Gamers dread no season more than they do the Summer season. Summertime is a time of destitute in the gaming industry as publishers mostly avoid releasing their games during these months. One argument has always been that people are far more likely to spend their time doing outdoor activities rather than staying indoors playing video games. Whilst this has a basis, it is perhaps exaggerated as Summer does last a long time and, at least in my experience, I game a lot during this season. Hence my continued disappointment year after year with the drought that Summer brings. Is it time game publishers change their ways and start giving us some Summer blockbusters?
The trend has been set that publishers generally release early into the year or wait for the Fall season. Fall, in particular, is where you typically see the heavy hitters. It is cold outside so the assumption goes that people are spending more time indoors and thus more time gaming. Further, spending is highest in Q4 due to all the holiday sales. This is a sound economic practice. However, this season often feels congested and I personally cannot afford all the games I want to play at the time of release in the Fall season.
With that being the case, I have always hoped games would release during the summer. Yes, people spend their money on vacations and outdoor activities typically during this season so publishers might make the assumption that people would have less disposable income to spend on video games. Again, this is sound economic reasoning. Therefore, it is really whether games want to fight with other blockbusters during the Fall season or take a leap of faith and release in the otherwise open season of Summer where there would be far less competition.
Building on the previous point, surely some publishers would want to avoid the bloodbath of competing for our money come the Fall season? This upcoming Fall season will see the release of Gears 5, Borderlands 3, Call Of Duty Modern Warfare, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and The Outer Worlds just to name a few. That’s a heavy hitting lineup of games getting ready to launch so one cannot help but wonder if a summer release for one or two of these games would have been better for consumers and the publishers themselves.
Of course, this is purely subjective but I personally cannot believe that video game spending would be affected that drastically in the Summer. Times have changed and I do not think there is the same pressure to get out of the house as much as there used to be. In my view, the increase in outdoor activities in the Summer and gaming are not mutually exclusive. People can do both. Having said that, it is very difficult to change tradition in an industry as large as the gaming industry. I just cannot shake the feeling that practically having a whole season to oneself with minimal major competitors are not enticing more game publishers.
Traditionally, there was a big fear of the cinema taking away consumers from gaming during the Summer. After all, Summer was when the cinema would drop all the biggest films of the year. However, even that dominance is waning. Blockbusters such as the Star Wars films opt for a Fall release as well as many other blockbusters. Of course, summer is still full of blockbusters like Avengers: End Game but cinema does not dominate Summer the way it once did. The rise of streaming services provide shows like Stranger Things during the summer right at people’s fingertips without the need to leave the house. There should not be as much fear anymore about cinema detracting consumers. Again, I do not think these are mutually exclusive. If you release a quality movie and a quality video game, people will not hesitate to enjoy both.
If we take a look at this Summer window of 2019 and assess the releases you can see it is fairly drab. In terms of “big” releases, there was Rage 2 in May. June brought Crash Team Racing. In July we’re getting the new standalone Wolfenstein game. August is the best of the Summer months with Remedy’s Control and Sony’s Man of Medan set to launch at the end of the month. However, apart from these, there haven’t been any “big” games release this Summer. I don’t know about all gamers but I know I’ve been revisiting old games because I have a lot of time on my hands to game but no new games coming out.
Ultimately, I can understand why the Summer release window is quiet in the gaming industry. Old myths and traditions have cemented a reluctance in publishers to release games during this window. However, what I see here is opportunity. An opportunity just waiting for the right publishers to seize it and start making summers less of a drought for us gamers.