If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

2010: News Stories of the Year Part One

A summary of the year's most important - and surprising - developments

It's easy to look back on any year just gone and find reasons for it being the most significant one yet, especially in the fast-moving, fast-changing environment of the videogames business. It certainly wasn't hard to pick out some of the highlights in the up-and-down past 12 months, that's for sure.

Today and tomorrow we'll round up the main stories of the year (in no particular order), and summarise just why they were big deals... but do you agree?

A Year in Politics - Tax Breaks and PEGI

If you split the year in two, with the middle coming just before the UK's General Election in May, it really was a game of two halves. By the time the nation went to the polls, it was apparent that the industry had scored two major political successes.

First of all, the Labour government's Budget statement had noted approval for plans to introduce a cultural tax credit in the UK, similar in nature to that still enjoyed by the film industry. It came a something of a surprise to everybody, but it seemed that the hard lobbying undertaken by TIGA and its CEO Richard Wilson had finally paid off.

And then, on the last day of sitting in that Parliament, the Digital Economy Bill was passed, meaning that ELSPA's own campaign for PEGI ratings to replace existing BBFC ones had also come good. Two major milestones for the UK industry in a matter of months.

Unfortunately, success was short-lived. Almost immediately the Coalition government that ended up in power set about dismantling any notion of tax credits for videogames companies (although it had no problem in continuing to hand out cash to the film industry).

Initially it was unclear exactly why this had happened, although any objective onlookers would no doubt have pointed to the overarching £85 billion in public funding cuts that were being made, and concluded that any kind of incentives for an industry which will appear - based on top line statistics - to be in rude health was simply never, ever going to happen.

Eventually, the Treasury claimed that it simply disagreed with TIGA's financial conclusions and the eventual benefits to the UK economy, and while the argument rumbles on, there's no real likelihood of a government U-turn in the near future.

Meanwhile a judicial review was subsequently ordered for the Digital Economy Act, although only for certain sections, and not those covering PEGI.

The Infinity Ward Incident

Everybody loves a nice bit of drama every so often, and the industry was blessed with one of the biggest soap opera storylines of the year back in March when reports first indicated that something was rotten in the state of Denmark. Well, lead Call of Duty developer Infinity Ward, at least.

To begin with nothing was really clear except that Jason West and Vince Zampella - two individuals with some of the highest stock in the industry following the success of Modern Warfare 2 - had been 'removed' from the studio.

Rumours began to fly about the whys and wherefores, and comments made by both sides revealed a relationship that had thoroughly broken down between publisher and publisher-owned studio.

While the precise details of conversations between the pair and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick may remain elusive - and possibly less entertaining that the imagined version anyway - the result was that there followed something of an exodus from the studio and the lead guys set up a new studio and promptly signed with rival publisher EA.


Of course, this story isn't yet over - while Activision moved swiftly to fill the gap by signing up Halo developer Bungie on a long-term exclusivity deal, this year's Call of Duty was in the hands of second studio Treyarch. We won't find out the impact of the departures - if any - until this time next year, when Infinity Ward's next instalment falls due.

Meanwhile, it'll take some time for Respawn to tool up and set about creating what West and Zampella no doubt hope will be some kind of CoD-killer franchise, so expect to be talking about this saga periodically for some time to come.

Phil Elliott avatar

Phil Elliott