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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"The 3 Month Period"

So this is something I've been mulling over for a few days. Actually if I'm being completely honest this is something that I've been thinking about since I was first really getting into gaming. I was on and off again all throughout grade school but I started getting serious in high school. Coincidentally that's about the same time my family had a stable internet connection.
Anyways, before it was just me going to the nearest gaming store whenever I had the chance to do because that was about ten miles away. And I was not going to walk that far nor was I allowed to. But anyways I would save up what little money I earned and get what I could. The first game I ever remember buying was The Elder Scrolls: Morrowind. Which was also my first RPG so it was kind of a milestone. And it was at EB Games no less so pretty much a blast from the past kind of deal...
My point is, back then I wasn't waiting for games. I just saw a thing I liked and hoped it would be good. My family wasn't super rich and my parents rarely would buy me a game outside of holidays and birthdays so it was kind of significant. However, when I was older it became something different. Now I had more money, a more definite understanding of what my personal tastes were as well as the internet to see what new games were coming out. Not to mention ease of transportation so I wasn't limited with just going to the EB Games a few miles away or waiting for someone to take me. One of the most frustrating things I've ever encountered was games being announced for a release that would be around almost a year. And its only gotten worse.
Part of the reason I switched from Xbox to PlayStation recently is because of this trend in fact. Remember Scalebound? Ya, there's some bad memories there. But cancelling games is one thing. What they're doing with Crackdown? That's a whole different beast. Its been almost three years since they talked about Crackdown 3. I'm not even sure they gave it a release date when it was first announced. Regardless the wait is still excruciating. But it really shouldn't be.
The general rule of thumb is that at some point the player base for every single game will drop to zero. Generally there's various factors that come with this. If a game is bad it will be forgotten almost immediately. Going to either end of the spectrum will increase its life cycle, especially now that the internet exists to essentially remind us of our pasts. YouTubers will play really old games, often times to simply say "Wow, this game sucks." But at the very least that game is being played. Making a true video game classic is almost impossible but it can, and has, been done. These games could potentially last forever. I recently just downloaded Morrowind and the original Deus Ex games on Steam. I never really gave them the proper amount of gameplay, mostly because they were before my time and most of them are pretty archaic by today's standards. Still a classic is a classic.
There's actually another way that games fall off the map other than being cancelled or terrible and its something I'm surprised game companies aren't already aware of. Apart from the general idea that a game could be cancelled mid development revealing a game far too early is actually a worse killer in some ways. See if you show off a game or even just acknowledge its existence with a trailer or some kind of press conference you're essentially blowing your biggest opportunity to release the game at a sensible time and, hopefully, in working order. Lets take two games that were both announced fairly recently: Code Vein and Shadow of War. Right off the bat these two games are near polar opposites in most every way. Different genres, different graphics, art style, gameplay, studios. I get it. Code Vein was actually announced earlier by Bandai Namco. They teased the hell out of this game on their Facebook page. They even had a countdown for about a solid week until the trailer would release. Aaaaaaand it comes out next year... On the other hand, Shadow of War was announced back like a month or two ago. They showed off a nice cinematic trailer and, best of all, announced it would be releasing in just a few months.
See the closer you reveal your game to the release date often time has people more likely to buy it. Its kind of like a sugar high. The closer you were to when you had all that sugar the more energy you have. But the catch is the more time you spend the less of that energy you're going to retain. Games are like that as well. When Bethesda releases a trailer for their new game people blow off. They think of all the awesome things they're going to do in this new world, go off on speculating what the story will be, what era you'll be in etc. The further the release is from the game reveal gets more people less hyped. They start noticing the cracks here and there. Start realizing the trailer wasn't in the game's engine and was prerendered. Pretty soon what people were excited for just gets cut pretty significantly. The opposite is also true. If you release a game on the same day you announced it a lot of people are wary of it. Is it a bad game? Why is it coming out so soon? I would have bought it but I need to pay rent/bills/etc this month. Had they told me prior I would have saved some money.
The 3 month period is really the sweet spot. For a person with a pretty standard job in those three months I have six pay periods. That's six chances until the release to scrape together the cash to set aside. If it releases when I'm not ready I may never get it at all. More things will pile up and the excitement of getting it will have died down. A lot of DLC goes by this model, though within a shorter time span. Nioh recently had some DLC drop and it was announced like a week ago. This is because the people who already have the game can just sit back and wait. Anyone who doesn't have the game now probably won't get it but its a decent amount of time for them to opt in if they wish to do so.
I don't know. Just thought it was an interesting thing. Anyways, thanks for reading.

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