Wait, it’s not Friday. What the hell?MCP

Well it’s E3 week, which means gaming news will be dropping like console prices. In anticipation to the Not-As-Big Summit, here’s a follow-up to last week’s Bit Player’s Roundtable.

On Monday, IGN GamerMetrics released its own “Half Year Preview,” ranking the most anticipated titles for the remainder of 2007. Below are the ten most anticipated titles* for the second half of 2007 (in order):

Halo 3
Madden 2008
Grand Theft Auto IV
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2008
Assassin’s Creed
Guitar Hero III
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Half-Life 2: The Orange Box
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Blue Dragon is in the mid-40s.

As for the methodology, games are ranked by their “Mind-share,” a number that is created from a combination of “game awareness” and “purchase intent.” The “game awareness” component is derived from web-traffic on IGN.com, while “purchase intent” is based on Club IGN wish lists, email-alert lists and collection lists.

When looking at the entire report, what sticks out is 360 titles dominated, while Wii titles took a backseat (and there were virtually no Sony exclusives). A partial explanation is that Wii games tend to seep out rather than launch, but with Wii console sales growing each month and 360 sales falling below expectations, could this report be missing an important element, the causal gamer?

Casual gamers don’t troll game websites and they definitely don’t make wish lists. So where does the casual gamer fit into all of this?

For an answer, I went to Nick Williams of GamerMetrics and asked how the report accounts for the casual gamer. Williams admitted that the causal gamer gets left out, but defends the omission by stating that past Mind-share ratings have correlated to sales and thus reflects the anticipation of the “gamer.”

So how much impact does the casual gamer have on the gaming world? In the upcoming weeks the Bit Players are going to explore the issue.

As for the rest of the report, here are some tidbits:

The report also identifies five to ten “Sleepers,” games with high Mind-share ratings despite a lack of brand identity or lack of major coverage from the gaming media. Included as Sleepers are Blacksite: Area 51, one of the more anticipated games on the Chud boards and PS3’s Heavenly Sword.

The number one Sleeper is Two Worlds, a game I first came across back in March. The game looks and sounds beautiful, but when I previewed the game, many elements weren’t in place including combat animation, which recent previews have described as “sloppy.” Plus at a marriage-ruining 120 hours, the storylines appeared crepe-thin.

Despite the reservations, Two Worlds has generated a ton RPG-fan interest and thus its distinction as a Florida Marlin-sized wildcard.

Another finding is that the “party” genre is on the rise (ok, not the biggest revelation). Actually, the numbers on party games are probably soft due to a lack of representation of the causal gamer. On the flip side, while still popular, the market is oversaturated with RPGs.

Manhunt 2, whose Mind-share rose significantly after the recent controversy, ends up as one of the highest titles on the list. While an inflated number, the letters “AO” appear to be nothing but good for Take-Two.

Finally, 30% of game purchases for the rest of 2007 will be Halo 3, Madden 2008 and GTA IV. Of the Halo 3: Legendary Edition
purchases, 0% will be accompanied by meaningful social relationships or sexual intercourse.

That’s all for now.

* The report also includes a more comprehensive forecast, which is done by title, but differentiates between consoles (i.e. Madden 2008 for 360 is a different entry than Madden 2008 for PS3).