Breaking Street Dates: The Cold Hard Truth
By otakuman5000 On 17 Feb, 2011 At 01:15 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured | With 2 Comments

All forms of media have a process or tradition for bringing a newly released product to fans and customers around the world. Movies have opening nights and midnight releases, the music industry has album drops, and the video game industry has street dates. A street date for a new video game is a predetermined time for the game to be sold to the general public. It is a date that is made for all people to have an opportunity to buy a new release at the same time, no earlier nor later. This is meant to not only get accurate sales numbers, but also to hype up the new game’s release, and get fans excited before they purchase the game. This is something that has been practiced in the gaming industry for many years, but what is it that has changed now?

Now these days, more and more street dates for games, especially major releases, are being broken more and more in advance before the set street dates. This means some gamers are finding different ways, be it buying or pirating, to get their hands on a specific video game before anyone else does, allowing them to experience and learn as much about the game way in advance. This is something that is not right or fair for the masses of people that wait in anticipation for a new game’s release. It is not right for people to believe that it is ok to get possession of a game early through shady and/or illegal methods. And here is why.

These are the guys looking for early copies of Halo 3

Most games that become popular with the general public are at some point always pirated or distributed early before their street release date. Games like Halo 3 and Modern Warfare 2 are perfect examples of a situation where this occurs, in that they were both highly anticipated sequels in which there was a lot of hype behind their releases. With games like these, copies that are leaked and/or pirated can cause abnormalities in leader boards and rankings. Modern Warfare 2 was leaked out on to the internet almost months in advanced of it’s street date, and many gamers who managed to get a copy were able to not only complete the main campaign, but also rank up and prestige multiple times online. This caused the game’s leader boards to become tainted with statistics of gamers who had ample time to play before other people who had waited for the game’s initial release, thus making rankings, scoreboards, and the challenge of posting high on them utterly pointless.

There is a reason for the release date there

Companies like Capcom have had situations where games like Super Street Fighter 4 were leaked out weeks in advanced of their release. Although Capcom has viewed a situation like this as potential publicity for their releases, there still is a problem by letting this happen. Games like Street Fighter are extremely competitive, in which many stores and venues world-wide host tournaments, some of which have cash prizes. By allowing this, people who obtain the game earlier then others who waited for street date are given a huge advantage in a competitive field. With the time they play the game, they have the opportunity to find out strategies, combos, techniques, and even broken aspects of the game, which can possibly be exploited to their liking, while everyone who waited is still new to the game. This makes the competitive field unbalanced and compromises the tournament scene, being that some people have had more experience then others with a particular game.

The guy above got it 3 weeks ago. The girl below got it today.

With all of that being presented, does that also mean that people who get games early for reviews fall into the same category? The answer in NO. The reason why not is simple to understand. People who are given games early by game developers and publishers for review have a responsibility to the public on reporting if the game is worth their hard earned money, or not. The people who are reviewing the games are not playing the games solely for personal enjoyment, but also for journalism. Now while it may seem like most people who do review games for websites, magazines, or other media; receive early copies of games for personal enjoyment, they still have to uphold their responsibilities for creating editorials for their sites that detail the contents of the game. Once that responsibility is neglected, then the person is no longer participating in video game journalism, and is instead abusing the system for personal gain. The only type of people that should be allowed to make deals with game companies and receive early copies of video games before street dates should only be Video Game Journalist. Just because someone has a hook up and/or knows a guy that works at Gamestop, does not mean that allows them the right, nor is it legal for them, to obtain a game earlier before everyone else.

These are the guys who give you reviews

The breaking of street dates in the gaming industry is something that needs to be remedied. It is very clear that over the past few years, more big releases of games are being broken by people finding different methods of obtaining a game early. It is a growing belief that it is becoming OK to get a game early even when a game company announces a specific time for a game to be available to the public. It is necessary for developers and publishers to find ways to prevent leaks and early access to games, so that the playing field and experienced can be leveled out for all gamers. No gamer is no more special then the other to obtain something that everyone else has to wait for. If someone is going to get a game early, and not be involved with some sort of gaming journalism, then everyone else should be allowed to buy that game early. But if not, then they should have to wait just like everyone else.

About - I am a 44 year old Gamer/Geek/Otaku who has been gaming and watching anime since the late 1970's. I am a passionate otaku who loves all types of games, anime and comics. I have been writing about games since I was a young man. I am an entertainment retail expert and an avid game collector. You can always find me playing or watching something geek related.

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  1. San_Andreas says:

    We talked about this before, but my Gamestop is adamant about honoring the publisher’s street date. They should – it’s their livelihoods on the line. Even if it’s an employee that does it without the manager’s knowledge, the manager can get into trouble.

    Most of the “leaks” of finished builds of games onto torrents are probably caused by vindictive employees of the company.

    It aggravates me to no end to buy a new game on release and find the leaderboards clogged with hackers or with people that lucked into a pre-release copy.

  2. Voice_Of_Reason says:

    It is true that the industry is very strict on the retailers as a whole on breaking street date. Most of the breaks come not from places like Gamestop but from the mom/pop stores who are trying to get the sale or the stupid shift worker at a big box retailer not paying attention. Case in point: when I obtained my copy of Guitar Hero III from my local Wal-Mart, get this, AFTER asking the employee if it was available to purchase! LOL The problem lies in the producers of the game not having a harsh enough punishment for companies who break street date. I remember an instance a while back right before EB Games wanted to get out of selling new movies. They broke street date on one of the Lord Of The Rings DVD releases knowing that they would receive a fine of not money but not having the ability to sell anymore movies from that company. If more penalties were as strict you would see less businesses breaking street date to get the early sale or the buddy “hookup”.

  3. Charles says:

    As a person who pretty much only plays RPGs, I used to find Street dates annoying at best. And if the game had simple enough mechanics, and not a lot of translating, I would grab an import when I saw one (Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance was available a month before US release).

    That said, when Cata came out, my god the rush…I got my copy, logged in, and promptly saw 3 “Realm First 85s” from the people who bought digital copies and played all night.

  4. Wally-G says:

    Street dates are archaic and stupid. citing reasons like, it’s not fair is quite lame as well. Should a game sell out on it’s release date, you’ll still have people missing out and you’ve accomplished nothing. If a game is at a store 2 weeks before release date, it should be sold. There’s no reason to wait when you got the product right there. That’s like a deadly virus striking your town, and the vaccine to save everyone will supposedly be ready in two weeks. The factory workers worked their asses off to get it finished in 6 days, but instead of giving people the vaccine they say,” sorry, release date won’t change.” It’s stupid- and that’s why people are fed up and finding ways to get what they want.

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