Games

The video game industry continues to stumble over the same stones

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An abyss that we could well call “nothing”, because no releases to be excited about in Q2 2022no great title confirmed in the short term, of those that sell you a system and that, in many cases, are reserved for the last quarter.

PS5 and Xbox Series X, with more than a year and a half on the market, are neither there nor expected (PS5 has at least had Horizon 2 and Gran Turismo 7 in February and March, but until after the summer we will not see anything from Sony ).

Nintendo has weathered the storm with Arceus, Triangle Strategy, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and Nintendo Switch Sports, while Microsoft has continued to focus on Game Pass, free-for-all Fortnite with xCloud, adding content to Halo Infinite, and little more memorable. .

Voucher. That has been so far this year, and now what? Well, I am very afraid that during the next few months we will have to throw, and I do not say this in a derogatory tone, with indies and “minor titles”, since except for surprise in the “no E3”, the short-term future does not look promising.

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And I’m not saying this with a small mouth: I’ve really enjoyed titles like Sifu, Trek to Yomi, Rogue Legacy 2, Loot River or Slipstream, and I hope there are many more like them.

But in many cases they are not games for the general public, for the masses, of those that move millions of units among a more diverse public. As I said before, what is to come in the next 2 months is not the titles that sell you a gaming platform.

In fact, if I think of an exclusive game for the next few months… only Mario Strikers Battle League and Nintendo’s new Fire Emblem Warriors in June come to mind… and now? The rest of May and June aims to be a journey through the desert that laughs at Lawrence of Arabia.

And that leads me once again to wonder, why isn’t anyone else taking the risk of releasing some of their biggest games in the second quarter? Why do they keep making the same mistakes of yesteryear?

Metal Gear Solid IV was released in June 2008, a month in which there were no big games that year, and managed to end its life on PS3 as the third best-selling exclusive game on the platform.

Ok, it’s Metal Gear… but maybe it helped her to have that release in a clearer month? Was it because you wanted to see the end of Snake’s story? Was it because there was nothing else to put in your mouth in those months? GTA IV came out a month earlier, Mario Kart for Wii in April… and they all sold like crazy.

metal gear solid 4

Without being in possession of the truth, or having all the data, it seems to me that if the competition does not coincide on the same dates, in the end you are alone to take the sales, at least, for that month.

And this is what leads me to ask,why this obsession with concentrating all releases in the first and last calendar quarter of the year? With the former they try to clean up the company’s fiscal closing, while in the latter, Christmas sales are brought together, the time of year when historically more sales were made.

But the current times are no longer as before. With all the pain in my heart, sales in physical format continue to decline with the digital advance (something we will talk about another day), and those cycles are becoming more diffuse, or have less weight.

I do not want to say that the final stretch of the year is not important: only that It is easier to fail in the Christmas campaign with a video game than at other times of the year. Because in the end, if as a user I have 120 euros to spend on games, and there are 10 titles to choose from, at 60 on average, what can happen with 8 of them? Well, that’s pure math.

Because, in the end, if the game is good, “when” is a little less important. IF you are looking for a strip in which you have no competition, it will always be easier for it to shine… but it is something that companies do not seem to bet on, as they continue to concentrate their best swords on that stretch.

And that’s when my managerial mind tells me, what difference does it make to have a “good” first or last quarter, when what matters is the bottom line and it may be the case that the second quarter can be even better if I’m just in the stores?

But it is not the only stone with which many companies stumble. Release physical versions later (or not launching them directly) or blindly following certain trends, can also lead to a major disaster, which is repeated cyclically.

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Ubisoft experienced it in its flesh with Quartz and the NFTs. That Square Enix is ​​going to use the money from the sale of Crystal Dynamics and the rest of the studios to pursue the dream of NFTs and cloud gaming is another example of this.

With the free fall of NFTs, and cloud gaming history of punctures (right, Stadia?), not forgetting the recent issues we’ve seen these days with Microsoft’s service, even launching single-player games , is it really the time to bet on these business channels?

Nor are they the only examples. Are we talking about following trends in which the chances of success are slim because it’s already taken over? The dream of launching a free to play game that becomes the “new bomb” has the cemetery full of “corpses” that have fallen by the wayside.

That Microsoft and PlayStation have in their plans and strategies, in one way or another, games as a service or free with ads makes me wonder just that. Why continue betting on a model in which it is very difficult to stand out?

The odds of success are hard to calculate, but just because you have the expertise of Bungie (for example) on your side doesn’t guarantee anything. How many games have been sold as “what’s new from the creator of” and no one remembers them past the month of release?

F2P encompasses a tremendously competitive and segmented entertainment segment (mobile, console, PC) with heavyweights like Fortnite, Warzone, Lost Ark or Genshin Impact… Each one, moreover, with a slightly different approach, which in the end is what that makes them unique in their kind.

What I have clear is that if the game is good, it doesn’t matter when you launch it: sooner or later it will find its place. But I have no doubt that if they took advantage of times of drought like the current one, the results would probably be even better

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