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Read all about it: 2012's biggest game news events

Departures, closures, announcements and more...

With the end of 2012 swiftly approaching there's no better time to take a retrospective glance at all the major happenings of the year. The last 12 months have brought us tremendous highs and heartbreaking lows, and we've been there to report on every single one. Below you'll find a round-up of all the biggest headlines from 2012...


Revolving Doors

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Devs and execs moving on to greener pastures is a frequent occurrence in the video game world. But rarely has there been as many high-profile exits and reshuffles as there were in 2012. God of War creator David Jaffe left Eat Sleep Play to focus on casual games, Robert Bowling left Infinity Ward to start his own studio and, following the release of three critically acclaimed titles, thatgamecompany founder Kelle Santiago went in search of new challenges.

Of course some moves were under less than ideal circumstances. In March the overwhelmingly passionate producer and spokesman of Capcom's recent fighting games, Yoshinori Ono, succumbed to exhaustion and was hospitalised. Following his recovery, Ono-san handed over the Street Fighter reigns and stepped out of the limelight.

The biggest shocks came in March and September. First, Peter Molyneux did the unimaginable: he left Microsoft and Lionhead. According the legendary game designer, the arrival of Microsoft's chair police to adjust his seat was the final push he needed to make his next move.

Six months later BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka announced they were leaving the studio and retiring from the games industry entirely. Zeschuck admitted his passion for making games had waned, while Muzyka said he felt it was time to begin a new chapter in his career.


Three Hard Quarters

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Let's not beat around the proverbial bush: THQ has had one hell of a rough year.

The Saints Row publisher started 2012 having to bat away rumours it was being sold and detailed an "updated business strategy" involving cutting loose the kids licensing games business to refocus on "core video game franchises and digital initiatives for the future".

A month later its sales and administrative staff were on the chopping block too; it lost 240 general and admin personnel as part of its revised business strategy, and then CEO Brian Farrell took a 50 per cent pay cut. The blows just kept on coming, as shortly afterwards the company announced a net loss of $55.9 million (£35m) for its third fiscal quarter. The uDraw tablet reportedly cost the company $80 million in lost revenue. Unsurprisingly, it withdrew support for the product, not that many people cared.

It wasn't all bad news, thanks mostly to the positively received Saints Row: The Third. The publisher upwardly revised its Q4 sales guidance and trimmed predicted losses. But while it was on track to report better than expected results, it was hardly in a position to celebrate.

Over the remaining months it continued to focus its efforts and was forced to offload some of its more ambitious projects, namely Itagaki's The Devil's Third and Guillermo del Toro's inSANE.

The latter part of 2012 saw the re-emergence of sale rumours as it failed to meet lender payments.

Despite this, THQ has a strong line-up going into 2013, with Metro: Last Light and South Park: The Stick of Truth leading the charge, and a proposed sale to investment firm Clearlake Capital Group for $60m is currently on the table.


A Little Less Epic

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Honestly, news that Cliff Bleszinski left Epic Games didn't come as a surprise. Yes, it was one hell of a shock, but a surprise? Not really. As the man himself pointed out, he's been at the company since he was a teenager. Bleszinski has tireless toiled away at Epic, where he was instrumental in the creation of some of gaming's biggest franchises: Gears of War and Unreal Tournament to name just a few - it was only a matter of time before he decided to take a break.

We could have imagined Cliff starting up his own studio, but some people are so intrinsically linked to a studio that the mere thought of them leaving doesn't compute. Mike Capps, president of Epic Games, was such a man, and in December he resigned.

Prior to that Epic Games' director of production Rod Fergusson left the Gears of War studio to join BioShock developer Irrational Games. Those were both a shock and a surprise.

It wasn't just a change of the old guard at Epic this year though, a few fresh faces made an exit too. People Can Fly, the studio behind Bulletstorm joined Epic's family of studios fairly recently, and in October Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki hit the road. Earlier in the year Capps revealed PCF team wouldn't be making a sequel to Bulletstorm as they'd been put to work on a 'better project': another Gears of War. Coincidence?


End of the GAME?

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GAME was pushed to the edge of destruction by an unstable economic climate and rutheless competition from online retailers and opportunistic supermarkets. In February, facing serious financing issues, it began reviewing its overseas operations. Its troubles quickly turned into a katamari of stock deficiencies, layoffs and withdrawal of support from leading publishers.

By March the retailer's stock dropped to an all-time low and the firm put itself up for sale in a bid to avoid administration. Things started to look up when Comet owner OpCapita offered to buy out the group's lenders and repay suppliers.

Although GAME officially filed for administration in March, Opcapita confirmed it would purchase a large portion of the retailer just a few weeks later. The deal saved 3,100 jobs across 333 stores.

The Gamestation brand was laid to rest and 122 of its stores were rebranded over the following months, setting GAME on its long road to recovery.


Design your own ending

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BioWare's Mass Effect series has spawned a large and vocal audience of fans over its three current-gen releases. So when the gaming public decided Mass Effect 3's ending didn't live up to expectations it's no surprise we all heard about it.

A lack of closure, plot contradictions and little representation of players' own game choices were the perceived problems with the ending, and fans ended up feeling fairly hostile towards the developer.

They quickly started an online petition that raised $80,000 for charity. Devs were slagged, BioWare was flamed on Twitter and in the end the studio caved, releasing an extended ending cut.

The new conclusion didn't satisfy everyone, but arguably its biggest impact was in the potential repercussions it has for gaming as a whole. Has BioWare set a precedent? If gamers moan enough in future, can we expect to change Kojima's Metal Gear endings and bring Aeris back from the dead?


Cutting out the middleman

2012 was the year gamers voted with their wallets.

Kickstarter is a platform where creators can pitch ideas to the public, who in turn donate money to get the project off the ground.

In February Double Fine, the studio founded by Monkey Island, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango creator Tim Schafer, pioneered the platform for gaming when it made more than $1 million in 24 hours for its adventure game.

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The incredible success of Double Fine Adventure saw hundreds of indie projects flock to the crowd sourcing platform, with notable titles such as the new game from Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts and Peter Molyneux's new god game securing the funds to enter full development.

Some of the biggest names in gaming, including Platinum Games and Obsidian now see the appeal of cutting out the publishing model and going straight to the customers, but Kickstarter's not been without its problems.

The infancy of the platform has been exposed via the risk of funded games never getting made and even developers using Kickstarter to fund another Kickstarter.

The early success of the platform has been astounding, however the real impact will certainly be measured in the coming months when we see how many of the titles actually make it out.

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