Everyone knows that game sales are biggest in Q4 because of the gift market through the holiday season. So game publishers concentrate their big releases for this time. This has two effects. Firstly it acts as a self fulfilling prophecy and Q4 becomes bigger precisely because there are so many new games. Secondly it reduces the size of the overall market. This is because people earn money and play games all year round. So publishers shoot themselves in the foot by not catering for this.
Fortunately this year we have technology forcing a more sensible release policy on many. Basically the 360 and especially the PS3 are more difficult to create games for than previous platforms. So lots of games are missing deadlines and moving into next year. Brothers In Arms: Hell’s Highway, Unreal Tournament 3, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, World in Conflict, The Club, Grand Theft Auto IV and Splinter Cell are just some of the titles effected.
This is excellent news. Game releases will be better spread out and fewer AAA titles will be going head to head against each other. So more games will be sold. Which is good for the industry.
When I was at Codemasters I lobbied hard for the principle of launching one product a month, every month. Other than the above this has the added great advantage that everyone in sales and marketing can move smoothly from one product to the next. Giving each game full and proper attention whilst not having any slack times.
So do you think the Q4 rush is good or bad?