The Summer Slump

 

Cinemas love the summer. Kids are off school, teens are taking part-time jobs giving them money to spend and the good weather inclines people to get out of the house. But more importantly, the summer blockbusters. Since the 90s the summer has been unanimous with big scale action movies or gut-wrenching comedies that rake in the big bucks. In contrast, video games seem to take a break during the summer. With few exceptions and indie development we don’t see many AAA titles released between from May to August. But why is that?

To understand the drought in major releases we need to look at the surrounding months. Typically early fall through late November is when we see big name franchises. Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and the usual annual sports games hit shelves around this time. In addition we get more mega titles such as Smash Bros., Far Cry 4, Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire and Destiny to name a few. This time of the year is practical for sales because it’s prime time for shopping. Black Friday and Christmas shopping is being done so it makes sense to have you’re titles hit stores around this time.

What about before the summer? Well pre-summer is typically filled with rumors and reveals. It’s around this time of the year we get more information on the major fall release, we learn more about this year’s CoD/Assassin’s Creed, we prep for the avalanche of news that is E3 and speculate on games we already know about such as Smash Bros. That being said we still get lot’s of major titles. 2014 saw the release of Titanfall, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dark Souls 2, Mario Kart 8 and Watch Dogs to list a fraction of the many. The months are crowded with games after games leaving no room to breath (a pretty awesome problem to have I might add).
Another reason could be all the trade shows. E3, Gamescom, TGS and PAX are all in the summer and typically when devs lift the lids on their top secret projects. The wait on these games can range from a few months to a few years but very rarely do devs release a game within the summer they announce it. As fans hear of these games and build hype they have nothing to play in the meantime, nothing new at least. The summer is great for catching up on games we haven’t finished because there is nothing major to come out.

To put in perspective most of the major release this summer are either indie developed or some form of re-release. Ultra Street Fighter IV, The Last of Us Remastered, Shovel Knight and Valiant Hearts. All fantastic games, but won’t break the bank in terms of sales. There’s nothing wrong with games such as these, but they do little for the general audience.

We begin to understand why summer is slow time in the industry. Devs are either working on the big games or announcing them. Is there anything wrong with this dull? I say no, it gives us time to catch up on previously released titles, revisit some old favorites and get hyped for the fall. Consider if publishers spread out major titles throughout the year. Sounds great right? Well maybe for the casual gamer that buys 2 or 3 games a year but what about us that buy more than that? Let’s enjoy this breather, we will need it come fall.

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