If you feel overwhelmed by the number of big new game releases, you’re not alone.
The next two months are noticeably bloated by video game release dates: like Blockbuster titles Pokemon Legends: ArceusAnd the Forbidden horizon westAnd the Destiny 2: The Witch QueenAnd the elden ringLittle Wonderland Tina, And the Kirby And the forgotten land Leading these first few months of the year, surrounded by plenty of other notable titles. fall of Babylon, dying light 2: stay humanAnd the SevoGhostwire: Tokyo, and more. If your backlog is already full, the first few months of 2022 won’t make it any cleaner.
This appears to be temporary, a side effect of years of delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic hitting games months or even years beyond their originally planned release dates. These tweaks, during 2020 and 2021, disrupted the familiar rhythms of the game’s release calendar. But the schedule adjustment seems to be changing for years now.
Why do so many big games so willingly compete against each other? Is this the new normal? And is this healthy for an industry known to work on tight deadlines?
Historically, the fall release window—which precedes the holidays—has been the busiest with video game release dates. It made sense: Huge new titles would be launched before gift-giving season, when people usually have a little more free time during the holiday season, and many are spending money on gifts. The Call of Duty franchise, which usually has a new game released annually, and the Assassin’s Creed franchise long out of the fall release window, almost guarantees a successful holiday season. But 2020 and 2021 were different: it’s still there a lot Of the games released in the fall, but those support releases were pushed into the beginning of 2022. Or in some cases, large unfinished franchise entries were released with parts of the game added months later.
It’s not just the pandemic delays that have gotten us into this mess. They simply added fuel to the fire. The release calendar has gradually changed over the past decade, and this new trend for big releases early in the year may become permanent. While November was the de facto busy season, there are now two periods of the year that stand out: October to November and February to March.
“I think it’s a natural progression of Q4 being the last packed window,” Devolver Digital’s Robbie Patterson told Polygon. “People are tired of it. Maybe they are less dependent on retail, or dependent on retailers and the rush of Christmas, where everything is digital now. I think it’s only natural that people are starting to look at January and February as wide open spaces where, yes, they might miss it. Christmas noise, but they have a clear run in January with no competition.” Patterson noted Capcom, which has been using the Monster Hunter series’ winter release window since 2015.
Monster Hunter: The WorldIt, in particular, exploded with its January 2018 release — and it felt like there were no other games besides that one for about three months that year. “It just exploded absurdly,” Patterson said. “It was huge. And it was a good match, but she had absolutely no competition.”
Other developers seem to have noticed this: despite the growing number of releases moving into February and March, it’s clear that window is still yielding results for game companies. But the rest of the year started to get a steady pace of releases as well due to the generational shift in how video game companies promote their merchandise.
In the 1990s and 2000s, the video game industry relied on a few annual events such as E3 and Tokyo Game Show to gain the attention of the mainstream press and casual fans. But traditional marketing events, like E3, have been in decline for a while. In 2011, Nintendo began running its own Nintendo Direct events, dominating its advertising schedule. Twitch and YouTube live broadcasts have made these types of small events easy to access. This led to Sony pulling out of E3 in 2019, the first time in the show’s 24-year history. Sony realized that it didn’t need a big press conference to reach out to gamers and fans, and instead developed its own schedule and created its own live stream events online.
Of course, the following year changed everything for everyone, when E3 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the conference has moved online and the hype of the week-long wave of gaming news has waned. Instead, companies post their advertisements throughout the year at smaller online Nintendo Direct-style events. E3 should no longer be the “deadline” for developers to finish demos or announce release dates. Fans can now check out Microsoft’s Xbox Show, Sony’s State of Play, Summer Games Festival – all online – making room for plenty of ads And the corresponding versions.
Finji CEO Rebecca Saltsman told Polygon that the decline in these in-person events had leveled the playing field for Algeria, which did not have the same access to major events. “Switching to playing shows online, where the big companies are so in control of how they launch things, has opened up the entire calendar,” she said.
“I’ve always felt like launching everything in the fall was kind of completely opaque with three big launches,” Saltsman said. “You get this really cool game that you will only miss because it wasn’t Halo. It wasn’t destiny.”
Push the game out a few months ago after Holidays worked by L’Venge in particular. night in the woodspublished in 2017, snuck just in time and was huge for the company and its developers – despite launching within days of the bigger title that month, Horizon Zero Dawn. “I remember then thinking, ‘Why are you going to release a three-way match in February?'” she asked. “I thought this month would be safe.”
night in the woodsOf course, he was successful – both commercially and with many honors.
When a video game developer looks at a game’s release timeline to determine the ideal release date, they may look to peers in the genre. Finji CEO Rebecca Saltsman told Polygon that Finji’s windows are largely tied to when the game ends, but she said she’s still looking at game competition to find the perfect spot. JacketComing from publisher Finji in March, it got its window nearly a year ago, with two months of spare time. Sevo Developer Sloclap’s CMO, Felix Garcynski, echoed this sentiment in an email to Polygon: SevoThe game’s release schedule is largely dependent on the production schedule, but the game has a cache that allows Sloclap to move the game to early February, just before the games attack.
With JacketSaltsman takes on the Horizon franchise once again with the upcoming Forbidden horizon westplus the extra pressure elden ring, is very. But Saltsman thinks of the possibilities rather than the competition: These toys only take up a lot of space on storefronts, which could attract new eyes to the Jacket.
Early on, we were like, ‘Oh no, elden ring She said. And now I’m like, ‘No, that’s fun! What a great cultural moment to be a part of, just in terms of the kind of game we have. What a fun time to unleash it JacketLittle mackera Evil spirits. ”