With the release Cyberpunk 2077, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, the Fortnite The Last Laugh Bundle, and potentially the new PS5 and Xbox Series X, November is now being considered this year’s Christmas. According to retail experts NPD, the month’s popularity for game launches is rooted in history. Video games, which were often seen as children’s toys, have been commonly released in November when the holiday shopping season starts.
Microsoft has traditionally launched consoles in November since the original Xbox in 2006, and Sony has followed suit. Meanwhile, Nintendo doesn’t observe this custom. For example, the Nintendo 3DS was released in March 2011, while the Nintendo Switch was launched in March 2017. “We have seen video game hardware launches buck the fourth-quarter release trend to great success,” says Mat Piscatella, NPD’s executive of games.
In the future, however, things could change. Piscatella says that although November will continue to be popular for releases, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended conventional thinking. Many launches, such as Halo Infinite, have been delayed as a result of the lockdown. There are still many uncertainties in the gaming industry as to what release dates can be met, so in the future companies may choose to strike while the iron is hot.
Earlier this year, Microsoft did not expect any delay in the planned release of the Xbox Series X console, according to Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, though he did state that some games expected near launch may be delayed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although Piscatella thinks the PS5 and Xbox Series X may be able to stick to their release dates, nothing is certain. However, even if Sony and Microsoft meet expectations this year, they may become more flexible for future launches. “Nintendo has already proven it sees strong selling potential for new hardware outside of the holiday window, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more,” Piscatella says.
He also believes future console generations may appear more frequently, even every two years. Since demand has increased, it may make sense for companies to launch hardware more often. “Demand for gaming hardware and great games has been proven throughout the calendar year and having more open windows for a product’s release could be very appealing,” he adds.
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