Sometimes News is Surprising, Sometimes You Saw it Coming Miles Away

As we wrap up the year here at Gamebreaker, I decided to roll back through some of the breaking news stories for 2012. We all have our favorite games, favorite videos, and favorite genres and with almost any “Top X” list that focuses on those things there’s sure to be controversy. So I thought, instead, we should roll back through the year and spotlight some of the news stories that we all saw coming miles away. Whether they were funny, sad, or even just downright bizarre these were all news stories that anyone who followed gaming or MMOs in 2012 could have predicted without the aid of a crystal ball. And so, in no particular order:

#5-Star Wars: The Old Republic Goes Free to Play

Most SW:ToR players could have told you where the game was headed as early as March of this year. With all the hype surrounding launch, many were surprised things went so bad for SW:ToR so fast. Once the game officially got under way it seemed like each and every news story just kept piling on more and more bad press. From EA earnings calls where SW:ToR was described as a failure all the way to prominent heads leaving BioWare, it seemed like each and every day added to SW:ToR‘s troubles. All of these troubles culminated into a free to play conversion that was only surprising in regards to how fast it happened. Even that conversion has been plagued with issues as players lament the cash shop and argue over where the game should go in the future.

#4-G4TV Shuts Down Shop

If you didn’t see this story coming you must have been sleeping all year. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if your “Gaming” TV channel is showing reruns of Cops and Ninja Warrior 90% of the time it’s on the air then your station may be in trouble. Add in the fact that 2012 also saw figureheads Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira leaving and the writing was on the wall big time. It didn’t take long for NBC to officially announce that December 2012 would begin the winding down process for G4TV. The channel is currently set to be re-branded with NBC looking to hook in a more “modern male” as their target demographic.

#3-The Secret World Pricing Model Changes

Funcom decided they liked cash so much that when The Secret World launched they opted to include every payment model for an MMO known to man. Originally launching with a box fee, a required monthly subscription, and a cash shop, The Secret World was set up to be Funcom‘s cash cow for years to come. Not surprisingly this did not sit well with gamers and the game’s lack of critical acclaim, less than stellar sales, and disappointing subscriber numbers all culminated in the game’s conversion to a more “standard” payment model. Buy the box and you’re in. If you want to subscribe or make a cash shop purchase you’re free to do so, but now all that is required for full access in the initial box purchase.

As part of this story, it also came as no surprise this year when Funcom decided it would be leaving the MMO game space. After being internally disappointed with Age of Conan‘s performance and then The Secret World‘s numbers, Funcom decided they might be better served by moving to games that are smaller and require less development. While the future of Funcom titles may be a surprise, neither of these particular news items came a shocker to any of us gamers.

#2-Crytek Backs Down from an “Entirely Free to Play” Future

Six months ago Crytek surprised all of us when they announced that after Crysis 3 they would be transitioning to a totally free to play model. Crytek was planning to skip retail releases and go straight to free to play when CEO Cevat Yerli said, “We are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience.”

Fast forward to today and it seems Crytek might have had a slight change of heart. Going back on these previous statements, Yerli has since elaborated and left retail purchases as an option for Crytek‘s future products. While not totally abandoning free to play, Crytek is now planning to have retail boxes for purchase AND free to play options for gamers. With EA as your primary publisher, it’s not hard to see that there might have been some push back on Yerli’s original statements.

#1-THQ Files for Bankruptcy

The only thing surprising about this news story was how long it actually took to happen. From the beginning of 2012 the news out of the THQ camp was depressing. After getting tied down with millions of uDraw pads, less than stellar sales, and bad financial report after bad financial report bankruptcy seemed like a foregone conclusion. The THQ Humble Bundle came as a pleasant surprise and may have left many thinking that THQ would fight through their troubles and emerge a better company on the other side. This was not to be the case though as THQ recently announced they would be selling all US assets and filing for bankruptcy protection, an announcement that held no surprise when it finally came out.

So there’s the list! Did ANY of these stories surprise you? What other news stories were a “no-brainer” when you read them on Gamebreaker this year? Leave your thought below!

  • Joseph Legemah

    yea, all extremely predictable.

  • Jado Cast

    Only story I didn’t follow was #2, only because I don’t play Crysis.  

  • Cpt.Badger

    I have to say as a SWTOR subscriber, I did NOT believe that the game will be going F2P even in July after layoffs. I seriously didn’t expect that it is possible to missmanage a game so badly and didn’t expect that much of a disaster.

    • Michael Byrne

      Wow, I am actually surprised by that! I subscribed for about 5 months or so from launch and most of my guild thought the game would go F2P fast…just not as fast as it actually did. You’re right though, the mismanagement was almost epic in scale :)

    • niwaar

       I am like Michael here… I played this game in beta and believed that it would be Free to play before the end of 2012.

      I would say that the real story here is that we all knew that Bioware and EA would so fundamentally lack the understanding of how a free to play MMO model that they created such a worthless system that even those players who would have tried it for free will not touch it.

    • Jonathan Hornsby

      Played a pre-release beta; knew it would go free-to-play after just that weekend. What I didn’t expect was that the morons at Bioware would think that the if people don’t want to pay to play your game, the best thing to do is chop it up into little pieces and try to sell the pieces individually at a marked up cost.

  • Shane Cominotto

    meh star wars free to play is a punishment to play don’t even know why they bothered The secret world on the other hand has the right idea combat might suck but overall the game is not too bad.

  • Neal Reagan

    Bodes ill for the entire industry imo. I firmly believe these are all signs of something bigger that’s about to happen. Its not at all Ironic that the same damn thing happened nearly 30 years ago. Second video game collapse is imminent. I saw the signs…lol… but srsly, I wouldn’t invest in any VG company (or their parent companies) in the near future.

    How long did they think people were gonna shell out $$$ for pathetic games?

    • Nick Cattane

      Second video game collapse… as CoD sells $1 billion in 15 days.  Sure seems like the end of days!  People are just becoming smarter, and consequently the sale is becoming more difficult.  These are just the companies that got left behind for lack of innovation.