The past few days have been a strange out-of-body experience, as I have been awake for long stretches but not exactly cognizant of anything around me. This is the situation when one is presented with a large game and a clear timeframe for a comprehensive playthrough before the review must be written and posted. It’s not the most pleasant experience -- my eating patterns get muddled and my eyes start to hurt -- but it’s not all that bad either, as being that absorbed in a game is a benefit I can only claim when it’s an act of obligation, not choice.
If you haven’t figured out, the game is Mass Effect 2, which I will not comment on until the review is posted on Tuesday. Patrick Klepek will chat with me about the game as well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m warbling about it on Soapbox too.
That being said, ME2 has significance outside of the game itself. In light of the acclaim and sales of the first outing, one could term the franchise a “blockbuster,” making the late January release date something of a curiosity. Really, it’s the first of many curiosities including BioShock 2 and other major titles releasing in the early part of the year, which traditionally has been reserved for smaller and less notable releases. If ME2 is a strong seller, we could see a wholesale change from the heavy emphasis on the holiday season for major releases to a more even spread throughout the year -- something I’ve been advocating for some time now. Given that the average age of a video game consumer is in their late twenties, a reliance on holiday gift-giving to trigger purchases seems naïve and a product of the games industry once being lumped with toys.
If ME2 or the other major releases don’t sell as well as expected, which could happen not due to quality, but a preponderance of strong titles being released too close to one another at a time of the year when people tend to be more conservative with their pocketbooks, we could see this glorious experiment come to a tragic end. From where I’m sitting I cannot tell how it will all shake out but, at the very least, This January, February, March, and April will be months to remember.