Microsoft Europe's David Gosen has questioned the gaming industry's seasonal approach to game releases in a recent interview with MCV. According to Gosen, the focus on Q4 and Christmas releases has put the sustainability of new IP into question:
We still have a very seasonally-focused business. You only need look at last Christmas, when nearly 200 titles were released in the space of three or four weeks. There was that crazy week, third week of November.
The big brands reached the top and everything else was left by the wayside. It's becoming harder and harder to establish new IP in that environment. You have to ask if that's sustainable.
Gosen pointed out that there have already been precedents that should convince suppliers to take more risks when choosing release dates for major titles:
Of course Christmas is still the key selling period, but we need to look at de-seasonalising. We launched GTA IV at this time last year, and Capcom s Resident Evil has shown that you can be successful. As more publishers do this, we ll create a second or third release window, and that will be great news for the industry.
Great news for my wallet as well, since I won't have to buy all the major releases I want in one big go.
It also seems like this has already begun to happen. Metal Gear Solid 4 got a June release but still managed to sell over two million units in the first month. Similarly, Halo 3 got a September launch and managed to reach first-day sales of US 170 million in the US alone.
Then again, we have to keep in mind that all of the titles mentioned above are already well-known franchise names. We'll see how this year's crop of new IP -- inFamous and Prototype, which are launching in May and June, respectively, spring to mind -- fare in the sales charts. If they do well, maybe Gosen's wish will come true after all.