Ask a Dork: Summer Game Releases

Why do you think game releases dry up in the summer? Are there any type of games you would slot into the season?

Ah, the summer drought. Any gamer worth his/her britches knows that as soon as we hit July 1, major game release become few and far between until mid September. This June we saw Max Payne 3, Gravity Rush, Lollipop Chainsaw, Pokemon Conquest, Civilization V: Gods & Kings, Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes, Quantum Conundrum, Record of Agarest War 2, and The Walking Dead: Episode 2. This July we have Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, The Last Story, and Kingdom Hearts 3DS: Dream Drop Distance. Unfortunately, the release schedule from there doesn’t look too great. So why is the summer season so disappointing?

There are two reasons for this phenomenon – the first is timing. Age demographics have indicated that 25% of gamers are under the age of 18 and that they’re likely to spend money on gaming than their senior counterparts, faster. As you might expect, most game companies consider this group to be extremely important to their sales strategy and frame their releases accordingly. When the kids are in school, they need a distraction, but during the summer they’re likely to be spending more time with friends, going on vacation, and reducing their online presence. To the same effect, many individuals in the 19-49 age group – 49% of gamers – are also likely to go on vacation (possibly with their children) during this time period. It’s for this reason that most publishers have found the summer months to be slow-going. Sales are historically low because gamers have other commitments.

The second reason relates to more attractive sales seasons. To say that the holiday season (late October to February) is lucrative is a bit of an understatement. Publishers can make up to four times more in the winter then they could ever hope to achieve in the summer. Consumers are far more likely to drop mad cash on games (both good and bad) because they need gifts or happen to have gift cards. The only downfall of this seasonal effect is market oversaturation; because there are so many releases within the same time period, many games are tragically overlooked.

Of course there are some gamers that are desperate for new releases in the summer and If I could slot any games into the season, it would probably be some of the lower profile titles that typically get overlooked during the holiday season. Otherwise, I’m just happy trying to catch up on my backlog. We all have a pile of shame that grows for 9 months of the year – now is the perfect time to reduce its size.

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