On some level Max Payne 3 shares a lot in common with Diablo III. Both are the third games released in their respective franchises. Max Payne is back after a nine year hiatus, Diablo after 11. They were developed by some of the biggest names in the gaming industry and were both among the most hotly anticipated games of the year. Admittedly, the hype behind Diablo III was on a more grandiose scale, but given the respect Rockstar has garnered from fans and critics alike over the years, it almost goes without saying that the hype behind the Max Payne 3 release burned quite voraciously. So why on Earth were these games released on the same day?
Despite their upfront similarities Max Payne and Diablo are about as different as Mario and Commander Shepard. Diablo is a hack ‘n slash action RPG featuring an engaging, yet ultimately inconsequential, story, frenzied action and virtually unlimited replay value. Max Payne, on the other hand, is a bit of a niche third-person shooter that relies on gritty storytelling, stylistic mechanics and a multiplayer mode that may or may not take precedence over the single player campaign – depending on user play style.
Yes, both games will be released on the PC, but Max Payne is a console game first whereas Diablo is tailor made for the mouse and keyboard. Hell, the PC release for Max Payne 3 doesn’t drop for two weeks and there will perhaps come a day when Diablo III hits the 360 and PS3. Whether or not it will succeed on said consoles is another article for another day, but suffice to say, Diablo III will always favor fans of PC gaming.
Generally speaking, there is not a whole ton of overlap between fans of Payne and D3. Most gamers are simply going to be inclined towards plunking down their hard earned cash on one or the other but rarely both. If say Torchlight II came out this past Tuesday, that would certainly strike most gamers as odd, but due to the vastly different target audiences Diablo III and Max Payne 3 are hoping to potentially reach, there is little reason for one to be threatened by the other.
Consider for a moment why Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 are going to be released a week apart. Here we have two drastically similar games (although I’m sure many would disagree), that are both going to hit the Xbox 360 during the early part of the Holiday rush. If released on the same day they would act as complimentary yet opposing forces. Multiple discussion threads dedicated to which one of the two gamers are going to buy first would invariably pop up everywhere. Sure, some would still purchase both, but they’d be less inclined to do so than they would be under the present circumstances. Releasing these two games a week apart is elementary marketing strategy, but for Max Payne 3 and Diablo III it really doesn’t matter.
In fact, it may even be a good thing. Let’s face it, after a surprisingly active winter, this spring has been rather lackluster in terms of quality releases for both PCs and the 360. The industry needed a day like May 15th to help bring it back into the forefront of peoples’ attention.
And let’s not forget that the Game of Thrones RPG dropped that day as well. Alright, as expected that game isn’t worth a damn, but more optimistic gamers and fans of the books and television series were at least hopeful.
With E3 still a few weeks away, gamers yearned for something to satiate their trigger fingers while they anxiously waited for the pending announcements of new consoles and gaming innovations – and that’s exactly what they got. Inevitably, Diablo III will have a significantly longer half-life than Max Payne 3 and will likely sell far more copies, but it will have little to do with it going head to head with the Lord of Terror. Remember May 15th, 2012 kids, it was one of the most historic days in recent gaming history.