Year In Review 2007
As the hours approach the turning of the year, Ben and I
briefly spoke about how absolutely nutty 2007 was. In the near
decade I've been following this industry, 2007 was without a
doubt one of the most memorable for far too many reasons, many of
which involving heated controversy. This year made me realize how
great it is to run a web-outlet that is completely independent
and free of control from corporate suits. And thus, to kick this
off, I'll lead off with...
To me, personally, there was nothing more shocking and revolting than having to find out about a fellow writer getting fired, largely because a group of marketers at a company weren't happy with a review score given to their game. Even though the details are "alleged", we have numerous sources close to GameSpot that were able to tell us enough to call the details fact. The event at hand here revolves around veteran GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann, who had written a rather negative review of Eidos' much hyped, and lackluster, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. So why the firing?
Well, because Eidos had forked cNet (GameSpot's parent company) some pretty coin for advertising, and had also expected a decent review for the game. When executives saw a paltry 6.5, an uproar awakened, and they threatened to pull the ads from GameSpot. Instead, GameSpot dealt with the manner...by firing Jeff Gerstmann, after working at the outlet for a decade. A Penny-Arcade comic strip was the first to break this news, and it would then be confirmed by a source close to GameSpot that Gerstmann was indeed fired. GameSpot insists he wasn't fired for the review or pressure from Eidos, but rather after a review conducted by his supervisors. We call bullocks, and to us and many others, the GameSpot name has been forever tarnished.
Grand Theft Auto IV Delayed
It's the news that, damn near, halted every forum and website, and gave every asthmatic an attack of epic proportions. It was the videogame industry's equivalent of an earthquake measuring nine on the Richter scale. After much speculation, Rockstar had officially announced that Grand Theft Auto IV would not be making its intended October 2007 release date for either the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360. The delay came as a result of development being behind for both consoles, as the game simply wasn't running up to par. Hundreds of thousands of gamers expressed discontent, as threads across all web-forums piled up thousands of replies, and feedback on blogs lit up like a wildfire traveling through California. It wasn't pretty.
It especially wasn't pretty for Take-Two (Rockstar's parent company), seeing as how the company is struggling with financial woes, and GTAIV was a necessity for them this past holiday season. Ultimately, the necessity is to develop the best damn Grand Theft Auto game possible, and so with the Spring delay, we hope that's exactly what we get. We've recently seen a new trailer of the game, and it looks like it's coming along very well, as the framerate no longer stutters, and there's been more polish added. All we can hope for now is seeing the game on store shelves in a few months.
E3 2007 A Disaster, But Sony Saved It
I had spent so much time writing about E3 2007 trying to find ways how the show can end up being good, and hoping how it ends up. All of my wishful thinking amounted to nothing, as the show was simply rubbish. There was a modestly sized airplane hangar filled with booths that housed no more than 4-5 kiosks each. The hangar was about 1/3 of the size of a hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center (E3's previous venue). When you were done dilly-dallying at the hangar, you then could take a cab ride back to Santa Monica and walk about a mile's worth of hotels, where a bunch of publisher had rented out rooms and halls to demonstrate their games out of. When you were done with Electronic Arts' gallery, you would have to walk about six long blocks to another hotel where Sony was situated at.
Thankfully, the saving grace here was Sony, who after their press conference, had a studio setup next door with practically every PlayStation related product at E3. This allowed me to play a ton of the games without having to suffer the agony of walking back and forth between hotels, and having to spend on a cab for the longer walks, or to take a ride to the hangar. Even the ESA seems to accept that the show was a flop after the outcry from the press, as for 2008 E3 will be back at home in the Los Angeles Convention center. And best of all, it'll still be limited to just a selected portion of the press.
Devil May Cry 4 Goes Multiplatform
If there was one gaming disaster I wouldn't want to relive, it'd be this one. The announcement of DMC4 arriving on the Xbox 360, as well as the PlayStation 3, brought out the worst in every console war fanboy. It was arguably the first huge story of 2007, as it too was nothing short of a colossal earthquake that broke down everything in its path. Sony had lost one one of its most important exclusive franchises, and the Xbox fanboys were having a field day with it.
Much like the news of Grand Theft Auto IV's delay, the way this news lit up web-forums, blogs, and websites was incredible. There wasn't a single hardcore gamer who wasn't up-in-arms over the news. Financially, the move made plenty of sense to Capcom, seeing as how a userbase of just over 10 million was a bit hard to ignore for them. Furthermore, it gives more people the chance to experience an utterly fantastic action game. Lastly, with concrete exclusivity dwindling down between both the PS3 and Xbox 360, this only forces both console manufacturers to work harder on their games - even though Microsoft, internally, has been rather lackluster in that department.
In, what few, if any, had foreseen happening, an announcement some weeks back made it official that Activision and Vivendi would be merging to form the world's largest videogame maker. Instead of coining the joined group Activision-Vivendi, executives decided on a more recognizable surname, so instead they opted for Activision-Blizzard. Blizzard, is, of course, the creator of one of the world's most popular games, World of Warcraft. Furthermore, because Blizzard is responsible for $1.1B out of $1.4B of Vivendi's 2007 revenue, it only makes that much more sense for the name.
With Guitar Hero and Warcraft under the same corporate roof, this merger should really solidify Activision-Blizzard at pole position for quite some time. EA has recently purchased Bioware (developers of Mass Effect) and Pandemic (developers of Mercenaries 2, Star Wars Battlefront), and we highly doubt they will take this merger sitting down. In fact, there's no doubt in my mind that they're cooking something up as we speak, possibly planning on a merger or buyout of some sort, that'll place them back in their throne. Time will tell.
12/31/2007 Arnold Katayev