Every year, there's a stretch after the rush of November Black Friday shopping that lasts until late January - a pretty significant lull in video game releases as the big holiday hits are played through and the industry gears up for spring and summer.
With the rise of independent games and more options for digital releases, the gap gets filled a little better than in the past, but it's only around this time that you can see that we're back in boom times for great games to play on consoles, computers and portables.
Here's what's hot right now and what I'm looking forward to seeing in the next few months.
The next gen
The story of last year's launches of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game consoles was that they both seemed like capable, better-than-expected pieces of hardware without any absolute killer, must-own games to play.
That has suddenly changed. "Titanfall" for Xbox One (it's also out for Windows PCs and soon for Xbox 360) has proved to be the One for Xbox One - a game strong enough to make people take a look at the console. It's an action shooter with roots in "Call of Duty," but with giant mechanized units players also can pilot in battle.
"Titanfall" has proven such a draw that Microsoft is now bundling the game with the Xbox One at no extra cost, and some retailers have dropped the price of the Xbox One to $450 from $500. That means if you factor in the cost of the $60 game, the Xbox One actually turns out to be a pretty good deal compared to the $400 PlayStation, which appeared to be a better seller because of the initial price disparity.
The PlayStation 4 also has gotten an exclusive that's drawn attention, "Infamous: Second Son," though it hasn't drawn as many positive reviews. Both consoles have benefited from games such as "Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition," an enhanced version of last year's "Tomb Raider" built to take advantage of better graphics on both systems.
What's ahead? Xbox One has "Kinect Sports Rivals" out this week, and the PS4 will get "Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn" next week. In May, both systems get a "Wolfenstein" reboot and "Watch Dogs," a hotly anticipated open-world game.
"The Elder Scrolls Online" will debut on both consoles in June. The PC version just was released, and though early feedback of the game's beta phase was rough, it should attract the curiosity of fans who played past games such as "Skyrim" and "Morrowind."
The last gen
For those who haven't upgraded, it's been a strong couple of months for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners. "Dark Souls II" has earned some of the best reviews of the year so far for uncompromising gameplay. Fans of "South Park" finally got the epic role-playing game "The Stick of Truth" after many delays.
"The Last of Us," one of last year's best games, received a downloadable prequel, "Left Behind," which earned raves on the PS3. And Telltale Games' streak of episodic greatness continued with new episodes of "The Walking Dead: Season Two" and "A Wolf Among Us" for both consoles, as well as PC, Mac and iOS system. Fans of "BioShock: Infinite" also got what probably will be the last piece of episodic content for the game, the conclusion of a two-part story called "Burial at Sea."
What about Nintendo?
Things have been quiet for Nintendo's struggling Wii U game console. Apart from downloadable games, only one high-profile game has hit store shelves for the system lately, "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze."
Things should improve in May with the release of "Mario Kart 8" and Wii U versions of games such as "Watch Dogs" and "Child of Light."
The situation looks a little brighter for the Nintendo 3Ds/2DS game consoles with recent hits including "Bravely Default," a game out this week called "Disney Magical World" and a new "Mario Golf" game due in May.
Mobile and indie
Truth be told, though, most of my gaming time lately has been spent playing mobile games such as the addictive "2048" (free) and "Threes!" ($1.99), both highly addictive puzzle games for iOS and Android that can be played in short bursts.
On the indie side, games including "Monument Valley" (for iOS, expected soon for Android) and "Towerfall: Ascension" (PC and PS4) have been drawing raves of late.
And if buzz and sales alone are any indication of a hit, people are very interested in "Goat Simulator" (PC). A virtual simulator for those who want to play as a goat, it is apparently all the (goat) rage. That's how you know we're past the video game release doldrums and that there's something available for everyone.