PC Publishers shoot themselves in the foot... again

Is it just me or is every game coming out in October?

Age of Empires III - October
Black & White 2 - Out this week
Call of Duty 2 - October
FEAR - October
Quake IV - October

And possibly some more games that I haven’t though about.

So why are they doing it? Do they want to ensure that people don’t buy their games because the market is satured with other AAA titles?

Umm, it’s a well-known retail phenomenon called the holidays. Maybe you missed it last time around, but we have it every year. :)

The fact of the matter is that when it comes to gaming, your and my shopping habits are not typical.

-Tom

Okay, but all of them in the same month? And all of them titles that more likely than not will score 90%+? In a rapidly shrinking market? :shock:

The real question here, Igor, is what do you have against Civ IV?

-Tom

Is that coming out this month too? You just proved my point… even if I can afford to buy all of them, I can’t afford to play all of them. :cry:

Dude. Christmas shopping. If this was a stupid strategy, you wouldn’t see the publishers doing the same thing every year; if spacing release dates evenly across the calendar would bring in more cash, they’d already be doing it.

So… buy some of 'em in February instead? (you’ll probably even be able to save a few bucks by cough buying 'em used!)

Dude. Christmas shopping. If this was a stupid strategy, you wouldn’t see the publishers doing the same thing every year; if spacing release dates evenly across the calendar would bring in more cash, they’d already be doing it.[/quote]
What, you think publishers never do stupid things? boggle

Remember how many good games got lost in the shuffle the last two Xmas seasons?

They still might have sold more copies in November, “lost” or not, than they would have sold in April or June.

Publishers may be stupid about a bunch of things (or at least dumber than forum posters), but when something like 40% of the year’s revenue comes from a two-month period, it might be smart to have a new game on the shelf.

You really need to work in retail to understand why this happens. People simply spend way more money at this time of the year. Businesses are made or broken on Christmas sales. The last couple months often account for as much as 50% of a retailer’s sales.

Besides, you guys will just go buy the games later anyway.

–Dave

They still might have sold more copies in November, “lost” or not, than they would have sold in April or June.

Publishers may be stupid about a bunch of things (or at least dumber than forum posters), but when something like 40% of the year’s revenue comes from a two-month period, it might be smart to have a new game on the shelf.[/quote]
That’s not entirely just because it’s Xmas though, but because that’s when ALL the games are released. If games like Halo 2, GTA: SA and Half-Life 2 would have shipped in mid-summer, then you wouldn’t see such a overwhelming spike in Nov/Dec.

Would Mercenaries have sold as well if it released in Nov or Dec last year, instead of January? I really doubt it. Who would get Mercenaries when you’re smack in the middle of playing GTA: SA, Halo 2, Half-Life 2 and World of Warcraft? And by the time you’re done w/ all those, you look to see what has just come out and have long forgotten about Mercenaries.

Besides, you guys will just go buy the games later anyway.

Really? Hardcore gamers are the early adopters, and have very short memories.

That’s bull. Hardcore gamers are always buying older games at the same time they’re lining up their dough for some of the “next big thing” stuff.

Look, I know you don’t believe us, people like me that actually worked in game retail (and still work on the backend of big box retailing), but it’s the truth. Selling games at other times of the year just isn’t as worthwhile unless the game is called Battlefield 2 or something similar and there just aren’t that many games that you can do that with.

Even so, there’s often a point of diminishing returns shipping the blockbusters in March or April because most of the casual people simply don’t care at that time of year.

–Dave

Res Evil 4 (despite only being on the 'cube), Mercenaries (not even a blockbuster) and God of War did quite alright. And if Halo 2, GTA, etc released in April, it’s not like they wouldn’t still be on shelves for the next Xmas.

Also, maybe casual people would start caring if GTA or such was released throughout the year. If things were spread out more, I think it would help grow the industry overall.

sigh OK. You’re right.

–Dave

Reed, nothing personal, but you’re pretty clueless.

Games are marketed not just to guys like you and me and Igor. The really successful ones are pushed at people who only buy a couple a year, and to people who are more likely to buy them during the holidays when the money’s flowing freely on non-essentials and gifts.

You can list exceptions all you like, but for every Mercenaries (which was a gamble that paid off for Lucasarts), there are dozens of games that lost money in the same period. Dozens.

The industry is the way it is not because there are a bunch of stupid people running around who don’t know any better than to listen to you. The industry is the way it is because it knows how to make money.

-Tom

Is Serious Sam 2 not coming out this month? It went gold a week or two ago.

If you look at a sales chart you’ll notice that almost every game that is on shelves sees their sales DOUBLE in October, then go up again in November, stay high in December, then return to normal in January. This is true of nearly any game on shelf - from old ones to new ones.

People spend way, way, way more money during the holidays. And since we know that the vast majority of gamers don’t buy more than two or three games a year, releasing 10 or more PC games in the same month has no bearing on their sales potential, at least during the holidays.

What I find interesting is how little the average hard core gamer knows about actual sales figures. They think that because everyone they know is playing a game that it must be a hit. Chronicles of Riddick was a smash success, right? Wrong. It’s important for you guys to understand that you (mostly) exist in a very insular world. The people in your world make up a smallish, but very important, portion of a hit game’s sales.

I forget the stat, but something like the #1 best-selling game of March sells less than the #12 best-selling game of December. I forget the exact stat - but it’s something crazy like that. I agree that it’d be nicer for me to see some games spread out… but I understand why it’s not happening, and I just make everything down on a list to buy later if I can’t get it all at once.

I guess the good news for folks who want to play everything is that they can pick up some games at a cheaper price in a few months. Everyone wins.

They could even buy those games used!

[size=1]Dear God, what have I done?![/size]

–Dave

Do you have such a sales chart you could share? :)

My point being, it’s not surprising gamers don’t understand sales figures, because – unlike movies and music, where sales figures are readily avaiable – gamers have so little data to go on. Even the NPD reports, which cost huge $$$ to subscribe to, are highly suspect.

p.s. Serious Sam 2 is next week; Brothers in Arms 2 came out today.