Enjoying the Seasonal Slump in New Game Releases

By Ryan Winslett in Infinite Ammo
Friday, March 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm
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I feel like something of a hypocrite for saying this, but these slow months for new game releases sure can be nice. Usually I'm the guy moaning and groaning about the last quarter of the year being crammed too full of must-have titles, pleading with publishers to spread the love throughout a bigger portion of the calendar.

While I certainly still wish for more evenly distributed releases, however, I can't deny how nice it can be to hit a dry spell from time to time.

The first quarter of the year is usually pretty slow. A decent surge occurs through the spring and, come summer, we're faced with that infamous gaming drought.

My usual argument is that those slow seasons would be the perfect time for some of the AAA titles usually reserved for the winter rush to pop up, giving gamers something meaty to snack on while they wait for the usual holiday madhouse of mega releases. But I've been singing a different tune these past few months.


For starters, not having that many new games to play means extra time to dive into the titles that are available. It also means fewer games to review and, while that can be a bummer, it means none of the games I play are being torn through with the pedal to the metal in order to get stories out on time for our lovely readers to peruse.

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Rather than spend a few days on the single player, a week or two in the multiplayer, and then speeding on to the next game, I can dig deep and get the most out of my games since three must-have megahits aren't hitting store shelves every Tuesday. I wrote a while back that I'm finding it harder and harder to give a crap about a game's multiplayer offerings. I'm starting to think that part of the reason for that mentality is due to the fact that, in the race to keep up with the latest games, I simply didn't have enough time to allow myself to enjoy those experiences.

Since I'm more of a single player guy, this idea of taking my time to appreciate the multiplayer goes double for when playing a game's campaign. I've been taking Uncharted: Golden Abyss just a couple of chapters at a time. That's not to say that the game hasn't sunk its hooks in, just that I don't feel the need to blaze through the 34 chapters in the span of just two nights. I allow myself to play for an hour or so, and then enjoy the anticipation of waiting until the next evening to see where the story will take me next.

And then there's Journey. Sweet, sweet Journey. I've played that game thrice now. Even though it only lasts a couple of hours, that's something I normally wouldn't do for any game, even one that affected me as deeply as ThatGameCompany's wonderful sand-swept masterpiece. Without any big game releases bearing down on me, though, I've taken the opportunity to wrap myself in a big warm Journey blanket, and it's felt magnificent.

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Another nice thing about slow release periods is that it gives me a chance to play those games I own but haven't gotten around to tackling just yet. I openly admit to having a (first world) problem with an epic backlog and, thanks to slow seasons like this one, I've had the opportunity to play quite a few hits from the past couple of years that managed to get lost in the shuffle.

And then there are those games that never made it into the shuffle to begin with. Slow seasons mean I'm more willing to drop ten bucks on a sale copy of games like Vanquish or Warhammer 40K: Space Marine, to name a couple more recent examples. Those were titles I originally had little interest in but, due to a lack of pressing deadlines or a flood of new content, I decided to give them a shot. And I'm glad I did. Those were two great experiences that, without a gaming slowdown, I might have never had the opportunity to enjoy.

My daily schedule usually involves an hour or two of gaming --way more if I'm reviewing something-- just so I can keep up with the pack. I still get in gaming during these slow times, but it's at a pace I'm finding to be quite refreshing. I put a little bit of time into Game A before moving onto Game B and Game C, and maybe a little multiplayer from Game D. I take my time and dip into several jars at a leisurely pace rather than gorge on all of them in quick succession. Sometimes I treat gaming too much like a job. It's slow times like these that allow me to enjoy it for the hobby I fell in love with all those years ago.

Infinite Ammo is a weekly column by Ryan Winslett about video games, the industry that make them and the people who play them. He can be stalked via his blog at staticechoes.com and followed on twitter @RyanWinslett. His columns aren't always this self indulgent.

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