The PC gaming blog Rock, Paper, Shotgun has started a campaign to get rid of differences in release dates.
They have a petition here.
They used Crysis 2 as an example. It was released on the 22nd of March in the US, the 24th in Australia and comes out tomorrow, the 25th, in Europe. I think it should be noted that this is a game that was developed in Europe. This is kind of the pattern now for big releases. Publishers don't want to change it because retail stores only get their stock in once a week, and to change the release dates now would upset the entire system. However, if they don't change the dates, then it encourages piracy:
There is nothing publishers like to worry about more than piracy. But like a person with a fear of heights choosing to live in a cable car in space, they do seem to go out of their way to encourage it. Making loud noises about releasing a game – a game that will then be discussed across the internet by those who have completed it in the next couple of days – is a sort of international version of teasing. Impatient gamers, who would very much like to slap down their £30, find that the only way to get the game their friends are playing, and indeed to play the game with their friends, is to download it. It’s about the only realistic evidence for those who like to equate piracy with lost sales. - John Walker, RPS
I just thought I'd post about it here to try to raise awareness and hopefully encourage people to sign the petition.