New game release schedules on casual games ‘portals’

Discussion in 'Development & Distribution' started by James C. Smith, Feb 10, 2007.

  1. James C. Smith

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    (As usual, I am focusing here on PC downloadable casual games and not other forms of casual games such as web playable or cell phone)


    Now that GameSalesCharts.com has collected several months worth of game release dates, I have noticed some interesting patterns. I am not sure if this information is truly valuable for any reason, but I find in interesting to watch.



    The fallowing sites have had their new releases of downloadable games tracked for at last 7 months. >From this data I made the fallowing observations:
    • Big Fish Games – 7 new games per week – One new game every day
    • Game House – 4 or 5 new games per week – All new games released on Wednesday (Beginning in 2007 Game House started release ~5 games per week but for 6 months before that they always released 2 per week)
    • MSN – About 4 to 7 new games per week – Usually one big batch of new games all released in a single day once per week with an occasional special release of a single game on a separate day. The new games usually come Wednesday.
    • Pogo – About 5 to 6 new games per week – One big batch of new games all released in a single day once per week. The new games usually come out Tuesday or Wednesday but not always.
    • Real Arcade – About 2 or 3 new games per week – Always released on Wednesday (Has been this way since at least 2003)
    • Reflexive – 7 new gamer per week – One new game every day (Reflexive has been releasing a game a day for the past 3 weeks. Prior to this, they always released 5 games per week. One per day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then two games on Thursday)
    • TryGames – Anywhere form 7 to 15 new games per week – All released in one big batch on Tuesdays with an occasional special release of a single game on a separate day.
    • Yahoo – About 2 to 4 new games per week – All released on Monday (Recently Yahoo stopped publishing a ‘New Games’ list so this is based on what they were doing up through September of 2006.)


    These sites have only been tracked for 4 weeks so these observations are less reliable:
    • Arcade Town – About 4 new games per week - A new game every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday
    • Boonty – About 4 to 6 new games per week – One batch of games released per week all on the same day - Usually Wednesday but could be Monday or Tuesday
    • Game Fiesta – Anywhere from 2 to 7 new games per week - Not really enough data yet to see a pattern (if there is one)
    • iWin – About 5 new games per week – Usually 2 new games on Tuesday and 2 or 3 more on Thursday
    • Shockwave – About 1 or 2 new games per week – Always released on Tuesday
    • SpinTop Games – About 1 or 2 new games per week - Not really enough data yet to see a pattern (if there is one)
    • WildGames – About 3 or 4 new games per week – Always released on Wednesday

    None of this is the official policy of any of the companies mentioned above. This is just what I have observed from looking at the ‘New Games’ list on their web sites every day.



    A few overall observations:
    • A few sites release 7 or more games per week (TryGames, Big Fish, Reflexive)
    • Some major sites only release 2 or 3 games per week (Real, Shockwave)
    • Most sites release closer to 5 games per week
      Tuesday and Wednesday are the most popular days to release new games
    • The majority of the sites release all their new games in one big batch each week on a single day (even if it isn’t the same day every week)
    • Many sites spread their new releases over several days (Arcade Town, Big Fish, Reflexive, iWin, SpinTop)


    Some web sites don’t have a list labeled “New Games” or any single place where all the newest releases are listed (or I just haven’t found it yet.) They just rotate the new games into the ‘Featured’ list or the ‘Top 10’ list to promote them. This includes Yahoo and PlayFirst.



    You can use GameSalesCharts.com to see a Release Dates Calendar for each of the sites liked above. You can also see an overview of all the recent releases from all the sites in a single view using the World Wide What's New This Week chart.
     
  2. James C. Smith

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    With so many sites release 5 to 7 games per week there are an awful lot of casual games out there. There is a lot of overlap with the same game appearing on many portals, but there are also plenty of games that don’t overlap. Is this good or bad? Does the customer want 10 new games per week?


    If you are going to launch 5 new games in a week should you launch them all on the same say or spread them out thought the week?

    What is the best day of the week to launch a new game?

    How often should you send a newsletter?

    It is hard to know the best answer to any of these, or understand the exact motivations of all the portals, but it may be useful to at least see what they are doing even if you (or they) don’t know why.
     
  3. alfie

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    That is a lot of games.How many different titles would you estimate is currently being released weekly?
     
  4. Olivier

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    Yes interesting stuff as usual James. Throwing as many games as possible at players face hoping one or two will stand out to cover the overall fees and break even, that's a practice every portal seem to have assimilated well.
     
  5. arcadetown

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    Venturing an educated guess there's an average 15 unique games released across all portals per week and another 5 - 10 that never reach any portal. We tend to pick the ones we think best fit our audience. Users should have some choice so releasing a decent quantity and spectrum is good however I do feel there is a point of diminishing returns where too many new releases devalue things overall.

    If the point is to break even then shoot why bother? Definitely not our purpose in life.
     
  6. Olivier

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    That was my point really Brian. Too many (new) games diminishes the overall value of the offer.
     
  7. arcadetown

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    Basically agree which is why we currently don't do a game plus per day even though we easily could. What works for one portal may not work for another. Which games should we carry and which ones not? It's not pleasant to tell a developer who has worked very hard on their product that we can't use it.

    I also see more new games than ever and expect that continue to grow as more developers try their hand at downloadable games. Whereas not sure portals can launch more than they already do. Good news is more variety means more user choices which yields more users and sales. We finally saw a good number of strategy, adventure, and rpg games last year (something I've been screaming for these past 3 years) and our users sure loved it. So the industry will probably see more niche products that fill certain voids on select portals, and perhaps even more new portals that come to fulfill certain niches. While there will still be those titles which do well with the shotgun approach.
     
  8. SteveZ

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    That makes me appreciate you more for putting Teddy Tavern up :) Btw the one liner description cracked me up. heh.

    -Steve Z.
     

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