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2010: The Year in Review, Part 1


The speed at which "internet time" takes shape has warped our perception of linear chronographic distance. News is old before it hits the front page, and next month seems so yesterday. This was a particularly disconcerting reality until we went to see the doctor, who explained that time is simply a big ball of "wibbly wobbly timey wimey ... stuff."

On the off chance that there is some way to reacquaint ourselves with causal progression, we've plotted the major events of last year on a sequential path. This is what we might have experienced during the first half of 2010 C.E. -- perhaps so old and long forgotten that it's "news" to us for the first time.


Jan. 26: Mass Effect 2 launches -- an unsung hero of the past year, according to the Wall Street Journal. BioWare's space opera continuation goes on to win our award for best game of 2010. By the goddess, ME2 Boxat least we recognized how good that game is -- oh, wait.

Jan. 27: The iPad is unveiled. Although we're still uncertain what purpose it serves in our lives beyond "a giant iPhone that can't make calls," its emergence as a popular handheld gaming platform is ... an understatement.

Jan. 27: Ubisoft's infamous PC DRM is announced. It's "always on" ... until it's hacked in April. Now it exists in some nebulous state that the publisher is very uncomfortable discussing publicly.


Feb. 11: Microsoft hosts its X10 event. And we still have hope for Fable 3.

Feb. 17–19: Game execs come to Vegas to party and to speak their minds at DICE 2010. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick delivers a memorably introspective speech (but destroys any goodwill gained within approximately two weeks). Uncharted 2 wins another award.

Feb. 23: Heavy Rain hits. Its most lasting contribution to gaming culture is "Press X to Jason," as post-launch DLC plans fall through after just one add-on chronicle (though Quantic Dream does release a Move patch in September). At year's end, the game (controversially) lands at the bottom of our top ten games list.

Feb. 24: The Nintendo Summit gathers media for an extra-large announcement. Fans burn off the excitement with the pokewalker.


Mar. 1: The ApocalyPS3. A "bug in the clock" of non-slim PS3 consoles stops the system from working on this day, but a potential recall is avoided when the affected PS3s miraculously start working again on the next.

Mar. 2: Activision ousts Infinity Ward studio heads. Jason West and Vince Zampella Respawn on EA's side. And the drama ensues for the rest of the year.

Mar. 2: Battlefield: Bad Company 2 deploys. DICE supports the multiplayer modes with a steady drip of rejiggered maps throughout the year, despite EA diverting the developer's attention to Medal of Honor multiplayer (which will develop into a whole other story!). Not even counting the substantial Vietnam expansion at the close of the year, we recognize BC2 as one of the best multiplayer experiences, ever.

Mar. 9–13: The annual Game Developers' Conference (GDC 2010) sets up shop in Moscone, San Fran's largest convention center. Lead designer David Cage can't explain away Heavy Rain's plot holes. MoveFollowing years of regular layoffs, axed developers get raw.

Mar. 10: Sony names its motion controller the "PlayStation Move." A preexisting, pesky "Arc" trademark prevents the company from using the intended name, but the Move logo keeps the original legacy alive. Sony reports shipments of over four million units of the device to retail just a month and a half after its mid-September launch.

Mar. 22: Nintendo announces the 3DS. After touching the device at E3, we giggle for hours. Griffin McElroy (in what may be a history changing moment) says in front of Nintendo executives that he'd pay $300 for it. The actual US price for the 3DS is expected to be announced shortly.

Mar. 26-28: PAX East is a success, so much so that one man tries to steal a piece of the show. But the real damper: Penny Arcade Adventures is officially discontinued.


Apr. 6: Xbox 360 gets USB mass storage support, with certain caveats.

Apr. 15: Original Xbox Live games are disconnected. A few loyal Halo 2 players hang on for as long as they can.

Apr. 29: "Bungivision" partnership is announced, as Bungie enters a 10-year partnership with Activision. It's hard to hear (or care) about the screams of fans when the office walls are insulated with thousands of $100 bills.


May 10: EA introduces the "Online Pass," and the Project Ten Dollar era dawns. Microsoft experiments with a similar strategy just a week later. Soon, THQ joins the party, and Ubisoft and Sony start to wonder if they should, too. Meanwhile, an EA executive insists such initiatives are "not a defensive measure against pre-owned or piracy." (That one's still good for a laugh.)

May 18: Red Dead Redemption rides in, narrowly escaping development disaster. It goes on to become a ginormous hit.

May 18: Alan Wake and Split/Second are released on the same day, and their sales numbers suffer greatly for it. Is it any consolation that each landed a spot in our top ten of the year, alongside RDR?

May 18: Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is delayed to 2011. And then, delayed again.

May 26: "Project Natal" pricing controversy starts. Despite every retailer agreeing that the device that would become Kinect would be $150, Microsoft sits on the confirmation until July. Despite initial skepticism that the price was too high, the device goes on to enjoy sales of 8 million units by the end of the year.


June 13: An Italian Microsoft ad blows the "big surprise," before the Xbox 360 S and Kinect can be formally introduced at the E3 press conference. Xbox 360 ad(Ben Heck had pretty muched nailed the slim build months earlier.) The new, slimmer console and the November 4 launch of Kinect lead Microsoft's system to its best sales month ever during the holidays.

June 14–17: E3 2010! Oh gawd, the Kinect Cirque du Soleil event still haunts us. The next Zelda isn't going to make 2010 (as previously hinted). We have our first experience with Harmonix's Dance Central, and we ease into the idea of paying $150 for Kinect. Rage and 3DS clean up at the Game Critics Awards.

June 28: Minecraft enters alpha. The phenomenon is about to get real.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Year in Review, appearing later this week.

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