Shooters…what can we say about this gaming genre. They’re the most popular, most played, and most generic video game type in the industry. You can’t tell me that you don’t look forward to at least one shooter every year. Year 2011 is no different but quite a handful of them are releasing from September to December (Gears of War 3, Resistance 3, Battlefield 3, Rage, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier). In the same time period last year, 2010 saw five-six shooters hit store shelves and this year we may see more than double that amount. With shooters being the most common video game in the business, is it smart or stupid to release so many of them in such a small time frame?
Let’s take a look at all the shooters mentioned above shall we. They’ll be grouped in those definitely coming out and those with a chance. This is not a fully comprehensive list. All release dates are based on NA projections.
Definitely Coming Out
Gears of War 3 – The third and concluding installment of the Gears trilogy. Arguably one of the best 360 exclusives adds more innovation and introduces a new enemy to chainsaw through. With a firm September 20th release date, Gears of War 3 looks to be one of the biggest heavy hitters this year.
Rage– id Software’s latest title looks to put a spin on post-apocalyptic games. With a similar plot to Fallout, original game design, and RPG elements…Rage certainly looks like a promising entertainment experience come September 13th.
Modern Warfare 3 – With the last two CoD games selling big and having game breaking issues, Sledgehammer Games, Infinity Ward, and Raven Software look to continue the Modern Warfare storyline. The goal of “bug free” and a 95 rating proves that Activision wants the next Call of Duty game to do more than sell well. Expect it to come out sometime this November.
Resistance 3 – Continuing after the death of Resistance 1 & 2 protagonist, Hale, Capelli gathers up what little pockets of resistance are left to battle the Chimera. As expected even more wacky weapons will appear, the return of the weapon wheel, and smaller but enhanced multiplayer; this Resistance installment looks to duke it out on even terms with Gears of War 3 on September 6th.
Uncharted 3 – More of an action-adventure title, it still encompasses shooting as a way to battle enemies. Since Uncharted 2 is thought of as “the perfect game”, the 3rd looks to break even more ground with sand and fire enhancements. Add that the multiplayer “will compete with the big boys”, Uncharted 3 looks to rake in even more GOTY awards when it releases November 1st.
Battlefield 3 – This direct sequel to Battlefield 2 looks to specifically crush CoD at its own game. Destructible environments will return, enhanced multiplayer progression, and a “more” realistic warzone feel…Battlefield 3 looks to redefine war shooters. Battlefield 3 should make an appearance by, the very latest, December 31st.
Firefall – Red 5 Studios free to play, manga styled, MMO shooter. With actual effort being put into this title, expect a lot more downloads/sales than the $60 games late in the year. For more info on Firefall click here.
EA’s mysterious shooter – EA CEO John Riccitiello has said multiple times that EA plans on releasing an unrevealed FPS shooter sometime in 2011. Since we’ve heard nothing of it since then, I can only assume it will come out sometime in Q4.
Chance of Coming Out
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – This Ghost Recon looks to add even more technology based shooting combat and tactical elements to the franchise. In an interesting twist on Russian war stories…Ghost Recon: Future Soldier may be bought and enjoyed solely for the campaign. With a projected release anywhere from Q3 of 2011 to Q2 of 2012, this Ghost Recon may appear at any moment.
Doom 4 – The next installment is neither a sequel to Doom 3 nor a reboot. This Doom looks to have bolstered and unprecedented graphics. Little is known about the story and there is an even littler chance that this could see a late 2011 release.
Postal 3 – Yup, big daddy violence. Developer Running with Scissors has said that Postal 3 could see a Q1 or Q2 of 2011 release. Sadly, we’ve heard nothing further on the sequel besides that it will be a third-person shooter. So we can assume that with finishing touches and publishing…Postal 3 will see a release date sometime down the line in 2011.
XCOM – The “re-imagining” of the 1994-2001 video game series. It offers a unique twist on the alien feel with a FPS experience. It is expected to be released in 2011 but word has come out that it may see a Q3/Q4 release for the PC & 360.
Nuclear Dawn – Due to a protracted development cycle, this game has had multiple projected release dates. This FPS & RTS post-apocalyptic game should be out for the 360 & PC in 2011 but things are still unclear.
Why it is Smart: According to NPD software sales in the past three years, the months September-December have seen the greatest amount of games sold and revenue generated in each year. Of course the month of December may have a big factor on sales (holiday season) but that doesn’t explain the other three months. Do we gamers get “a special feeling” inside that tells us to buy more video games later in the year? Regardless, those software reports haven’t been ignored by developers and publishers. Since shooters are the most overall popular type of game, why not sell them at a time when sales are going to be at a year high? That is what a good amount of developers plan and execute as evident with all these shooters this year. Once again money is a factor.
When you release a bunch of games, similar in nature, around the same time…there are bound to be winners and losers. Whatever game ends up in the winners category gain a sense of esteem and pride. Those “winning” games battled it out with other games (regardless of similarity) and ended up on top. As custom, more money will be garnered towards the winners but also all the attention and prestige will carry on into that developer’s next project. Plus, some games coming out this year already have more hype and attention than its competitors. So being the next best shooter can come easier to some.
This is also a chance for those unique/original IP’s to shine. Let’s take Rage for example. If it can be compared to being even close to (let’s say) Uncharted 3 in greatness, then wouldn’t Rage get some major props? Just look at what Bulletstorm did to Killzone 3. Some gamers have gone so far as to say that Bulletstorm outperformed KZ3. Rage doesn’t necessarily have to “beat” Uncharted 3, but if it came close…the game might as well be in the “winning” category.
The last smart reason affects us fans. As said before shooters are popular but generic. Luckily, titles like Nuclear Dawn and XCOM offer us something unique or new with the genre. It is in this sense that we gamers have more of a diverse choice come late 2011. As a few DualShockers’ Editors have said, “Gears of War 3 will basically be Gears. You’ll have a chainsaw to cut through some enemy…rinse and repeat.” We’re not saying Gears 3 won’t be fun but we know what to expect come its release.
Why it is Stupid: You’re releasing a ton of games, in the same time frame, with the same game aspect. Can’t be blunter than that right readers? No matter how popular a title is (Uncharted 3, Gears of War 3, Modern Warfare 3) you’ll lose at least 1% of your sales to the other shooters. Sure you’ll get more money than the competition but developers…don’t you want to get as much money as possible?
On the flipside of the coin for IPs; if they don’t do well critically they’ll get overshadowed by the big triple A titles. That can lead to disaster in the future for those developers. We could possibly lose some great games simply because of a previous game’s release. This also applies to a triple A game. If these types of games get overshadowed by their competition, will we see a sequel/spin off game? Let’s say (for the purpose of my fanboyism) that Gears of War 3 does horribly (not likely) in sales. Will there be a spin-off title or another game in the Gears universe?
To conclude, the move for all these shooters is either developer genius or stupidity. You can’t help but think if some of these titles came out earlier in the year or later next year, the game will get a better reception. Maybe some developers just have an obsession with certain parts of the year. Either way for us normal folk, our money will be spread thin and we’ll most likely buy a game based on previous installments. I don’t have anything against new IPs but titles and familiarity sell (CoD is the proof). If the economy was better it might be the other way around or maybe I’ll be wrong. Whether we like it or not, late 2011 will host many shooters.