Over the weekend, I received an alert from Amazon that the release date for South Park: The Stick Of Truth had finally been updated, to November 19th. With both next gen consoles looming in the horizon to drop around that time as the holiday season begins, I started to question this release date. So late into the year, why not put this out on the next gen consoles?
I began to wonder, and started to look at the upcoming release schedule for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3:
November 19 – South Park: The Stick of Truth
November 19 – Watch_Dogs*
November 19 – Need For Speed Rivals*
November 5 – Call of Duty: Ghosts*
October 29 – Assassin’s Creed IV*
October 29 – Battlefield 4*
October 29 – WWE 2K14
October 25 – Batman: Arkham Origins
October 8 – Beyond: Two Souls
October 1 – NBA 2K14*
September 30 – NHL 14
September 24 – FIFA 14*
September 17 – Grand Theft Auto V
September 10 – The Puppeteer
September 3 – Rayman Legends
August 27 – Madden NFL 25*
August 27 – Lost Planet 3
August 20 – Splinter Cell: Blacklist
August 20 – Saints Row IV
Those with asterisks have a next-gen version coming out this year, which poses the question, for a developer or publisher, when is the cut-off for a game to get on a next gen console?
As is quite common when a new console generation begins, we know that many people will be selling their current gen consoles in order to drum up some of the cash needed to procure a next gen console, and for that reason alone, I believe that there are lost dollars, and lost opportunities for any publisher or developer who isn’t planning a dual release on both the current generation and next generation systems.
South Park: The Stick Of Truth is the only game coming out on or after October 29th that isn’t planned for a dual release, and I fear that Obisidian will get the blame if sales aren’t stellar on this and we may lose out on any potential sequels there could have been. Ubisoft is giving Watch_Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV the dual generation treatment, so why not add this one to that list as well? On the list above the only two that have a case for not going dual-gen are Rayman Legends and Splinter Cell: Blacklist, simply because of the time of the release. August 20/September 3 gives someone plenty of time to play the game on their PS3/360 before having to trade it in for the next gen.
One curious company up on the board is EA Sports. They’ll be releasing dual-gen versions of both Madden NFL 25 and FIFA 14, which are due out in late August and late September respectively, but their famed NHL franchise will not be getting to see the new age this year, and it comes out on the current gen after those other two do.
As a general rule for Electronic Arts, however, they seem to get it when it comes to the dual-generation releases, with a majority of their sports titles, along with Battlefield 4 and Need For Speed Rivals both releasing on both generations of consoles.
Perhaps it takes the giant of the publishers to be able to pump that kind of capital into these franchises to maximize their profits, where as we see Take Two’s developers 2K & Rockstar making curious decisions NOT to go to the next generation with some of their franchises. With 2K, as of right now, only NBA 2K14 is on the list to be a dual-generation release, where their popular WWE franchise is not. Rockstar is even more curious, releasing Grand Theft Auto in what is definitely the twilight of the current generation, and not opting to put out a version on the next gen. They might benefit from a mid-September release, but it makes me wonder how much more they could’ve sold by releasing on September 17 for the PS3/360, and again 2 months later for the PS4/XBone?
I believe, however, the most curious of all decisions is from Warner Brothers. The Batman Arkham series has been nothing but a huge success, and yet they are limiting themselves by only releasing on the last gen with presumably about 3 weeks before the next gen begins? Almost every single game due out from that point on is heading to both generations, so why potentially limit your sales and leave it only on the PS3/360?
Finally, and this one is a bit of a stretch, I would be remiss if I did not mention Volition/Deep Silver’s whimsical Saints Row franchise. Saints Row IV at least has a case not to be mentioned here because it is due out in late summer and there’s almost a full quarter before the next gen begins. However, after they confirmed their DLC schedule would be similar to the one they did for Saints Row The Third, which was almost an extra year’s worth of content, it makes me question this greatly, because once the next gen starts, is anyone going to go back to buy a DLC mission on a last-gen game?
I believe some of these companies who are not planning to release on the next gen need to remind themselves of where we are right now, and not punish the developers who worked on these games and chalk any slow sales up to the end of our current generation, as there’s some great looking games coming out that might not move as well as they would have mid-generation, or if released on both generations of consoles. Too often we just see IP completely die out because of bad sales for one reason or another, and the times when it’s not “because game was shitty”, it’s unfair to those developers who create a gem and things just didn’t sell.
What are your thoughts? Should all of the games I mention above be coming out for both generations of games? Are you one of the many who will have to sell your current gen console just to be able to afford your choice in the next generation?
A part time gaming journalist and radio practitioner, and one of the first editors here at Default Prime, Mike has been gaming since birth, starting back with the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64, on through to the PS3, PC, and whatever comes next. He is educated in communications and is a project manager by trade.
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