The Bleak Midwinter: Big Games Slip To 2010

You'll have to wait to beat that child with a pistol, sir.

It’s going to be a quieter Christmas than we were expecting. A bundle of big-name games have announced in the last few days that they’ll no longer be bulging Santa’s sack, but instead offering themselves in the colder months of 2010. This year your Christmas tree will not be towering over 2K games BioShock 2, Mafia II, nor Max Payne 3. Indeed they’re not alone. A smattering of console-only titles have also slipped, as well as Activision’s Singularity. What’s a jolly-bellied man to do this holiday season? Deliver Modern Warfare 2 an awful lot, it seems.

It’s with perhaps some slightly poor timing that I received a parcel of viral BioShock 2 bumph. But it’s a nice collection of well-rendered children’s drawings of Big Daddies with weapons dripping in blood, along with a letter from one Mark G. Meltzer in New York appealing for my help to find his missing daughter. Mr Meltzer, racked with grief, invested his efforts into building a ludicrously elaborate flash teaser site, as so many panicked parents will. He saw fit to include a hand-scrawled note linking me there. They’ve filled it with clues and teases and puzzles and so on, although the hype it’s intended to build will have to stretch a little further than perhaps planned.

Take Two issued one of those frightening financial updates, explaining within,

“The decision to shift a release date is never an easy one, especially with a product as highly anticipated as BioShock 2. We felt that it was essential to invest the additional time to ensure that this title will deliver what its fans expect and deserve. As a result, we will now be launching sequels to several of our strongest franchises – including BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption – during the next fiscal year. These titles will anchor our lineup for fiscal 2010, and along with other products planned for next year, provide a platform for enhanced financial performance in what we hope will be an improved retail environment.”

(I also like the bit where they explain there will be a $0.12 expense per share due to “unusual legal matters”. I imagine them being sued by a shark, or taken to court for wearing too many socks.)

It really does look like a stunning 2010 line-up for 2K, and it can be welcome news when a game’s being delayed to make sure it’s good enough. It’s welcomier when it’s finished on time, of course, but better to get the best game possible a few months late. Although you’re going to have to start thinking of new things to put on your Christmas list or – hell – if you only wanted those games take the opportunity to just be naughty. What’s Father Christmas going to do?

The other recent slippage announcement is Singularity – Raven’s first “new IP” – which looks to be a Lost-inspired first-person shooter, meddling with time and physics. It’s also being held back to 2010 by Activision, although for a different reason. They don’t want to hinder their own sales by launching it against the all-conquering goliath that Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will inevitably be.

Speaking to IGN, an Activision spokesperson said,

“The level of excitement for Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 coming out of E3 well exceeded our expectations and therefore we have decided to move Raven’s upcoming sci-fi first person action title, Singularity, from 2009 to Q1 2010, said the spokesperson. We believe that the March quarter will provide a better opportunity to establish the new cutting-edge action IP as a must-have title and clears the way for Modern Warfare 2 to dominate this holiday season.”

This of course gives Raven a few more months to polish the game, and they’ve still got Wolfenstein coming out next month. But it means Christmas is a quieter period this year. Of course there will still be two million squillion games competing for your cash. In fact, it seems to work out rather well, giving you a chance to spread out your purchases across the year… It’s almost as if that would make sense as a release model for all publishers! I can dream.

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