The Christmas games rush is killing the industry!

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Every year is the same; there are little to no games released in July/August and come mid-October the excrement hits the fan and, seemingly, every week has 3/4 blockbusters released. Commonly this time of year is called the “Christmas Games Rush” and it has been a fixture of the industry since the dawn of time.

The games rush exists for one thing and one thing only; to capitalise on the holiday season and to eek out a few more sales. As a business decision it makes perfect sense; people are willing to spend more money around October to December as financial reports will attest – so releasing games in that period WILL see bigger profits. Right?

Well; if this year is anything to go by, no. No it’s not. The winter games rush brings with it several massive problems for the industry that, should they go unchanged for much longer, it will destroy it!This year has been no worse for game releases but nor has it been any better! In a short 10 week window we have seen in and around 100 titles be released; it is overwhelming to see schedules burgeoning with quality games. It feels like that scene in ‘Aliens’ when the marines are being overwhelmed by enemies…

…on top of this, there is the inevitable conclusion that some games would be buried by their bigger, more famous/popular brethren. This year alone we have seen some massive sales failure – ‘Titanfall 2’ is the highest rated shooter of the holiday season, yet has returned lacklustre sales; ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ and ‘Watch_Dogs 2’ got buried under 10s of higher profile titles. These three games are massive budget, AAA games that will struggle to make it to their sales projections – which is a crying shame because they are critical darlings. Worse than this; I don’t think that EA/Activision/Ubisoft can have too many AAA sales flops on their hands before people start losing their jobs and we see studio closures.

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Lara’s Face when she saw the discount

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lambasting choice, choice is a great thing, but we are all victims of a budget and we do have to make tough decisions on what games to buy. That means that there are titles that will naturally get forgotten/buried – but the avalanche of games and certain publisher practices are creating further issues for the consumers.

Making informed decisions is also next to impossible! Sure you can keep up with every marketing campaign and previews throughout the entire year, you could sign up to Alpha and BETA tests and try out the game (although this worked to hinder rather than help ‘DOOM’) and read reviews as they come. But games companies (well the ones who I wouldn’t trust to release quality games *coughBethesdacough*) are turning their back on early reviews; instead sending review copies out on release day and reaping the benefits of the lack of consumer knowledge. No matter what time of year this practice occurs, the sooner it is eradicated the better!

And then we have the biggest problem of the season; the sales.

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I love sales and avail of them whenever I can; who can resist bargains? Absolutely no-one and neither should we resist them! But this years winter sales were well and truly insane – every single retailer has went to great lengths to devalue games! This year is the first I can remember that games were being discounted within 2 weeks of being released. Let’s take a look at what (well some) has happened since October;

  • ‘Titanfall 2’ was released on the 28th October. I bought it off PSN on the 19th November for £30. A saving of 49% 3 weeks after release (and it was on offer for a week before I bought it).
  • ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ was released on Playstation 4 on 11th October. I bought it off PSN on the 3rd December for £21.99. A saving of 50% less than 2 months after release.
  • ‘Watch_Dogs 2’ is currently £30 on PSN, 50% off 4 weeks after release.
  • ‘Steep’ is currently selling between £20 and £24.99, (55-60% off less than 2 weeks after its release).
  • ‘Dishonored 2’ sold for 45% off a fortnight after release.

There are more big discounts that I haven’t listed (‘Skyrim for example) for space reasons; but it is fucking crazy that I have bought ‘Titanfall 2’ and ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’ for less than the RRP of either.

Why would anyone buy a game day one? I love bargains; everyone does; but this obsession marketplaces have with being the first to offer massive discounts on games will only have negative impacts on the industry.

I had a conversation the other day – I will NOT be purchasing any games on day one, next year – I do not have the money to see a game I want, sell for 30-60% off within a month of release. I will wait for those delicious sales and get my games on a budget. I even saw a person state the following on an online message board “I hate that Nintendo doesn’t reduce the price of their games, and it is this that will STOP me from buying anything of theirs in the future. Fuck Nintendo ripping us off!” – just wow!

This is what this practice is encouraging; which is at odds with the current “Pre-order NOW!” culture the publishers are pushing at us from every angle. No-one will pre-order if the retailers are going to be slashing prices willy-nilly days after release; there needs to be a consistent message and it needs to come fast. If you want us to pre-order (and they do) then you NEED to stop your retailer “partners” slashing prices – if you don’t want this; then let’s go the way of the “game as a platform” route and allow us to opt in to features etc.

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Game homepage ATM.

Something needs to change with this industry and it needs to happen soon; otherwise I feel that it will be unable to sustain its own weight and it will collapse. Here is a manifesto I would consider as a publisher:

  1. Release games throughout the year, not just January-March & October-December.
  2. Work on ways of making games retain their value; drip feed us content regularly.
  3. Release high quality titles that people will want to keep; like Nintendo does.
  4. Stop releasing sequels that are unnecessary every year.
  5. By all means have sales; but do NOT reduce games within their launch month and piss off early adopters.

But what do I know? I’m just a guy at a keyboard.

What do you think of the Winter games rush?

Is it needed anymore?

Should the industry move away from this?

Tell me in the comments/Twitter/Facebook.

 

 

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8 thoughts on “The Christmas games rush is killing the industry!

  1. Hans says:

    Well if you want to buck this trend even further then continue buying digitally from PSN and the race to the bottom will continue even faster.

    However there will be a sting in the tail when physical sales have been killed off. Sony & Microsoft will hold all the cards and there will be even less reason for competitive prices. Not to mention the inability to buy older titles that are removed from the digital market place. Why are they removed? because companies have to pay Sony and Microsoft to host the software on their server and if a game doesn’t sell enough to justify that cost it is erased from existence.

    One of the best reasons for keeping physical games other than obvious historical and re-buying issues is it allows a competitive market place and it doesn’t race to the bottom as bad as digital sales.

    You just need to take a look at how Steam has turned into a garbage shit show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with most of what you have said tbh!

      The reason I have bought two digital games this year is because they were the cheapest place to buy them – savvy shopping!

      I don’t think that digital will overtake physical sales (at least in the U.K.), anytime soon, because of the pricing and of course the atrocious broadband infrastructure we have here!

      You are spot on that competition is required – unfortunately it is that competition which is racing to the bottom if this year is anything to go by! And they have set an incredibly dangerous precident – I’m all for low prices as it’s great for us consumers; but dropping prices 14 days after launch will kill the industry! If there is no profit to be made; why bother?

      Like

  2. Great insight into the industry. I don’t think the industry will change, but for your reasons and for my own personal reasons, I wish it did. When I look back on the games I’ve played this year, I realize that it was staggered. I played some good games here and there. Having played very few of the games in the last few months, I missed so much. I’ll probably get to play them post-Christmas, but since these games are released at the same time specifically for the holidays, I probably won’t appreciate most of them unless I play them long after release. Yes, I can wait, but part of the excitement is discussing and being part of the community when the game is new. As far as sales go, people will likely miss the smaller games in the onslaught of releases. However, I also wonder if some games also get more noticed just because they’re purchased as Christmas gifts. Anyway, I agree that games should have more value, and I hope that companies can do that while spreading out their releases.

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  3. I very much agree. Spreading out releases is good for gamers, publishers/developers, and stores (physical or digital) due to spreading the spending opportunities. I feel DOOM wouldn’t have done nearly as well if it had been released in the Autumn/Winter months. I still find digital games overpriced (other than Steam), so I often stick to physical.
    In terms of sales though, I feel there’s another significant factor. The average age of gamers is ever increasing, and as the gamers get older, the amount of time they have to play decreases meaning fewer game sales. I’m not sure if this is having a huge impact, but it is likely a significant factor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point! The fact that we are getting older also highlights the ridiculousness of releasing so many games in such a short space of time; it’s impossible to play them all and publishers have to learn that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It could really go one of two ways. The AAA releases suffer and lose sales as the smaller games gain more traction, or the smaller games get muscled out of the market. I suspect the former from looking at what has happened to the music industry over the years: as choice increased, world spanning superstars started to become less common. “There will never be anyone as big as The Beatles again” as my dad used to say.

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