This week in game releases has been simply incredible.
Highlighted by Titanfall and Dark Souls II, this week has also gifted gamers everywhere with the arrival of one of the greatest multiplayer experiences in years (Towerfall) on systems where people might actually be able to play it, and brings us the much anticipated full release of the GOTY candidate Hearthstone. If that’s not enough, you lucky 3DS owners out there get to grab Yoshi’s New Island on the 14th.; a release that I as a non-3DS owner am intensely jealous of.
Despite all that concentrated greatness, the biggest video game release news of the week may just concern a game that isn’t coming out yet.
Developer CD Projekt revealed that the highly anticipated Witcher 3 will be delayed until 2015. In an open-letter to the fans explaining the situation, the team fired off the usual rhetoric concerning delayed games, and revealed that the move was one done to assure the quality of the final product. Given the quality of the series so far, I tend to take their word on this one.
However, the absence of Witcher 3 on the horizon does create a power void of sorts in the 2014 holiday release schedule. In fact, going off of the Game Informer release schedule for 2014, with the exception of Destiny’s release in September, and the supposed October release of Arkham Knight, the holiday season is absolutely barren.
To say the least, that’s odd.
While gaming might not be as dependent on the holiday rush as it used to be, it’s still something of a tradition that your biggest releases will come out in the fourth quarter. With E3 still on the horizon, there is still a fair chance we’ll get some surprise releases to fill the crucial October through December sales period, but given the recent E3 trend of announcing games that aren’t due out until next year at the soonest, that seems less likely.
It’s an unusual release balance to be sure, but it’s also one I kind of like.
As a kid, I used to be bothered by the fact that the best games didn’t come out in the Summer when I actually had the time to play them. As an adult, not much has changed, as the holiday rush is traditionally insane on a personal and professional level, and keeps me playing all the biggest games well into the new year.
A one year reprieve from that madness where all the biggest games come out on a more sensible time-table is certainly appealing, but that’s not the reason I’m excited about the wide-open holiday race.
See, as much as I love gaming, I have to admit that between the fact I’m rapidly approaching veteran gamer status, and the 24 hour video game coverage the internet provides, I’m rarely every surprised by a video game. Occasionally something great comes along I wasn’t expecting, but it’s not often.
That’s why the completely blank holiday release schedule gets me so excited. I guarantee you that 3-4 month period will be as loaded as ever with big releases, but the difference this time is that we might not necessarily see them coming a mile away.
2014's Biggest Game?
Not to mention that if indeed the amount of Triple-A titles this year will be subdued, then it may lead to smaller companies that might otherwise be terrified to release around the holidays, taking that period by storm, and flooding it with a variety of games that would usually get sprinkled throughout the year with half the fan-fare. To me, that’s a much more exciting prospect than the usual red carpet parade of A-list titles.
It’s not that Witcher 3 would have taken over the holidays by itself, but it was a place holder of sorts that ensured the traditional VIP list of holiday games was going to be intact. Its absence removes that reserved slot from the holiday table, and leaves it wide open for a walk-in to get the best seat in the house.
And that’s good news. Because as fun as the big name holiday rush is, there’s no greater gift in gaming than a game that takes you by surprise, and we could be looking at a holiday full of them.