Top News of 2011: PSN Outage

When the PlayStation Network was unceremoniously taken down on April 20, most users shrugged and went about their business. The next day Sony told users that due to a hack the network could be down "a day or two," but those days turned into a week. On April 26, Sony revealed that hackers had acquired user data, kicking off one of the most publicized security breaches in the industry’s history.

The company implicated the hacker group Anonymous in its letter to Congress, which also laid out much of its own admissions of what it knew and when. Anonymous denied involvement. The network was down for over a month, costing developers money and fostering distrust among users. Sony offered a Welcome Back program to ease the transition with free games, and players seemed pacified. To shore up its own internal security, Sony hired a new chief security officer, Philip Reitinger, to oversee operations.

It was only a taste of things to come. Whether by the same group or copycats, this year has seen a constant string of network hacks across a wide swath of games, from BioWare, Steam and Bethesda to individual games like Battlefield Heroes. It was a great year to invest in password security software and credit monitoring systems.

2011 was chock full of game releases and announcements, along with the highs and lows you'd expect from any 365-day period. Since we follow the news closely here -- it's right in the name -- now seemed like a good time to reminisce about some of the biggest happenings of the past year. These are the events that thrilled, frustrated, shook up, and baffled players in 2011.