News Article

Talking Point: The Perils and Positives of a Packed Release Schedule

Posted by Mike Mason

Room for no more

We're all more than a little familiar with video game droughts by now. Until a few years ago, it was tradition to suffer a lack of software in the summer, surviving only on the ever-faithful backlog and the revitalising elixir provided by E3 info dumps. It's common in the months following a console launch too: we're sure you remember the painful times following 3DS's arrival, and more recently the bare release schedule for Wii U will have dampened more than a few peoples' enthusiasm for their new hardware.

This week, the latter system's struggles come to an end. Beginning with the launch of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Wii U's line-up begins to liven up over the coming weeks, and future months look to hold one or two titles to keep momentum going until E3. 3DS, meanwhile, is a handheld possessed, a far fling away from those harsh times in 2011.

But there's an opposite scenario that can strike just as much fear into a gamer's heart as a drought: a flood. Likely thanks to the combination of the upcoming spring holidays and the presumption that consumers have now just about recovered from 2012's Holiday season, the end of March is so packed full of new releases – more than most could reasonably play – that it's going to be difficult for the average gamer to keep up, whether it's due to financial or time constraints.

In Europe, we know of 14 games, across retail and digital download, that will be released for Nintendo systems from 22nd March to 29th March. Several of them are high profile: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on 3DS and Wii U, LEGO City Undercover, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U and Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. Games that arrived in North America months ago such as Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked are also touching down in this period, as are big 3DS eShop titles like HarmoKnight and Code of Princess. And we've not even counted the almighty Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr Dream.

North America has some of the pressure lifted due to earlier releases on a few titles, but with the addition of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, the total still rises to 12 games in those same weeks, not including Virtual Console titles. Both of these regional totals also include licensed titles like The Croods on 3DS / Wii U and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct on Wii U; these games might not have as big a profile as ones mentioned earlier, but they'll still find an audience and so have an impact on their schedule-mates. Remember, also, that we're still not taking into account titles on non-Nintendo platforms, such as Gears of War: Judgment, BioShock Infinite and Army of Two: The Devil's Cartel, which are arriving within that fortnight as well. Mercy, mercy, please have mercy.

Though we're obviously grateful for new games, to go from a massive games drought to an explosion of content is utterly ridiculous – particularly in Europe, which hasn't had the likes of Fire Emblem: Awakening to keep it busy yet. That leads into another problem: in the weeks following this, Toki Tori 2, Dr Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can You Stay Focused?, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Injustice: Gods Among Us and LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins are due to join the fray in Europe. As if anybody's disheveled, shrieking wallet is going to have healed up by then – it's a scheduling nightmare that rivals, probably surpasses, the madness usually seen around the Holiday season.

Some of these games should have been spaced out into other release windows: it's futile to expect that they can all enjoy success simultaneously. People only have limited funds, and so will have to make careful choices. Throwing out so many games at once is sure to leave behind some very sore losers as the bigger efforts cannibalise the sales of the less anticipated or known – and the results of today's bad planning could lead to diminished support tomorrow. Where were these games — games that could have helped Wii U to avoid a few of its bad headlines a little earlier in its launch window, games that would have sold with nothing else new on the shelves — a few weeks ago?

Of course, there are positives to all this; it's better to have fresh things ready for purchase rather than nothing, after all, and there's a reasonable chance that a few of these releases will prove to be evergreen titles that continue to sell after the launch period. This is the start of a 2013 line-up that should do wonders for both of Nintendo's consoles. Wii U is suffering the same way that 3DS did two years ago – there are even identical brand confusion and pricing concerns – and it needs games to drum up sales to take advantage of that head start before Microsoft and Sony's next consoles come into play. 3DS, on the other hand, is an active case study that shows that Nintendo is more than capable of recovering from a stunted launch. With a handful of essential titles it turned its fortunes around, and a bursting release schedule like this will only help it to blossom further into an unbeatable handheld.

It's all about public perception, too. A splash of new software, particularly after a barren couple of months, will invigorate each system, get people talking about them again, set the media machine whirring once more. It inspires confidence in the consumer and could convince some that, at least in this moment, support is strong enough to warrant a purchase that might not have been viable the last time they wandered into a shop. Wii U needs all the big flurries of activity it can get to solidify itself as a genuine contender in the eyes of the public. A few more weeks like this, before the outpouring of Nintendo's first party content, could definitely help it on its way.

We're happy, really – in the grand scheme of things, having too much entertainment on our plate isn't exactly high on the list of problems; some might not even see it as such an issue in the first place. With such a variety of games, it's quite likely that one or two of the titles will pique your interest. But, inevitably, there will be games here that don't do as well as they deserve to, and that's a massive shame. There's nothing that excites us quite like seeing tons of new games in the shops – but could we space them out just a little more next time, for the sake of all our pockets and spare time?

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User Comments (62)



Peach64 said:

I don't get people who complain about too many games coming out together. Just buy one at a time, finish it, then get the next one. Games drop in price so quickly and by so much these days, you'll save yourself a ton by avoiding release day.

It doesn't really feel like a flood of games to me either. On Wii U it's only really Monster Hunter and Lego City if you're not interested in ports, and even then one is pretty much an enhanced port of a Wii game. Same situation on the 3DS, it's only really Fire Emblem and Luigi's Mansion, and easy enough to do what I said above. Get one now, get another in a couple of months.

If people are interested in 2-3 of these Wii U games, they should probably do this because there's very little on the horizon. I reckon Pikmin 3 is coming June at the earliest and it would not surprise me if I slipped further than that. I've not see anything to suggest Wonderful 101 is a month or two away either. Apart from those two, we're looking at Wind Waker HD and Mario Kart.

I guess my definition of a flood of games is very different



DePapier said:

@Peach64 From a Wii U owner's perspective, it's much more about how there were no games before and now all of a sudden games are coming all at once, which will make these new Wii U games compete against one another. Thing is, it's probably going to be the ports that will find themselves in trouble and we might have 3rd parties reconsidering working so hard to bring them to begin with.



TreesenHauser said:

I just wish I could afford more Wii U games at the moment. The only new game I'll be playing for a while is BioShock Infinite.



Windy said:

@Mike I believe all of this to be true. Great article. Timing can be the best sometimes and can be the worst. I have had to skip some very good games this month because I simply can't afford it. But then Months can go by and nothing I like comes out. So Save your moneys during a drought boys and Girls cause good times are a Comin!



Magrane said:

Definitely different times for the 3DS since 2011. I'm glad to hear the Wii U is also being stocked up with supposed-quality games, but I don't think it's anythng stressful for the consumer. More options = happy gamers.

And somehow in that equation above, more options also means that even though we can't buy or play all the games at once due to "financial or time constraints", this factor is still a positive note due to the fact that over tme, games drop in prices anyway as competition for your hard-earned dollar sizzles!

All good news to me!



Beta said:

@Peach64 Well, not to me, there are Game and Wario and Wii U Party to look forward to along with those, so nope, no lack of games here (at least, for me, that is)



rjejr said:

"When it rains it pours, when it's dry it's dry as a bone."

I had a redneck friend in grad school who used to say this all the time regarding women. It kind of works for video games also. Though as usual I'm going to agree with Peach64 and don't see an abundance of games as a problem, and I really wouldn't call this an abundance of games either, not on the Wii U anyway with it's port of a 3 or 4 year old game (didn't TW just write about how bad old ports are for the Wii U?) and the single player Lego game isn't helping a console that is supposed to be built for asynchronous gameplay.

The 3DS has been getting a bunch of good games of late, and w/ Pokemon X+Y in Oct., and AC:NL coming out whenever, that system is set. Luigi should have been a Wii U game.



Burning_Spear said:

For me, the downside of a drought is that it makes me buy games that wouldn't interest me during a period of steady releases. A following rush of games causes me to skip games I might have ordinarily bought.



cornishlee said:

@ Peach64
Yep, you basically summed it up.

Personally speaking, none of these games appeal so my wait for new games continues. Sooner or later though, there will be several I want releasing around the same time. It's inevitable and because of those release schedules, I've spent the last few months catching up on some Wii games I missed at the time.



Windy said:

@Peach64 Everyone should be as you say. Buy 1 at a time finish it then go on to the next one. Unfortunately Most are not like that. I'm guilty of it myself and then Chain Gaming becomes a problem and for that you need to see a shrink.



WiiLovePeace said:

I just hope that other 3rd party games' sales don't get trampled by Monster Hunter & the like. I'm happy for all the games to come out, but I want the games that do deserve sales & spotlight to find those things & hopefully not be hidden in the shadow of first party releases. I really hope Need for Speed: Most Wanted U gathers enough sales to justify releasing DLC for it.



Spoony_Tech said:

And people are wondering why Castlevaina didn't sell well!! Can't blame people for wanting to save their money for all these games. It's like CHRISTmas in March!!



jpfan1989 said:

I definitely feel flooded, I'm half way through Pokemon white2 then i get monster hunter (which i am obsessed) with now luigis mansion AND Pokemon mystery dungeon not to mention Donkey Kong and Pokemon XY coming later on, when will i find the time?



NintyMan said:

This is a busy spring for all sides, but that doesn't mean you have to buy all the games in one season. Just get the games you're the most interested in and wait on the others until you have the money or the energy to get them.

What really gets me is this summer. It's very unusual for Nintendo to have a busy summer. Normally, summer was a time to play the games you got in spring and enjoy E3, but it's different this year. Now Nintendo has a few big games like Mario & Luigi and Mario Golf coming in the heat of the season.



paburrows said:

None of these releases interest me, but for me thats a good thing since I'm still trying to get through all of the Christmas games along with Fire Emblem and Code of Princess.



EaZy_T said:

It's too bad a few of the Wii U games haven't been releasing throughout the launch window. I guess it's good to get the games, even if all at once (after a dry spell, no less). I'm not as worried about the 3DS, it has already recovered from a tepid launch (I'm still hoping the Wii U blasts-off soon).



BakaKnight said:

Eheh... I kidded about this crazy schedule release few times in my previous comments around the articles here XP

It's of course great the titles are coming, ack! That's what we gamers keep asking and hoping!

Personally I'm very glad cause my 3DS won't risk to get dusty as I was fear in december 2012, but in such release situation putting some "must have" titles on the waiting list is unavoidable!!! XD



drunkenmaster76 said:

Wii u needs more exclusives like lego city know one wants to play games they've already played on ps3/xbox or hd remakes of games they played a couple of years ago and games like pikmin/wonderfull 101 don't appeal to the genral public especially in the UK all they want to play is cod, halo or any other fps that's churned out nowadays.

I guess Wii U's just for the cool kids.



twistedbee said:

You have a good point. I dont have alot of Extra cash laying around so to stock up on some really good games I've been waiting on... all at one time... is pretty hard to swallow. And with developers saying they are only gonna support games if the sales numbers are good enough puts us as consumers in a hard place. Do you get one and risk them not supporting the other due to lack of sales or vice versa? It's great that we are getting some new stuff, but with so many at one time very few of them will reach their sales goals. Which will eventually affect it overall. And while we a consumers don't care about sales numbers, companies do. Bad numbers equal no support. Its a vicious and moronic circle.
Luckily, Target stores had a sale this week on games, and I was able to get Monster Hunter, Most Wanted and Lego City really cheap... But not everyone has that option.



NinGamer85 said:

A blast of Wii U and 3ds software is good for Nintendo...good for gamers. Online will be flooded with response and reviews of these games and will only draw the spotlight back toward nintendo...where it should be.



Haywired said:

I've never really understood gamers who complain about a "games drought". I mean, there's always plenty of games around to play on any console. Whether it be current retail games, small eShop games or of course retro games on the Virtual Console (I mean, how can anyone have a "games drought" when there's over 30 years of video game history to explore?)

It also means that you may end up buying an obscure hidden gem that you might not have taken a chance on if there were more obvious choices around at the time.



Gamercake said:

I don't get what the problem is. If there are many games this month, but a drought in the next, you can just play a game you didn't have time to play instead. In February there weren't any new games, so I bought something I didn't have time for in November. I also picked up Epic Mickey and PIKMIN, two games I didn't have time for when they were released back on the Wii. If anything, I'm not complaining if there are too many games to play.



NinGamer85 said:

Right on...I picked up NFS and MHU this week, my birthday is in a month and I'll be using my eshop card to purchase lego city. No problems here except finding time for anything but Monster f'n dope!



DerpSandwich said:

I feel like some people are giving the Wii U's current lineup too much credit. A lego game is not going to appeal to a lot of people (myself included). An HD remake of a very "niche" game is also not going to appeal to a lot of people (myself included once more). Wonderful 101 looks cool, but I probably won't pay full price for it and I figure a lot of other people won't care too much about it. Pikmin 3 is incredibly exciting for me, but not a lot of people have actually played Pikmin or care.

None of these are system-sellers. And it doesn't even have to be a monster 10 million-copy smash hit to be a system-seller. Just a really solid game that appeals to a lot of people, and I don't see any of that here. In fact, unless they announce some really incredible stuff to come out this year, I can't see 2013 being successful. This does not seem like a "flood" of amazing games. If I bought every single game that got a good review score, maybe, but I definitely don't. Even with Wind Waker HD in the fall, the lineup is horrible.



CaPPa said:

I'm the opposite of you, Lego City, MH3U, The Wonderful 101 and Windwaker HD were/are all on my most wanted list and day one purchases; where as Pikmin 3 doesn't interest me at all. I agree that they are all somewhat niche games though and might not have a big impact on sales but I'm pretty sure that either Mario 3D or Mario Kart U will be released in 2013 (more likely Mario Kart) and they can definitely be big sellers.

If the aforementioned games plus others (Game & Wario, Yoshi's Yarn etc) are spaced out over the year then it'd be ok, but if they come all at once and leave barren months inbetween then it'll be a problem.



TheLilK98 said:

Good. I just got a WiiU today. Although I'm loving MH3U3D, I'm not getting the WiiU version. Capcom isn't getting an extra 60 bucks out of me just for online.



NinGamer85 said:

@DerpSandwich In case you haven't seen the explosion of MiiVerse activity for Monster's crazy. Anyone willing to give this game one hour will play for 100. That's a system mover for will NPD for March. Monster Hunter is the RPG on Wii U right now so there's that many million RPG players.

Lego City is a family friendly game with great depth for anyone wanting a relaxed gaming experience. As much as I love MHU I still break for games I can play relaxed and chill like I will be doing with Lego City next month. And kids will want to play Lego City, parents will buy a Wii U if they don't have one.

Mario Kart and I'm guessing a new 3d Mario will be ready for 2013 as we haven't heard much from them for a while now. Those two games will sell 1 million consoles at least...check the history. Pikmin 3 I would guess to move at least half that within 30 days...I'll be picking it up. Also Pikmin was a very high selling gamecube title...many people love it.

Wind Waker HD will also sell systems, hell they can bundle it with a gold colored Wii U and I'll buy another one and keep my black deluxe. Also I'm guessing that Wind Waker is going to raise the awareness of a certain new Zelda title that will be your 10 million smash.

Bayonetta 2, Watch Dogs, (currently) Battlefield 4 announced as 3rd party interests for me and E3 isn't even here yet.



Amigaengine said:

The games released in the past 2 weeks is better than what was available at launch.

No such thing as too many games but can understand a few people having to make tough decisions. I simply had been saving since January expecting titles to come Just remember U can only play one at a time.



Doma said:

Nothing here interests me apart from a few on 3ds. Haven't bought a game for it since KI though (the last game actually enjoyed was RE:R).

Fire emblem – will buy day one, been waiting f*ckin forever to play this!
Code of Princess – would've bought it if Nintendo's DD service wasn't so awful.
Luigi's Mansion 2 – Having played the first, my interest is only slight. A demo would be nice...

I couldn't care less for ports, or Nintendo's over rehashed titles. This usually leaves for slim pickings... Good thing i own other platforms.



MAB said:

It would be better time spent if these whingers just STFU, get out of the comment section and just play the games they like on their system of preference



Zombie_Barioth said:

@Haywired Exactly, you can't possibly try to tell me that you've played every single game you've ever wanted to play already.

The problem with floods like these is if you play a lot of more niche games that could be hard to find later on or long, drawn out games like RPGs or sims that take a while to get through.



kkslider5552000 said:

Wind Waker, niche?

You are right about the rest, but that's society's problems for buying mediocre games instead of Platinum and cool stuff. (and everyone who bought yet another NSMB game is equally guilty, so no hypocricy)



rayword45 said:

@rjejr That quote, is it meant to be sleazy or beyond sleazy?

Anyways, the whole waiting thing doesn't really work if you're the ones making the games. I could just wait a week to see a movie, but the opening weekend matters a lot. Not to mention price drops minimizing profit.



Neram said:

There's always such thing as Evergreen sales for those titles that get missed in the fray. It seems that video games nowadays only sell for the first week or two they are released, rather than over the entire year.



Ronan3461 said:

Off topic:Now that nintendo released the official zelda timeline,who else thinks nintendo should release the fire emblem timeline? Now that will be way harder than the zelda timeline



DerpSandwich said:

It's definitely the strongest of the lineup. But I just don't think it's enough to carry everything else. The first game I referenced was Monster Hunter, if there's some confusion there.



AtomicToaster said:

I'm in North America and it's already ridiculous here! I have Monster Hunter 3 for Wiiu, Lego City Undercover and Zombi U which I bought at a buy to get 1 sale. Then I got Need for speed on that Origin sale for 30 dollars, and I also got Darksiders 2, a new copy, for 30! I haven't even been able to pick up Luigi's Mansion and Fire Emblem yet which totally sucks! I really don't think I'm going multi platform this gen, I wanna support first and third party content on Wiiu and 3ds and there's no way I'd have time for another console, I'm not even touching steam, I'm ignoring it!

It's getting to be a bit like college again when all I had (because it was all I could afford) was a gamecube and a gameboy and that was more than plenty!



Void said:

@piki I personally have been playing more of Monster Hunter than LEGO City, except for the fact that I have about 10 hours more on LEGO city according to the Wii U, which I'm positive my sister played.



ouroborous said:

not even too many to play, its too many to buy at once! ive got a list piling up just for 3DS titles now. which i guess is better than having nothing to pick from.

playing Etrian Odyssey IV now and loving it, just beat Castlevania Mirror of Fate and loved it (even if it felt a bit short), gonna get Luigi Mansion Dark Moon when it comes out but still have to get/play Fire Emblem Awakening, Rayman Origins, Unchained Blades, Bloody Vampire, Witch's Cat, Monster Hunter 3, Nano Assault EX, Fluidity Spin Cycle, Dillon's Rolling Western 2, still hoping for a US localization of Bravely Default, and it looks like there's yet more to come as well.

2013 isn't looking too shabby for 3DS, the ball is finally rolling!




Im really loving the walking dead, the gamepad is used in a similar fashion to zombi u making it the best version in my opinion (although I havn't tried the others) and IT SUPPORTS OFF SCRREN PLAY, love it.

I got it brand new for 29.99, I really dont know why this game got such bad reviews.

These reviewers must be so boring, that they have forgotten that games are meant to be fun, and if Im having fun playing it then its a job well done.




I will never complain about weeks like this last one. I had not given up on the Wiiu or 3ds but I must admit I was getting a little restless with the Wiiu after the Rayman mess. This next few months are what the Wiiu needs. Not only are we getting games but good games not just sloppy ports. Nintendo you have some momentum don't derail the train again let it roll.



Dpullam said:

I really don't mind having a shortage of games each year. It allows me to go back and play some older classics that I haven't played in a while.



Dpishere said:

For me I only play one game at a time starting with the one I am most in the mood for. Having large amounts of quality titles just gives me more options, though I do plan on getting all that I want at some point.



SpaceApe said:

Too many games is a problem for me because I value quality over quantity. So it doesn't matter how many games Nintendo has coming but they better be quality games. I just think that is important.



FineLerv said:

"Old ports" only affect you if you've played the game before. I didn't discount the original Mass Effect being release on Play Station just because I'd played it on X-Box already. A good game is a good game, and it's disappointing that the release of good games seem to be dismissed too often in the realm of the Internet forum - just because a poster may have played it already! When Castle Crashers was released on PSN two years after the 360 version, people rejoiced and they were justified in doing so!

I'm excited for Need for Speed because, although I own a 360 and a PS3, I've never played it before. It's that simple. If I had played it before, I'd be excited for the people who hadn't had the opportunity to do so finally getting the chance to play what is a good game. Maybe I'm not normal; it just seems to me the only thing "old" around here is the tired dismissal of the Wii U's ports every time one is released.

Wii U is now my preferred platform so I am ecstatic about the flood of games. Too much to play, not enough time.



Funny_Moblin said:

This may be off topic, but I'm not sure about something: For Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, does the monster's health depend on how many people are fighting with you to make it fair?



moo99 said:

There are few ways to manage release schedules effectively:
1. work employees to death
2. release bad product
3. delay finished product

Anyone have more? 1 & 2 go hand in hand and were clearly required for WiiU's christmas release. So complaining there are too many games or not enough games are due to the problems of being human, i.e. - it ain't done yet.

When it's done, don't complain that you can't buy seven new games at once. No one's forcing you.



moo99 said:

And during the "drought" several games have been released. They're not first-party, they're not what was promised, and most are download-only, but they do exist.



LordGeovanni said:


My Target list:
Games coming out soon (Last update on March 15th, 2013)

Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger
.....April 11th, 2013
Flipnote Studio 3D
.....Before/During Summer 2013
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
.....March 24th 2013
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
.....March 24th 2013
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Project X Zone
Ace Attorney 5
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy
Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney
Super Smash Bros. (Tentative Title)
Dragon Quest VII
Pokémon X & Y
.....October 2013
Mega Man 6
.....June 2013
Mega Man 5
.....May 2013
Mega Man 4
.....April 2013
Harvest Moon GBC
Zelda Oracle of Seasons
.....Before Summer 2013
Zelda Oracle of Ages
.....Before Summer 2013
Digimon World Re:Digitize Decode
Inazuma Eleven GO Galaxy
HomeTown Story
Delver's Drop
.....PC game (maybe 3DS 2014)
SteamWorld Dig
.....Mid- 2013
Fantasy Life

Games already out

Etrian Odyssey IV
Megaman 3
Megaman 2
PicDun 2: Witch's Curse
Crimson Shroud
Mutant Mudds
The Sword of Hope

(Recently got those last three today...)



MAN1AC said:

So 1st there were complaints about no ppl are complaining about too many games?



thepig said:

i think its good that there are too many games
i mean, i haven even bought a new 3ds games since kid icarus came oout and i just bought monster hunter for it recently. i had to make a veeeeeeery careful choice between that, fire emblem, etrian odyssey, and luigis, i think i made a good choice though.

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