Not only are a ridiculous amount of great triple-A games slated for release next month, but so many of these already have massive followings eagerly awaiting them. Quite frankly, there are going to be a lot of video games sold in November. Now, this should be a good thing for the gaming industry in general, but I have a feeling it's going to negatively impact individual franchises.
The problem here is that too many games are coming out. Many of these game franchises have overlapping fan bases, and some gamers might not be willing to spend money on more than one game in a month this close to the holidays.
Case in point, Modern Warfare 3. The Call of Duty series has a devoted group of players that will buy each new game in the series as it comes out once per year. It's like clockwork. However, this year, Modern Warfare 3 has some serious competition in the form of Battlefield 3.
Battlefield 3's launch date is just two short weeks ahead of Modern Warfare 3's. Was this an intentional early grab at CoD fans who might get caught up in the early Battlefield buzz, making the purchase and realizing later that they no longer have the extra cash to buy MW3? Perhaps. This actually becomes a little suspicious as Battlefield 3's beta has left many with the impression that the game isn't quite ready to ship yet. But at this point, EA simply cannot move the Battlefield launch date. Doing so would cause them to lose any ground they have over CoD right now. I'm even beginning to worry that BF3 is going to ship as an incomplete product, the victim of post-launch patch after patch to get things right.
Over the past few years, the Call of Duty franchise has been gaining an almost unstoppable momentum, constantly breaking sales records with each year's offering. According to this pattern, Modern Warfare 3 should be the biggest selling CoD game yet. But I don't think it will be. I think too many gamers are on the fence about the series this year, and Battlefield 3 is doing its darnedest to swing those gamers over to its side. In fact, Battlefield 3's Kevin O'Leary even admitted that these "on the fence" gamers are the demographic the game is aiming for.
Now, too much web space has already been spent on the BF3 vs. MW3 battle, so I must move on. Especially when Battlefield 3 is still launching in October, and I'd like to focus on some of November's battles.
Like this one: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is hitting shelves on November 11. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is coming out November 15. Now, on the surface, these two games may not seem to have a lot in common; Zelda being the cartoony action/puzzle RPG and Skyrim being the massive and gritty open world RPG. However, both are fantasy RPGs, both boast 100 or more hours of gameplay, both have rabid fan bases who have been waiting over five years for these titles, and both have the word "sky" in the title. I guarantee the target demographics for these two games have quite a bit of overlap, and the fact that they're coming out within four days of each other is going to put them in fairly direct competition.
I must say, though, I'm pretty sure it's Zelda that will suffer more for this. This is mostly due to the fact that so many gamers consider the Wii to be a dying (or dead) console. With the Wii U coming out next year and the Wii's 2011 software lineup being so weak, gamers have simply left their Wiis alone, or even traded them for GameStop credit by now. When given the choice between Skyrim and Skyward Sword, many gamers are going to go for the one that's in HD, the one that doesn't require waggling.
And Skyrim isn't the only massive open world game coming out next month. Gamers will also need to clear their shelves to make room for Assassin's Creed Revelations and Saints Row: The Third. Of course, these games are vastly different, but they are both launching on November 15 and there's at least a partial overlap in the fan bases. Many players will be making some tough choices with their hard-earned cash.
And what of Metal Gear Solid HD? This is a remastered collection of Metal Gear Solid games from the PS2 era, and last I checked, it was still scheduled for a U.S. release date of November 8. (The European release has been delayed into 2012.) But this isn't the only remastered classic from the previous generation to hit shelves in November. Halo Anniversary is coming out November 15, just a week later. Now, MGS was one of the definitive series for the PS2, but its popularity has been waning a bit in the HD era. On the other hand, Halo was a definitive series on the original Xbox, and continues to maintain its support, with Halo 4 on the way. (Yes, Metal Gear Solid: Rising is coming too, but there has been so little in the way of hype for it, many fans are wondering if it has disappeared altogether.)
I think MGS will definitely take the bigger hit, but it might make up for this—at least a little bit—by being available on both PS3 and Xbox 360. But then again, PS3 owners have Uncharted 3 to pick up in November as well.
My prediction: There are so many games coming out in November that they are going to be directly competing with each other, even if this isn't entirely intentional. On one hand, this could damage individual franchises. But on the other hand, this is the holiday season, when people loosen their purse strings (and their belt buckles), so November is the best possible month for this type of competition.
It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out. I have a feeling that we as gamers are going to look back at November of 2011 as one of the best months in the history of gaming, while game publishers are going to be not entirely satisfied with the sales figures of each individual game.
CCC Editor/Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*