Little people remain the largest market for video games, so you'd think the summer holidays would be packed full of new releases to make the most of a captive audience of kiddies.
But no. This is not the case now, nor has it ever been — more's the pity. Instead, every summer, the industry suffers from what amounts to a drought. Nothing of note happens for a number of months. Summer is the season throughout which I wonder whether it's worth keeping up my subscription to LoveFilm; I replay games as rarely as I reread books, which is to say almost never, so I tend to rent rather than buy outright.
Invariably, though, there's an array of older releases to catch up on that make the holidays tolerable, and to a certain extent gamers have become conditioned to this period of listlessness. We look to downloadable titles for quick fixes. We go back to Battlefield 3 or some other multiplayer game, or revisit a few single-player favourites.
But mostly... we wait. We wait for the flood of new releases unleashed every autumn. And as of today, I think it's safe to say we're almost underwater.
I mean, crikey, I'm already behind! I've been keeping busy with Darksiders 2, Mark of the Ninja and Tales of Graces f, but I've already got copies of Borderlands 2 and the new Resident Evil in my queue, both of which look to be exhausting, 30+ hour affairs.
And there's so much more to look forward to! In the next six weeks alone, Halo 4, Assassin's Creed 3, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Criterion's Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Far Cry 3 and Hitman: Absolution are all set to be released. Beyond that, the list goes on, and on, and on.
It doesn't, for instance, include the game I'm most excited to play this autumn. No prizes for guessing that I'm talking - and about time too - about Dishonored.
In case you're wondering why, let me clarify. Dishonored represents something none of the autumn's other contenders can: it's an original IP. A new experience. And there have been precious few of these in recent years. To purloin a semi-famous phrase, everything is a remix — a remake, a re-imagining, a straight sequel or a sequel to a sidequel. Or something.
On which note, go watch these videos. You simply must see and hear Kirby Ferguson's thesis.
To wit, Dishonored too takes its inspiration from any number of previous games. The project leads have been variously involved in Deus Ex, Half-Life 2 and the Thief series. In Dishonored they're evolving several of the systems they created in the first place; unifying a diverse spread of mechanics into a single, story-driven specimen.
In itself, all this is enough to make me moist.
But you know what really excites me about Dishonored? Well, I've been watching the developer diaries, and original IP it may be, but I'm getting a right Bioshock vibe from the footage — and I've adored no game this generation as much as I did and I do Irrational's last. From the propaganda posters to the way the player's powers can be combined in different ways in different situations: thus the way is paved for some experiential uniqueness, at least.
It's not a lot to go on, no, but if I'm right, we might well be talking about Dishonored again in a couple of months, when it comes time to pick our favourite games of the year.
It's coming out tomorrow for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 in North America, and on Friday in European territories and the UK. I'll be waiting; indeed, antici... pating. Will you?