NASA scientists are calling it the BioShock: Infinite effect: Ken Levine announces that Irrational Games’ massively anticipated blockbuster is abandoning its October 16th release date for February 2013, and a new major player races to plant its flag on voided calendar slot.

The first guess for analysts like Wedbush Morgan’s Michael Pachter was that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V might step up and give Take Two (the publisher of both games) some breathing room between major releases. It’s entirely possible — GTA V is rumored to be well down the line in terms of completion — but in addition to Assassin’s Creed III, any game that wants to thrive in the month of October will now have to square off with Bethesda’s hotly anticipated Dishonored.

The publisher announced that Arkane Studios‘ steampunk/dystopian/Neo-Victorian stealther would be released on October 9th in North America and October 12th in Europe. Bethesda even went on to unveil the box art for Dishonored, which can be seen below. It’s a strange coincidence that a game we know relatively little about (outside of its sweeping cinematic trailer and primitive reveal information) is releasing in the former range of a game we’ve been ogling over for the last three years — but perhaps that means we’re in for a spectacular showing at E3.

Dishonored Release Date Cover ArtClick to see Dishonored’s full cover art.

Not to be outdone in the Post-Hoc-BioShock release date-reveal department, Agent 47’s next assignment, Hitman: Absolution, was locked in for a November 20 launch today. Along with the updated schedule, Square Enix has rolled out a trailer for Hitman: Sniper Challenge — a standalone downloadable game unlocked with a GameStop-exclusive Absolution pre-order code (both of which become available on May 15th; however the Steam version won’t release until August 1st.) Complete with monthly prizes, weapon unlocks, and online leaderboards, it’s an intriguing testament to the way companies are embracing the pre-order perk model.

Check out the official mission description released by Square Enix:

“From a balcony overlooking a roof-top party, you are tasked with taking out Richard Strong, Jr., CEO of Stallion Armaments, along with his entire staff of bodyguards. Skilled players will capitalize on score multipliers, discover secret extras, unlock equipment upgrades, and marvel at the many creative ways one can discretely dispose of a body while they work to fulfill their contract in the most efficient way possible.”

Hitman Sniper Challenge

Ranters, what do you think about the new dates for Dishonored and Hitman: Absolution? Do they fell rushed after the delay of BioShock: Infinite? Is Hitman’s pre-order mini-game and example of savvy marketing or retailer-exclusives run amok?

Dishonored releases on October 9th, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Hitman: Absolution releases on November 20th, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

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