Publishers prepare to do battle in release date frenzy

Ben Parfitt
Retail is preparing for two of the busiest Fridays of the year – as over 15 serious Christmas contenders fight for space on their shelves.

Both today and next Friday see the release of a host of Triple-A titles gunning for the festive number one spot, with publishers keen to talk up their chances of beating out the competition.

Much-anticipated games such as Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed and Rayman Raving Rabbids 2; Activision’s Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga and Bee Movie; and Microsoft’s Mass Effect and Scene It! will all go head-to-head today, and each publisher is confident of a pleasing sales performance, despite the yearly release congestion.

However, next week sees the release of some of the industry’s biggest ever releases, led by the bookies’ favourite for Christmas number one: EA’s Need For Speed: Pro Street.

Other titles fighting to attract attention will include Activision’s Guitar Hero III, Ubisoft’s film adaptation Beowulf, Midway’s Unreal Tournament 3, Sega’s Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games and Eidos’ Kane and Lynch: Dead Men.

“Our record marketing spend for Kane and Lynch reflects our confidence both in the title and the franchise, which has already been optioned for a Kane and Lynch movie by Lionsgate,” Jane Cavanagh, CEO of Eidos’ parent firm SCi told MCV.

“We believe Kane and Lynch has the potential to be a franchise for adults that is loved in the same way as Hitman.”

Ubisoft has lavished its biggest ever trade marketing budget on Assassin’s Creed: “Internal expectation for Assassin’s Creed has been high for quite some time,” said James O’Reilly, brand manager for core titles at Ubisoft.

And Guitar Hero III hits the UK fresh from raking in $100 million in its first week on sale in the US – Activision’s most successful game release to date.

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