I saw an article earlier today on Kotaku entitled, Sony: Delaying Games is “the right call” and it got me thinking. Are delays to a game more accepted in the gaming world nowadays than they would have been a few years ago? But also, do delays hamper a game in any way, whether that is the end product or the sales?
Over the past year, we have seen multiple high profile games such as Battlefield Hardline, Evolve, The Division, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Assassin’s Creed Unity, The Order 1886 and The Elder Scrolls Online all delayed for various reasons. Whether that is because the budgets of these games are spiralling out of control or maybe the developers original expectations have been blown harder than Russell Brand in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, who knows these things. Sometimes the developers or publishers will comment but how far you can trust them is debatable at times.
The Elder Scrolls Online for example was so very close to being released earlier this year on the PS4 and Xbox One that I could almost hear a guard being impaled in the knee (sigh). But alas, Zenimax decided not to release TESO stating that:
“Integrating our systems with each console manufacturer’s networks — which are both different from the PC/Mac system as well as different from each other — has been a challenging process.”
And here we are, edging closer to October and no sign of a release date looming upon the horizon. When that statement was released, Zenimax said that they needed “about six months” to get everything right. But that would mean releasing TESO just after Christmas 2014 in the dead zone which would leave me to speculate that we won’t be seeing TESO anytime soon, not until we are well into 2015… oh well, at least we have Tom Clancy’s The Division to look forward to. Don’t we?
Getting back on track to my original points, are delays going to become commonplace in gaming culture? A notable and probably Sony’s most talked about delay is that of Driveclub which was intended to be released at the launch of the PS4 all those months back, with PS Plus members getting their hands on a ‘stripped down’ version of the game completely free, but two delays later and it’s now been pushed back to October the 7th.
When news broke that it was getting delayed I was quite relieved to say the least. I love a good racing game, and what Evolution Studios showed back in E3 piqued my attention very much so. My thought process was one of, ‘if they needed more time to improve their game then so be it’. I was in no rush to play a game that wasn’t polished and needed multiple updates just for it to be playable. (I’m looking at you Battlefield 4).
However, after the multiple delays, it almost feels like Driveclub was forgotten about, lost in the far flung reaches of gaming space. I’ve saw the odd news article about it, but considering this was supposed to be one of Sony’s big launch titles I’m surprised that there isn’t as much hype as you’d expect.
This here is the best example of what I’m trying to articulate, have two delays hampered Driveclub in such a way that maybe, they would have been better releasing it closer to launch? Regardless of it being broken and somewhat unplayable, maybe taking a leaf out of EA’s book and finally fixing the game nearly a year into its life.
From the standpoint of a consumer, I’m more than happy that they delayed it. There are still some out there who want things yesterday, but I’m glad to have patience when it comes to game delays. If we have a nostalgic flashback to yesteryear (well, last generation), there would have been loud sighs and gasps of air heard throughout internet comments and articles, asking what was wrong? Why is it not out? And my favourite, are we ever going to see it?
Nowadays though, most delays that we hear about are accompanied by honest and quite endearing comments from the developers saying, ‘we want to make it better’ or ‘we’re not satisfied with the quality just yet’. In the past few years, thanks mostly to the phenomenon that is social media, developers are now more open and approachable, an idea that I wouldn’t have believed a decade or so ago.
However, there will always be people out there who will argue that a game shouldn’t be given a release date until they can guarantee that the game will be ready. But of course, that’s impossible to guarantee in any media focused industry. Bumps in the development of a game are unexpected and unforeseeable, that’s the honest truth whether consumers like it or not.
Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword in some aspects for a game developer. Look at Bungie and their newly released game, Destiny. Originally slated for a spring release but then bumped up to September, which in hindsight was the right decision. I can’t imagine the storm that would have been directed at Bungie had they released a game worse than what Destiny now offers.
I’m not jumping on the Destiny hate train here, I’m just stating the facts that yes, it is a very beautiful game but accompanied by a very clichéd story and some forgettable characters, it’s not going to live in my memory as a memorable experience. It’s still a good game but I wouldn’t heap any more praise on it. If it interests you then pick it up, but don’t expect a vast space MMO with lore to rival that of The Lord of The Rings.
With sales figures like Destiny though, they could clearly afford the delay. When asked for the reasons of the delay, Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg said: “It was the right decision to delay it because you never get a second chance to launch”. I couldn’t agree more. I can see Destiny becoming a franchise much like that of Assassins Creed, where the first game was nothing to write home about, but take a look at what Ubisoft did with future iterations of that game. The first game set the foundations and was in effect a proposal to the consumer saying, ‘hey, look at this. Imagine what it could be given time’.
The bottom line is this; I think that all developers would like some extra time to polish things, even if they’ve delayed it multiple times before. They want their game to be the best it can be. What point is there in becoming a games developer to make sub-par games. I believe that every company wants to make the best they possibly can, but time and money will always be their worst enemy. But to the developers across the world, delay if you need to, those consumers will be still there waiting for you to release your game.