Blockbuster releases to be more spread out in future, says analyst


It seems that gaming publishers may finally be getting the message, shouted daily from countless enthusiast web communities, that we want to play good games all year round, not just in the fall. About damn time too; when a quirky, niche Atlus title is the most exciting release for three months, while the next three feature Mario, Mass Effect, and Uncharted, there’s something wrong. Thankfully, the SimExchange’s Jesse Divnich says there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

A broader release schedule could positively affect retailers such as GameStop and make them more attractive to the investment community as they will have more months of strong sales to hedge themselves against any negative short-term economic factors

It’s the same logic we enthusiasts have been using against game developers for years: while releasing at the end of the year is good for those who can stand out from the pack, just as many titles see decreased sales from increased competition. The logic hasn’t changed from last year, and sales numbers this holiday season were up from last year, so why expect change? While Jesse doesn’t offer an explanation for the publishers’ change of heart, he does provide ample evidence for his claims.

Before the first half of 2008 ends, we can expect the release of AAA titles such as Super Smash Bros. Brawl (expected to achieve 13.95 million units of GLS [global lifetime sales]), Wii Fit (expecting 8.7 million units of GLS), Grand Theft Auto IV (expecting 17 million units of GLS), and Metal Gear Solid 4 (expecting 4.7 million units of GLS).

While I’d be surprised if even half of that list actually releases in Q1 or Q2 2008, the point is well taken. This year’s early releases are the best recent memory. Call me cautiously optimistic that, burned by flops like Stranglehold and Blue Dragon, publishers will be less likely to flood the retail channel around the holiday season.

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