Elden Ring, Pokémon: Why 2022 is starting with a crowded game schedule

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of new game releases, you’re not alone.

The next two months are up significantly from the video game release date: Blockbuster titles like Pokémon Legend: Arceus, Forbidden Horizon in the West, Fate 2: The Witch Queen, Elden RingTiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land leading the way in the first few months of this year, surrounded by plenty of other notable headlines. The Fall of Babylon, Dying light 2: Stay human, SifuGhostwire: Tokyo, and more. If your backlog is already filled, the first few months of 2022 won’t make it any cleaner.

This appears to be only temporary, as a result of the multi-year delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected games months or even years from the original planned release date of the game. they. And those adjustments, throughout 2020 and 2021, have disrupted the familiar rhythm of the game’s release schedule. But the adjustment to the schedule seems to have changed for many years now.

Why are so many big games willing to compete with each other? Is this the new normal? And is this healthy for an industry known to operate on tight deadlines?

Historically, it’s the fall release window – leading up to the holidays – that’s been the busiest for video game release dates. It makes sense: Massive new titles are coming out ahead of gift-giving season, when people typically have more free time during the holiday season and more people are spending money on gifts. The Call of Duty franchise, there is usually a new game released every year and Assassin’s Creed The franchise has long set the fall release window in place, almost guaranteeing a successful holiday season. But 2020 and 2021 are different: Still there great number of games released in the fall, but those hit games was largely pushed out in early 2022. Or in some cases, major franchise entries were released incompletely with parts of the game added months later.

However, it is not only the delay of the pandemic that has pushed us to this chaos. They simply add fuel to the fire. Release schedules have changed gradually over the past decade, and this trend of major New Year releases could become permanent. While November used to be a de facto busy season, there are now two prominent times of the year: October to November and February to March.

Two potter boys anthropomorphized in Elden Ring

Image: FromSoftware / Bandai Namco

“I think it’s a natural evolution that Q4 is the ultimate packed window,” Digital DevolverRobbie Paterson told Polygon. “People are sick of it. Maybe they’re less dependent on retail, or on retailers and the Christmas rush, with everything being digital now. I think naturally people start to see January, February as open spaces, yes, they may miss that Christmas buzz, but let’s have a clear run in January without there is competition. “Paterson points to Capcom, which used the winter release window for Monster Hunter Franchise since 2015.

Monster Hunter: WorldIn particular, boomed with the January 2018 release – and there didn’t appear to be any other games out there for nearly three months of that year. “It just exploded,” Paterson said. “It is very large. And it was a good match, but it also didn’t have any competition. “

Other developers seem to have noticed this: While more and more releases move into February and March, that length of time is clearly still paying off for game companies. But the rest of the year has begun to have a more steady release pace due to a generational shift in the way video game companies promote their products.

During the 90s and 00s, the video game industry relied on a number of annual events like E3 and the Tokyo Game Show to gain attention from the mainstream press and casual fans alike. But traditional marketing events, like E3, is decreasing, and has been around for a while. In 2011, Nintendo started running its own Nintendo Direct event, control its notification schedule. Streaming on Twitch and YouTube has made these types of small events more accessible. That leads to Sony pulls out of E3 in 2019, for the first time in the show’s 24-year history. Sony realized they didn’t need massive press conferences to reach players and fans, instead developing their own schedules and hosting their own streaming events.

Kirby is chased through a ruined amusement park in Kirby and the Forgotten Land

Image: HAL/Nintendo Labs

Of course, the following year changed everything for everyone, when E3 2020 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, the conference has moved online and the hype of the weeklong wave of gaming news has abated. Instead, companies are disseminating their announcements of the year in smaller, Nintendo Direct-style online events. E3 is no longer a “deadline” for developers to complete demos or announce a release date. Now fans can review Microsoft’s own Xbox intro, Sony’s State of Play, and the Summer Olympics Festival – all online – creating space for lots of announcements and respective releases.

Finji CEO Rebekah Saltsman told Polygon that this decline in live events has leveled the playing field for indies, who don’t have the same access to major events. “The shift to running shows online, where the larger companies are controlling a lot of the way they launch things, has opened up the whole schedule,” she said.

“I’ve always felt that the fall launch of things was completely scrapped by the three zooms,” says Saltsman. “You’ll have this really fun game but you’ll be missed because it’s not Halo. It’s not Life. ”

Push a game out after a few months after especially the holidays have worked for Finji in the past. Night in the forestpublished in 2017, came at the right time and greatly benefited the company and its developers – despite launching within days of that month’s biggest headline , Horizon Zero Dawn. “I remember thinking back then, ‘Why is the three-player game A coming out in February?’ she asked. “I think this month will be safe.”

Night in the forestof course, was a success – both commercially and with tons of prizes.

When a video game developer is looking at a game’s release schedule to determine an ideal release date, they can look to their peers in the genre. Finji CEO Rebekah Saltsman told Polygon that Finji’s windows are largely related to when the game ends, but she said she’s still looking at the game’s competition to figure out where perfect. Dressfrom publisher Finji in March, went live almost a year ahead of schedule, with a buffer period of several months. Sifu Sloclap developer marketing director Felix Garcynski echoed this sentiment in an email to Polygon: SifuThe release schedule is largely based on the production schedule, but the game has some buffer space that allows Sloclap to ship the game in early February, a little before the game hits.

With DressSaltsman against Horizon franchise with upcoming installment Forbidden Horizon in the Westplus the increased pressure of Elden Ring, too. But Saltsman is thinking about possibilities instead of competition: These games just take up so much space on the storefront, which could give new looks to the game. Dress.

“From the very beginning, we said, ‘Oh no, Elden Ring coming out soon,” she said. “And now I say, ‘No, this is fun!’ What a great cultural moment to be a part, just of the genre of games we have. What an exciting time to launch Dressour little foxy Dark souls. ”

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