Since it’s Christmas, this will be a Christmas edition of Current Gen, where I’ll be talking about how developers and publishers see Christmas as a way of making money, while gamers find Christmas as a way of getting money for games, and how gamers now seem to be waiting until Christmas has passed before they buy big titles, and why the fuck I think games don’t get released in December.
Week #2: The Empty December Schedule
Have you been on Wikipedia lately? If you go to “2011 in Video Gaming”, you’ll notice that there is only one game on December’s list that you should be looking out for. No it’s not Mario Kart! It’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. And although you should never trust what goes on Wikipedia, I’m afraid that in this instance, Wikipedia speaks the truth. And what truth is that? It’s that barley any good (by good, I mean anticipated) games are released in December. It seems to be the beginning of the year (February/March) and the end of the year (as in October/November) that seems to get all the releases. Let’s go through the games out in December:
- Mario Kart 7 – Like… no. Not a big release really.
- Assassin’s Creed Revelations – Well this game is already out on consoles so this release doesn’t really count for PC.
- Fortune Street – Yeah. I don’t know what it is either.
- The Adventures of TinTin – It’s already out for us Britons and it’s a film game so yet again, not a big release.
- Trine 2 – It’s a downloadable game, so it doesn’t really count.
- Rocksmith – Rock wha-?
- Star Wars: The Old Republic – And this is the only big release out there. I think the only reason why the game is out just before Christmas is… well just that. Bioware said they would do everything they could to get this game out before Christmas/End of 2011.
And that’s it. But why do developers spit on the December release window for big retail releases? Even last year, it was all downloadable items and titles nobody had even heard of.
Well here’s the simple answer: It’s Christmas.
Essentially, developers may feel like that if they release their retail game after the period where all the big shopping has occurred (i.e during November) but before the end of the year, then they’ll believe their game will not sell well, no matter if it’s the most anticipated. Even after Boxing Day (a day with massive sales), it’s expected that prices would drop up until the middle of January, and if publishers released their games during the period of massive sales, customers would be expecting the prices for “that retail game” to drop, even if it just came out a week ago, and publishers just cannot afford to do that when they want to try and get as much money from their game in the first month at least.
You can’t blame them for that though because if they don’t have the sales, then gamers might not get the sequels they so desire. The problem is, a lot of developers with smaller games can’t release their games in November anyway, because their games would only get over shadowed by big releases. So essentially, November is not a good release period, neither is December, and in a way neither is January. When you think about it, January is the month after Christmas. During January, many people may be playing all these games they probably got for Christmas, meaning nobody really wants to buy a game they don’t need to play yet. Nobody wants to release their games around the Christmas period, but that still doesn’t explain why people don’t release their games during the summer either…