COMMENT: Every Cloud…

While all of the above can very easily be achieved by having one too many Stellas of an evening, the millions of people who prefer to live a life of crime through GTA – without having to serve several years at Her Majesty’s pleasure – have no choice but to choose another way to while away the hours this peak season.

And, if you ask just about anyone but Rockstar, it’s definitely a good thing.

Just try and count the multitude of options the average gamer has on offer later this year. From Wii Fit to Halo 3, there truly is something for every conceivable gaming taste coming between now and the end of this year.

GTA fans and retailers alike have this week been mourning another year without a true successor to the sales monster that was San Andreas; but those concerns must have quickly evaporated when considering all the other options. There are the usual sales bankers like FIFA, Need For Speed, Pro Evo, WWE and Call of Duty; but there are also plenty of other games ready to freshen up the market too.

We now have a platform holder in Nintendo that can seemingly do no wrong, Sony is set to step up its game with a second wave of PS3 games (and maybe even a price cut, if retail has its way) and Xbox 360 will really go into overdrive thanks to the hype surrounding Halo 3. The ever-reliable PC has some spectacular, boundary-pushing games coming too.

Such unbridled optimism might perhaps seem over the top, but – to be brutally honest – it has been a little difficult to get excited about Q4 releases in recent years. There has been an-over reliance upon those solid money spinners at the expense of genuinely new, innovative games. But with an array of wildcards like Assassins’ Creed, Mario and Sonic, Heavenly Sword and Mass Effect on the way this year, the race to the Christmas number one spot has never been so interesting.

New IP has a little more room to pick up column inches and shelf space without an enormous GTA hype machine to contend with. Undoubtedly, the next four months will be fiercely fought. With GTA out of the picture, the rest of the publishing community can revel in a sales free-for-all this Q4.

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