Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The pre-Christmas mess

It's that time of year again, loves! That crazy, insane, avoidable, yet perrenial Christmas Games Rush. It truly is a magical time. A time where publishers, who have been content to starve us of decent content for nearly half of the weeks of the year, suddenly decide that we all need to spend far more money than anyone could reasonably hope to just because it happens to be November.

Why does it constantly happen, do they never learn? This desire for titles to be on shelf as "New Release" during the time of year when many non-gamers are also buying games appears to make some kind of sense. But, once you think about it, and realise what is actually happening, then it is hard not to become morbidly depressed. The theory is that Nobby Bollocks will put a couple of games onto his wish list, and then Mrs Bollocks will buy him one of them. The practice is that Nobby pre-orders the game online and gets it delivered early and cheap, or he trades some stuff he no longer wants against it. Or even that he can't/forgets to do either of these and then walks past GAME on launch day and stupidly drops the full RRP on the game anyway, thus rendering the entire list redundant.

Meanwhile, so scared is Granny Bollocks of buying him a game he already has for the 5th year in succession, she instead buys Nobby some more bloody socks.

Gamers, the ones of us who buy these things ALL SODDING YEAR ROUND, don't like this annual feeding frenzy. We look at the list of massive titles released in November, and, in a move that would be sure to terrify publishers if they ever lifted their heads from their groins (where they spend all day congratulating their testicles) and saw how the real world operates, actually prioritise which games we will be getting, and which ones we will buy at a "later date". Either when it goes into the bargain bin, during an online sale, or pre-owned. (Well, that is the intent. Sadly, the truth is somewhat more clear cut. "Later date" games don't actually ever get purchased at all. See: Enslaved.)

The couple of hundred pounds that I am expected to shell out this month is out of my reach. I would happily buy 80% of the big guns coming out over the next couple of weeks, but will probably spend so much time in deciding which to get now and which to wait for that I will end up getting none of them.


My disposable income is already increasingly restricted by the morons in charge of banking and government. My wage packet is at times stretched so thin that I can actually see the tears that the paradox of its existence rends in the space-time continuum. Hello there, three-headed mole from the future, that's a really nice car you're driving. And I'm actually one of the bigger spenders, games wise. I don't know too many people who buy more than I do. If I can't find a version of maths that allows me to buy all the games I want to, how is anyone else supposed to do this?

It is made all the more maddening just as soon as the realisation kicks in that if a game is actually any good, then it will sell regardless of what time of year it is released. We don't need a new CoD game at the end of every year, the masses will still race out and happily hand over their cash even if it is released at the height of summer. In fact, HAD Modern Warfare 3 come out in the summer, I almost certainly would have bought a copy myself. As it stands, I didn't get it yesterday and probably won't get it this month. BECAUSE THERE IS TOO MUCH ELSE OUT THAT IT IS IN DIRECT COMPETITION WITH!

Business models that are designed around the concept of competition are bad business models. If I, as the very mould from which your target market is cut, am not buying your game then you did something very wrong. Your game didn't sell because it was released at the wrong time. (See: Enslaved.) Or was too expensive, and was pushed back to "later date" status and thus will remain in that limbo state for eternity. (See: Enslaved.) Or, could have just been rubbish. (See: Enslaved.)  Either way, repeating the mistake is absolutely heinously stupid, and should see publishers doing jail time. And yet, year after year, we get this horrific procession of huge releases in what is becoming known by gamers as Novembergeddon.

To all publishers, I beg you; ignore the pressure to be out there at Christmas time. It may help you to gain a handful of sales from eager parents and relatives, but they don't know what games are good and will therefore just go with whatever the monkeys in GAME are being told to push that day. (Yes, Sir, I'm positive your son will love Ninjabread Man, we frequently have no copies in stock.) But these bonus sales should be offset against the lost sales to the very people who would give a shit about your new IP. (See: Enslaved.) And, as you sell less of these breakthrough and interesting titles, stop making them, and instead focus on yet more generic, mass-market bollocks, the market becomes ever less happy to try new things and ever more demanding for more of the same only bigger and louder.

This bed you are laying in is what you made, guys. Instead of piling the pressure onto us every November, think about what you are doing and release the odd game in, like, August. Believe me, we would have ALL bought Enslaved had it been released during the summer drought.


  1. aggggghhhhh please please dont use the "pre order" phrase,i hate it along with people who ask " can you enter your PIN number please" its makes no sence,if i want something that hasnt been released yet i "order" it,not "pre-order" surely to "pre-order" something is to think about ordering it,ie. Ive pre ordered COD MW4 !!! i know you know where im coming from,other than that nice blog me ol mate :)

  2. Hear, hear, and AMEN TO THAT! I also loathe the phrase, but have begrudgingly accepted its entry into the lexicon just for the purposes of people knowing just what the hell I am talking about.

  3. Here here!

    Though in actual fact, this year, Sarah is the one with more games she wants than money to spend on them! Skylanders, Sonic Generations and Rayman Origins.

    November holds only Skyrim for me until March when Mass Effect 3 and Streetfighter X Tekken are released. Though i'd be lying if I said I dont want to play Skylanders, Sonic and Rayman :)

    Pre-ordering: IMO you cant order something that doesn't yet exist. You may "Register your interest" but that's too long. "Reserve a copy" is also wrong as there is nothing yet to reserve. "Put money down on" see phrases 1 and 2.

    A pre-order...order would be more accurate. But it's such a weird concept; It's like walking in to a shop and saying "I know you dont have any yet, and may never have any, but I would like a receipt from you to say that we agree that should X become available at your shop you will sell me one. That is If we subsequently agree on exact price, contents, delivery method and time scale. Then an order may be completed. Please sign here." lol.

    I don't 'pre-order' anyway. Don't see the point, shops always have stuff day one. Only Nintendo and Apple under-supply intentionally to generate demand and I rarely like any of their products :)