Retail: Q1 2017 release slate is the "strongest in years"

The line-up of games launching in the first three months of 2017 is one of the healthiest in years. That’s according to retailers who, speaking to MCV, say that this time of year is historically a ‘very challenging’ period due to a weak slate of releases.

In the first three months of this year, big hitters like Horizon Zero Dawn, Mass Effect Andromeda, Resident Evil VII, and For Honor are all hitting shelves. This period will also see the release of Nintendo’s new Switch console.

This Q1 is so much better than the same periods during the last few years,” Simply Games director Neil Muspratt (pictured below far right) told MCV.

For the last three years or so, Q1 has been a very challenging time of year. So it’s great to start a year with lots of new product and a decent pre-sale message.”

He continued: Q1 2017 is shaping up really well. Post-Christmas sales are really buoyant, so I would say that it’s a very positive start to the year.”

Games Centre MD Robert Lindsay (pictured below far left) added: Q1 has the strongest line up I’ve seen in a while. Resident Evil VII is pre-ordering well and has become the first post-launch must-have title for PSVR. Huge hype around Mass Effect and South Park could outperform expectations.”

Alison Fraser (pictured below), head of commerical at ShopTo commented: Resident Evil VII is the first highpoint of Q1 with customers eager for a new game to immerse themselves in. The hype for Mass Effect and Horizon is building so they should result in some healthy Q1 sales. The date slipping on South Park disappointed many so it should sell very well, especially being so different from other releases.”

Retailers once again say that publishers should release big titles throughout the year. This comes after a brutal Q4 that saw a high number of critically acclaimed titles fail to sell as well as their predecessors.

Releasing good quality titles outside Q4 gives us the opportunity to give them the focus they merit, and new titles are still in high demand from consumers who may have recently purchased new consoles,” Lindsay said.

Muspratt added: 2017 is an example of how it should be every year. With hundreds of thousands of new consoles out there January is an absolutely ideal time to bring new software to market.”

One anonymous source from a national retailer said it was too early to say how Q1 sales will compare to 2016’s, but that Nintendo’s Switch is the most interesting aspect.

There were very few new releases last Easter so sales were soft,” they said. Switch will be interesting – the key bits will be third-party support, its launch price and first-party exclusives, not just remix games.”

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