How long should publishers wait before rereleasing their games? Ten years is a bit long, and five years seems too quick. Except these days, game makers are rereleasing their games after just one or two years, and that strategy is working, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group.
“Full-game software sales performance is being significantly impacted by the growth in sales of re-releases of existing games,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Sales of these versions of released games, most often referred to as ‘GOTY/Complete/Remastered/Definitive/Legendary/Anniversary’ editions, have experienced sales growth of more than 150 percent in 2018 when compared to a year ago, while sales of launch day versions of games, most often called ‘Standard/Base/Collector’s/Limited/Special’ editions are down slightly.”
That’s right. Waiting for the HD rerelease is silly when you can repackage last year’s games right now and see a boost in sales. Of course, Definitive and Game of the Year editions are not a new idea, but they are growing in popularity and morphing alongside the changed in game development.
Almost every game changes over time now. Developers make updates, add content, and release expansions. This leads to situations where the major Forsaken update for Destiny 2 is coming soon, and Activision and developer Bungie don’t want to ask consumers to go out and buy each piece of that experience separately. Instead, the companies will use this opportunity to relaunch Destiny 2 as Destiny 2: Forsaken.
Rocket League developer Psyonix announced something similar. That car soccer game debuted digitally in 2015, got a physical version in 2016, and now Psyonix is planning to release Rocket League: Ultimate Edition for $40 ($50 on Switch) on August 28. That gathers six DLC packs with the core game.
Adding DLC into an “Ultimate” package is about creating a sense of value. People who wait to buy games want to either save money or get more for their buck. With Definitive re-releases, publishers can often provide both.
But even if all of a game’s post-release content is free, like No Man’s Sky, a new physical release or rerelease can help boost sales. Developer Hello Games finally launched the Xbox One version of the game this week, and it has sent out new physical copies of that and the PS4 version to retailers. This is giving the game another chance.
As the games-as-a-service model grows, you should expect more of these physical re-releases to appear on store shelves. For example, I expect Epic will have a version of Fortnite with the Battle Royale mode on the cover before long. And other publishers will want in on that action as well.