Recently a big old scare report about how down video games were in Q1 2012 vs both Q4 2011 (Christmas time!) and Q1 2011 came out. Scare reports are fun and there is probably some truth to thinking that the ridiculous highs in sales were unsustainable but a quick look at the releases from Q1 explains a whole lot.
Here are the games I bought in Q1 (non-indie):
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor (DS)
- Tales of the Abyss (3dS)
- Tales of Graces f (PS3)
Looking at the highlights list on Wikipedia I’d say the “big releases” of the quarter were Soul Calibur V, The Darkness II, and Mass Effect 3. The only one of these with significant selling power on name is ME3 which sold a large number of copies before the whinepocalypse.
Compare that to Q1 2011 where the following came out:
- Crysis 2 (PS3/360/PC)
- Dead Space 2 (PS3/360/PC)
- Dragon Age 2 (PS3/360/PC)
- Killzone 3 (PS3)
Those are significantly higher profile releases (all selling about a million copies a piece). And even though Dragon Age 2 was underwhelming it sold a lot of copies before people caught on.
Game companies tend to stack most of their high profile releases in Q3 and Q4. You can’t release virtually nothing in a quarter and expect people to buy random new titles for the sake of buying something. This is especially true if people have less money to spend than in the recent past.
The good news is that Q2 2012 has some good releases including Diablo 3–which actually is the kind of game that can float the industry numbers (I believe it’s already sold 3 million copies)–Max Payne 3 (now a sexy Rockstar game), the Civilization V expansion and the new Ghost Recon. Most importantly the Pokemon/Nobunaga’s Ambition crossover game comes out here in June and I expect you all to purchase it.