Ah, Tuesday. The most unremarkable day of the week. Everyone hates Mondays, Wednesdays get their own nickname (hump-DAAAYYYYYYY), Thursday is for being thirsty and Friday is a sigh of relief before the weekend.* But poor old Tuesday–like the late Rodney Dangerfield–gets no respect. Unless, of course, a major game or system is being released that week.
The Tuesday release cycle has never made sense to me. In my experience, a gamer has three options: A) Take off work Tuesday/Wednesday B) Sit around for nearly an entire work week and be tortured by the sight of your new game/system and only play for brief stretches until Friday or C) Forsake sleep for a week.
Depending on who you ask, there are several different answers to the question of why games release on Tuesdays. From what I’ve seen, it’s really a combination of all of these factors. Let’s start with the most common and, consequently, the most fun answer:
Yes… the industry standard release date for games and systems (in America, but we will get to that later) was started by a pun. The first Sonic game was a huge hit and Sega was looking for an even bigger follow-up. Up until then, there was no real standard release date for games; stores essentially just put the games on the shelves as soon as they were delivered. So, depending on how on-the-ball your local game store was, you could end up with a new game days before or after your friends. But Sega had a revolutionary idea: A global release date. And thus, “Sonic 2sday” was born. And the tradition stuck.
That is only part of the story, however. Pretty much everyone in America is familiar with the term “Nielson ratings.” As flawed as the Nielson rating system is (and it is flawed), it is the barometer by which all things TV are judged. Much like Nielson (in fact, owned by Nielson), there is an information tracking system out there called SoundScan. This system kicked off in 1991–the year before Sonic 2 was released. SoundScan starts its tracking on Tuesday. So games and other media (VHS, DVD, music, etc.) tend to release their products on Tuesdays so that the companies that produce them can report a full 7 days of sales for their first week’s report.
For our European friends, this is not an issue. For them, they are often stuck watching us “lucky” Americans get the games they want three days early, as most games in the European (or, at least, U.K.) market are released on Fridays. But don’t worry, European friends, we still don’t get to enjoy our games until Friday.
*For my service industry friends, I worked as a server and bartender for years and I feel your pain on the issues of weekends. In this case, you’re lucky. Take the victories where you can get them.
What are you thoughts on it? Let us know in the comments below!
Billy is a freelance writer living in Indianapolis with his dog, BoJack. He enjoys TED talks, video games, sunny days, football, and the salty tears of his enemies.