In the last two months, three games have broken street date in Australia: Batman, Battlefield 3 and as of today, Skyrim. While most gamers are happy that they don’t have to wait for the release date for games, I’m not entirely pleased with the whole situation. This could have a shocking effect on gaming in Australia.
For those who aren’t familiar, a street date is a date set by the publishers for when a game is released. If the game breaks that, it means that the game is being sold earlier. From the couple of people I know who work in a bricks-and-mortar games shop, this can be a pricey mistake with penalties upwards of AU$20,000 for releasing a game pre-maturely.
Australia seems to be suffering from pre-mature release syndrome and it isn’t just the stores that suffer. Since we have the worst track record for breaking the date with games, what’s stopping publishers from delaying the game even longer and “punish us” persay? Isn’t half the fun of pre-ordering a game or getting the game on the day of release the launch day parties and such? Getting excited for the game with all the marketing and anticipation of going to a midnight launch; seeing all the other people who have been anxious to get their hands on the game. Something about a broken street date makes it seem like a wastes effort. My boyfriend picked up Skyrim today and it doesn’t even unlock till midnight, so what’s the point?
Breaking street date might not hurt us now, but I can see in the future that publishers might not choose to ship certain games to Australia without some kind of iron-clad agreement signed from sellers to say that they’ll accept any penalties for releasing the game early. It’ll be the only way to ensure that publishers get the outcome they want without it being spoiled by retailers.