The Ups and Downs of Street Date Breaks

Man I wish I’d written this yesterday.

Last night I watched my social media feeds like a hawk. A hawk, I tell you! I was keeping an eye open for any word of a street date break for both The Last of Us and Animal Crossing New Leaf. I had my car keys beside me, ready to combat roll out of the house and drive off to a shopping centre (I can’t do combat rolls, but they sound more fun than just running out the front door).

I don’t even want them to break. In fact, more often than not it annoys me that a game sneaks out before it properly should. Of course, when a game does break and I want it I will rush out screaming to get my hands on a copy, but when it’s all said and done I’d prefer if I could do that screaming on the official release date. We could talk for ages about the retailer side of the issue, about the dangers of breaking street dates and straining the relationship between retailer and publisher, but we’ll save that for another day. Right now I’m more curious about the personal split I’m feeling in the lead up to these games, in watching for a potential street date break, and the different reasons I’d want either of these games to break.

The Last of Us and Hype

Let’s talk about the really good one first: wanting a street date break simply because you’re so hyped for the game you can’t wait any longer to play it (not that I’m not hyped for Animal Crossing, mind). We were at an event just last week for The Last of Us and it really wasn’t until then that my hype levels hit maximum capacity and capslock mode was fully engaged.

The result of that is the kind of hype that has you counting down the days to release like a kid counting down to Christmas, only without the cool advent calendars with the little chocolates in them. You want the game now. You watch your social media feeds for any word of a break. It’s this incredible urge to have a game some 18 hours before it would otherwise be out. Like there’s an adrenaline rush to be felt by saying ‘I bought this game before I was meant to be able to. I am a god.’ It’s kind of stupid. But when you’re in that state and you see somebody post a picture of the game with a receipt beside it you react in a stupid way. Somebody else has the thing you want before you have it.

I’m a child and I want that toy first, damnit!

It’s 9pm as I’m writing this. Thursday is ‘late night shopping’, but even that’s over now. The stores are closed and, officially, The Last of Us hasn’t broken street date. Despite numerous photos of receipts from other retailers posted on their Facebook page, EB Games have held out and refused to sell stock early. JB Hi-fi have also been pretty quiet about the whole thing. So while some people are playing the game, the vast majority aren’t, and I feel a little calmed by the fact that I don’t have to worry about this one anymore. I can go back to being hyped properly, waking up tomorrow morning and excitedly rushing out to grab myself of copy of the game like I originally planned to.

Soon, The Last of Us. Soon…

Animal Crossing and Availability

This is a bit more negative. I’m mildly concerned about actually getting a copy of the game at all. In part, it’s thanks to some paranoia generated by my pals in America. ‘Have you pre-ordered New Leaf?’ they asked me, ‘it’s really hard to find a copy on shelves here now.’ I didn’t pre-order New Leaf. I’d wager it’s too late now.

The urge to see a street date break here has a lot to do with the idea that I need to grab a copy before it sells out. We won’t have to worry about this with The Last of Us – copies will fly off the shelves but they’ll have just as many out back to replace them with, there’s no doubt the demand for stock will be met. But already this year we’ve seen a 3DS title (Fire Emblem Awakening) generate a lot of popularity and be in high demand without enough stock in stores. Since its release I’ve only seen one copy of that game in a relatively obscure JB Hi-fi. That’s a bit scary!

If, then, Animal Crossing were to break last night or today, I’d be at an advantage. Not everyone would know of the break, would still be waiting another day to go in and pick it up, leaving me with a better chance to pick up a copy. There’s every possibility this isn’t even a concern. I’ll rock up to a store on Saturday morning or in the afternoon and there’ll be heaps of copies on the shelves. What are you panicking for, Alex? But even suggest that this might happen and it plagues my mind. What if I don’t get a copy? I need a copy! It’s a weird thing to complain about, but there you go.

It’s still 9pm as I’m writing this. Animal Crossing releases a day after The Last of Us. That’s another day or so in which I’m going to be spending time making sure to know immediately if the game breaks street date.

So anyway…

Of course, by the time this post goes live I’ll have a copy of The Last of Us in my hands. Or rather, my PS3, there’ll be a controller in my hands. And a day later Animal Crossing will be out. The me playing those game then will be full of hype and joy. But the me writing now is full of anticipation, excited for the games but wanting them for odd reasons. That’s why I hate street date breaks. But I’m also part of the problem. I’m a slave to them.


  1. In this day and age a street date break isn’t the best because often the DLC or Steam unlock isn’t available until the actual release date. I had to wait three days to play the Catwoman DLC for Arkham City, and my former housemate and I got Borderlands 2 loot chests pre-release date- I could play mine on my PS3 no problems, but he had to wait until the official day to play his PC copy

    1. That Arkham City DLC was a total mess. I picked up the game for 360 a day or two before it was meant to be out but the code worked fine for me. It was completely inconsistent!

      Still, a point I forgot to mention. Thanks for bringing it up!

  2. effluviumboy · · Reply

    When I was young – I was in year 5 or 6 at primary school – one of my classmates brought in two giant slabs of Cadbury milk chocolate, for use in a game that was part of some kind of presentation assignment. In the game, members of two teams would take turns in cutting off a single square of chocolate and eating it, using only a knife and fork. It was much more difficult than anyone had expected. An exercise in patience as much as dexterity. When the time was up the majority of chocolate remained untouched and most kids hadn’t yet taken part.
    The classmate announced that everyone could have some chocolate.
    It was madness. Around twenty kids launched themselves at the chocolate, tearing off vast chunks of the stuff.
    It only lasted a moment. One second, two at the most, because as soon as the feral massacre commenced our teacher roared – not a shout, or yell, a deafening, pants-wetting roar – and the whole class froze and cowered as she condemned us for being the vicious, greedy, primitive, little miscreants that we were.
    I say “we” because I was one of those disgraceful fiends who dove at the chocolate without hesitation. I remember that day vividly. I remember my actions, I remember my teacher’s disappointment, and I still feel the shame.
    Every time I read a tweet or comment from a game enthusiast, foaming at the mouth over the possibility of getting their sweaty hands on a game a day or two ahead of schedule, I think of that day.

    “Grow up!” – Mrs. Wooly c. 1995

    1. effluviumboy · · Reply

      I failed to mention that any chocolate we managed to grab and whatever was left – if anything – was thrown out.
      We didn’t deserve it.

    2. I wish Potaku had an upvote system. I really do.

      1. effluviumboy · · Reply

        I’m pretty happy with it.

  3. Maybe I’m just lucky, but I have always seen copies of Fire Emblem available in the stores I would visit. I hope my copy of Animla Crossing arrives sooner than later. I’m a bit sad that I won’t have it on release day but at least I know that I will definitely havea copy in a few days, if everyone does sell out of stock. At least if it doesn’t break street date, it’s one less day people can’t rub it in my face that they’re playing it and I’m not. My 3DS can go one extra day without me crying into it. 😛

    1. For your sake, I will try to limit my Animal Crossing hype on Twitter!

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