March - the month in five minutes

March - the month in five minutes

By Rob Crossley

April 1st 2011 at 12:30PM

Missed anything? Abandoned your desk when the sun came out? Hereâ??s the key info to take into April

March. Massive month. Still not quite the headline-grabber that was March 2010, of course, where we had things like the very public dismantling of one of the most lucrative studios in the world, as well as the aftermath of *literally* millions of PS3s locking out. Oh, and tax breaks.

Still; March. Massive month. Stay where you are.

We’ll start with our top five stories.

1

Japan rocked by 8.9 magnitude earthquake
The resulting Tsunami struck on March 11. Game projects were cancelled, servers went down, game releases were postponed, trade essentially froze up – all indeed cosmetic issues in comparison to the devastation of entire towns and tens of thousands of families. Games industry donations poured in, from UK studios to social studios to the publishing elite.

2

Legal row erupts between Epic Games and Silicon Knights
Extraordinary accusations from both Epic (here) and Silicon Knights (here). Most cases like these are settled out of court – and, considering how both parties refuse to budge in this high-stakes lawsuit, let’s hope the damage isn’t too great.

3

Legal row erupts between Ubisoft and THQ
In boxing terms, Epic vs Silicon Knights is essentially Mike Tyson vs Joe Frazier – two fighters smashing each other in the face until one can’t stand up. Ubisoft versus THQ has a bit more finesse. It’s Ali versus Sugar Ray Robinson, a guarded duel complete with surreptitious staff poaching, internal investigations, and Danny Bilson’s loose tongue.

4

No game tax breaks for UK
What was worse than British games studios not getting tax breaks? The blind hope that such a glorious day will eventually arrive. It won’t. The Culture secretary has said no. But brace yourself: R&D tax credit rates have been improved. Tiga was bizarrely happy: the switch from game tax breaks to R&D tax credits represents a £159 million loss in investment. Plus,  R&D tax credits are annoying, imprecise and awkward. Still, at least we are spared of any more insulting glimmers of hope.

5

Rovio catching on like bird-flu
How to go from ‘gigantic’ to ‘ridiculous’ in two steps: 1) Secure $42 million in VC funds. 2) Announce you will go public

214

All of Develop’s 214 news reports for March can be found here

News we didn’t report

1) That PS3-hacking jerk-faced douchebag is still here
2) Everyone at Valve has gone to Hawaii (not a lie)
3) Someone nicked Peter Molyneux’s passport!

Layoff season

End of year financials are coming up, which means what for dev studios? Corporate downsizing. Here’s a list of studios whose cuts were made public.
* Kaos Studios
* Volition
* Sony Online Entertainment
* Disney
* Hudson US
* Sony UK studios

March heroes

1) Peter Molyneux
Emotional BAFTA joy; a deserved and touching moment

2) Danny Bilson
He’s become so clumsy with the press it’s actually growing on us

3) Satoru Iwata
Out of touch, or on the money? Whatever you made of his GDC speech, it was nevertheless ballsy, candid and demonstrably impactful

March villains

1) Reggie-Fils Aime / Nintendo
We’d like to say the ‘no garage developers’ rhetoric was borderline snobbish, but in truth, we don’t think even he really understands what he’s saying

2) BioWare self-reviewer
Not since Gordon Brown left his mic on have we laughed so aggressively

3) Tiga
“Never give up something you like for the good of others” does not a sermon make

You should have been there

GDC 2011. A vintage year for the event's organiser. All the news here.