Peter Molyneux Warns Against Holiday Game Releases

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Peter Molyneux Warns Against Holiday Game Releases

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Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux thinks companies should avoid releasing games based on new IPs during the lucrative holiday period because of the risk they'll be overwhelmed and lost in a flood of blockbuster releases.

We've all been down that path: Your year-end religious festival of choice rolls around, a ton of hot games hits the shelves and you have to pick which ones you'll take home and which ones you'll regretfully leave behind until later. (It's why I'm currently playing STALKER: Clear Sky.) There are winners and, more commonly, there are losers, and catching up with bypassed titles a year later does little good in determining whether or not a game is a "success," which can impact everything from how well it's supported with patches and updates to the very existence of the developer.

There's an obvious solution that nonetheless seems to elude industry executives year after year, but maybe now that famed designer Peter Molyneux has made a note of it, people will get the idea: If you don't want your game to get killed over the holidays, don't release it over the holidays. "[Blockbusters] create what we call craters - the bigger the product, the bigger the crater, and the larger you want the distance to be away from it," he said in an interview with GamesIndustry.

"If you're inside the blast radius of something like Halo or Gears of War, or even Fable, you have to have a very strong, clear message of why a consumer should spend this much more on your product," he added. "If you haven't got that you should stay clear of the blast radius - it's really that simple."

Molyneux thinks spreading releases throughout the year is a smart move for publishers who realize their game isn't necessarily going to be a massive hit. "Christmas is this insane focus where an enormous percentage of our market is there," he said. "I think there are other opportunities in the year - Easter, and the summer holidays - but I just cannot see six or seven huge titles coming together at an arbitrary time any other time."

He may actually not be alone in coming to grips with that fact. EA believes that two of its most anticipated games of 2008, Dead Space and Mirror's Edge, both fared relatively poorly because they were unknown quantities caught up in an avalanche of holiday game releases. Suggesting that EA was rethinking its release strategy, former Visceral Games boss Glen Schofield said, "We're now learning that we could probably launch a game at any time, and if it's a good game it will be well received."

Other companies may also be taking note: The 2009 holiday release schedule has been thinned considerably as numerous mid-card releases are pushed back into 2010. Development issues are blamed in virtually every case of "holiday delay" but it's a safe bet that in at least a few cases, publishers are simply opting to take their chances at a less crowded time of year.

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What's the last good game you put out, Peter?

Molyneux may talk a lot of shit, but I think he's got this one right. I wouldn't mind if I didn't have to wait 'till Christmas for anything good to come out.

Commander Breetai:
What's the last good game you put out, Peter?

Nice burn!

Fat_Hippo:
Molyneux may talk a lot of shit, but I think he's got this one right. I wouldn't mind if I didn't have to wait 'till Christmas for anything good to come out.

The guy creeps me out sometimes... But yea he's kinda stating the obvious surely? I realised this years ago and if there are developers out there that haven't I think some people need to get fired.

Someone's trying to get in the competitions head. And that's rather scary, I don' think anyone wants Molyneux in their head.

But then again, who listens to Peter Molyneux?

He may overhype everything, but what he normally preaches is pretty true if he doesn't practice what he preaches.

That's good advice. It really is. I wonder if it'll really matter, though.

Doesn't Fable III come out Holiday 2010??? hypocrite....... Even though I did enjoy Fable II, unlike some people >.>

Hmm.

Malygris:

"If you're inside the blast radius of something like Fable, you have to have a very strong, clear message of why a consumer should spend this much more on your product," he added. "If you haven't got that you should stay clear of the blast radius - it's really that simple."

Methinks he's trying to boost his own sales.

Malygris:
.

"If you're inside the blast radius of something like Halo or Gears of War, or even Fable,

=D I love that he thinks Fable is important enough for this effect to occur!

But on topic the man has a point, a point pretty much any 10 year old could've made, but a point nonetheless. More summer releases please! Kids and students have weeks to do nothing but play games, why not take advantage of that too?

Malygris:

"If you're inside the blast radius of something like Halo or Gears of War, or even Fable, you have to have a very strong, clear message of why a consumer should spend this much more on your product," he added. "If you haven't got that you should stay clear of the blast radius - it's really that simple."

Really Molyeneux? Your going to stand Fable next to Halo and Gears of Wars? People bought Halo and Gears of War because the games were good and delivered on most of what was promised, you delivered a game where you seduce woman by farting.

People bought Fable 2 because the game was good. Face it, the only gripe most people have with it is that it didn't 'quite' live up to the hype in some places.

From a retailer point of view (i.e. Mine) I'd much prefer a bette spreading of releases. Take this month for example. We have had...

...

...

Madden...

...

G.I. Joe...

... Carol Vordeman! (ok, /sarc. off)

But seriously, madden 10 sold out for us on all formats, mainly because there was nothing else to buy. Batman is going to fly off the shelves for the joint reasons of a) being highly rated and anticipated and b) the only big game this month. Likewise I expect Wolfenstein to follow the trend and sell a lot more than it would have done if it had a similar release time to something like Legedary last year (sales bombed because CoD: WaW came out about a week later... and it was not that great).

His argument is a good one. Bioshock came out early September in the UK, avoiding most of the Christmas rush. While this is still technically in the season it was early enough for the hardcore to buy it, play it, finish it before the next big thing came out, allowing funds to be saved up / pay-packets to arrive between it and CoD 4.

Put simply. He (Peter) isn't wrong on this one. While the publishers and distributers might quote figures and trends and yak on about 'the umbrella marketing affect' and other jargon (to sum up the thinking, bascially, the ability for crap to sell well because it happens to be on the shelf/in the shop next to 'well advertised AAA title 4' when granny comes to do the christmas shopping) but the retailers themselves could tell you quite happily that any release will sell better with near-zero competition at the time of release, especially if its a time of year which is traditioally ignored by games publishers.

And to reply directly to Rigs83, people also bought Fable because it was good... farting to seduce anybody isn't recommended unless you're into that sort of thing ;)

"Or Even Fable"

Hahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahhahahhahaha...No.

daz_O_O:

Malygris:
.

"If you're inside the blast radius of something like Halo or Gears of War, or even Fable,

=D I love that he thinks Fable is important enough for this effect to occur!

But on topic the man has a point, a point pretty much any 10 year old could've made, but a point nonetheless. More summer releases please! Kids and students have weeks to do nothing but play games, why not take advantage of that too?

Sadly, the gaming industry seems to lack a convenient supply of ten year-olds, so they have to make do with what they have. Maybe they'll actually take the point.

And honestly, I think he just mentioned Fable as a self-referential joke.

Commander Breetai:
What's the last good game you put out, Peter?

You do realize, that although you may not like it, many other people liked the games in the Fable series, right? They may not have lived up to the hype, but I enjoyed them, as did many other people. I believe that when a game is liked by many, many people, it is classified as good.
OT: I agree with Peter completely.

He makes a solid point. In a time when a dozen potentially good games are coming out, those which are sequels to already established IPs which are almost guaranteed good games are more likely to be chosen over the new story.

But then again, this isn't exactly anything new, and I'd have hoped most developers would already have realised this fairly glaring fact.

Casual Shinji:

Commander Breetai:
What's the last good game you put out, Peter?

Nice burn!

He's done good games , but nothing outstanding.

He makes a good point but then again, you can't take anything that demented man says as gospel, especially as this comes from he who worships project natal as 'the next gaming revolution', oblivious to the fact that when people come home from work, they typically want to put their feet up, relax, have a cup of tea and (possibly) play games with a controller, not stand in front of the telly and spazz out til they konk out, or talk to a retarded 10 year old computer character about homework or where his football might've landed or whatever.

Definitely not my idea of unwinding but anyway...it sounds to me like he's covertly telling other publishers to piss off and make room for his next over-ambitious, over-hyped christmas release, possibly Milo Tennis.

I think new IPs should come out in late spring or early summer look at InFamous it did well because it was released during the spring and it was awesome one of the best games to plat over the summer.

Wait, you mean there are twelve months in a year? And we can release games in any one of those months? That's crazy talk, Pete!

(then again, Oblivion came out in March '06 and benefited from effectively having the market and gaming press all to itself for the better part of six months...and sold four million copies just in its first year. Molyneux's not exactly on to something new here.)

Malygris:
Peter Molyneux has made a note of it, people will get the idea: If you don't want your game to get killed over the holidays, don't release it over the holidays.

In related news, active volcanoes can be hot.

TaborMallory:
But then again, who listens to Peter Molyneux?

Occasionally he opens that flap and somthing worthwhile is spewed out, He's got the heart, the man just doesn't know his own limits and thats a bit terrifying and exasperating sometimes.

I'm not on the Bandwagon of Molyneux haters personally, He says stupid things, but then so do my family most days, not a reason to hate anyone and all his/Lionhead's games have been pretty enjoyable depending on what you're into.

And yeah, he's right, doesn't stop people cashing in on ol' saint Nick regardless. And with the Credit Crunch? No going out this year is gonna be hot and games along with em.

So when I say it no one listens but when Peter "lie about content" Molyneux says it the news world is a-buzzing.

Holy crap there is signs of intelligent life. Doubt it will matter much since people have been saying this for years now. I am just glad someone on the other side of the fence is starting to clue in.

Commander Breetai:
What's the last good game you put out, Peter?

Oh snap!

Peter is right though.
It would be nice to not have to spend so much money during one month, but spread it around all year.

Here is the interesting thing about this that I hope my fellow Escapists can think about: "Why is the Holiday shopping season (roughly December) so important anyways?"

The notion I come up with is that it is because of Gifts/Presents. IMHO, this is because they (the games industry) think their market still does not have the money to go out and purchase their games ... they still think we are a bunch of kids whose parents are really the ones with the disposable income to get the games their kids are whining about.

As an adult with a regular income, I can tell you I would have no problem whatsoever purchasing games all year round and that having to deal with crowds of holiday shopping would even deter me from bothering to go out and make a purchase at that time of year.

One other thing to consider is that IMHO the real reason it is hard to compete with some game titles all at the same time of the year has more to do with advertising than how good the quality of the gameplay is in that game ... until gamers start passing along by word of mouth if there is a game they want to share experiences with other gamers or if something is to be avoided, you often times aren't getting completely candid reviews of games.

So sure, Peter may be right on the topic of the release mayhem being detrimental to the games industry, but I am not entirely sure he went into the details that make this so IMHO: industry mindset about who their market is and market penetration with massive advertising support.

Charli:

TaborMallory:
But then again, who listens to Peter Molyneux?

Occasionally he opens that flap and somthing worthwhile is spewed out, He's got the heart, the man just doesn't know his own limits and thats a bit terrifying and exasperating sometimes.

I'm not on the Bandwagon of Molyneux haters personally, He says stupid things, but then so do my family most days, not a reason to hate anyone and all his/Lionhead's games have been pretty enjoyable depending on what you're into.

And yeah, he's right, doesn't stop people cashing in on ol' saint Nick regardless. And with the Credit Crunch? No going out this year is gonna be hot and games along with em.

I don't hate the guy, I just don't think he should be the one to announce anything.

Well, no shit, Sherlock.

It must be the first intelligent thing Molyneux has said in a decade.

Surely it's gotten to the point now, that when a game is released on a holiday it is totaly unnoticable because of the mountain loads of other holiday releases. most of which are below average.

Supernova2000:
oblivious to the fact that when people come home from work, they typically want to put their feet up, relax, have a cup of tea and (possibly) play games with a controller, not stand in front of the telly and spazz out til they konk out, or talk to a retarded 10 year old computer character about homework or where his football might've landed or whatever.

When I get home from school, I train for 2 hours. I think it's aimed at the more active people, no?

Besides, holding opinions different to your own doesn't make his any less valid. He's got the right heart for a game developer, he just doesn't know his limits. I like to think he gets kinda pissed when a game doesn't fulfil his hype, too. It's like when we all make up "Perfect Game" ideas in our heads, except he then goes and tries to make them.

I hope devs actually listen to this one, becasue this time Peter is 100% correct. I hate the summer's infamous lack of good games, and I'd buy any interesting game coming out at that time - one I normally would forsake in favour of the "blockbusters" as Peter calls them.

This is probably the first ego statement quoted on Escapist that actually makes sense. Hopefully he will shut up for a while after this.

Danny Ocean:

When I get home from school, I train for 2 hours. I think it's aimed at the more active people, no?

Besides, holding opinions different to your own doesn't make his any less valid. He's got the right heart for a game developer, he just doesn't know his limits. I like to think he gets kinda pissed when a game doesn't fulfil his hype, too. It's like when we all make up "Perfect Game" ideas in our heads, except he then goes and tries to make them.

Fair enough. I only mean to say that he seems to place too much faith in project natal.

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