August is coming swiftly to a close and that means the monumental amount of Holiday releases will be soon hitting store shelves. Last year we saw an unprecedented amount of games competing for sales and space on store shelves. Leaving few winners, but far more losers who continued to struggle well into 2017 for both sales and notoriety. We now find ourselves on the precipice of the 2017 Holiday season, looking to repeat the past.

A Reminder Of Last Year

Last year’s Holiday season was peppered with some good to fantastic games throughout the short time period. Starting as early as September we started seeing top tier titles such as XCOM 2 and Darkest Dungeon kicking off the season. However once October reared its head around the corner, that’s where things started to really heat up.

  • Battlefield 1
  • Civilization VI
  • Gears of War 4
  • Mafia III
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Celebration Edition
  • Titanfall 2

This is only to name some of the bigger hits that came out in October and completely excludes Playstation VR launching during that same time. The month was arguably packed with multiple titles all fighting for attention coming right on the heels of August and September, which were nearly as packed.

Come November, there was no reprieve to be found. The onslaught of titles being released would not only maintain but would also be even greater anticipated and larger games!

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Dishonored 2
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Pokemon Sun / Moon
  • The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier
  • Watch Dogs 2

A new Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, and Pokemon all in the same month! The gaming market could bearly contain itself with such a bevy of highly popular franchises. Thankfully, come December, things finally started to wind down with only two well know titles working their way out.

  • Dead Rising 4
  • The Last Guardian

The Fight

Because of the many titles fighting for sales, many failed to gain any meaningful interest or traction in terms of sales. In the case of Dishonored 2, it managed to sell decently during its life span, but it quickly fell into the shadows in terms of interest. During E3 2016, it received much interest and excitement from several outlets, but as soon as it released interest simply—dissapeared.

Dishonored 2
Dishonored 2

It’s not just Dishonored 2 that fell prey to the sheer amount of titles being released during 2016’s holiday season. Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, and The Last Guardian all reviewed favorably (scores of 8+) but as soon as they released they fell into obscurity. Unfortunately, it looks like 2017 is doomed to repeat the past mistakes publishers have made.

2017

Between the months of September and December of 2017, the following noteworthy titles are scheduled for release.

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Cuphead
  • Destiny 2
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
  • Divinity: Original Sin II
  • Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon
  • Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
  • Metroid: Samus Returns
  • Star Wars Battlefront II
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Evil Within 2
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Every publisher is looking to bank on them being the shining star during the holiday season when they could easily dominate another time of the year, free from competition. Which is just simply, unfortunate, because we have seen success with hardware and software releasing “off season.”

Summer

Summer has always been widely regarded as a slow time for game development. Not too many titles release and the few that do typically are not big budget titles. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for publishers to find a new home releasing games during this time of year, in fact, it’s an opportunity. One only needs to look back at this past year to see this in effect. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice, and Splatoon 2 are all titles that dominated not only news cycles, but sales charts as well during the Summer season. They found a home during some of the slowest months of game releases, and while the titles were all well received, what—arguably—set them apart was the time.

All the titles mentioned above had time, time to gain interest, time to dominate news cycles, and time as being some of the most talked about games during those times. Publishers that forced games to release during the holiday season has to face stiff competition. These titles got to enjoy their time in the sun with little effort outside of being a good product, and they benefited because of it.

Hellblade
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Perhaps the best example when it comes to releasing anything video game related during “off season” is, of course, the Nintendo Switch. Not only did the Nintendo Switch have a winning proposition in terms of offerings, it did so during a time it didn’t compete with other console releases. Nintendo removed the great debate that faces many during the holiday season, do I buy console A or console B or console C? That equation didn’t exist when the Switch launched, the only question was “do you want a switch?”

For many, the answer was yes, and the Switch benefited.

Publishers need to take the time to not only think “this game needs to be made” but also think about when it can it be released. Does this release schedule benefit this game? Is this game good enough to beat out X, Y, and Z? Or can it find a home during another month and become the game we all talk about in the middle of January allowing all of us to perhaps, see a sequel to games that normally never get the chance.