Two new consoles, the return of Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider, plus a string of top looking new IP. 2012 is already shaping up to be a blockbuster year for games. MCV offer 50 reasons why this new year will be a defining one for the UK games industry.
1. PlayStation Vita
Forget gaming on the iPhone, it can't do what this portable can – which is pretty much everything. Two touch pads, a tilt sensor, dual analogue sticks, HD visuals, two cameras – the console is crammed with functionality and technology. It arrives very early this year (February 22nd to be precise) and will be a must-buy for game fanatics thanks to a stellar launch line-up.
2. Uncharted:Golden Abyss
Looking glorious even on a portable screen, this Vita launch title arrives just months after the best-selling game in the series so far – Uncharted 3.
3. Wipeout 2048
The next WipEout from Sony's Liverpool studio is a launch title and features touch controls.
SCE Cambridge is developing the second portable Killzone game.
The latest LittleBigPlanet makes use of Vita's various control schemes.
6. Big third-party brands
It's not all first-party games for Vita this year. Sony has secured some major third-party support for Vita, with games based on Final Fantasy, Call of Duty, Ridge Racer, Mortal Kombat, F1, FIFA and more big franchises due this year.
7. Kinect cuts tothe core
So far, the majority of Kinect games have been aimed at the family gamer. In 2012 that changes with a string of core brands featuring Kinect support, including Star Wars, Steel Battalion, Fable, Ghost Recon and Mass Effect.
8. More Call of Duty
The Call of Duty juggernaut rumbles on into 2012, with the first new releases being Modern Warfare 3 DLC. Activision has also announced a Call of Duty for Vita, while the next blockbuster from studio Treyarch will likely be announced in spring.
9. The next generation is here
Nintendo's Wii U arrives this year. The device (which was only unveiled six months ago) features a tablet controller and runs HD video games, including Batman: Arkham City, LEGO City Stories, Super Smash Bros, Killer Freaks From Out of Space, Pikmin 3 and Tekken.A second reveal is due soon.
10. Retail commitsto digital
Last year, UK retailers made tentative steps into digital markets with points cards and services. That will be taken to another level in 2012: Amazon will launch its own PC download store, GAME will be pushing OnLive via its website and stores, while GameStop will better align its digital services. Expect most etailers to launch digital offerings, too.
11. PEGI becomes law (Probably)
Yep, the video games ratings system has still not been made law. But don't worry, it will definitely happen this year. In the first half of this year. Right?
12. BioShock Infinite
There's a number of big games from 2K this year, but the next BioShock – by series creator Ken Levine – is by far the biggest. This third title in the series takes place in the sky.
13. Mass Effect 3
The acclaimed RPG trilogy reaches its climax this March. Developer BioWare is focusing on large-scale action as giant aliens invade earth.
14. Halo 4
343 Industries is now fully in control of the Halo series, and its first major task is to develop the true sequel to Bungie's 2007 epic blockbuster, Halo 3. No pressure.
15. Diablo III
Warcraft developer Blizzard's big game of 2012 is an isometric PC?RPG, which arrives early this year.
2011 ended with one of the most anticipated MMOs ever in Star Wars: The Old Republic. But 2012 has its own array of promising new titles, such as Trion Worlds' MMORTS End of Nations, PS3 FPS Dust 514 (due spring) and PC RPG The Secret World by Funcom (set for April). The two biggest releases are the next World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria, and NCsoft's Guild Wars sequel.
17. Big year for brawlers
You can't beat a good bit of fisticuffs and fighters have never been more popular. This year, there's one hell of a line-up of brawlers. There's a slew of portable beat ‘em ups, from Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Reality Fighters and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend on Vita, to Tekken 3D Prime Edition on 3DS. But the biggest titles are due on consoles, namely Soul Calibur V, Street Fighter X Tekken, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Dead or Alive V. THQ has its usual array of grapplers, including two WWE games and UFC Undisputed 3.
18. Next Gen Skills Campaign rumbles on
Momentum is building behind the industry's bid to transform the education system and inspire the next generation of game developers. Could 2012 be the year that computer science is added to the National Curriculum?
19. Three for FIFA
Forget the Olympics – the Euros take place this summer. Expect England to disappoint, and EA to help us get over it with a tie-in game that will give fans a taste of the upcoming FIFA 13. But that's not all: there's a new FIFA?Street, this time developed by the core FIFA team.
20. Next wave of 3DS titles
3DS is starting to gain momentum, and there's plenty of top games to look forward to this year. There's the sequel to GameCube launch title Luigi's Mansion, a brand new Paper Mario, and the return of Kid Icarus. That's on top of third party releases such as Resident Evil, Tekken and Metal Gear Solid.
21. Top networking events
Want to forge new partnerships and meet your peers? Then you'll want to attend this year's best networking events, such as the MCV Pub Quizzes, the Games Media Awards and London Games Conference (November 21st).
22. More collections
Last year, publishers found there's money to be made from their back catalogues, and released a string of HD collections. There's even more this year, with sets for Metal Gear Solid, Devil May Cry, Jak and Daxter, Silent Hill and Zone of the Enders.
23. The biggest E3 ever
PS4? Xbox 3? Wii U line-up? This year's E3 (June 5th to 7th) is shaping up to be the trade show to end all trade shows. If only it didn't happen to coincide with our Queen's Jubilee…
24. The Queen's Jubilee
If you are not going to E3 (and don't have to report on it) then hurrah! It's a four-day weekend for you to celebrate The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
25. MCV?awards is 10!
The biggest night on the trade calendar returns for a tenth time on Thursday, April 19th. The awards take place at a new venue, with reduced seat prices, and will be hosted by Inbetweeners star Greg Davies.
26. Deep Silver's next step
The publisher enjoyed one of its best years in 2011 thanks to its first No.1 Dead Island. Now the firm is ploughing ahead in 2012 with big games including quirky adventure Catherine and RPG Risen 2: Dark Waters on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
27. Lots of new IP
As a console cycle comes to an end, new IPs dwindle, right? Not this time. There's a host of top quality triple-A new IP to look forward to, such as Sony's The Last of Us and The Last Guardian, Epic Games' Fortnite, Capcom's Dragon's Dogma and Asura's Wrath, Sega's Anarchy Reigns and Binary Domain, EA's Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and Namco Bandai's Inversion.
28. The Olympics
The sporting event of the year takes place in London. Not only will retailers in the area benefit (Westfield Stratford City, that's you), but there's plenty of opportunities for savvy marketers. Oh, and Sega happens to have a couple of tie-in video games across all platforms, too.
29. Doctor Who
There's a while to wait before the Time Lord returns to UK TV. So instead fans will just have to cope with four HD downloadable games for PlayStation formats (including a Vita launch game), plus a free-to-play MMO Doctor Who: Worlds In Time.
30. More LEGO
2011 was a phenomenal year for the LEGO video game brand, with titles based on Star Wars, Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean flying high in the charts. Developer Traveller's Tales hopes to keep that momentum going this year with Nintendo exclusive LEGO City Stories, the second LEGO Batman game and, who knows, perhaps a game based on The Hobbit movie.
31. Big movie year
It will be a vintage year for blockbuster movies, with James Bond: Skyfall, The Dark Night Rises, The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hobbit and Men In Black III due this year. Many of these already have tie-in games announced.
EA, Sony and the rest return to Cologne for Gamescom on Wednesday, August 15th. Can it top last year's 275,000 attendees?
33. The best consumer shows
Getting games into consumers' hands has never been easier, and this year we can expect better consumer expos from Eurogamer, GAME and MCM. As long as the dates don't clash, that is...
34. End of the online VAT tax loophole
Over the last 14 years, online retailers have flocked to the Channel Islands to benefit from the VAT tax loophole (or Low-Value Consignment Relief). These etailers have been able to avoid paying VAT on goods worth under 18, giving them an edge over High Street rivals. That loophole closes this April.
35. Not-so-Final Fantasy
Final FantasyXIII-2 – the direct sequel to the 2010 hit – kicks off Square Enix's year on PS3 and Xbox 360. This year could also see Final Fantasy X HD on Vita and PS3, Versus XIII on PS3 and XIV 2.0 on PS3 and PC. The latter is a relaunch of the troubled 2010 MMO.
36. At last! Digital charts are here
UKIE promises that this will be the year that a PC download chart will be available. XBLA and PSN charts will follow.
37. Two new Resident Evils
Capcom's survival horror series is back with two games. This month's Resident Evil: Revelations for 3DS is part of the main series, while Operation Raccoon City is a multiplayer spin-off. A fifth Resident Evil movie is also out this year.
38. Two new Silent Hills
In a spooky coincidence, Konami also has two new Silent Hill games out this year, and like Resident Evil, one is a multiplayer spin-off (Book of Memories for PS?Vita) and the other is part of the main series (Downpour for home consoles). There's even a new Silent Hill movie on the way and a HD collection, too.
39. What Valve does next
The talented developer and retailer will launch two new games this year in the digital space – shooter Counter Strike: Global Offensive on PC and Xbox 360 and strategy title Dota 2. There have also been rumblings of a Half-Life 3 announcement. Could this be the year the firm's most famous franchise returns?
40. Angry Birds flock to retail
Focus Multimedia's PC budget range of Angry Birds games, plus a plethora of soft toys, have been big sellers on the High Street and at stores such as GAME. This year, more products are coming to retail shelves, including full console games, plus tie-in accessories and merchandise.
41. More Move
Sony is continuing to support its PlayStation Move controller with TV advertising. And there's a number of high-end games for Sony's accessory. These include the platform holder's own Sorcery, Valve's Counter Strike, 2K's BioShock?Infinite, CCP's MMO?Dust 514, plus a string of sports titles.
42. Minecraft on consoles
The PC (and mobile) cult smash hit of 2011 returns this year on Xbox 360 – developed by 4J Studios and featuring Kinect support. Iteven allows cross-platform play between the Xbox 360 and PC.
43. iPad vs Kindle Fire
Apple's third iPad will likely arrive later this year, but not without some serious competition. Budget Android tablets are starting to flood the market, inviting more consumers into the space. And Speakers at last year's London Games Conference tipped Amazon's Kindle Fire as the platform to watch in 2012. Could this be the next big gaming portable?
The return of…
44. Devil May Cry
Later this year Capcom will reboot its Devil May Cry series, with Cambridge-based developer Ninja Theory at the helm. But first, the publisher will launch a HD collection of the first three games in the series.
45. Tomb Raider
Square Enix will reboot the Tomb Raider series this year. The new title challenges a 21-year-old Lara to survive the horrors of a mysterious island.
46. Metal Gear
The hit stealth series is back, with a HD collection on 360 and PS3 this February, followed by Snake Eater 3D for 3DS. Konami and developer Platinum Games is also hard at work on Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
47. Max Payne
The third game in the bullet-time shooter series arrives in March from Rockstar, some nine years after the last one.
48. Grand Theft Auto
Even the mere announcement of a new GTA trailer sent the internet into a frenzy late last year. It's not confirmed for 2012, but Rockstar's blockbuster sequel could well be this Christmas' biggest video game. Call of what?
It's been five years since we last saw SSX, but finally EA's gravity-defying snowboarding racer returns on February 17th.
Square Enix and Eidos' other hit franchise has been missing from release schedules since 2006. Now developer IO Interactive is bringing Agent 47 back in Hitman Absolution this year.