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Deliberating The Dilemma of Delays In The Video Game Industry

We are just under 2 weeks away from E3 2014!  The most exciting time of the year for video game enthusiasts all across the globe.  You can expect huge announcements of all sorts, ranging from shiny new hardware, pulse pounding price drops, earth shaking partnerships, trailer montages, giant enemy crabs...hey I had to...oh ya, and NEW GAMES are revealed! Woooo, that's what we all watching for right?  We want our minds to be blown by some new game we never saw coming.  We want to see that franchise we so dearly loved that we thought was all but long gone to surprise us with a comeback.  We want to see that sequel finally be revealed and announced that we all knew was coming sooner or later.  Sure, all those things happen.  But I'm here to tell you, don't plan on playing 70% of those games that blow your mind on their surprise reveal come June 9th...not for at least a year and half or two.

Just this past week we had breaking news regarding delays on a couple of high profile games.  This is becoming a weekly headline which is unfortunately starting to become a common trend in the industry.  Sony's highly anticipated game The Order: 1886, originally slated to come out Fall/Winter 2014, is now set to come out "early" 2015.  Another announced delay this week is Shinji Mikami's new game The Evil Within.  It was slated to come out in August and is now pushed back to late October.

Here are some other notable games delayed particularly since the next gen systems have been revealed: Destiny, Dying Light, DriveClub, Infamous Second Son, The Crew, The Division, The Witcher 3(I want to play all of these so bad, don't you??) goes on and on.

Some games get delayed for what seams like an eternity, cough Duke Nukem Forever cough, yet still manage to finally launch, but are completely terrible.  Usually those titles, such as DNF, have it's rights passed around numerous times and the IP gets brought back to life and finally released.  Some highly anticipated games still have not seen the light of day.  This is the last E3, before I lose hope on Sony's The Last Guardian.  I mean seriously, it's free money Sony...everyone loved Ico and Shadow of The Colossus.  Give it to us!!!

The amount of delays announced in the past year alone has been quite substantial.  Watch Dogs (which is now finally available) is a perfect example of how delays can cause a constant chain reaction of negativity.  Ubisoft had Watch Dogs set to be bundled in with the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One consoles.  That date was set for November 19th, 2013.  Tons of people ran out (or via online retailer) and pre-ordered the Watch Dogs next gen bundle of their choice.  Then, with just a little over a month left until launch, Ubisoft made the decision to significantly delay Watch Dogs... which caused several people to put off their next gen purchases all-together.  Watch Dogs was one of the most hyped games we had ever seen, right after it's reveal at E3 2012.  Now that it is out and available, I honestly feel like the buzz surrounding the game is not near where it could have been capable of if it had not been delayed.  Just imagine if Ubisoft decided to first reveal Watch Dogs at E3 2013(instead of 2012), and then launched it this past week.  It's obvious the industry is currently having a hard time figuring out when, where, and how to reveal a game.  The decision needs to be more accurate because once it happens, that could very well factor into the overall success of the game.  If it's going to be forever before a game launches, figure out a way to keep marketing it in  calculating doses.  So then, maybe it will keep the consumer wanting more over a long period of time.  There is nothing worse then letting a hype train derail itself due to stagnation.

Here is another perfect example after last year's E3.  The new Tom Clancy game, The Division, shocked the world when it was debuted.  Social media and major industry websites were clamoring non stop for days.  Ubisoft initially stated we could expect The Division to launch Winter 2014.  Just a couple weeks ago they announced it is pushed back to 2015.  There are already many rumors stating that it may not even launch until 2016!!  Say what??!  This game looks massively ambitious and absolutely incredible, and I am fine with it taking as much time as it needs, but literally it feels like every single AAA title out there is being delayed and generally by a large margin of time.

Video game delays are nothing new, they have been around for quite some time and have become a constant reminder that the industry standards have substantially increased.  Consumers are more conscious of their purchases and investments than ever.  And yes, it's obvious as the hardware/architecture becomes more complex and developers continue to push the limits, delays and very long development cycles are to be expected.  Will this trend continue once we get well into the life cycle of the PS4 and Xbox One?  What exactly is it that is causing this onslaught of delays and frequent misjudged time-frames within the industry?  There's a ton of reasons.  We can start with some obvious problems. Politics and money.  Some publishers have been known to kill off projects well into it's life cycle if they feel it will be a lost cause or if it looks like it will turn a minimal profit.  Publishers, developers, studios, team members etc. all have to be on the same page and if they do not see eye to eye, it can contribute to longer delays as well.  Sometimes studios lose important team members to other companies...  Naughty Dog, I'm looking at you.  Even if a particular project's plug has not yet been pulled, some projects are left out in the cold with no additional funding for marketing or various other resources necessary to strive throughout it's development.  This can also cause a delay until the developers can prove at a later date their game is worthy of any further investment or sold off to another publisher.  When a team is not dealing with in-house pressures and politics, they have to worry about criticism of their game once it launches, from major networks and industry news outlets.  Specifically, the big, bad, monster, that is constantly lurking in the darkness, counting down the seconds until a video games releases, known all too well to everyone in the industry as, METACRITIC.  The pressure of success plays a massive role in the gaming world we live in today and is just another piece of the puzzle as to why games are so frequently being delayed.

The most iconic man in the video game industry, Shigeru Miyamoto said it best, "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad."  It seams that this day in age it is almost guaranteed for most games to end up being delayed and miss out entirely on their originally designated release date or time-frame.  This is especially true for the immensely hyped or highly funded games out there that have insane expectations.

When a game is delayed, regardless if it is for the greater benefit of the potential consumer, it generally causes a resounding sigh in frustration.  There is obviously no argument that most games will most definitely benefit in the long run though, as the team meticulously combs through every inch of the game to fine-tune it before it's final release.  However, people are always wanting something new to play and they want it now.   The trend of delays are becoming more apparent and it does not seam to be slowing down anytime soon.  So yes let's all gather around and tune in for E3, as we prepare for one of the funnest times of the year to be a gamer.  Just remember, sometimes a necessary evil is a necessary standard.  Game on people!