2.14.2007

Timing is Everything

Ever since I graduated from college, I've noticed that my game playing falls differently in my schedule. Living the weekly work grind instead of the "my first class is at 2pm" bliss of college finds one trying to schedule gaming into convenient time slots. This poses an interesting question for the industry. As it continues to grow, and broadband connections give developers a more direct link to the consumer, will the weekly ebb and flow of time spent gaming have an effect?
TV is famous for being very segmented in terms of time. There are daytime dramas, soaps, prime time, Must-See Thursdays, tired-from-the-weekend Sunday nights, etc. Granted, TV has (until recently) mandated the viewing schedules of the audience, placing popular shows in time slots that have big viewership and appropriate competition. As episodic gaming and regular content updates continue to grow, will we see content released at specific times to pull in a bigger following, too?

Imagine you and your friends getting together to play on a Thursday night, ordering in pizza and intently awaiting the new Halo 3 multiplayer map that will show up online at 9pm. This seems like a very possible future, even as TV is moving in the opposite direction (letting viewers view on-demand thanks to digital cable and DVR). Gaming schedules will always be up to those who play, but I'll bet that, as more and more studios use updated content to keep their game alive (and pulling in ad revenue), using known game-time habits of players will help studios draw attention to their updates.

I can just picture it now: "Hey John, you coming tonight? ...Yea, 20 new Mario Party minigames drop at 10pm...Sure, bring a bottle of wine or something." Hey, maybe the game industry will even get its share of crappy content titles: Madden Mondays, Gotta-Play Thursday, Saturday Night (XBox) Live...

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