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A 2011 Retrospective: Going From Strength to Strength

A 2011 Retrospective: Going From Strength to Strength

Written Tuesday, January 03, 2012 By Dan Webb
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There’s nothing like sitting back after the New Year celebrations have passed and reflecting on what the previous year brought us. They do say it’s better to reflect before looking forward and that - as we do every year - is exactly what we’re doing now. It’s all well and good sitting here and saying that 2011 was the best year to be a gamer in recent years, but there’s a much bigger picture to be looking at and as you’re probably aware, it was a pretty eventful year in all aspects of the industry.

"Skyrim was one of the year's many, many hits..."

How good a year is for being a gamer is usually based upon one thing: the games… and rightly so. And in terms of the games, this year proved to be a very successful year from a quality perspective, although 2011 wasn’t without its fair share of disappointments. In terms of triple-A games though, the year saw fourteen 90+ games, up four from ten in 2010 and twice as many as 2009. It wasn’t just a case of triple-A titles, there were a lot of nearly games as well with twenty-nine scoring 80+, which incidentally was exactly the same as 2010 and one down from 2009. As a unit though, the games generally fared better in 2011 than they have done in the two previous years, with the average score rising from 72% (94 games reviewed) to 74.6% (93 games reviewed) - 1.6% better than 2009 (86 games reviewed), which unlike 2010 was a year not littered with shovelware Kinect titles.

This year was that good in fact, that like last year, there were so many games that in other years could truly have dominated our Game of the Year awards that really didn’t get much of a look in. Whether you’re talking Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Dead Space 2, or even Batman: Arkham City and Gears of War 3, they’re titles that took more of a backseat when in years gone by they could have come away with a handful of awards. In other years, titles like Rage, Portal 2, Rayman: Origins, LA Noire, Battlefield 3 and Dark Souls may have had more of a say, but the quality across the board this year was undeniable, with Skyrim – our highest ever scoring game here at X360A – leading the charge.

The feedback following our Game of the Year piece is as expected where opinions are involved, but the one piece of feedback that is frankly quite staggeringly short-sighted is the hate for EA. Dear internet, this is 2011 and EA hasn’t been the games industry’s proverbial devil for quite a few years now. Out of the fourteen 90+ titles this year, EA had a hand in – either development-wise, or publishing-wise – six of them. That’s nearly 50% of the triple-A titles that they’ve helped put out in the shops. Hell, out of the twenty-nine 80+ games as well, they had five of those too. People really are stuck in their ways.

"Did someone say "pre-owned?"

That hate probably comes around as a result of the whole “online pass” initiative, but it’s fairly obvious that this is an industry wide thing and not just confined to EA. Is it that wrong that EA wants a return on their investment, rather than watching GameStop, Gamefly and co. get rich at their expense? No. It’s business and it’s something that people will have to get comfortable with, as it’s clearly here to stay.

It wasn’t just about the quality in 2011 though, as revenue was on the climb as well and in November the industry saw a 15% growth in the US over 2010, year-on-year, seeing revenue rise from $1.45 billion to $1.67 billion. Sure, July might have seen a 26% drop in terms of software sales when compared to July in 2010 and may have been the worst month since 2006, but considering the lull in titles this year in the summer months and the fact that the NPD Group’s stats don’t take into account digital sales, that doesn’t really paint a very accurate picture… Will 2012 be the year where publishers finally decide to utilise those summer months more efficiently? We bloody hope so! Oh, and Activision’s Call of Duty was a record breaker in 2011, again, but that didn’t surprise anyone, we don’t think. Has it peaked though? We’ll see in 2012, no doubt.

"MS are the best selling console 9 months in a row. Ballmer is happy."

Despite hardware sales being down 9% in 2011 from 2010, Microsoft was able to celebrate its ninth consecutive month as the leading console manufacturer from a sales perspective. Sales of gaming accessories in the US dropped 34% to $273.8 million though, but considering it was the first complete calendar year without a peripheral-based musical game, that’s understandable – Rocksmith doesn’t count, before you pipe up back there.

2011 was a very tech heavy year too, with new engines coming from DICE (Frostbite 2.0) and Crytek (CryEngine 3), both of which performed admirably and proved that there was still some life in the 360 yet. Even EA’s ‘Impact Engine’ gave their sports titles a boost. Despite all that though, it wasn’t enough to keep the new console rumours from sprouting up all over the place and rumours are pointing to a possible reveal and subsequent release this year, although with Halo 4 launching in “holiday 2012,” that’s looking more and more unlikely… you know, especially considering that 343 Industries is adamant that it’s an Xbox 360 title.

One of the bigger talking points in 2011 revolved around a hacking pandemic, with various groups taking down publisher after publisher – whether their whole network was a victim, a la Sony, or specific publisher's sites, a la Square Enix’s community sites. Perhaps the biggest talking point was the latest dashboard update, which completely split the audience. Some praised it for its Kinect capabilities and integrated Kinect navigation system, whilst others lamented as the steps it took backwards in accessibility, general navigation and its over-complexity.

"The games might not have been in Tokyo, but the people turned out."

Of course, it wouldn’t be a 2011 retrospective if we didn’t look back at the year’s trade shows, where we pretty much covered every single one of them in 2011, including both PAX events, GDC and every major trade show in between. GDC in February gave us our first look at Battlefield 3, we headed up into the mountains at Bethesda’s BFG to check out Skyrim, E3 surprised us with the unveiling of Far Cry 3 and gave us a first real look at Hitman: Absolution, while Gamescom brought Borderlands 2’s official first-showing our way. It was a good year in terms of trade shows, but if anything, it only served to prove how the Japanese gaming market is struggling, with very few publishers making the effort to do anything remotely interesting out there. If this trend continues, I can see it falling by the wayside in just a few short years. 2011 also saw us ramp up the annual PAX Prime Party as well which not only brought more alcohol and good times your way, but a few key gatecrashers *cough* Marty O’Donnell *cough* Consider it our thank-you to you though, for your years of loyalty, and we’ll be doing the same this year, so get the date in your diary ready now!

So whether you’re talking news, trade shows or games in 2011, it’s been a year full of greatness and is one of the most memorable in my experience this generation. Not just because the games have delivered, but because there’s never been a dull moment. That’s all we ever want. 2012 is going to be a great year too no doubt, with… well, let’s not delve too deep into that just yet as we’ll cover that tomorrow, but as far as looking back goes, I’m fairly sure we can all look back and find some good in 2011. Us? We’ll look back and consider it as a huge, rousing success and one of the best years we’ve experienced as a gamer… Now we just need to find some time to play all those games before 2012 picks up a head of steam.

In case you’re interested, here’s the top review scores of 2011:

90+ games, 2011 (14):
Batman: Arkham City (96), Battlefield 3 (94), Bulletstorm (90), Crysis 2 (90), Dark Souls (90), Dead Space 2 (92), Deus Ex: Human Revolution (94), Dragon Age 2 (94), Forza Motorsport 4 (91), Gears of War 3 (97), LA Noire (96), NBA 2K12 (91), Portal 2 (94), The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (99)

80-89 games, 2011 (29):
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon (82), Alice: Madness Returns (80), Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (88), Brink (80), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (85), Dead Island (84), Dance Central 2 (89), DiRT 3 (87), Driver: San Francisco (80), F1 2011 (84), FIFA 12 (86), Fight Night Champion (83), Halo: Combat Evolved (83), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds (87), Mortal Kombat (83), NHL 12 (82), Rage (89), Rayman: Origins (89), Red Faction: Armageddon (83), Resident Evil 4 HD (89), Saints Row: The Third (84), Sonic Generations (80), Shift 2 Unleashed (85), Test Drive Unlimited 2 (83), The Gunstringer (83), Top Spin 4 (84), Tropico 4 (82), WWE 12 (87), WSC Real 11: World Snooker Championship (80)


User Comments

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #1 by DRNoob
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 @ 08:26:30 PM
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Shouldn't it be "80-89 games, 2011", not "2010"? And since when is it spelled "Assaultt" in "Assaultt Horizon"? I thought there was one 't'.

Forum Posts: 1752
Comment #2 by IXISHADOW
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 @ 08:39:44 PM
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Halo deserves better reviews, I truly loved playing it again, I really hope that Halo 2 has a re-release this year or the next.

Forum Posts: 412
Comment #3 by UltimateAuron32
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 @ 08:48:08 PM
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@2 me too man, i never got to play the first two, well till now of course, but i still need to play halo 2, remake please :)

Forum Posts: 1643
Comment #4 by HugTheBear
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 @ 08:49:24 PM
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2011 was a great year, indeed. 2012 has some pretty good promise too--- Borderlands 2 is my most anticipated!

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #5 by Tomafork XD FTW
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 @ 09:05:57 PM
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Fallout 4, new york!

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #6 by Zombies
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 04:26:22 AM
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Agreed, absolute stellar year, i still need to get most of those 90+ titles, gears and skyrim are occipying my time! (whether thats a good / bad thing lol)

Forum Posts: 94
Comment #7 by Murn
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 04:41:18 AM
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Totally agree with the EA section of this article. EA are a fantastic publisher/developer, and the quality of their games in 2011, and earlier, show their quality. They well deserved Publisher of the Year, some people just hold grudges for far too long.

Forum Posts: 69
Comment #8 by lightsup55
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 09:51:14 AM
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"Test Drive Unlimited (83)"

Um... shouldn't that be "Test Drive Unlimited 2 (83)"?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #9 by reaperdan23
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 01:46:52 PM
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Im assuming this article has been edited since it went up cos people are pointing out mistakes that arent actually there.

Forum Posts: 46
Comment #10 by 123yhman
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 04:07:42 PM
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x360a rated L.A. Noire 96/100, personally it's one of my all time favourite games, so how come their is so much hate towards it from gamers?

Forum Posts: 684
Comment #11 by BBowles
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 05:00:32 PM
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@10 While I enjoyed LA Noire, it wasn't something that I have talked about much upon completion. It was enjoyable while I played it, but lost a lot of its luster after completion. This is my opinion of course. And as always, you will always have people enjoy hating on popular games. I haven't really noticed a lot of hate for LA Noire, but then again I don't pay much attention to it.

Kind of reminds me of all the hate for Mass Effect 2. Everyone's entitled to their opinions, but that game is still the best game this generation in my opinion. Until ME3 launches of course :) To each their own.

OT: 2011 was truly a great year for games. So much so, that I find myself struggling to get caught up before the early 2012 titles start coming out. I will say that Q1 of 2012 is looking very good at this point, with FF, Kingdoms of Amular, Darkness 2 (still on the fence on this one), and of course, ME3.

Forum Posts: 191
Comment #12 by ash356
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 05:45:11 PM
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Whilst I do have some disdain to EA for their online pass system, it isn't because I DISAGREE with it... quite the opposite, I think the idea of Devs getting the profit they deserve is all fair.
My main disappointment is that EA have changed the system they were doing now. I preferred how it was in the early days of the pass, where it gave incentives to buy - it wasn't an actual requirement to access all the games features. Such as, for instance:
Bad company 2's 'VIP pass', and Mass Effect 2's 'Cerberus network', where you got legitimate DLC incentives for buying new. Now, it's merely the privilege of playing online you get.
2011 was a brilliant year for games though :D
... although I can't help feeling the 360's exclusives were somewhat lacking this year :S

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #13 by elsnoggler
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 07:20:29 PM
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Dragon Age 2 - 94.


Forum Posts: 14034
Comment #14 by Spanish Assault
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 08:20:29 PM
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Glad to see Brink get some love. I liked that game.

Forum Posts: 14807
Comment #15 by Webb [STAFF]
Wednesday, January 04, 2012 @ 09:46:12 PM
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@#9 - Yeah, ha. I pop in and out when I have a few seconds and I noticed the comments =)

Forum Posts: 2162
Comment #16 by mjc0961
Friday, January 06, 2012 @ 03:13:15 AM
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"Dear internet, this is 2011 and EA hasn’t been the games industry’s proverbial devil for quite a few years now."

I'd like to answer this question with two more questions:
1. Don't play anything on PC, do you? Increasingly draconian DRM, Origin, games pulled from Steam; all things PC gamers were not fans of EA for last year.
2. If not EA, who is? I can't think of anyone.

As for the online pass thing, #12 hit the nail on the head. You know what was cool? Project Ten Dollar. Yeah, saying "Thank you" to customers who buy their game new with free DLC was a rather nice thing to do. But now it's Online Passes which are not a "Thank you" at all. They're more of a "STOP CRIMINAL SCUM! Prove you bought or game new or give us $10." I have no problem with combating used sales when it's done in a good way like Project Ten Dollar, but when they start inconveniencing the consumer base that they want to increase (new game buyers) with things like codes you have to enter before they let you play the game you just paid for that can expire, they're doing it wrong. You aren't stopping used game sales at all, you're just making it harder for people who did buy new to play your game. If a used buyer gets the game and wants to go online, they buy the pass and are in with very little fuss. New buyers get to input a code on the lovely on-screen keyboard and pray that its printed properly and hasn't expired yet, because if things don't go well, it's off for a long and frustrating call to customer service to get a new code so you can finally play the game you just bought NEW. A great thank you from EA to their most loyal customers that they want all other customers to be like, wouldn't you say?
And sure, other companies are doing it too, and I hate it from them just as much as I hate it from EA. Correct me if I'm wrong, but EA was the first to pull this crap though, which is probably one of two reasons why they get the most hate for it (the other being that with all the games they release that have online, they easily release more games that have Online Passes than anyone else).

Furthermore, it's hard to forget how immature EA acted during most of 2011. Bashing Microsoft for having Ice-T come out on stage to play Gears 3, only to late bring out not one but THREE pro football players to promote the next Madden game. Bashing Activision and Call of Duty, and then when Activision put out a nice, respectful response, they continued to bash even more. EA's execs started looking like the kind of incredibly stupid people on a forum who you laugh at, quote some of their dumbest posts in your sig, and then put on your ignore list when they get too stupid for you to deal with anymore. Maybe a small thing, but it still feels weird to praise them as a great publisher when they sit there and act the kind of flaming idiots we all hate to play with on Xbox Live. I'm actually surprised that EA didn't call Activision the n-word and claim they had sex with Activision's mom.

Oh, and of course, I can't forget about how EA will ban you from all of your games if you get in trouble on their forum. I don't know how it works for console games (I assume you only get banned from the multiplayer features because that's the only time they make you sign into your EA Account), but if you have games on the PC, you get banned from all of them. Both singleplayer and multiplayer modes. Just because you might have misbehaved from a forum. A forum ban should be a forum ban and nothing more. Does Microsoft console ban your 360 if you get banned from their forums? No. How about Sony? Also no? So why, EA? Why?
The worst of it is that you don't even have to be the one misbehaving to get banned from all your EA games. Here's a lovely tale about some poor guy who got flamed and swore at by some other guy on EA's forum, and the guy who was GETTING FLAMED got the ban, not the guy who did the flaming.
Losing access to all of your EA published games because some other guy flamed you. I really don't know what the hell else to say at this point.

Bottom line, some of us are looking at the overall picture, not just the games they put out on 360. And I don't think there's anything short-sighted about that at all. I know this is a 360 focused site, but the world of gaming is bigger than that and you can't really fault those of us who look at it all because we play in it all. Some of us are just looking at more than the 360 games EA put out and happening to notice that in some ways, they're still rather shit and quite worthy of that "proverbial devil of the games industry" title.

Forum Posts: 670
Comment #17 by collin232
Friday, January 06, 2012 @ 03:17:17 AM
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12 hit the nail on the head with the online pass. The online pass should give you incentive to buy the game new, not force you. Don't make the mp to a game available only to people who buy new then charge people that like to buy used to play 1/2 of the game.

Forum Posts: 2162
Comment #18 by mjc0961
Friday, January 06, 2012 @ 03:17:23 AM
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Wow, I'm surprised that essay sized rant about why I don't think it's short sighted of me to not like EA very much right now actually fit in one comment. Character limit must have got bumped up.

Anyway, I'm not saying that everyone has to agree with me that EA still deserves to be considered the game industry devil, but if nobody can at least see where some of us are coming from when we say we still hate them, then I don't know what else I can say to convince you. That last thing just completely blows my mind, so let me repeat it: THEY BAN YOU FROM ALL YOUR GAMES IF SOMEONE FLAMES YOU ON THEIR FORUM. Really, if that doesn't convince you that current EA hate isn't short sighted, I don't know what will.

Forum Posts: 2162
Comment #19 by mjc0961
Friday, January 06, 2012 @ 03:44:58 AM
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I just remembered another thing EA did that doesn't win them any points. Remember at E3 when they promised PS3 players free copies of BF1943 with their copies of Battlefield 3? When BF3 finally came out, PS3 players noticed that their promised extra was missing. It was only then that EA thought to tell people that they had changed their minds about free BF1943. Would have been nice of them to mention that BEFORE release so people knew about it instead of only speaking up after people called them on it.
And yeah, apparently EA is going to make good on free BF1943 after all now, but last I heard, the site that you'll get a redemption code from will only be open for one day for each region. So they're basically making it as inconvenient as possible to get the free copies of BF1943 that they tried to screw people out of.

I'm going to try to go to bed now and hope I don't remember yet another nasty thing EA did last year that further explains why I don't think they were such a great publisher in terms of gaming as a whole.

Forum Posts: 569
Comment #20 by IVIR BLOBBY
Friday, January 06, 2012 @ 07:21:20 AM
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Decenr year Tbh. Cant complain, Hate the project 10 dollar but your right whats the use in complaining.

The new dashboard though, i hate it. Love the kinect capabilities & i prefer the look as its nice to have new things

I just dont like Inside Xbox. its been made much less accessible & the archives removed, all i used the dash for was Inside xbox & the occasional purchase. Its a step Backwards !


Forum Posts: 10
Comment #21 by Hati R
Sunday, January 08, 2012 @ 09:28:19 PM
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Frankly I see the points of the Online Pass hate but that wasn't my problem with EA.

My major grievance was actually server shutdowns preventing online achievement acquisition... that's all

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #22 by voidreaper21
Monday, January 09, 2012 @ 01:19:27 PM
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@1 check your gaddamn eyesight

Forum Posts: 152
Comment #23 by Mist
Friday, January 13, 2012 @ 12:19:51 PM
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Wait, what? You gave DAII ninty-fucking-four? Jesus christ. That game did not deserve such a high score.

Forum Posts: 231
Comment #24 by Hurball
Monday, January 16, 2012 @ 12:01:52 PM
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I disagree, I thought last year was miles better than this year in terms of games.

GoW3 - not as memorable as GoW2, or (obviously) as trend-setting as the first game.
Dead Space 2 - nowhere near as good as the first
Portal 2 - phenomenal, but probably not as perfect as the first game.
MW3 - not as good as the first game in the MW series.
BF3 - not played, but people who I know are saying they prefer BFBC2.
LA Noire - great in places, flimsy in others. Not game of the year material, but good fun nontheless

My basic point - the games this year have all been great on paper - but where's the innovation? Aside from LA Noire, we've seen nothing new in terms of the game of the year lists. Skyrim and Portal 2 are the only games I'd consider absolutely brilliant. Everything else felt soulless.

Forum Posts: 1822
Comment #25 by HalfEVILmonkey
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 @ 06:58:13 PM
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The reason I hate EA is because their support post-launch sucks. They close online servers too quickly, and don't even get me started with what happened with Army of 2: The 40th Day DLC. EA can suck my big, hairy balls. And then die.

Forum Posts: 66
Comment #26 by daseeker25
Friday, January 20, 2012 @ 11:43:29 AM
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Halo 2 PC version I got a while ago for about 8$ on amazon it doesn't have improved graphics like halo cea but it has achievements and was really fun or you could just buy the regular xbox version as well. I doubt they'll make a remake for the 360 since they did a small remake with the pc version

Forum Posts: 160
Comment #27 by AltarofPlagues
Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 06:16:07 AM
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Why didnt you guys do a feature on the best/worst etc achievements of 2011? I kinda liked that last year

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #28 by PsycoSaurus
Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 11:32:56 AM
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@27 They come around the websites birthday in February.

Forum Posts: 155
Comment #29 by NeoSant
Sunday, January 22, 2012 @ 07:12:24 PM
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To me Bulletstorm, NBA , Deus Ex and specially Brink are a lot overated.
Fifa and Halo are underated in the same way.

Forum Posts: 8
Comment #30 by quaneylfc
Tuesday, January 24, 2012 @ 12:35:23 PM
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where does a website get off by giving battlefield 3 a 94, what...the game lost only 6 points for having such a bad story mode, which was most likely wrote by a moron ridiculous and the multiplayer wasn't as good as everyone said that game was a major disappointment

Forum Posts: 19
Comment #31 by wickedclowns95
Wednesday, February 01, 2012 @ 05:02:18 PM
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@29 How is Halo underrated? Seriously, I'd like to know...

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