If you were hoping to find Splinter Cell: Conviction or Red Steel 2 under the Christmas tree this year, too bad.
Ubisoft said today that both games will be pushed back until the fourth fiscal quarter — corporatespeak for some time between January and March of 2010.
These aren’t small-time games. Conviction is the fifth game in the popular Splinter Cell series, which focuses on steathily hunting down enemies from the shadows. Red Steel 2, a Kill Bill-inspired hack-and-shoot, is a marquis title for the Wii’s MotionPlus, a peripheral that makes motion controls more sensitive and accurate.
When Bioshock 2 was delayed a couple weeks ago, I prayed aloud for the end of the infamous holiday game glut, during which publishers release all their top shelf titles to cash in on shopping season. It’s a strategy that’s worked for years, but it tends to inundate game fans, only to hit them with a drought in the summer.
Things have changed in the last two weeks. Before then, we all knew the industry was deflating, because this year had no Wii Fit, no Grand Theft Auto IV and no Mario Kart Wii to carry everyone along. Console sales have been better, too. But when the NPD finally blamed June’s poor sales on the recession, it was a wake-up call even though everyone knew what was happening.
Now, we have publishers retreating into 2010, and that’s fine with me, because there’s a silver lining: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot noted that in these summer months, Call of Juarez and Anno met sales expectations, and they “demonstrate that good products are continuing to sell well.”
Well, duh. If publishers can carry that mentality into 2010, the whole year could be a lot of fun.
(By the way, all’s not lost for holiday gifting. Running through Gamespot’s upcoming release list, I found a dozen games that interested me personally, due for release between mid-September and mid-December. Three games per month is just fine, thanks.)