Prior to BioShock Infinite's recent delay from October 2012 to February 2013, Irrational boss Ken Levine discussed the pros and cons of launching during the run-up to Christmas and told us he wasn't too concerned about his game going up against the industry's other big hitters.
"The games that do well manage to hold their hook in that period," he said in a recently published interview. "If you look at last year you had a great game coming out almost every week and they all managed to sort of find their audience.
"I think the challenge is, 'is your game very, very similar to another game?' And I don't think BioShock is. This is perhaps a testimony to out weirdness, but I think it's kind of hard to categorise a BioShock game exactly. It's a first person shooter, but it's not that similar to other first person shooters coming out and I'd be much more concerned if I thought it was.
"I could tell you that we've calculated the market share blah, blah, blah, but you know, honestly it's a shot in the dark to a degree," Levine continued. "You choose a period and do whatever internal maths you can to figure out the right time from a production standpoint to be done with the game and try to decide when to finish it, because honestly you could go on working on a game forever, and if you don't say this is the right time at some point I could be working on this game for 20 years because I love it. Then you turn to your marketing people and say 'look, is this a good time? Does it work for you guys?' And then they do their maths and if it sounds alright you release it.
"I don't think anything about games is really a science. I wish I could say I was a genius who knew all the right answers to everything. The advantage of releasing at that [end of year] time as I understand it is that there are a lot of people in stores in general, buying games and buying everything in general. So it's a yin and yang [situation]. The downside is there's a lot of competition, but the upside of it is there's a lot of energy coming from gamers wanting to buy products."
The real reason for BioShock: Infinite's delay is unclear, but there has been plenty of speculation. Wedbush analyst Michal Pachter thinks publisher Take-Two may have wanted to clear space for the launch of GTA V this October, while it has also been suggested that the decision was made in order to create a multiplayer component for the game. Officially Levine has said the move was made to enable Irrational to deliver "an even better" game.
We like to think BioShock: Infinite would have found a big audience this Christmas, even in the face of competition from the likes of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, but if a small delay results in a better game and gives the title a better chance to shine then we're all for it.
You guys aren't the only ones who think it's madness to squeeze all of the biggest games of the year into a three month launch window leading up to Christmas. Retailers HMV and Blockbuster recently called on publishers to spread blockbuster releases throughout the year.