Hey Game Publishers, Stop The November Release Death Schedule (NeRDS)

Posted by on November 10, 2011 at 5:50 pm

We love games. Yes, we sure do. Just like you, we have our favorites: the titles we want delivered to our doorsteps (or picked up in stores) just as quickly as you do. Anything that gets in our way, be it traffic, the slow lady at the counter writing a check, or low fuel lights, is a mere obstruction to us putting a shiny disc in our console’s tray and start zipping those magical zeroes and ones across to our TVs. But you don’t have to be in the games industry to absolutely hate what game publishers do with their releases, namely, loading them up in the same sliver of the calendar as everyone else, forcing us to dig even deeper into our disposable income (or free time) to enjoy. This is what we call the NeRDS. Publishers: Stop this. Now.

Imagine if you will, a universe in which you can only shop on Fridays. A universe in which you can only buy ice cream at a specific, hard-to-get store in town behind an always busy drive-thru. There’s a perverted logic that insists consumers are only going to buy in big volumes during a very specific window starting November 1st and finishing right before Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as the first shopping day of the holiday season). These people are wrong. As a result, we have an interesting predicament. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 launched November 9th, bustling with hundreds of hours of multiplayer (and a cheesy six hour campaign). The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim launches tomorrow, November 11th, and that’s easily a hundred hours gone out of my life to start. In four more days, Saints Row: The Third lands and that’s easily… you get the picture.

The strangest part of the whole thing is that game publishers can successfully launch games outside the NeRDS, but many still decide to take their quadruple-A game and launch them all at the same time. Some notable examples:

  • While Halo and Halo 2 launched in NeRDS territory, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach all stuck to September releases and continued to break records. Fable launched in September for the original Xbox as well.
  • The first five Grand Theft Autos (including Vice City and San Andreas) launched near NeRDS territory (October in their respective years), Grand Theft Auto IV launched in April to vibrant, stand-alone success.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic launched on the original Xbox during the summer doldrums to critical and commercial success. Its sequel did not meet that same success when it launched during the NeRDS a few years later.
  • Red Dead Redemption launched in May and went blockbuster fast. L.A. Noire the same a year later.
  • While Skyrim is firmly in the NeRDS bracket, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (May on PC, June on Xbox) and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (March) both rocked it.
  • BioShock launched in August, Bioshock 2 in February (although it was firmly in NeRDS territory as well), both speak for themselves.
  • Gears of War 3 had no issue selling out in September while its predecessors launched during NeRDS.
  • The best selling games of the Nintendo 64 launched outside NeRDS as well. Super Mario 64 launched with the system in September, Mario Kart 64 the following February, and GoldenEye in August.
  • …in fact, Nintendo has a history of just ignoring the holidays altogether. Nintendogs, New Super Mario Bros. (DS and Wii), every major Pokemon release, Wii Fit, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Mario Sunshine… on and on, the list continues for at least an age.
Now, the counter-argument exists that some of these franchises were big because of their predecessor’s NeRDS release, so they could launch at any time, but it’s not hard to look through that listing and find a ton of original IPs that were launched and gained tons of traction. The counter-counter argument then exists that these games do even better because they’re not lumped together against everyone’s releases. Other industries seem to have this down pat, so why do gaming publishers seem to think they can put all their eggs in the same basket everyone else’s basket of games? It’s ridiculous for gamers to have to put up with it.
Oh, sure, you can wait for a game or even watch the price drop, but who does that?

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  • hansoloface

    lol, “The Elder Scrolls III: Skyrim”

    • Anonymous

      Sharp eye, thanks!

  • Qeuzolt6

    You could just buy your favorite one then the rest will be on sale in steam ;) at least thats my plan. Buy Skyrim, play 100hrs, Buy MW3/SR3/BF3 on steam sale, profit