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I think you’d have to be crazy to release a game in November.
Until the last few years, the gaming industry released games on a fairly predictable schedule. The biggest games were always put out in October and November to be ready for Christmas shoppers, while publishers generally avoided the traditionally quiet parts of the year. But times have changed for many reasons.
For one thing, the average age of gamers has risen and the average price of games has dropped. The cycle is no longer built around kids waiting for Christmas to get their favorite games of the year. Adult gamers can buy themselves games any damn time they want, and kids without credit cards can use online vouchers to purchase games on Steam/PSN etc at flexible prices. Also, if you adjust for inflation, games have never been cheaper.
The amount of games coverage has exploded with technology as well, putting new releases in front of gamers like never before. Before the sites, social media feeds, and online marketplaces of today, publishers had to rely on print/television ads, and Christmas catalogs. Publishers feared releasing games in ‘dead’ months, but they don’t need to fear that anymore.
Gaming journalism has become an insatiable beast, constantly seeking anything to cover. A relatively tiny game like Firewatch can release in February and have a little window all to itself. Contrast that with Titanfall’s struggles to get noticed this Fall and you wonder why anyone bothers competing?
It’s not just the AAA fall titles you have to compete with now, but Black Friday itself. This insane holiday is forcing every game retailer to find anything to put on sale. When fighting for attention, publishers are competing not only with regular priced blockbusters, but an ocean of Black Friday discounts across the board. When you see the recently released and successful Battlefield 1 on sale, you realize this holiday is too powerful to ignore.
So if you’re looking to release a game in 2017, take a look at the current state of the industry and choose your release date wisely. Avoid the flashy and loud Fall and try a nice quiet January instead. Gamers and the media are looking for a new game to drool over every week. If you play your cards right, your game could be the lucky one covered in drool.
How do you feel about games released in January or other quieter months?