The Stupid Season

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The Stupid Season

It's beginning to look a lot like...Christmas?

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I'm suprised everyone is so worked up because games are being pushed back. Istn't that a good thing? Because now I don't have to rush through a game to get to the next, I can enjoy what I have now.

Its like opening a candy bar, taking a bite, then moving onto another, then repeating 12 times.

A nice analysis, but this is by no means a gaming phenomenon, it's just how this shit goes down in America.

Oddly enough, I was under a different impression thank to an article I read in Computer Gaming World many years ago. The gist of it was that gamers have a tendancy to buy good games when they come out, no matter the time of year. I have to admit, I never took the Deer Hunter crowd into consideration, nor a publishers desire to put the glitzy box with the shallow content out at X-Mas in an effort to garnish extra sales.

Good article Shamus... I do want to ask, any idea if Console games are affected more than PC's by the X-mas bonanza?

half of all games get sold during December?, is that counting online purchases as well?, is it only statics from a certain country or is it world wide?.

and could you possibly refer me to the source of that information, i am very skeptic that such a big part of the gaming community are 10-16 year olds who can only get a game that one time a year when their parents buy them one.

This is why I am glad that I am a bit behind on the gaming curve. I rarely buy the newest titles because pre-release and early reviews tend to be as you said "thin." I also tend to save some good money when following this. (Although there have been exceptions to this, I was a moron and bought the Legendary edition of Halo 3) When everyone is trying to find the hot new Christmas release, I am buying the better games from the 2nd and 3rd quarter that just dropped in price, and in the early to mid part of the next year I buy the previous hot holiday titles for a discount. I am also all about quality, I don't play 50 new games a year, more like 10 - 15 so it works for me.

Avernus:
Oddly enough, I was under a different impression thank to an article I read in Computer Gaming World many years ago. The gist of it was that gamers have a tendancy to buy good games when they come out, no matter the time of year. I have to admit, I never took the Deer Hunter crowd into consideration, nor a publishers desire to put the glitzy box with the shallow content out at X-Mas in an effort to garnish extra sales.

Good article Shamus... I do want to ask, any idea if Console games are affected more than PC's by the X-mas bonanza?

Wow. Good question.

I'm tempted to say PC, because that's where I see most of the Deer Hunter titles, along with those "game packs" (100 crappy games in 1!) and the other shovelware. The PC bargain bin is a little "bigger". But I'm not sure. A case could be made that the shovelware Wii games are just as numerous. I've never tried to compare.

As long as all these pushed backed games dont all come out at once, a nice and steady release for all of them will allow me to buy the ones i would like to buy, been a long time since i bought a ps3 game, been holding out for MAG, batman and OF2, it would be nice is some new games were released a while before december

swaki:
half of all games get sold during December?, is that counting online purchases as well?, is it only statics from a certain country or is it world wide?.

and could you possibly refer me to the source of that information, i am very skeptic that such a big part of the gaming community are 10-16 year olds who can only get a game that one time a year when their parents buy them one.

Clarification: 50% of retail business happens in December. I'm extrapolating games from that, which is just a guess. And, no - I'm not taking DLC into account.

It looks likes its closer to 33% in 2007 for video games this isn't including the pc though and the DS appears to have bucked the trend a little that year.

http://www.shacknews.com/screenshots.x?gallery=9069&id=112379#img112379

Plus, I'm sure that if they sold some games, like say Modern Warfare 2 and ODST at a different time of year, they would still sell faster than chocolate at a fat camp.

And besides, games with recognizable brand names like Call of Duty will sell no matter what. If brand name is as important as you say, and if its marketed correctly, then it will sell many copies no matter what. Hell, I haven't seen much marketing for Modern Warfare 2 and God of War 3 yet those games will have sales well into the millions, because of their brand names.

Shamus Young:

swaki:
half of all games get sold during December?, is that counting online purchases as well?, is it only statics from a certain country or is it world wide?.

and could you possibly refer me to the source of that information, i am very skeptic that such a big part of the gaming community are 10-16 year olds who can only get a game that one time a year when their parents buy them one.

Clarification: 50% of retail business happens in December. I'm extrapolating games from that, which is just a guess. And, no - I'm not taking DLC into account.

online purchases aren't just the rest of the game which the developers holds for ransom, personally i haven't bought a game in a store for the last 3 years i prefer either downloading it from steam, xbla etc. or buy it via different websites depending on whom offers me the best price, and i only know one guy who does buy games at stores and thats because of the employee discount, when it comes to games i really believe that the majority of them gets sold via the world wide web.

Irridium:
I'm suprised everyone is so worked up because games are being pushed back. Istn't that a good thing? Because now I don't have to rush through a game to get to the next, I can enjoy what I have now.

Its like opening a candy bar, taking a bite, then moving onto another, then repeating 12 times.

The problem is that all these delayed games are gonna clutter up Q1 2010. So instead of having a crowded Christmass, we'll have a crowded Valentine's day.

All them girlfriends are gonna have to come second, I guess.

Casual Shinji:

Irridium:
I'm suprised everyone is so worked up because games are being pushed back. Istn't that a good thing? Because now I don't have to rush through a game to get to the next, I can enjoy what I have now.

Its like opening a candy bar, taking a bite, then moving onto another, then repeating 12 times.

The problem is that all these delayed games are gonna clutter up Q1 2010. So instead of having a crowded Christmass, we'll have a crowded Valentine's day.

All them girlfriends are gonna have to come second, I guess.

OR, you could get those girlfriends to get those games for you, and play them together.

Its fullproof!

Irridium:

Casual Shinji:

Irridium:
I'm suprised everyone is so worked up because games are being pushed back. Istn't that a good thing? Because now I don't have to rush through a game to get to the next, I can enjoy what I have now.

Its like opening a candy bar, taking a bite, then moving onto another, then repeating 12 times.

The problem is that all these delayed games are gonna clutter up Q1 2010. So instead of having a crowded Christmass, we'll have a crowded Valentine's day.

All them girlfriends are gonna have to come second, I guess.

OR, you could get those girlfriends to get those games for you, and play them together.

Its fullproof!

Yeah, but then they'll just end up buying Wii Sports Resort by mistake.

And then they'll be lying on my floor in seductive poses, puring like kittens. Or feeding me grapes and waving gaint fans.

I can't play games like that.

Great point there. Seriously, if I see one more holiday season where no game developer seems to care, it's going to be scary. Wait... I just got it. Maybe, just maybe, developers should put out good titles during Christmas and good titles during the year. Problem Solved.

This now has me curious as to whether or not anyone has ever made a serious effort at separating the release date from the major marketing push. So, quietly release a game when nothing much else is coming out for the dedicated gamers who will already know about it, and then wait until shopping season to pour money into reaching the uninformed masses.

That was one of the most informative articles you have written yet, absolutely brilliant

Shamus Young:
...but who are publishers going to listen to? Us, or a pile of money?

Sorry, seemed far too appropriate.

I really enjoyed this article, but then I love any article that combines marketing and video games. I find it odd that there's only one major gaming season. I'd imagine summer games would do at least slightly well for the same reason the term "summer blockbuster" exists.

Irridium:
I'm suprised everyone is so worked up because games are being pushed back. Istn't that a good thing? Because now I don't have to rush through a game to get to the next, I can enjoy what I have now.

You do realize that you do not need to buy games immediately when they come out right? Nothing saying that you can't take your time and enjoy one game before moving to another, except fad stupidity.

On topic, it is pretty nasty. I hate the Christmas season anymore. People are generally idiots by nature, but it becomes most apparent when there's snow and commercialized pressures involved. We, as informed gamers, can do little to stem the flow of poor consumer choices when it comes to our beloved media.

DeadlyYellow:

You do realize that you do not need to buy games immediately when they come out right? Nothing saying that you can't take your time and enjoy one game before moving to another, except fad stupidity.

Yeah, but I get many games on Christmas, and want to play them all, which causes me to subconsiously rush through.

I want to spend lots of time with Game A, but Games B, C, D, and E are sitting there, almost mocking me...

...damn games

An informative article, Shamus. You took the complex science of gaming economics and packaged the Christmas difference duly, without glitz, in layman's terms. Yet, it was unsurprising to me to read that brand loyalty is the guide to success at Christmas time.

This is true of me as much as perhaps most other gamers. I can still remember my childhood and the Christmas that brought me Ocarina of Time. In that case, I would not have been as happy if it was a new franchise with no history and no fame or emotion attached to it already. But then, we are talking about Ocarina of Time. So on that count, I disagree with you that the Christmas phenomenon is always bad for the industry. Some sequels deserve the attention we lavish upon them in December.

With that said, I can see that there are a lot of brilliantly designed new games that miss the Christmas sales hit because they're new and have no brand power. This is a sad fact of how commercial gaming is. If ever coding becomes as easy to learn (yet hard to master) as brush painting, then we might see the light at the end of that tunnel. Until then, your views make sense.

The stats I've seen is that sales double and releases quintuple. So it's double or nothing with a 20% chance of success.

this year is a little bit different from most years I believe... with the barrage of delays being announced for many key titles such as Bioshock 2 and Heavy Rain means that the Christmas season has very few games? The reason? Modern Warfare 2. Pretty much everyone has cleared the doors for this game leaving pretty much its only serious competitor (in the shooters department) as Halo: ODST. Therefore, I believe that this year a lot of games are going to be fighting for a small amount of cash in Janurary... should be interesting :P

Well, to those who doubt the numbers, I can tell you this: I work in a game retailer in Australia. We do something like 3-4x a normal day's sales every single day of December. It's ludicrous, and just ramps up as you get closer to the end.

Shamus Young:

Avernus:
Good article Shamus... I do want to ask, any idea if Console games are affected more than PC's by the X-mas bonanza?

Wow. Good question.

I'm tempted to say PC, because that's where I see most of the Deer Hunter titles, along with those "game packs" (100 crappy games in 1!) and the other shovelware. The PC bargain bin is a little "bigger". But I'm not sure. A case could be made that the shovelware Wii games are just as numerous. I've never tried to compare.

Where I work, at least, PC has taken a massive backseat to the Wii, and the other consoles. And if it's Wii, with a shiny cover, cool name, and even the tiniest bit of marketting behind it, it'll sell like you -would not believe-. It's actually really saddening, as an informed, educated gamer. The best I can do is try to pass on what I know... but when it's that busy, I don't have time to ask how people are going, let alone comment on their gaming choices.

Simalacrum:
this year is a little bit different from most years I believe... with the barrage of delays being announced for many key titles such as Bioshock 2 and Heavy Rain means that the Christmas season has very few games? The reason? Modern Warfare 2.

It'll be very interesting. We've sold out of Modern Warfare II Prestige already - company and country wide. This is less than a week after we announced we were stocking it. I know some stores sold out the -day- it was announced. So shooters will be a little light this year. Oh well, more Wii shovelware or DS drivel. They just churn that stuff out. It's scary. There are still big titles, and titles I HOPE will sell well (Scribblenauts, yay!), but really... at Christmas time, nothing matters but the media.

Next year, now, THAT should be interesting. I expect Heavy Rain to flop HARD, and StarCraft II to sell faster than anything I've ever seen. No matter how screwey Blizzard makes their online service. And to Shamus - good, nice read. I'd just love to know what you think should be done about all this.

Christmas has become a stupid time and it is getting worse each year.
It is no miracle that this fest of soulless santas, crappy toys and new socks is pulling down the gaming industry. Well, it is pulling down most other media already!
I'm missing the old time when I was young and my parents managed to save me from that american-invented time of madness. Spending christmas with the family, having a few quiet days, going to church and maybe getting one nice present instead of 10 bad ones was great :(

Well, I've had the same games all year long, so I'm hoping for Christmas to get some new stuff, so i hope someone is gonna release a good one between now and Christmas. It's sad, if all game companies would actually polish there games til they were good, all the months sales would probably be equal, but since that will never happen and Yahtzee will always be able to fuel his reviews with shit games until Armageddon, or he decides to get a more normal job.

January seems to be the good time for a release, like Shamus said, people have the cash, gift cards, and probably haven't gotten there credit card bills yet, so release early to mid January and you will get success mostly, because by then people will have realized that most games they bought/received are shit and they will look for something better.

While I agree with many of the reasons thrown at me, rest assured, Mr Young. I will be talking about Duke Nukem Forever... I will be...

But good article. Makes me laugh everytime I read the statement by Activision for Singularity's Delay. "The New Launch window, Which has fewer competitive Titles releasing..."

They are so wrong.

Ralackk:
It looks likes its closer to 33% in 2007 for video games this isn't including the pc though and the DS appears to have bucked the trend a little that year.

http://www.shacknews.com/screenshots.x?gallery=9069&id=112379#img112379

Judging from this information, some fairly rough estimates

% of sales in the month of Dec
Wii: 20%
Ps3: 25%
Xbox 360: 25%
Ds: 30%

Couldn't be bothered doing the rest and I may have made some mistakes.

If you're sick of this endless cycle, this is the place to break it...

http://www.tigsource.com/

You know, I have noticed it getting better. The top 4 games on my list* are not coming out Christmas, although the 5th is.

*In chronological order:
-Arkham Asylum
-Alpha Protocol
-Assassin's Creed 2
-Modern Warfare 2-the holiday game I mentioned
-Mass Effect 2

For everybody saying that publishers should just release good games outside the Christmas season, this doesn't work because people aren't in a frenzy to buy everything for everyone they know, so you loose a lot of the mainstream audience.

rofltehcat:
Christmas has become a stupid time and it is getting worse each year.
It is no miracle that this fest of soulless santas, crappy toys and new socks is pulling down the gaming industry. Well, it is pulling down most other media already!
I'm missing the old time when I was young and my parents managed to save me from that american-invented time of madness. Spending christmas with the family, having a few quiet days, going to church and maybe getting one nice present instead of 10 bad ones was great :(

I hear you there. Growing up, Christmas was the time of year that you gave out presents since birthdays were usually just celebrated with a small cake. Because Vhristmas was less about getting everyone everything they wanted, you appreciated what you got more. I remember the year we got a N64 and Banjo Kazooie for Christmas. It was tehe only game we owned until te following Christmas, and we appreciated the hell out of it.

I doubt brand recognition has much to do with it.

Who buys all these games during christmas? That would be the parents, buying gifts for their kids.
You'll be lucky if they know other brands beside Nintendo.

I believe teen an adult gamers are more discerning and will buy the games they want, when they want.

I think it makes sense for publishers to release all their shovelware based on movies and the like on christmas. Parents may recognize Harry Potter or something.

veloper:
I doubt brand recognition has much to do with it.

Who buys all these games during christmas? That would be the parents, buying gifts for their kids.
You'll be lucky if they know other brands beside Nintendo.

I believe teen an adult gamers are more discerning and will buy the games they want, when they want.

I think it makes sense for publishers to release all their shovelware based on movies and the like on christmas. Parents may recognize Harry Potter or something.

Isn't there a bit of irony in your post? You say brand recognition is not important, then contradict yourself by saying certain brands are more appealing/recgonizable to audiences and thus will help gain more sales. Like you said, brands like Harry Potter.

At any rate, yeah, I don't like how the holiday season changes sales. I'd love it if games were evenly spread out but that'll never happen. And thus it's a busy spam-fest of sales at stores in a single month. Increases the likelihood of injuries too. People getting stomped to death due to shopper's adrenaline, huge amounts of traffic, etc.

Lvl 64 Klutz:

I really enjoyed this article, but then I love any article that combines marketing and video games. I find it odd that there's only one major gaming season. I'd imagine summer games would do at least slightly well for the same reason the term "summer blockbuster" exists.

The biggest problem with that is that summer is the time when all the good weather happens, so people are less likely to be hibernating in front of a console and more likely to be enjoying the fresh air. Movies get all the love in summer because they get you out of the house and surrounded by people.

Back on topic, what I view as the most tragic victim of the Christmas season is Knights of the Old Republic 2. Here we had a game which improved on its predecessor in every conceivable way; story, gameplay, characters, world-building, all that. And then, when Obsidian was still in the process of finishing the game, the design team was told to hurry it out to meet a deadline. As a result, the game was never truly completed, and what could've been a gaming classic was crippled. Hours of cut content, plot lines that go nowhere, and the infamously disappointing ending. All because of a rush to meet a deadline. No prizes for guessing as to when that deadline was.

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