Earlier in the year and there was genuine optimism that the annual release traffic jam could be avoided. Gran Turismo, Devil May Cry, Mario Kart, Wii Fit, GTA, Smash Brothers, Metal Gear Solid and Spore were all released outside of the fourth quarter period, offering hope that gamers’ wallets may not be completely empty come December 25th.
Of course a release day crush is not always such a bad thing. The level of footfall the likes of GAME and HMV are set to see will be astounding, and we could be looking at one of the most lucrative weeks in the video game industry’s history… especially if the supermarkets can avoid kicking off yet another price war.
Yet the real losers of the day will be the smaller, niche publishers, whose latest Wii party game or DS compilation may fail to receive retail exposure when faced with such high-profile competition.
And of course, with consumers tightening their belts in the face of a growing recession, there’s a genuine risk that these killer apps may not meet sales targets. Especially as even the wealthiest gamers will struggle to buy all the new software on offer.
But, with six shopping weeks until Christmas, there will be plenty of opportunity for these triple-a releases to do the business. And, as cliché as it sounds, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
PC gamers will openly embrace the long-awaited releases of Football Manager 2009 and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. Wii owners have plenty to enjoy in Wii Music, Rayman Raving Rabbids and Shaun White Snowboarding, whilst the hardcore will be clambering to get their mitts on Call of Duty: World at War, especially after the phenomenal success of last year’s Modern Warfare.
As for my tip for a surprise hit, keep a close eye on EA’s Mirrors Edge. The game is shaping up to be this year’s Assassin’s Creed, and with EA’s other original IP proving so successful this year (think Army of Two, Spore, Battlefield: Bad Company and Dead Space), it could be worthwhile getting in a few extra copies.
And, once you’ve finished counting the cash from your November 14th haul, you can look forward to an equally busy 21st.
Don’t you just love Christmas?