Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer [at least for those of you on the North American side of Earth’s hemisphere], and as far as gaming goes, we have had probably one of the better summers [quality-wise] in recent memory. For a while it seemed that most gaming companies emphasized either the fall quarter for the back to school crowd and/or holiday shoppers. There is also the growing trend of more releases debuting in early spring leaving the summer as a nebulous chasm for double-A titles and massive amounts of shovelware. Admittedly, this still exists, I mean have you been to Target or Gamestop lately? With games like InFamous, Prototype, The Conduit and Red Faction among a healthy bunch of other quality titles, we could be seeing a slight shift and bar raising in the games industry.
When you release a new intellectual property in this day and age you probably do not want it going up against a Call Of Duty or Madden. It only makes sense that after so many years of game franchise yearly or semi-yearly iterations, that studios making original titles may not want to be squashed by [insert Halo game here]. With a game like InFamous, a Playstation 3 exclusive title, it was absolutely key that there was no other competition for the game to do well. Considering that InFamous had no other competition on the Playstation 3 other than a critically acclaimed shooter which is selling ‘okay’. Killzone 2 seemed to be the game that made PS3 owners say, "This is cool, but what’s next?"
Similarly, multi-platform games like: Red Faction, Ghostbusters, Prototype and the biggest surprise UFC 2009: Undisputed, have all seemed to be finding an audience within these past couple of weeks. Most notably, all of these games have no to few iterations preceding them [let’s be honest, there really has never been a good Ghostbusters game and while we are at it, UFC 2009 is the best one since the first release on the Dreamcast]. Maybe there have been more hot and humid days and gamers would rather park themselves behind a flat screen as opposed to relaxing at a park. I have another theory, these games are really good! Also, people are spending less because of *these troubling times. Be that as it may, games are flying off of the shelves and for the most part, a good majority of them are of some exceptional quality.
Rising tides do not lift all boats. There are games of high quality that are coming out in this summer, like Tiger Woods 2010 which is a lock for selling gangbusters. However, games like Punch-Out and The Conduit [which if you have not played, I whole heartedly implore you to] are Wii exclusive titles, which will have a harder time selling because of the nature of the console. In almost a bizarre parallel, Playstation 3 triple-A exclusive releases come out every other month causing their consumer base to rabidly search and more importantly BUY their games. However, even fewer triple-A exclusive titles are released yearly on the Wii and the base compared to the Playstation 3 is more than double. Because of the Wii’s ‘family friendly’ consumer base and appeal, games like MadWorld, House of the Dead: Overkill and Muramasa: The Demon Blade, were almost destined to sell moderately less on a system where the base is either turned off by the content [no matter the quality] or worse off, the base has no idea these games exist. Here’s hoping that Punch-Out and The Conduit have long legs for Wii gamers this summer.
There is a superabundance of terrible games out there this summer, choosing to gloss over them without crying tears of blood is a tough task, but we manage with grace and without incident. July is just hitting us, usually the gaming drought kicks in hard this month, but last week bucked a trend. Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood and BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger were released and reviewed with favorable reception. This may be the last we see of such high quality games, but not many were thinking that those two titles would be worth mentioning twice prior to their release.
With all this being said, July and August can be filled with the worst of the worst. Nintendo can release several titles ending with ‘Z’. Sony and Microsoft can push their respective online stores, of which many of those games are due for a price cut [holding my breath]. Be that as it may, you have to look at the game industry in a surprisingly optimistic light. High quality games coming out year round instead of taxing the pockets of holiday and post-holiday shoppers; it’s a good thing.
Oh yeah…Batman: Arkham Asylum is due out August 25th…just sayin’. Maybe there is someone reading this right now, thinking that there was a better year. I am not a gaming historian, but I would definitely like to know if there was a year where week after week, quality titles with a comparable budget [according to its time of release] were being released with a similar, if not, better impact.
*referencing a drinking game in which whenever someone references America’s recession or the overall world recession; you take a shot.
Sales Tracking Source: VGChartz
[This article comes compliments by the letter I and TSS]