Is January now the best time to release a triple-A video game?
Though inherently a good problem to have, both this and last year’s January release period would seem to indicate that there is no longer any rest bite for the video game industry. It used to be that this time of year could be used to catch up on all the games you’d previously missed, but with the likes of Resident Evil 7 and now Monster Hunter World finding relative success launching so early on, could it be that January is now the best time to release a video game?
Of course, for the longest time, November used to be the busy season. If you weren’t tempted by the bombastic cinematic action offered by the Call of Dutys or Battlefields we see frequently churned out, you could bet that there was always a hard-hitting Nintendo exclusive ready for you to sink your teeth into. One thing always for certain is that you generally have to pick your poison. There just isn’t enough time to cram these all in, hence the very need for a backlog.
While there’s no sign that the predictable waves of triple-A first-person shooters will change trajectory to January, 2017 and 2018 have proved that this is the perfect time for of a more niche nature to stretch their legs. Monster Hunter World shipping a staggering 5 million units in just three days has only served to reinforce this sentiment, letting everybody share in the excitement of a game that would otherwise be at risk of falling by the wayside.
Avoiding the cluttered release calendar has quite clearly worked in Capcom’s favour, and it’s a lesson other big-boy publishers would be wise to learn. The most criminal example of publishers not paying attention to when their games are releasing, is none other than the Titanfall 2/Battlefield 1 fiasco. While the turbulent and ever-changing nature of video game development can be a hard beast to predict, you have to critique Activision’s willingness to let both these games release just one week apart from each other. If they followed the Capcom method and pushed one of the two into January, both games would be able to breathe equally.
My only hope is that the industry doesn’t shoot itself in the foot, seeing the relative successes had by Capcom’s titles so early in the year before deciding to follow suit. If there’s one thing worse than a stacked November, it’s a stacked January, but this then leads into the continuously true conceit that it’s just impossible to devour every video game you’d like to at release.
For the time being anyway, January is the perfect time to release a triple-A game in my opinion. And Capcom repeatedly continues to prove it. They’ve garnered so much media coverage without competing with any other big publisher’s competing titles, and the fans couldn’t be happier with the end product.