The eighth generation is finally close. While Microsoft and Sony hold off, Nintendo is pushing forward with another innovative machine. Based on a tablet, the original showing at E3 left many questions unanswered. The announcement came as no shock either since Nintendo confirmed the rumours of "Project Cafe". The company has remained tight-lipped, not surprising given the Wii is still selling massively, but 2012 should be Nintendo's year. The prospect of 3DS success and a new machine already positions it to reign even before the new year begins.
2011 was impressive for a wide variety of news. Next year shouldn't be any different. Jeff out.