Something happens to the gaming world in the summer, something ominous and terrible, it is called the “Summer Drought.” It is bound to happen just about every year, where all of a sudden the market dries up for new games while everyone awaits what is usually a busy fall and holiday season for new releases. It follows what is usually a pretty low-key spring and a busy winter, with all of the games that didn’t make the holiday release date coming out in the first few months of the year. It has been this way for as long as I can remember and while looking through this summer’s list of upcoming releases, it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.
But, there is still hope, as Naughty Dog will be releasing their heavily-anticipated The Last of Us this June, right near the beginning of the summer season.
A part of me looks at how games have historically slowed down over the summer and imagines that it has to do with the idea of kids and school vacations. What kind would want to spend their summer holed up inside when they could be playing outside and doing things that normal, healthy kids do? What parent would encourage a kid to not go outside? The thing is, as time progresses, gamers age and the market shifts. The gaming world is a lot different than it was twenty years ago and key demographics are no longer kids in school, but mostly teenagers and adults; people with their own incomes and purchasing habits.
The summer has been one of the most profitable seasons for films for a long time, with the summer blockbuster being a well-known phenomenon. This means that come the summer there are usually a bunch of new big budget action films released, which always draw in huge crowds, with some animated features sprinkled in to draw in kids who aren’t in school anymore. Why is it that videogames essentially take the summer off still when other forms of entertainment make full use of the summer?
The Last of Us has a huge window of opportunity to show that the traditional way of thinking — that games don’t sell in the summer — is antiquated by now. The Last of Us is a game that appeals to an older audience, anyway, as it tells a bleak tale about the future and will most likely be like other Naughty Dog titles and focus heavily on storytelling and character development. It is, in its own way, the perfect “summer blockbuster” for the gaming world, and if seen as a success it could set off a chain of events that helps the gaming world to re-evaluate their release schedules. It is also important to note that the Last of Us is essentially unopposed this summer, with Grand Theft Auto V pushed back until the fall.
There might not be a ton of new releases lined up for this summer, but one thing’s for certain; the Last of Us is shaping up to be one of the most exciting releases of the year and will be coming out at a time when most companies are afraid to release big budget, triple-A titles.