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2008 In Review, April-June:  MGS4  Helps PS3 Thrive, ESA Stumbles

2008 In Review, April-June: MGS4 Helps PS3 Thrive, ESA Stumbles Exclusive

January 2, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

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 events.

Following January to March 2008's round-up, we look at April through June 2008 -- from growth signs for the PlayStation 3, thanks to Metal Gear Solid 4, through notable departures from the Entertainment Software Association trade body:

April 2008

Many game companies ramped things up this time of year. Ubisoft proliferated in a big way on Steam with 40 new titles, THQ began to eye casual markets, and the marketing budget for Wii Fit was pegged at $40 million ahead of its launch in May.

Many speculated that Wii Fit's launch would cause a new hardware boom for the console. Plus, WiiWare was fast beginning to look like the new hot platform for expanded, smaller-size offerings like Strong Bad and World of Goo as it prepared for its U.S. launch.

The GTA ex-creators at Realtime Worlds picked up $50 million in funding for its promising mayhem MMO All Points Bulletin, while online game veterans Turbine gained a $40 million investment.

Meanwhile, the FTC began to take an extra-close look at the proposed Electronic Arts/Take-Two transaction, while early rumblings began to build for Grand Theft Auto IV's month-end launch, predicted to be a record-smasher.

May 2008

The industry looked to be solidly thriving as many companies reported impressive sales growth, like THQ and Viacom (thanks to Rock Band). Activision's revenues were up 92 percent on the year. This is when the "recession resistant" talk for the game business began to pick up pace.

It was a strong month for Western news, as Nintendo launched WiiWare outside Japan, Marvelous and X-Seed cemented their U.S. co-publishing agreement, and the Xbox 360 became the first among the current generation of consoles to reach 10 million units sold in the U.S.

The Entertainment Software Association trade body began to see some headaches, too. With E3 not too far off, LucasArts, Activision Blizzard and id Software decided not to renew their memberships or present at the event.

June 2008

The battle between EA and Take-Two went on alongside yet another deadline extension, while the latter company still had a few cards to play. Take-Two doubled its profits and revealed its plans to make a BioShock film -- in the process, hinting that it expects to release BioShock 3 alongside it.

In other Electronic Arts news, Blueprint studio head and longtime company veteran Neil Young forged out on his own to launch mobile game company ngmoco, whose Rolando would go on to receive year-end acclaim.

The PlayStation 3 looked to be seeing a strong growth period, and the increasing likelihood that Blu-ray would become the standard format seemed to boost the console's chances of a strong performance in the current gen. This was only accelerated by the long-awaited launch on June 12 of Metal Gear Solid 4, which topped the charts and was believed to drive new console sales.

Ubisoft went on expanding too, opening a studio in Brazil and creating a Wii-exclusive minigame division as it claimed a $1.2 billion war chest and hinted at further expansion plans.

Though many game companies were posting gains and seeking new studio locations, the news was not so good for Hellgate London and its developer Flagship Studios, as it began to see employee departures and public struggles around the troubled PC MMO that would eventually lead to the studio's closure.

[Gamasutra previously covered January through March 2008 in review. Stay tuned for more game business news summaries from 2008, spanning July to September, and October to December.]

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