Release Dates Have Almost Stopped Mattering

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I see people are not pleased with Persona 5’s likely six-month delay. Y’know what? I don’t care. Actually, a part of me was sort of hoping for it.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get mad about another game delay again. The existence of my backlog has ensured I’ll never really have a “long wait” for any game, possibly ever again.

The only game delay I think recently “hurt” me was the first Witcher 3 delay, back when we were still expecting it to land in late 2014. I still ended up buying and starting that game about two months after its launch because I just had too much else on my plate. I bought and started Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on day one but Witcher 3 seriously slowed my progress in it, and I’m only just now getting into Phantom Pain in earnest with Witcher 3 done.

Release dates just don’t mean all that much to me anymore. Generally what’s done this to me is the huge number of games available to me today. However, I’m not sure what factor is more important: the presence of Steam today or how few games were available to me back in my days as a Nintendo-only hardware owner.

During the Gamecube or N64 era I could count on maybe less than ten great games coming out per year. I read Nintendo Power’s release date calendars like they were gospel, and every Zelda delay was like a dagger to the heart. You better believe I was there day one because what else was I gonna do? Beat Mario for the 30th time? Those software droughts are what made me buy every Nintendo console game worth playing, practically master them, buy a few that were mediocre to bad, and probably master those games too.

Part of me wishes I could go back to that time (maybe things would feel that way if I only owned a Wii U right now) when every game felt more precious. It’s not even that we have too many games coming out these days, it’s that we have too many good games coming out.

Every morning I log into Steam and check the daily que of a dozen random games it tosses me. Every once in a while one might look good enough to throw into my wishlist. Recently quite a few interesting games have shown up with release dates right around the corner, but I don’t pay attention to those dates anymore. When it comes to indie game sales people like to blame customers who wait on sales, but the truth is everything else I have to play always keeps me busy until that sale happens. If I didn’t have 100-plus other unplayed games in my Steam library I just might pay $30 for SOMA. Okay, maybe the way Steam treats the market has devalued individual games. If that’s true, then I don’t think it’s the sales that devalue the games, but the sheer number of games.

This is also a big reason I don’t pre-order games anymore — I don’t really play them on day one. Phantom Pain for me was the exception, not the rule, and even there I “pre-ordered” maybe a day before the launch date. Right now I seriously doubt the same will happen when Fallout 4 launches. I very realistically see myself waiting on that game until 2016 when the mod tools come out, if then. Just Cause 3Hitman? All those other indie games coming out this fall? I don’t even know.

In some ways I’ve become like general consumers who don’t even really think about release dates. They just buy what’s available.

BULLETS:

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