Q4 game launch stupidity

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?

2 comments ↓

#1 jordan brock on 10.09.07 at 2:58 am

It is important to note that a publisher like Activision, among others, actually make their big releases over the summer, because they tie in titles to summer movie blockbusters. Spiderman and Madadascar come to mind from the past few years ( I didn’t watch Cars).

Also please note that traditionally Activison’s stock goes up in the summer and then declines in Q4. I’m not exactly sure why this is, however, I suspect that it is tied to them making alot of their money over the summer.

I agree with your “game launch stupidity.” Just because Q4 is Christmas shopping time, doesn’t mean that everyone will be spending alot of money on presents. There is always the possibility of a recession. There is always a possibility that the country won’t be buying alot of toys if their gas and oil bills are soaring and they can’t heat their homes. So, putting all of your eggs in the Q4 basket doesn’t make much sense. Hence Activsion’s strategy.

#2 Bruce on 10.09.07 at 8:07 pm

Thanks for this Jordan.
That Activision strategy makes a lot of sense.

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