ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

If you're a gamer, you may have noticed that there are a lot of games to look forward to in the coming months. From Horizon Zero Dawn, to everything releasing alongside the Switch, all the way to and everything in between, we're going to have our hands full soon.

But right now, there's almost nothing. and Kingdom Hearts 2.8 both released recently, but they're a small oasis in the desert of January gaming. So why is it that we see so few January game releases? Well, there are a couple reasons, really.

You Just Got A Bunch Of Games, You Greedy Grimers!

I jest, of course. I don't think you're greedy. But I do think that most gaming companies time major releases for November and December in preparation for the holidays. I mean, just take a look at some of the releases 2016 saw in those two months alone:

  • Pokemon Sun and Moon
  • Dishonored 2
  • Watch Dogs 2
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Mario Maker 3DS
  • Dead Rising 4

And those are just some of the major ones. There were several more games released in those months, and even some major ones like Titanfall 2 and the Elder Scrolls Remastered were released in October. In short, the fourth quarter of the year is basically when gaming companies open the flood gates and let everything release. I mean, they do so because it's when people will be spending the most money, but still.

Major games do occasionally release post-holidays, but the standard business model for gaming companies means most have given us their best before the end of the year and are building up for future releases. But even if they did have games left, they'd probably wait until after January to release them.

A Superb Owl And A Freedom Falcon Are Hogging The Spotlight

All right, so maybe the "Superb Owl" (SuperBowl) joke is a bit played out, but it's no less true. January is a month full of football teams vying for a spot at America's largest advertising opportunity of the year, and people really, really want to watch their team win. Or at the very least, watch their rival team lose horribly.

Sure, maybe you don't care about the Super Bowl. Heck, maybe a majority of gamers don't (hypothetically speaking). There's still a portion that does care, and it means the weeks leading up to it will steal at least some of their attention. And speaking of stealing attention...

An election happened this year. Maybe you've heard about it. Post-election news is clogging up internet feeds everywhere and there's no breathing room for everything else. Even in years when video games aren't being threatened by a new administration, political news spreads like wildfire.

For gaming companies, this means they either try to get noticed in a sea of news far more likely to incur "discussion," or they wait. After all, if you have a big game that's likely to garner attention under normal circumstances, why self-sabotage? It's an unfortunate side effect of non-game-related issues, but gaming is ultimately a business and must think like one to succeed.

Personal Goals That People Still Haven't Given Up On Yet

This one may be a little more niche, but I'm sure you've known someone (maybe even yourself) who spends one or more New Years declaring they'll eat better, sleep better, exercise more, yadda yadda be healthy. This is a good thing! You should always balance video games and life in a way that's healthy.

But plenty of people only stick to this lifestyle for a month or so before, well, letting it slip through the cracks (or just plain giving up). It happens to almost all of us at some point or another. Video games are usually one of the first things people have to do less of in order to do more of something else like be healthy.

Again, it's not as big a factor as the above reasons, but it's a factor. More to the overall point, though, is the fact that January is just plain not a good month to try to sell something. For one reason or another, people are less likely to spend money in January, and video game companies know this. The good news is, they know when you will spend money — spoiler: it's March — and January can be spent focusing on hype more than anything.

Do you play fewer video games in January? If so, why?


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