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2008 In Review, Jan-March: 'Optimism, Takeover Bids And  Smash  Successes'

2008 In Review, Jan-March: 'Optimism, Takeover Bids And Smash Successes'

January 2, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

January 2, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

As 2009 starts out, Gamasutra has been reflecting on the last year in games one quarter at a time.

Into the new year, we'll be rounding up a news summary aimed at providing a solid look back on 2008's memorable game industry-related events.

This first round-up looks at January to March 2008, from World Of Warcraft and Super Smash Bros successes, through trouble for Myst Online... and that EA/Take-Two takeover bid:

January 2008

Starting out a brand new year for the game business, retailers announced record-breaking Christmas sales for 2007, and analysts looked bullishly ahead to 2008 to predict double-digit growth.

As watchers wondered whether Microsoft would change horses to Blu-ray and movie studios like Paramount, New Line and HBO began to state their allegiances for either Blu-ray or HD-DVD -- and the disc format war began to gain buzz for its potential implications in the console war.

The serious issues that would plague publisher Midway throughout the year had only just begun with the resignation of two major executives, and SCi/Eidos, at that time the subject of acquisition rumors, saw its stock slump and forced removals of key team members

Also in the month, World of Warcraft hit 10 million subscribers, Funcom's anticipated Age of Conan saw another delay, and the ratings drama that would surround Manhunt 2 began with the title's classification rejection in the UK.

February 2008

As the Activision-Vivendi merger moved into finality, the companies' SEC filings showed just how tricky the deal had been to seal. Electronic Arts opened its low-profile Blueprint division with a focus on social media, and Atari stumbled into the red thanks to its mounting restructuring costs.

Microsoft launched the mainstream-focused "Arcade" SKU in Japan, where at the same time, Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii executed a coup on the charts. In the U.S., Capcom launched Devil May Cry 4 to a decent reception and 2 million units in the month, and Spore finally received a September release window.

In the first of what would prove to be a series of disheartening announcements from online distribution service GameTap, the company said it would close the doors on Myst Online: Uru Live.

The big surprise came at the end of February, when EA launched its bid to buy Take-Two for $2 billion. At the time, most analysts predicted EA could easily win.

March 2008

Mournful news began the month with the passing of Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax and the bankruptcy of 1UP and EGM parent Ziff Davis. Midway's stock fell and CEO David Zucker stepped out, to be replaced by Matt Booty, who'd hold the "interim" role for the majority of the year before going official.

Infogrames made its bid for the already affiliated and struggling Atari, while EA and Take-Two continued to clash. Take-Two teased BioShock 2 to show its muscle and implemented a buyout severance plan, and, fed up with the standoff, EA's bid went hostile.

Indie music title Audiosurf achieved a feat as the top title on Steam, Resident Evil Wii shooter Umbrella Chronicles reached 1 million units shipped. Manhunt 2, now with less-gruesome kills, was cleared to release in the UK, while Smash Bros Brawl smashed sales records for Nintendo, selling 1.4 million in only a couple of weeks.

[Stay tuned to Gamasutra for more game business news summaries from 2008, spanning April to June, July to September, and October to December.]

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