How 2010 Is Actually Christmas 2009 (In Disguise)S

Remember how Christmas used to be a time of too many games, not enough time? Yeah, well, not this year. This year is a little off. Christmas 2009 will actually be taking place in early 2010.

With last week's announcement that Final Fantasy XIII would be out in March, it quickly became the centrepiece of an already jam-packed lineup of big-money, AAA titles forming the strongest Q1 lineup this industry has ever seen.

I mean, get a look at this list of games due between January and March next year. And these aren't every game coming out; they're just the big ones. It's incredible.

JANUARY

Mass Effect 2
Army of Two: The 40th Day
Bayonetta
Darksiders
Dark Void
MAG
No More Heroes 2

FEBRUARY

BioShock 2
Lost Planet 2
Dante's Inferno
Splinter Cell: Conviction
Napoleon: Total War
Star Trek: Online

MARCH

God of War III
Final Fantasy XIII
Command & Conquer 4
Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Sure, some of those games were always going to be released then. Final Fantasy XIII, for example. But many of those are Modern Warfare 2 refugees, titles that were originally planned for release in late 2009, then moved to avoid being crushed underfoot by Activision's money-printing juggernaut.

It'll be really interesting to see how they fare. If any of the bigger games underwhelm at the register, publishers will no doubt blame the increased competition for gaming dollars at a time of year not normally associated with big spending.

But if we get a series of big-selling blockbusters...well, it'll send a clear signal to publishers: it's OK, guys, you don't have to flood the market in November. You can release a game in March and we'll still buy it.