Gaming goes ballistic

This is the biggest UK new game launch week in the history of the universe. LittleBigPlanet, Mirror’s Edge, Call of Duty, Gears of War 2, WoW The Lich King, Guitar Hero World Tour, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Shaun White Snowboarding, Wii Music etc etc. More good stuff than we once got in a year. 

Can the buying public digest such a huge glut in one weekend? Obviously not, there will be big winners and big losers here. What is for sure is that games will massively outsell recorded music and video combined over the next few months. We are the biggest entertainment industry on earth. All down to our technical advantages of interactivity, connectivity and non linearity.

The game consoles will also sell in massive quantities, even the PS3. In fact the three platform holders will find it impossible to keep up with the demand for machines, especially as tens of millions of PS2 owners will now upgrade. The chasm between the platform generations has now become so wide that the PS2 is hardly a viable gaming option any more

It is a pity that our industry has become so seasonal. It is a self fulfilling prophecy resulting from the lemming behaviour of the publishers. The industry would be more successful and they would make more money if they were more reponsible and looked after consumers throughout the year. Many games released now will fall on their faces when an October or a February launch would see them as chart hits. Bad game industry management rears its ugly head once again.


  1. Bruce,

    I recently (about 4 months now) became a loyal reader and look forward to your take on the gaming industry. Your pieces on marketing and finance behind the scenes offer a different take then the normal drivel out of many sites (not that I dont like me so drivel from time to time).

    NOTE: My references to dates below are from the US, it will vary in the UK, but hopefully not to much to disprove my point…

    Anyway, I notice that you reference the gaming industry becoming seasonal. I am not so sure that this is entirely a bad thing. Over the last 2 years (you could even make a case for 3) there has been a second season for games. Almost like an early holiday.

    We have already seen the trend of the triple-A titles picking out their “own week” towards the end of the year for a while now and as that theory strengthens we are seeing a rash of really great games that are just not big enough to go up against the big boys. This year we have seen Fable 2, Saints Row 2, Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour all release before the holiday siege. Granted these games surelyhope that they will be picked up for Xmas as well, but I believe they are more focused on getting their money before the big titles have a chance to trump them. I know I spent a great deal of money of games in August-October.

    Another, although much less significant time period is shortly after the holiday rush. Stardock Games is following this route… Why risk getting buried in the holiday rush (uh… for the boatloads of cash?) when you can drop your product a little bit later when people have finished playing the bigger titles. I thnk we will see more and ore of this as well as we move forward.

    The last thing that I wanted to mention was that this obviously leaves a huge gap during the summer (which has been for some time now) and I dont mind this at all. Its a nice downtime for when it is nice outside and if XBox Live this past summer is any indicator, we might see the summer as the “Casual Game” season. Again, not too bad of an idea, considering that gamers might not have the time in the summer to fully immerse themselves in multiple titles. The beauty here is that the occasional big game in the summer will offer something more frm time to time.

    As it stands this is how I see the “seasons” developing…

    Summer – Casual games
    Spring – Great games that are just outside of the elite status
    Winter – Elite holiday rush
    Spring – Leftovers (but we all know that some leftovers are plenty good to satisfy)

    I am not so sure that this isnt a good thing, but I look forward to hearing your take on it.


  2. If you look at film and hit music recordings you will see that they are far more sensible. The Beatles and the Stones, for instance, never released hits against each other. The game industry is amazingly immature when it comes to using release dates to maximise revenue. Nearly everyone thinks they have the Christmas number one, which means that most achieve significantly sub optimal sales.
    Personally I always thought there was a lot of merit in a publisher timing releases evenly throughout the year. Say a game a month. This means all the sales and marketing people can get behind a product before moving on to the next one.

  3. Depends if you want to group a bunch of games together for marketing to save a bit of money. Look at that PlayTHQ campaign.

  4. Just look at the 360’s first year. The launch line-up was kind of skimpy, but there was one big game released almost every month. I watched as my entire friends list moved like a pack of hungry wolves from game to game each month.

    Not all of those games were so great, but because they each released in their own space, they all did pretty well.

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