Publishers are being urged to spread out major releases following the revelation that three of the biggest games of 2012 are launching within weeks of each other.

Activision this week announced that the latest title in the Call of Duty franchise - CoD: Black Ops 2 - will roll out on 13 November - two weeks after Assassin’s Creed 3 and a week after Halo 4.

It is the latest example of the long-running trend for games, video and music publishers to weight releases towards the Christmas gifting market. The last three months of 2011 accounted by 50% of the year’s physical games sales, and 42.4% of physical video [Kantar Worldpanel].

The practice has been criticised by retailers, which struggle to find space to promote the slew of titles released in November and December and fear the strategy harms sales by overcrowding the market.

Trade body the Entertainment Retailers’ Association said it had repeatedly asked suppliers to talk to each other and retailers about the issue. “Customers have money to spend every month of the year,” said ERA director general Kim Bayley. “I don’t believe it will do any harm to push launches back a month or even two - publishers will still catch the gifting market. This is particularly true of first-person shooters such as Call of Duty - these games have a core fan base that would buy the title whenever it was released.”

Entertainment titles sold all year round if the quality was good enough, she added, citing Adele’s album 21 as an example. The was released early last year to become the biggest-selling entertainment title of 2011 - moving a million more copies than second-placed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

She doubted, however, that this would convince publishers. “Nothing the suppliers have said gives me hope,” she said.