Over at Gamesanity, Mike Anderson has a post up titled, “The Cloak Of Invisibility”. It’s about new games being overlooked when the media concentrate on the most recent “hot game”.

His main example is how Two Worlds stands in the shadow of Bioshock, which has gotten much of the attention from online press and gamers. True, but that isn’t quite so true now.

Certainly, Bioshock reviews continue to show up. However, Two Worlds is also receiving coverage, and reviews of that game are now appearing around the net.

Those reviews are not as positive; at the moment, they range from saying “trash” (Gamespy; asbestos monitor required for reading) to “okay with reservations” (most others). Even without Bioshock out there, the game sounds iffy.

However, his main point isn’t about these two games particularly; it’s that a “good” – though not “great” – game can be lost when attention is focused on “the biggie” of the moment to the exclusion of all others.

That’s certainly true, and we are on the verge of the time when that is most likely to happen: the Christmas rush, when companies release their main product, hoping to outsell the competition.

Which brings to mind this question: when gamers have to choose which game to play, are they more likely to buy the “merely good” one, or the one over which everyone else is drooling?

The problem goes beyond press coverage; it’s a matter of release dates. To bring out a “merely good” game in the wake of a superstar like Bioshock is a bad move.

I don’t mean Two Worlds here; I mean any game that closely follows one that receives high marks across the board and is flying off the shelves. That’s just asking to be ignored.

It’s a serious problem, too. We all know that a game has to make back its development costs in the first few weeks of release. When it’s overshadowed by a “hot product”, that’s unlikely to happen. And if the game is mediocre, well, good luck.

Is there a solution? I’m not sure. The wise move, I think, would be to hold back a release when a game is as dominant as Bioshock has proven to be. Allow some time for the heat to die down, for players to tire of the game, and then put out your product.

Of course, then you run the risk of comparison, although if the game is different enough, that may not hurt too much. At least you aren’t going head-to-head with a runaway hit.

The difficulty is that this is not always a feasible move. And we know that developers are always under pressure to get that game out the door, no matter what.

So maybe there is no answer here, and some games, worthy of attention, won’t sell as well as they should, because everybody is playing “the hot one”.

Check out the post on Gamesanity and see what you think.

The Cloak Of Invisibility