Trick or Treat?

It has been a week and a half  since Halloween has passed. Scary decorations are coming down and being replaced by Christmas lights. The spooky atmosphere that haunted the next door neighbors house has changed to holiday cheer, and the smell of baked cookies is overtaking the left-over Halloween candy.

And yet, with everything pointing to Christmas, I feel as if something was missing this year. A night of scary movies? Check. Trick or treating as Batman characters? Check. Scaring the neighborhood children? Double check. Buying discount candy? Triple check. With all the ghouliness (yes, I made this word up) leaking out of the real and digital world after nearly a month, what could be missing?

And then, it hit me. Amongst the plethora of new scary movies, costumes, commercials etc. there was a lack of new scary video games. Then, I thought some more. I tend to try at least one scary video game every Halloween, but have I ever  bought a just-released scary video game the week before Halloween? As far back as I could remember the answer was no. With a clear question at hand, I decided to investigate the lack of scary movie releases during Halloween.

Surprisingly, the only scary video game released at Halloween this year was Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. The zombie expansion to the popular western video game was released on October 26, the Tuesday before Halloween. After more research, it was obvious why this year Undead Nightmare was the only scary video game released the week before Halloween.

September to December is the prime time for video game companies. With holidays around the corner, nearly every week within this time frame has at least one big title. However, this year, one of the biggest release weeks was the week before Halloween. Upwards of 30 video games were released, including coveted titles such as Fable 3, Rock Band 3, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2,  and WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011. After seeing the stellar line-up for this week in 2010, it was no wonder why no other game companies wanted to go up against the competition.

So, what about the past couple of years? Has there always been big competition the week before Halloween? The answer varies. In 2009, nearly 25 game titles were introduced the week before Halloween. However, the majority of games released were low-key titles, with the exceptions being Forza 3 and Ratchet and Clank: A Break in Time. This would have been a perfect time for a big-time horror franchise (such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, of Left 4 Dead) to debut a sequel. Instead, the only horror title that released Halloween week was Saw the PC version, a long stretch from a big title.

2008 turned out to be very comparable to 2009. I was happy to see that a semi-scary release was made in the form of Fallout 3. Though the title doesn’t exactly fall into the “scary” category, it does harbor the majority of the same audience and has some of the same characteristics as a classic horror-survival game.

So, what’s the deal game companies? Why not take advantage of the “free advertising” the spirit of Halloween creates? Popular titles such as Dead Space and Left 4 Dead were released just weeks before and after the big Halloween week. Why not tweak the release date just a bit to gain some more fans? The way I look at it, there are unlimited pro’s and minor con’s. Even though most popular horror series already have a gaggle of fans, there might be more people willing to rent or buy the game just because of the time of year.  As long as there are no huge releases (like this year), there is no reason to not coordinate Halloween and a scary game release.

Well, I’ve said my part. What do you guys think?

*To view a full list of the games released during the week before Halloween (or any week in the last three years) feel free to check out Video Game Releases*

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