By Jared Newman | Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 4:29 pm
It’s finally happening. This year, the most promising video games won’t be held for the holiday shopping season, as they have been for as long as I can remember. Instead, noteworthy game launches are scattered throughout the year, giving us things to play in the spring, summer and fall, and it’s wonderful.
This dawned on me today after hearing that Nintendo will launch two of its biggest releases in the next few months. Super Mario Galaxy 2 got a May 23 release date, and Metroid Other M will launch on June 27.
It’s not that blockbuster games are never released in the spring and summer; Grand Theft Auto IV came out in April 2008, as did Mario Kart Wii, and Wii Sports Resort launched last July. But as I look over release dates for 2010’s noteworthy games, the majority will arrive between now and the end of June. That’s not including all the games released already this year, such as Mass Effect 2, Bioshock 2, Heavy Rain and Dante’s Inferno — several of those are merely the result of a 2009 holiday season abandoned by publishers.
Here’s a short list of games that will arrive before the end of June, not including Nintendo’s two sluggers: God of War III, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Super Street Fighter IV, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Lost Planet 2, Alan Wake, Max Payne 3, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Skate 3, Singularity and Alpha Protocol. Move out to September, and you’ve got Civilization V and Brink. It’s possible that Halo Reach, scheduled for a fall release, could arrive in September as well, seeing as Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST had September launches.
Some things won’t change. July and August are still dry, but there will be such a backlog from May and June that it won’t matter. And I doubt the 2010 holiday gaming season will be dead, with Microsoft and Sony releasing motion control devices. But perhaps publishers are realizing that games are a year-round hobby, not just a toy for the kids on Christmas morning. I hope the strategy works out financially, so the cycle holiday gaming overload is broken for good.