2012 is officially over, and a new year of gaming is beginning. The past year held many surprises, in both games and changes to the industry, so it’s time to reflect on some of the major events that happened in gaming.

Mourning the Losses

This year was a big one for losses in the gaming industry as several well-respected developers left their various companies and, in some cases, the gaming world altogether. Perhaps the biggest announcement of 2012 was the departure of BioWare co-founders Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, who left after the release of Mass Effect 3 due to its overwhelmingly negative criticism. Not only did they leave their own company, they decided that it was time to pursue new challenges and quit game development.

In another shocking announcement, Cliff Bleszinksi, more commonly known as Cliffy B to the gaming public, left Epic Games (the studio behind Gears of War) and everyone is still wondering which studio he will work for next.

Mass Effect 3 2.0

After the much anticipated release of the epic conclusion to the Mass Effect trilogy, fans were less-than-pleased with the game’s rushed ending. Rather than allowing players to participate until the absolute final moment, it simply offered players three choices for how they would like to end their game, followed by a cutscene. The outrage began as petitions were signed and angry comments were posted. This eventually led to BioWare releasing free DLC that changed the ending of the game and caused the co-founders of the company to call it quits.

A Great New Studio Shuts Down

Way back in February, the gaming community was graced by the release of a new RPG IP by the name of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. With art from Todd McFarlane, a story and history written by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore, and game design by The Elder Scrolls veteran Ken Rolston, Kingdoms of Amalur was a unique action-RPG with incredible character customization and brilliant quest design. After two exceptional downloadable content packs, the future of the studio was very bright indeed. Unfortunately, 38 Studios, owned and operated by former MBL star Curt Schilling, fell into some financial difficulties, despite the game’s excellent sales. This was mostly due to financial backers not following through with their support, which ultimately led 38 Studios to close and liquidate its assets. However, there have been a few interested parties that could potentially pick up the Kingdoms of Amalur property, so hopefully we will get to see this amazing game get a sequel and, more importantly, we’ll see the 38 Studios team get to enjoy the success they deserve.

Broken Records

Though the gaming industry saw relatively low sales numbers throughout most of the year, the last few months had several games breaking records, one after another. Borderlands 2 and Assassin’s Creed III both sold exceptionally well, but Call of Duty: Black Ops II broke almost every gaming record to date. The game earned over $1 Billion in the first 15 days of release, and holds the record for the largest number of players online at any one time.

On another note, 343 Industries got to see a lot of personal success after Halo 4 became the most-played game in the series’ history.

Enter the Wii U

One of the biggest events of the past year was the release of Nintendo’s new home console, the Wii U. To say that demand was high is a bit of an understatement, as Nintendo sold almost every console available for the North American launch in preorder sales alone. Initial reactions to the console were fairly mixed, and the Wii U is certainly not without its flaws. However, many have praised the console’s potential, and it certainly offers a unique gaming experience that can’t be found elsewhere. We still have yet to see if Nintendo can truly regain the hardcore market, but the new year is just beginning.

A Portable Disappointment

It was only a matter of time before Sony released a new handheld console, and many were excited for what the PlayStation Vita was bringing to the table. Two touch screens, a high-resolution screen, and a lot of power in such a small device all pointed to an exceptional portable experience. While the launch line-up proved to be one of the best in gaming history, the lack of third-party support has caused many Vita systems to sit on shelves collecting dust. There have been very few releases for the console, and the number of upcoming release is especially low. Unfortunately, Sony dropped the ball on getting enough developers interested in their powerful console, and its future remains unclear.

3DS Sees Massive Success

The 3DS was first release back in 2011, and as with most Nintendo products, sales were quite good. However, 2012 saw a huge boost in the system’s popularity, so much so that it has officially surpassed the PlayStation 3’s lifetime sales in Japan.

Big Releases of the Year:

– Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

– Dishonored

– Call of Duty: Black Ops II

– XCOM: Enemy Unknown

– Borderlands 2

– Halo 4

– Assassin’s Creed III

– Darksiders II

– New Super Mario Bros. U

– Journey

– FarCry 3

– The Walking Dead: The Game

There you have it, some of the big events of the past year. The industry suffered a lot of hits in 2012, but definitely came out swinging during the second half of the year. There are already a bunch of highly anticipated games coming in 2013… but that’s a story for another day. Happy New Year, everyone.