The Olympic Games proved something of a welcome distraction recently - hours of watching frantic handball matches and women's beach volleyball (for science, of course) proved to be entertaining viewing, and my poor Xbox 360 was left thoroughly neglected. It's all over now, though; London goes back to what it once was and the world, including myself, moves on, seeking the next thrill in the name of entertainment.
Options are limited. I crawled back to my beloved Xbox, cap in hand and full of apologies for the brief flirtation with the digital box downstairs, and proceeded to get back into my stride, sprinting ala Usain Bolt style. Mass Effect's 3 Insanity came and went, Deus Ex's 'Give me Deus Ex' also held me up for a while, until it too was conquered. In the name of a challenge, I also ventured back into the multiplayer of Modern Warfare 3, before giving up disturbingly quickly (my patience for team deathmatch is growing thinner by the day, it seems). Ah, good old Minecraft, we meet again, a nice gentle game.... oh, Creeper, fu- *enters peaceful mode*.
Multiplayer undoubtedly extends the lifespan of games, even the ones where online multiplayer really doesn't belong. But they can also be repetitive and mind numbing after a certain period of time. It's true that not every player wants to be mentally stimulated, some are content to play the same thing over and over until they reach that last prestige rank, and will probably do so for the next dozen Call of Duty games as well. Others, however, yearn for new plots to explore, twists and characters to enjoy, and the pursuit of fictional happiness. That sort of thing can only be captured on the first playthrough most of the time. When asked what my one super power would be, I always respond: 'the ability to wipe my own memory'. Think about it. I could replay Assassins Creed 2 and still be blown away! I'd probably save a fortune as well; the need for new games would certainly not be an issue. It'll never happen, but a man can always dream...
Even with the sun shining bright outside and the smell of freshly mown grass filling the air, I can't help but look forward to the winter time, where a whole host of new video games should be hitting the shelves and heading straight into my disk tray. Assassins Creed 3, Resident Evil 6, Halo 4, Black Ops 2, and Fifa 13 will all be on my Christmas list, with Borderlands 2 filling the gap inbetween. Why not buy more than one? Because I'm cheap, that's why, and also very good at waiting. If you ever want to enjoy a game more than you ordinarily would, then try waiting for a few months after its release as an experiment. Let the eagerness swell up and the expectations rise before you finally tear that protective plastic cover off the box.
Not everyone will be so lucky, though, some will have to pick and choose what they can get and may end up missing out on some games entirely, which leads me onto the general point of this article: I wish the games being released were more spread out. It seems nowadays that the majority of the blockbuster games (with a few exceptions) are all being held back from release until the holiday period, hoping to perhaps make some extra money and cheap sales due to some well-meaning relatives and friends. This is all well and good, but when the majority of video games are being released around a congested time period... well, it's not ridiculous to wonder whether or not it could be done differently.
This is a recent trend, only really coming about when the first Borderlands proved you could go up against Call of Duty near Christmas and still sell well. Now it seems everyone wants a piece of the same pie, and the consumer is left to trundle through the carnage. Not that the previous system of everyone being terrified by CoD was better, but this current spate of releasing little in the May-August period except DLC is certainly not an improvement. Surely for some of these games there's potential for more money to be made if released in the summer, where there are few rivals to compete with.
We were lucky last year to have Deus Ex pop up in August, making up for the summer drought, and Square Enix reaped the benefits, shipping two million copies in the first two weeks. Ghost Recon and Darksiders 2 are this year's answers to the same void, with the former releasing in May and the latter releasing in August (check out the review on this site!), but the point still stands - we need more summer games! Failing that, the consumer needs at least some breathing room around the fall season, or it's back to women's beach volleyball during the summer for me, which is admittedly not as bad as it sounds.
A first world problem if there ever was one, but when there's a potential chance for improvement in the industry, shouldn't we be asking for it?