This is actually a topic that is close to my heart and I’ve written about it before. It seems that retailers in the UK don’t like that publishers clump so many of the Triple A games in the latter part of the year and we would surmise that their US counterparts feel the same way.
In a recent interview HMV CEO Simon Fox told MCV: “We would love to see some blockbusters available earlier in the year, there is no question about that whatsoever.” Fox went on to say, “It would be fantastic to have some summer releases when there is a real appetite from the customer to buy games. Huge blockbuster games so close together becomes unaffordable.”
To further reiterate the point, Blockbuster commercial director Gerry Butler also said: “The movie industry would never bring the top 20 franchises together in Q4 and have nothing else for the entire year. There’s not a lot of triple-A games coming out in June. The movie industry just doesn’t do that. Butler then levied a bold prediction saying, “I’d like to see the publishers spread the titles out more evenly. That is better for them. And I do think over the next two to three years that will actually happen.”
So here’s the deal, this has never made any sense to me the way video game publisher schedule their release dates, neither the movie or music industry do it that way. Did anybody notice that no major blockbusters came out anywhere near Marvel’s The Avengers? Does anyone think that there will be anything huge coming out around the time “The Dark Knight Rises” comes out, I think not. It’s not hard to see why it happens, because everyone will flock to those movies which inevitably leaves fewer people and therefore less dollars for everything else. Somebody loses in that situation.
In gaming we just had it happen with Max Payne 3 releasing and then a week later Ghost Recon: Future Soldier released. Sure the games are different genres but they are both Triple AAA quality titles and ultimately a lot of gamers are forced to choose to play one or the other and that’s not good for either company. Honestly, Ubisoft could have delayed GRFS a few weeks and it could have pretty much owned the summer because unless we get some unexpected summer release dates at E3, June-August is going to be pretty dry. After that though, in the last quarter of the year and going into the holiday season, there are tons of games coming out. New installments of Call Of Duty, Assassin’s Creed 3, Halo 4, and possibly even Grand Theft Auto V. This doesn’t even count all the as yet unannounced blockbusters that are going to be announced at E3 this year.
The truth is that there aren’t that many true Triple AAA gaming franchises out there anyway, there may be more than 12 so one a month might not work but I’m not sure there are 24 releasing in any one year and therefore one at the beginning of the month and one at the end of the month would probably work. That way not only would gamers not have to choose to buy one or the other, they might actually finish one before having to abandon it to play the next great game that was on their list. Think about it, wouldn’t it have been great if Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim came out right around the first of June this year, there would be nothing else really vying for your time until August and that’s assuming both Sleeping Dogs and Darksiders II hold their current August release dates.
The bottom line is that the gaming industry needs to take a cue from the other major entertainment industries and get smart about how they line up these release windows. Stop forcing gamers to choose between blockbusters releasing right on top of each other, I think the publishers and developers will make more money and the gamers will be able to afford a lot more games in the long run.