At one point I thought that 2009 was going to be the best year ever for video games. In my opinion, 2007 and 2008 were both up there in the best of the best and as we recovered from the glut of stellar titles, this year looked set to carry this trend on.

However, as we sit here on the side of our once lush pool that used to be a teaming release schedule and has now dried up in the heat of summer, things aren’t looking quite so good. Whilst, we were hopeful that the dark clouds on the horizon signaled the coming storm of stellar releases, now it appears that we may have to wait a little longer for the return of the true feast.

What am I talking about? The reports last night that MAG, like many other games, is probably going to release next year Well let’s go through the some of games that were once scheduled for this year and have now moved to 2010:

  • Alan Wake. This is actually good news, because whilst I might have expected this game to appear this year, I wasn’t even sure it still existed until it appeared at E3.
  • Aliens: Colonial Marines. This was supposed to be released in January, but rather than announcing a delay Sega pretty much left it all to speculation. In fact they further muddied the waters by announcing Aliens vs Predator. Recently Randy Pitchford announced that the game was still coming and should be expected early next year. It seems like Gearbox deliberately miss release dates, which might not be a wise strategy given the shape of the economy.
  • Pikmin 3. This one is still MIA, but when Miyamoto said it was being worked on at last year’s E3, I assumed that it would be a big 09 game. My hopes have now slipped at least a year, since Nintendo’s big games for this year have been announced
  • Heavy Rain. In order to give this a better chance at retail, they are slipping this to next year. This might make sense, but that leaves a rather sparse list of Sony first party titles this year, with only Uncharted 2 an absolute cert.
  • God of War 3. This was teased last year and we were all waiting to see holiday 09 slapped on it at E3, disappointingly we’ll have to wait until Spring 2010. This puts it up against Dante’s Inferno, but I guess EA are the ones worrying about that meeting.
  • DC Universe Online. SOE told us ages ago that this would miss 2009, but it’s still disappointing that the MMO genre has still not made an impact on consoles 4 years after the release of the 360.
  • Final Fantasy XIII. This was only ever a remote hope for this year, but with it still releasing in Japan towards the end of the year, at least we can finally be confident on this releasing next year.
  • Mafia 2. Originally, I was cold on this franchise, having never played the first game and reading that the console version was broken. To coincide with a major push on the marketing front and some really positive previews Take 2 pushed this to next year. Now that’s not how to build a following.
  • Red Dead Redemption. Take 2 struck again by showing us the western that might just be the first brilliant game of cowboys and gun slinging. A few weeks later it moved to next year.
  • Bioshock 2. Unbelievably, Take 2 made it a hatrick this week and announced (as well as downgrading their revenue forecast) that their last remaining major title of the year isn’t this year any more. Perhaps the clue was when they asked a fourth developer to help out 2K Marin. I think we should be grateful if they make a better game, but I wouldn’t want to be on the 2K board as they were announcing that.

I think you’ll probably agree with me that this is a pretty massive list and if even half of these had come out this year, then we would have had just too many good games.
The biggest losers from this monumental release date shift are Sony and Take 2. Take 2 really have lost every one of their potential big sellers in Q4 and will now be hoping to sell lots of Gay Tony and Chinatown Wars PSP. Their only other big game is Borderlands, which is a new IP and not particularly anticipated.

For Sony, they are now reliant on gamers preferring to buy games like Assassin’s Creed 2 on their system, rather than 360. Their only confirmed exclusives now are Uncharted 2 and Ratchet & Clank with Gran Turismo 5 possibly showing up. The only way they are going to get market share is with a big price drop in autumn.

The winners from this are Activision, Microsoft and possibly EA. Whatever, you say about Activision this Christmas they will release Guitar Hero 5, DJ Hero, Modern Warefare 2, Tony Hawk – Ride and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I’ll probably buy all of them with exception of Tony Hawk.

Microsoft started the year with Halo ODST and will come out with Splinter Cell, Forza 3, and Left4Dead 2 all giving people compelling reasons to buy a 360.

What are you most disappointed about slipping?

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