Blockbuster titles Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV enjoyed Wednesday and Tuesday releases respectively, and Metal Gear Solid 4 was released this week on a Thursday. Yet UK retailers fear that if these non-Friday releases continue and are spread to smaller titles, then it could lead to further confusion at the checkouts.
“An unusual launch day is one way of treating key IP launches differently,” said PC World’s René Wright.
“However it can be counter-productive to maintaining our in-store ‘Friday release’ culture that we’ve work so hard to create. Also, I think this is having a ripple effect onto other products, that perhaps may not be in the same league as GTA IV.”
Kim Bayley of ERA also supports a rigid release day:
“Generally ERA would advocate a uniform release date. Retail knows all games are released on Friday and if it is a different day then this can lead to mistakes in terms of street dates. Furthermore, uniform release dates guarantee maximum marketing impact for consumers anticipating games on a Friday and looking forward to a weekend of gaming.”
Despite these concerns, retailers do agree that midweek releases can benefit major gaming ‘events’:
“There should be some leeway to make real events stand out,” said HMV’s Tim Ellis. “Had GTA IV come out on a Friday, I wonder if it would have achieved the same level of coverage that it did.”