OPINION: What’s the upside to this strange generation change?

Are publishers like EA, Ubisoft and Activision being smart by releasing their games as cross-generation titles this Christmas?

I actually think they are hedging their bets for sales’ sake.

E3 and its fallout has proven that this Christmas we’re due a transition with some unprecedented activity.

We’ve never had such aligned, clear and global competition between two formats before.

But we’ve never had a Grand Theft Auto arrive so late in the cycle either – the series’ other evergreen instalments all arrived early in the life cycle of formats like PS2, PSP or 360/PS3.

So Q3, Q4 and Christmas will hinge on contradictions (perhaps to be expected after the market experienced a heavy transition-like slump months before new consoles were even announced). On the one hand, the market is starved for new hardware. On the other, huge audiences on PS3 and 360 cannot be left neglected, especially when their successor machines won’t be backwards compatible.

So no wonder publishers aren’t leaving any opportunity unaddressed. If consumers want to go next-gen, each format will have an array of launch games. If they aren’t prepared to make the leap, those all-new titles are also on 360/PS3. The ‘biggest game of the year’ is only on the older machines.

That’s good news this side of Christmas for retailers and customers. For the first time in almost nine months gamers are going to actually have some consumer choice. That’s been sorely lacking in the market in 2013, where excellent games have been released but in sporadic numbers.

And if all that slows the adoption of Xbox One and PS4, so be it. At least it will have people buying games again.

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