GTA 5: Do Moving Release Dates Boost Sales?

English: The Rockstar Games logo. Português: O...

English: The Rockstar Games logo. Português: O logotipo da Rockstar Games. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grand Theft Auto 5 is the upcoming gaming title developed by Rockstar Games, set in the . Grand Theft Auto has been a perennial classic and the definitive gaming series for Rockstar Games, creating the modern urban sandbox game and similar gaming titles such as Saint’s Row. The release date for GTA 5 was originally planned at the beginning of the year in spring 2013, but was pushed back to September 17. Does moving release dates have any noticeable effect on the sales of video games?

One of the most important effects of moving release dates is to afford the studio and developers of the game more time to put finishing touches on the game. Two examples of games being rushed by developers, possibly in order to meet release dates by studios, are Dragon Age 2 and Mass Effect 3. In this case, moving the release date may appease anxious fans for a short amount of time, but the quality of the game may not hold up to expectations. This is particularly obvious in Mass Effect 3, where the lackluster ending stood out as an enormous drawback to the game and may even lower sales of future games planned in the Mass Effect universe. There was a huge divergence in the quality of the ending compared to the quality of the rest of the game that prompted many gamers to deduce that the ending to the game was rushed. This is particularly damaging to a game which has built up to the ending in the trilogy only to disappoint the gamers who have played through Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 to see the ending. The fiasco created by the ending even caused the studio to release another ending, although the damage may be permanent.
Otherwise, even late in the development cycle in a game, there are important stages for the game to go through such as bug testing, so that any potential bugs or glitches may be fixed before release. This is important particularly in AAA titles such as GTA 5, where fans have a great deal of expectations about the realism and immersion of the game itself, which can be broken by an abundance of bugs. In this case, it may be better for the studio to delay the release date instead of releasing a mediocre, or even worse, an unfinished product. It is particularly worthwhile for Rockstar Games to take their time considering that GTA 5 is one of their most important titles; it is of paramount importance for them to preserve the quality of the game rather than rush any part of the game’s release.
Finally, there is indication that moving the release date of games later can actually boost sales. If the delaying of the release date can result in a better product, the game can sell both on release and from pre-orders as well down the road, if it becomes critically acclaimed as a quality AAA game. One of the breakout success stories in gaming this year was Bioshock Infinite, released by Irrational Games which had its release date moved to February 26, 2013 from October 16, 2012. However, the ending of the game was almost universally regarded as one of the best in AAA titles, and it is conceivable that more games will be sold because of the higher quality.
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Inadvertent BOGO

I refuse to buy my kid more expensive video game systems.    He’s got a friend who’s got one of each, going back 15 years.

This is a picture of an XBOX, and its controller.

Image via Wikipedia

We don’t do that, so he’s spent the last 6 months saving to buy his own XBox 360.  After his birthday this month, he finally had enough, so we ordered it a few days ago.

Wednesday was the Great Unboxing.

I was making dinner in the kitchen while the punk and his friend unpacked the box from Amazon.

The squeals were normal.   The shouts of “Dad, why did you buy two XBoxes?” were a surprise.

Two?

No.

Actually, yes.   There were two of the things in the box.   Did I order two?  Did I accidentally pay for two?

Nope.  The packing slip only listed one, my order history only showed one, and my credit card was only charged for one.

Yet, there were two in the box.  Free XBox! Woot!

That means an XBox in the bedroom for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, and an XBox in the basement for Madden and Star Wars.    No fighting.  No turns to take.   And it didn’t cost us an extra $200.

That’s all win.

If there’s nothing on the packing slip, then Amazon didn’t know I had it.  Even if they did, I didn’t do anything to make them send it.  There was no fraud.  Legally, I had no obligation of any kind to do anything other than enjoy my new prize.

Lots of win.

The kids were excited.  Everyone gets a turn.  Multiplayer games.

The parents were excited.  We get a turn.  M-rated games.

So much freaking win in that box.

But….

There’s always a but.

We didn’t order it.  We didn’t pay for it.  It wasn’t ours.

A friend told me to sell it.  She knows how hard we’re working to pay off debt.

A coworker said, “Screw them.  They’re just a big corporation who’d be happy to screw you first.”

But it wasn’t ours.

I spent 12 hours trying to rationalize a way to keep it that wouldn’t be unethical, make me feel guilty, or–most important–send a horrible message to my kids.

I couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t ours.

I had a talk with my son.   It was his money that got this little prize into our house, after all.    He wanted to keep it, naturally.  He’s got a lot to learn about persuasion.   He acknowledged that sending it back was the right thing to do.   He agreed that it would suck if the roles were reversed.  His only argument in favor of keeping it was “I want it.”

Even he admitted that was completely lame.

It’s going back.  I let him think that was his decision.

I talked to Amazon.  They apologized for the inconvenience and gave me a UPS label to send it back at no cost.   It didn’t cover pickup, but I’ve got a drop box in my office building, so I can deal with that.

My wife was pissed.   The customer service rep never bothered to say thank you.   She called Amazon to complain to a manager.  After reminding him that we had no duty to return the free XBox, he gave us a $25 gift card to say thank you.

I love my wife.

My son, for deciding to to the right thing, gets to spend the gift card.   My wife, for being awesome, gets to be with me.  I miss my free XBox.

What would you do?  Would you keep the free XBox, sell it, or send it back?

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