Ahh summertime, that wonderful time of the year where it doesn’t rain quite as much and people complain it’s too hot whenever the clouds part. For us gamers it is also usually the time of year when the release schedules dries up almost completely, leaving many to feverishly anticipate the releases coming at the tail end of the year. But should they this year?
Many are predicting the end of the world in 2012 due to the Mayan calendar ending and the gaming calendar looks just as bleak, with most of the games being released being safe sequels to established franchises or yearly iterations.
But why? Have Microsoft and Sony really given up on gamers, focusing instead on entertainment and the casual market? Have developers really run out of ideas? Does it only make economic sense to release “safe” sequels that will be snapped up by the truckload? Maybe some of these are viable reasons but maybe it’s more likely most companies are looking further ahead to the next generation.
With E3 now over, many gamers are questioning why the event, famed for its blockbuster announcements, delivered very little. Almost everything shown in the major press briefings had previously been announced, and those that hadn’t were leaked in the days leading up to the event.
We know that both parties are working on next generation consoles and, especially with Microsoft, there is very little need to show their hand just yet. The fact that Kinect sold so well and continues to do so means MS are reluctant to let go just yet. Sony also won’t want to make similar mistakes as they did with the PS3 with rushing out bleeding edge tech, so hanging back a little allows manufacturing costs to drop a little, hardware to be tested and pondered over, operating system to be tinkered and release title to be conceived and polished. Pushing casual entertainment applications allows both companies to mop up a last few sales at the end of the cycle, slightly extending the console’s life in the meantime.
So was this year’s E3 of little consequence to Sony and Microsoft? Well without being funny, yeah, I suppose it was. It’s highly unlikely that titles like Halo 4, Black Ops 2, and God of War: Ascension won’t sell gangbusters. They simply didn’t need the advertising that E3 afforded them.
It’s seems then that Microsoft and Sony are planning a couple of big sequel releases to see their current console off in style but developers are still playing it safe. They’re having smaller developers and teams churn out stop-gap titles using existing engines and assets, while main teams hide in the background developing software for next generation hardware. Look between the lines, Microsoft showed three big exclusives at their E3 briefing, Halo 4, Gears of War: Judgement and Forza Horizon, Two of which are being developed by (no disrespect) “B” teams. So what are the main teams at Epic and Turn 10 doing??
Therefore isn’t it totally plausible that rather than rushing out hardware this year both companies are taking advantage of some breathing room, allowing them to fine tune things and more importantly allows developers to prepare a catalogue of titles for whenever hardware is released. Personally I’d rather wait a little longer enjoying the few awesome looking games that are being released this year, and then enjoy a variety of stellar releases at launch when the next generation finally appears. No one wants another 3DS and PS Vita wasteland of releases upon launch.
The point is: waiting for the next generation of consoles means a potentially better start for them. So quit your bitching.