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The Quiet Months

Mike Moehnke

Let's reminisce back to earlier in the year very quickly, courtesy of Points of View. Adriaan's situation seems very likely to repeat next year, since the few known release dates are all past January. What does the after-Christmas game release season have in common with the summer? Well, a quote from Electronic Gaming Monthly ought to be useful here: "The length of the reviews list below is embarrassing... Every year we hear publishers bitch that many well-received games get buried in the avalanche of fall titles... {w}ell, guess what: We have three months wide open for them." That quote comes from the July 2006 issue, but seems to apply just fine three years later.

Just about everyone has to deal with a neverending backlog of games, and while the only real solution is to clone ourselves (maybe more than once) in order to have the time to play everything, a less lopsided release schedule would certainly help. Late spring and fall are so overloaded with game releases that playing everything is impossible, while winter and summer are bereft of much material. Little King Story is an awesome game according to every source I've seen, but as the only RPG release in July, it could have been lower quality and still received disproportionate attention.

Apparently publishers are under the impression that everyone goes outside and ignores video games during the summer. I can only speak authoritatively for myself, but statistically unreliable examinations of the other RPGamer staff reveal I am probably not alone in giving precedence to indoor activities during these uncomfortably hot months. Thus the minimal release schedules during the summer are puzzling, especially since many games come out during the months prior to Christmas and are lost in the crunch would have benefited from a less chaotic release window. The winter would benefit from more releases, too, but since January is usually the time when people pay the bills accrued by Christmas shopping, I can understand why publishers are reluctant to put out new product then.

It just seems like a good idea for the publishers and the consumers to equalize release dates somewhat. Backlogs are easier to keep down if a lot of games don't come out in the same week, and given how prevalent the problem of backlogs is around here, that seems a worthy goal. Sales on games that might not set the charts afire can be helped if niche titles don't have to compete with A-list games blanketing the gaming press. Congestion doesn't need to happen.

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