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The past year was victim to two amazing events. The first impacted the entire world, and of course, I’m talking about the recession, the economic crisis, or whatever it is you or your preferred news group like to call it. This was combined with the biggest grossing release of any medium ever, Modern Warfare 2. Selling over six million copies of a $60 game is no joke, and everyone expected this to happen. The reason for the game’s success lying in it’s ability to merge both the hardcore and general gamer, both the people interested in listening to podcast’s and reading Gamasutra, and the people that buy Madden or Need For Speed year after year.
This idea scared developer’s and publisher’s alike, and a large amount of games scheduled for the end of the decade, were given new home in the new year. All that is fine and dandy, except that, well, there were already a number of games planned for this year. And after the scare of Infinity Ward’s latest outing, nobody really wants to make the fourth quarter the time to release their triple-A blockbuster title. Now, games are planned to come out in a steady stream of releases all throughout the year. This is something to be celebrated by the hardcore gamer. It implies more games of an exceptional quality being released more evenly along all 365 days, easing up on the wallet, and on the stress. It also means games being easily forgotten, and games that don’t deserve getting overlooked, suffering. In the first week of the year, Bayonetta and Darksiders have been released, and both of them are unique, exciting products that nobody will remember when December and game of the year awards are to be expected from major outlets. Big profile releases were pushing it with August releases like Bioshock and Batman, but it’s a bold move to release a media monster and heir of title’s like RPG “GOTY” or just all rounder like Mass Effect 2, in January.
Indie darlings like Heavy Rain, with unique IP’s like the just mentioned summer surprises, are coming out in March instead. God Of War 3, is popping up in March, taking spotlight with two exclusives. Splinter Cell Conviction and Alan Wake, two exclusives with huge potential are coming out in February and April. This is not common, this is not the norm, and this is something that could cause a lot of problems within the industry. How many people are anticipating Just Cause 2? How many are going to actually buy, play, and enjoy it amidst the enormous amount of releases? We have more titles being released within the first six months of the year than any previous holiday season, and I bet a lot of you have forgotten that period still exists, a mind blank caused by the amount of releases that are appearing now. What is that calendar turning into? The holidays are still as crowded as ever, with all the big names already prepared for it, and E3 ready to announce so many more.
PAX East, happening in March, could well occupy a new position in the community and press, with its new privileged, yet before useless, date. It has the entire potential not only to be the pinnacle of celebration for the fans, but also a show where they could present some incredible games to the world, and in a setting that was never a centre stage, the east coast. The medium is shifting. It’s growing, and this phenomenon could very well help it expand, and faster. More trade shows, more magazines, more websites with a higher user count, more studios and choices…all this can come thanks to one key difference that, in essence, has been caused by the “oh so horrible” downturn of the economy. More video games. And if the industry likes what it has accidentally seemed to become this year, I can’t help but view it as something to help it grow if it decides to maintain this model along with it’s already chaotic nature.
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