Winter, whether you love it or hate it is a great time to be a techie, gamer or just an overall geek. It’s finally the time where you are allowed to stay inside all day, bundle up with blankets and just play games, watch movies or just laze about on the Internet. It seems that even the tech companies and video game makers realize and give their own personal permission for us gamers to just geek out and laze about.
For gamers, Nintendo brought out its two best known figures with new Mario and Zelda titles hitting store shelves just in time for the holiday season. Mario 3D Land fast become the best selling portable Mario game of all time with more than 500,000 units sold. Not to be outdone, the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) sold about 535,000 copies within its first week, making it the fastest selling Zelda of all time (USAToday). Nintendo was not the only game company reporting records, but Activision’s Call of Duty drew large crowds in November, earning more than $400 million and more than 6.5 million units sold in the U.K. and U.S. alone (according to USAToday). One of the most anticipated games of the season, Bethesda’s massive Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, sold more than 3 million copies in its first two days!
At $60 a piece for each console game, and portable games selling at around $35-$40, game manufacturers are reaping the benefits of the winter weather and winter blues, cheering gamers up everywhere with new iterations of their beloved ground-pounding plumber or the next game in the popular COD series. What is surprising to me is that these games can have these types of sales when the economy is still in a recession and many of the targeted gamers are those going to college or in my case graduate school.
The Entertainment Software Association reports that 49 percent of all gamers are between 18 and 49 and the average gamer is about 35. How can all these games have such high profit margins when their core audience is cash-strapped high school , college or young professionals who enjoy gaming? For me, winter just makes me want to hibernate, stay warm and do something to put me in a better mood. Game companies and retail outlets bank on the Christmas spirit of giving and thus, release these hits hoping to earn more than the competition. Personally, I ask for games on Christmas more so than any other time not only because its Christmas but because there are a plethora of games out there to chose from.
But at what point do these games suffer from their own release dates? When the economy has gone downhill game budgets also flat line. NPD reports that video game sales were down 15 percent with the top game being COD. Some companies are taking note of the holiday rush to the shelves and are waiting for a free shelf to open up later in the fiscal year. According to 1Up, EA is holding off on its big blockbuster Mass Effect 3 until March, well after the Christmas tree has been taken down and the lights stuffed back into storage. But, will other companies wait as well? Or will the Christmas rush continue with Black Friday shoppers eagerly awaiting that midnight release? I hope to see game releases happen throughout the year, but I’m never one to say no to a new title just in time for me to warm up, heat up some hot chocolate and get ready to save yet another princess. Let me know how you and your pocket deal with the holiday gaming rush and whether you think companies should change their games’ release dates.