Gaming's got some big dates. Odds are you've got certain days circled on your kitchen
calendar. A birthday, an anniversary, perhaps the annual family trip to Disneyland
-- whatever it is, it's something that happens the same time every year and
it's a day worth remembering.
Turns out the gaming world works in a very similar fashion.
While the precise dates are a little more flexible, the industry has an uncanny
knack for releasing new versions of hit games right around the exact same time
each year. Here are a few that you can count on.
Sony's Winter Blockbuster Day (on or about Feb 22)
Most of the big titles in gaming come out during the holiday
season, but Sony typically reserves one heavy hitter for the early part of the
year, allowing it to capitalize on the PS3 owner who got his or her system in
December, but has finished playing whatever the hot game of the previous year
happened to be.
This year, Killzone 3 hit shelves on the 22nd.
Last year, Heavy Rain was the title in the spotlight, landing on the 23rd.
And the year before that Killzone 2 was finally released - albeit a few days
later on the 27th.
Nintendo Handheld Hardware Day (on or about March 27)
This is a relatively new phenomenon, but it's one worth watching.
On March 28, 2010, Nintendo released its Nintendo DSi XL.
This year, on the 27th, the 3DS will go on sale in the U.S. The
original DSi came just a tad later than that -- arriving on April 5, 2009 --
but that's close enough to call it a trend. Will the company keep up the pace
by releasing an updated version of the 3DS this same time next year? Crazy as
it sounds, with its recent track record, it's a possibility.
Madden Day (on or about Aug. 14)
Madden Day might not be found on any list of official
holidays, but HR departments around the country sure are aware of it. Avid fans
of the game have been known to come down with a nasty 24-hour bug in the middle
of August every year as the game hits shelves. Expect this year to be no
different, so plan your sick days accordingly.
Microsoft's Holiday Blockbuster
Day #1 (on or about Sept. 20)
Microsoft likes to have a one-two punch during the holidays.
The company generally has at least two major releases planned, and always
unleashes the first on the gaming world in mid-September. This year, Gears of
War 3 will do the honors on the 20th. Last year, Halo: Reach led the
charge a little earlier, coming out on Sept. 14. And the year before that, it
was Halo: ODST that carried the flag, releasing on Sept. 22.
NBA Day (on or about Oct. 5)
Like Madden, this release date is tied more to the sport
season than a publisher's marketing plans. The NBA usually has its season
opener at the end of October, so both 2K Sports and EA like to get fans warmed
up with their respective b-ball franchise a few weeks earlier (though in the
case of EA and their MIA
NBA Live series, the future is a little murky.)
Fallout Day (on or about Oct. 22)
If you happen to survive the nuclear apocalypse and are
wondering when it will be safe to emerge from your vault, Pip-Boy firmly
attached to your wrist, Bethesda Softworks apparently recommends mid- to
late-October. Fallout 3, the rebirth of the beloved series, dropped on Oct. 28,
while the sequel Fallout: New Vegas went on sale Oct. 19. The Elder Scrolls,
for those of you wondering, have been all over the calendar, with the
heavily-anticipated Skyrim hitting on November 11.
Microsoft's Holiday Blockbuster
Day #2 (on or about Nov. 7)
About a month and a half after its first stab at conquering
the sales charts, Microsoft fires its second cannon around the first week of
November. The first two Gears of War installments arrived on Nov. 7 and, of course,
Kinect went on sale last Nov. 4. This year? Who knows, but we're betting it's
Call of Duty Day (on or about Nov. 9)
Arguably the hottest day on the gaming calendar; this has
been the launch date for the industry's biggest game for two years running. And
don't expect Activision-Blizzard to rock the boat and make any changes anytime
Modern Warfare 2 was released Nov. 10 and Call of Duty:
Black Ops on Nov. 9. Assuming there aren't any delays, it's a safe bet we'll
see Modern Warfare 3 go on sale this Nov. 8, or thereabouts.
Assassin's Creed Day (on or about Nov. 17)
Mid-November is a festive time for Renaissance
killers-for-hire, as each of the Assassins Creed games have been released
between the 14th and 17th of the month. And each has been
a big hit. Ubisoft hasn't unveiled what this year's installment of the game
will be titled, but fans can pencil in a Nov. 15 release date, if tradition