Leading publishers and retailers have called Q1 2010 the most congested first quarter the industry has ever seen.
The line-up, which includes BioShock 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction and Final Fantasy XIII, is reminiscent of a strong Christmas release slate – and could lead to smaller games being ignored during this typically quiet period.
However, trade members feel that a big Q1 line-up can make-up for what has been a relatively quiet Christmas. And that a more balance release schedule could pay dividends for the games industry.
“Having an industry that relies so heavily on just a few weeks of the year is not what anyone would want,” Activision MD Andrew Brown told MCV.
“If your quarters were more balanced it would help everybody’s growth.”
Sega’s UK MD John Clark added: “It seems to be the most congested Q1 there has ever been. However, by releasing titles that are must-have games, we offer a great consumer proposal.”
Top retailers also feel a crowded Q1 will help during the traditional post-Christmas sales downturn.
“We’re excited by so many great games coming out in Q1,” said HMV’s head of games Tim Ellis.
“It means that after a relatively quiet 2009, the industry can hit the ground running and keep momentum going through the year.
“It’s not always good having titles fight for retail space and marketing profile, but, on balance, I imagine retailers will say they’d rather have these challenges than not.”
Asda’s Duncan Cross agreed: “As ever we welcome the continued development and release of great games and it should help the market continue its Q4 momentum.”
In September, Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot told MCV that Q1 2010 was looking “pretty crazy,” and suggested that some titles may get delayed until the end of the year – something ShopTo’s Igor Cipolletta accepts could happen.
“It seems to have taken a while but publishers have finally realised that releasing all the big titles at Christmas is not necessarily the best time to maximise exposure,” he said.
“Although Q1 is certainly busy, doubtless some of these will slip and the release congestion will ease.”
Many of Q1’s big titles were pushed out of Christmas to avoid the launch of the record-breaking Modern Warfare 2.
Army of Two: 40th Day – PS3, Xbox 360, PSP (EA)
Bayonetta – PS3, 360 (Sega)
Darksiders – PS3, Xbox 360 (THQ)
Dark Void – Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Capcom)
Mass Effect 2 – Xbox 360, PC (EA)
Vancouver 2010 – Xbox 360, PC, PS3 (Sega)
Aliens vs Predator – Xbox 360, PS3, PC (Sega)
BioShock 2 – PS3, 360, PC (2K Games)
Dante’s Inferno – PS3, PSP, Xbox 360 (EA)
Napoleon: Total War – PC (Sega)
Star Trek Online – PC (Atari)
Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll – Wii (Sega)
The Princess and the Frog – DS, Wii (Disney)
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction – PC, Xbox 360 (Ubisoft)
APB – PC, Xbox 360 (EA)
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (EA)
Command & Conquer 4: Twilight – PC (EA)
Final Fantasy XIII – PS3, 360 (Square Enix)
God of War III – PS3 (Sony)
Blur – PS3, PC, Xbox 360 (Activision)
Heavy Rain – PS3 (Sony)
MAG – PS3 (Sony)
Mafia II – PC, PS3, Xbox 360 (2K Games)
Red Dead Redemption – PS3, 360 (Rockstar)
Red Steel 2 – Wii (Ubisoft)
Singularity – PS3, 360, PC (Activision)
Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing – Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, DS (Sega)
Split/Second – 360, PS3 (Disney)
Nintendo DSi XL (Nintendo)