Next-Gen named this year’s most influential industry events.

Gaming publication Next-Gen is running a seven-page feature summarizing the 50 biggest events in gaming during the past year. Chronilogically categorized, the story runs the gaming news gambit, starting with 2006’s stunning sales and ending at the Jeff Gerstmann affair.

Listed below are Next-Gen’s six most relevant events in gaming from the past year.

  • Nintendo’s Success Takes Nintendo by Surprise: “Perhaps the defining story of the year was Nintendo’s rise from a GameCube-hocking also-ran to the curator of a fully mainstream cultural phenomenon, the Wii. It started early on, with the unflappable Reggie Fils-Aime expressing his shock at the console’s runaway success. And it’s still running-there hasn’t been a moment this year where Nintendo has been able to meet the massive Wii demand, and today the company is the frontrunner in the next generation console war. This is a story that will continue to shape the industry for the foreseeable future.”
  • Manhunt 2 Bleeds its Way to AO: “It’s not often that a violent game “accidentally” gets the ESRB’s rare and dreaded AO rating, but this single event itself was small compared to its industry-rocking fallout. Public critics of game violence hailed the ESRB for “finally doing its job,” but when Rockstar and the ESRB refused to specify what was done to edit the game back to an M rating, the outcry from these same critics was deafening. Some major retailers refused to carry the game as a result, and the eye of Congress was drawn back to industry regulation. While some gamers themselves claimed they didn’t care about the game either way, this was almost certainly the most damaging news story of the year for gaming.”
  • The First E3 Since the Last E3: “The all-new E3 Media and Business Summit definitely lacked the razzle-dazzle and huge announcements of E3s past, but the sheer number of important announcements to come out of the show still made the event one of the most important news generators of the year. The statements made here are still driving the industry: the reveal of the redesigned PSP, Nintendo’s excitement over Wii Fit, and Microsoft detailing of the 360’s 2007 were just some of the big stories to come out of the week.”
  • Bungie and Microsoft Part Ways: “Long Microsoft’s first-party ace in the hole, Bungie’s move to free agency sent shockwaves through the industry that still have yet to subside. It’s currently believed that this move will result in nothing but positives for everyone. Bungie will get to step away from Halo and create what will likely be valuable wholly owned IP, and the studio’s experience with Microsoft hardware means those new products will almost certainly show up on 360. Bearded Mac gamers hoping to get a new Marathon title are also excited, because this event finally makes that dream a possibility.”
  • EA Acquires BioWare/Pandemic: “It wasn’t that long ago that BioWare and Pandemic were touting the value of their own merger as a way to stay independent in an ever-consolidating industry. EA CEO John Riccitiello knew exactly how valuable the two developers were-after all, he did found the venture capital firm that merged the two studios. As it turns out he apparently thought that the entity he helped create was undervalued as an independent company. The $800 million payout EA made to get the studios seemed an astronomical sum to some analysts; while it will take years to see if that price was in fact right, the combination of EA’s coffers and BioWare/Pandemic’s talent and technology should pay quick dividends in terms of EA’s product quality.”
  • Activision Merges With Vivendi: “This is about as big as news can get in this industry: an $18.9 billion dollar merger between two of gaming’s largest publishers. It’s a sea change in the landscape of games publishing, and while it’s still much too early to tell how Activision Blizzard will shape the future of the field, rest assured: these changes will be sweeping and palpable. One can’t help but feel reading this story that the big industry mergers are far from over.”

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