As 2011 draws to a close, Geeta Padmanabhan gives interesting insights into the world of video games — the games that caught the fancy of gamers and those that didn't, popular Indian games, and the revolution in mobile games and apps. The icing on the cake is that 2012 promises more excitement and thrills for gaming buffs

The video game scene in 2011 was much like the efforts of gamers at the controls — hit in some combats, miss in others. Who would have thought almost a million people would stop paying for World of Warcraft, as Activision Blizzard admitted? The Asia-Pacific region is singing sayonara to it, but AB is confident its subscription model will continue to win customers.

Who's stealing the WoW thunder? Batman in Arkham City, for one. Cell Guru gave it thumbs-up in 5 parameters — story, gfx/presentation, gameplay, sound/music, game+ feature. Batman along with Catherine actually came to the rescue of those who don't want to touch another generic shooter-game.

Others tempting gamers away are Skyrim, Battlefield 3 and Activision's Modern Warfare 3. Battlefield 3 turned out to be a record thrasher, its publisher Electronic Arts awarding it the “fastest selling VG” crown. This first-person shooter game in a multi-player format lets you travel to Paris, Teheran and New York, and campaign with the U.S. Marines fighting People's Liberation and Resistance near the Iran-Iraq border. And Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is no simple game if it earned $400 million in 24 hours! Angry Birds flew to China where, producer Rovio crows, it has been downloaded some 50 million times.

The Indian scene

Indian gaming took off to win in desi turfs. “Ra.One is a #1 success,” said a pleased Vishal Gondal, CEO, UTV Indiagames. “Ra and G-One will continue their fight across platforms — on iPhone, Android, Nokia, FB and TV (Airtel).” The core game is free. The revenue comes from ads and micro transactions such as buying weapons. Quarrel, a wordgame, and IPL are his other favourites. “VGs have caught the T20 fever, with some of the supergames appearing on multi-platforms,” he said. He recommends Where is My Water, Words with Friends and Plants vs Zombies, with the tip, “The last one was played three days non-stop.”

The mobile platform wrote game history in 2011. As Bob Tedeschi puts it, “With over 50,000 mobile games in the market, shopping for one can be a game in itself.” The fireworks in the mobile market in India will ensure more movies will morph into mobile-friendly games. Jump Games (Reliance Entertainment), Hungama Digital Media and others will deliver them on mobile, internet and DTH platforms. Regional films are sure to join the mela.

Movies to games

It's a happy time for digital marriages: Movies to games. Games on a variety of platforms. Games with motion control (Kinect, Move). Computer games and art. Nintendo's Wii-U console with features to enhance the movie-game experience. Sony's 3-D for gamers. Tried The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? “There are so many new platforms and new ways to connect with game consumers worldwide,” said a publisher. “It's probably the most dynamic period of change in the industry in 30 years.”

If video games entertained us, they also connected us. Farmville's success has got publishers rushing to the drawing board to infuse social elements into games. Electronic Arts introduced Sims Social for Facebook, is adding social networking features to FIFA 12 and Madden 12. In an interesting free value-add, Battlefield 3 players can connect socially through Battlelog. A similar service by Activision is called Call of Duty Elite.

Apple apps turned tasty with Taco Master where, as a street vendor, you try to make the highest-quality taco in the least amount of time. Producer Kaxan Games claims it's the world's most downloaded iPad app. (Check out Spaces of Play and for iPhone and iPod game apps). Android gamers will love Nintaii for its puzzle format, graphics and sound effects. Experts recommend Solipskier and Sky Gamblers: Rise of Glory. “Play them before you shop for mobile games,” he said.

What happened to the ground-breaking Grand Theft Auto (GTA)? According to reviewer Winda Benedetti, it's taking gamers to Los Angeles in GTA V. You'll get the palm-fringed locales, crowded streets and the protagonist with a new identity. Check out to see if it lives up to its “addictive” reputation.

Mmm, another year, another GTA, another Call of Duty, Halo... Is it déjà vu, playing the same games? “These are tweak jobs. For many franchises the best days are over,” says the we-want-originals group, drawing the battlelines. “Come on, Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer warzones boast a new user-friendly point system “pointstreaks”, it's packed to the gills with new modes,” say old addicts. If developers continue to add apps to working games you might end up logging on to Call of Duty 20 or Modern Warfare 30.

Who cares? 2012's looking awesome for games!

Mobile games

Osmos (space-age graphics, teen-age music), Eliss (25 levels), N.O.V.A. 2 (first-person shooter) Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation, Minecraft/Made for Minecraft, Scribblenauts Remix (for kids), Whale Trail, Bike Baron, Light Bike 2 (futuristic), Bubble Ball (developed by a 14-year-old), Cut the Rope.