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2010: News Stories of the Year Part Two

More of the key headlines that dominated the last 12 months

Following on from yesterday's feature, here is the concluding part of the piece, with more of the key news stories that unfolded throughout 2010.

World in Motion

While we didn't see much in the way of new consoles in 2010 - aside from previews of the Nintendo 3DS and the Panasonic Jaguar - Sony and Microsoft managed to get us all talking about longer platform life cycles with the build-up and release of their respective motion control systems.

Sony's PlayStation Move was first out the door in September, and while some quarters criticised it for being nothing particularly new - basically an HD version of the kind of technology Nintendo had grown fat on in the past few years - it seemed to capture the imagination of the public.

According to SCEE boss Andrew House the company sold in the region of 1.5 million units in Europe alone, in under a month - and this grew to 4.1 million worldwide by the end of November.

Meanwhile, Microsoft launched Kinect - somewhat more ambitious with its 'hands-free' approach, but with a more ambitious price point to match. It didn't seem to deter shoppers looking for an early Christmas present.

Released in November, the platform holder quickly reported 1 million unit sales, with spikes in Xbox 360 console sales as well. By the end of the month that was up to 2.5 million, and the Christmas period will be an interesting time for both companies.

Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter offered his opinion that the two platforms combined could sell as many as 8 million by the end of 2010 - no doubt we'll get more details as milestones or financial results dictate.

But while initial numbers would appear to be a promising shot in the arm for the platform holders, the jury is still largely out on the games that they're designed to work with. Until a wider range of titles start to see the light of day - which may not be until at least this time next year - I suspect it will be difficult to get a clear picture of whether the consoles' life cycles have truly been extended or not.

Publishers Getting Cold Feet?

While big publishers have spent a lot of money getting into the console games business, it seemed as if 2010 might well be signalling a change of heart. We all know that costs of creating triple-A titles have grown hugely with this latest console generation, but one trend that has emerged in the past couple of years is the difficulty of successfully bringing new IP to market. Well, at least with the first iteration, anyway.

That problem had been bubbling under for a little while, but as the economy took a dive and gamers became more careful about what they were spending money on, it became clear in 2008 that even good games could be hard to sell if the market didn't have a strong enough understanding of what was on offer... or if there was too strong an alternative.

Electronic Arts, for example, suffered from relatively poor sales of Mirror's Edge and Dead Space, despite both being very solid games in terms of quality, and one of the interesting observation points for 2011 will be whether the publisher can build on that and get better results for the respective sequels. Personally, both games were among my favourites in 2008, and I hope that EA's decision to press on is rewarded.

But pressing on isn't an attractive option for everybody, and that's really what 2010 has shown us, particularly in the month of November, when Viacom made public its decision to sell Harmonix and get the hell out of Dodge. It's pretty clear that the music game genre has underperformed in the past 12-18 months, so it didn't seem like a huge surprise.

That was, until Disney indicated its intention to invest less in console games in future. The release of Split/Second had failed to live up to expectation - once again, new IP in a strong genre, was partly to blame for a game that was solid if not spectacular.

And following hot on the heels of that announcement was Activision's decision to get rid of Bizarre Creations - another new IP that had failed to set the world alight, but suddenly it seemed like a publisher studio firesale was on the cards. Thankfully, that's yet to materialise, although rumours still persist about some sizeable companies - much may depend on how successful this Christmas period proves to be.