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How the Internet changed video game launches

Google search statistics show that games remain largely relevant for up to a year after launch.

(Image courtesy: Ubisoft)

Google has released some interesting data on how the Internet has changed video game launches. While those of us who cover new games often obsess with their initial launches and then largely forget about them afterward, search statistics show that games remain largely relevant for up to a year after launch.

The company summed up its findings in a blog post earlier this week and has also released the full study, “Understanding the Modern Gamer.” As Google says, “video game information continues to be in high demand up to four months after a title’s release. Undecided buyers seek reviews, while purchasers search for ways to enhance their gaming experience, like downloadable extension content.”

Moreover, searches for games are steadily increasing, about 20% on desktops year over year and 168% on mobile. I’m partially responsible for that second stat—I’ll often whip out my phone while at GameStop to see if a game is any good before getting it.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Google info if there wasn’t something in there for advertisers. As the company points out, smart game makers are taking advantage of this lengthening search trend by providing more and more marketing content before and after a game’s launch. While Google singles out EA as doing a good job of this, I can’t say I’ve seen a better example than Ubisoft’s run-up to Assassin’s Creed III, which releases at the end of October.

Ubisoft has been cranking out so much preview content, I’m almost worried that there’ll be no surprises left in the game when it’s released. I’m sure I’m wrong, of course.