Why Game Delays Are Always Okay

Dear developers, publishers and everyone else involved; we understand.

It’s been a pretty wild couple of weeks as far as game delays are concerned - so wild that I don’t think I can recall a single time when so many high profile titles have all gotten the boot out of their current release date all at the same time. But the thing we must remember is that these delays are always okay - and that holds true for the benefit of the player, the developer, the publisher and essentially everybody involved in the creation, distribution and enjoyment of the respective title.

Let’s start by looking at a title like the disaster that is WWE 2K20 - a game that was released way too early but a game that is a yearly franchise that must hit it’s mark each year to make money within the quarter they allotted it to. The WWE 2K games always come out in the Fall and with this one especially, with it’s “Bump In The Night” Halloween-themed DLC, delaying it must not have been an option for them. But the game itself is full of bugs, glitches, bad graphics, even worse hair physics, collision detection as bad as it’s ever been — the list goes on. IGN, the biggest website there is within this department gave the game a 4.5. Not out of 5 — out of 10. That’s unheard of for these yearly wrestling titles - it’s the lowest it’s ever received and rightfully so.

Now, I understand the issues that were had on the development side of things this year - Yuke’s moved on during the early stages of production and left the game within the hands of the Visual Dynamics team who was also working on NBA 2K20. Maybe their teams weren’t big enough to be split in two like this, I don’t know, but the moral of it all is that even if all the features you wanted are in the game - in this case, a new story mode featuring male and female superstars, updated rosters, mixed tag matches, a new showcase mode, etc., that doesn’t mean that the game is ready to hit store shelves. This game legitimately has wrestlers flying out of the ring, duplicating themselves, disappearing and falling down from moves that didn’t even reach them. And sure, you can fix a lot of these things in upcoming patches but at the same time there are now hundreds of articles and reviews out there bashing this game. And nobody is going to go back and adjust their scores once these patches happen - it will remain tainted - and not just forever, but more specifically, through the holiday season when they expected to sell a ton of copies. And not only that, but it taints the series as a whole. Next year, more people than ever are going to be extra cautious when it comes to whether or not they pick up the 2K21 version of this game. The extra couple months it would have taken to clear this game of it’s extreme faults was necessary and would have helped the future of the franchise in the long run.

It seems that these yearly franchises get the worst of it - they have dates they absolutely have to hit, whereas a game like Red Dead Redemption 2, also published by Take Two, much like the 2K titles, can get pushed back for an entire year to ensure that when it launches it is fully featured, bug free and ready to accept it’s 10/10 scores.

I think the most shocking recent delay came first a couple weeks ago when we found out that Doom Eternal would not hit it’s November release date. The game was a month away from being in the hands of the public and Bethesda decided to push it until late Winter. This is much bigger than a single game delay but more importantly, Bethesda doesn’t have their Fall release to bank in on this year. Sure, Rage 2 came out just a few months ago but that game didn’t take the world by storm by any means so you have to wonder how they are generating any revenue this year. Or maybe it starts to make clearer sense why they had to launch a $12.99 subscription plan to prey upon those that, for some reason, are still playing Fallout 76 and are itching for private servers. But that’s a topic for another day.

Despite what’s going on behind the scenes, Bethesda knows that Doom is going to be a popular title for them. Everybody loved Doom 2016 and if this is going to be the game where they bounce back, they absolutely have to nail it, ensure there are no shady tactics hidden in the menu screens and make sure the game runs flawlessly. So if a delay is what it takes, then delay they must.

After this announcement we found out that a game that was just given a release date last month, The Last of Us: Part II, has already been delayed by three months. Now releasing in May, you have to wonder what sort of conversations, or lack of conversation, must have gone on between Sony and Naughty Dog that led to this sort of miscommunication. Why hype up a release date announcement one month just to delay it the next? What went wrong?

I feel like it’s one of two things. Maybe they ran into some catastrophic bug they they didn’t see previously that’s going to take them a couple months to fix - so this unplanned, poorly timed delay was no fault of their own. Or maybe, when settling on this date, Sony had yet to nail down their PS5 reveal plans and now that they have, maybe those plans fell too close to the release of The Last of Us II and they didn’t want to steal their own thunder. If the PS5 gets it’s full reveal with the console, pricing, features all being shown to the public in say, February, Sony wouldn’t want to also release their biggest title of the year just a week or two before or after that date because it’s going to distract players into thinking “fuck current gen games, I’m waiting until next gen!” resulting in folks trading in their current consoles for credit to reserve the bigger, better thing while trade in bonuses are a-plenty. You don’t want to get in your own way as far as headlines are concerned either - if the internet is ablaze with PS5 news, all talk about a single game, as amazing as it’s going to be, will fall slightly to the wayside and that’s the last thing any logical company would want to do with such a respected IP.

Then, on literally the same day, we were informed that Ubisoft was delaying the launch of not one, but three of their biggest titles. The next Rainbow Six game, Watch Dogs: Legion and Gods and Monsters, which were all late Winter/early Spring releases are now TBA and their recent stumbles surely have something to do with that. Ubisoft has made it very clear that they are disappointed with the end result of Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, The Division 2 and other titles that they expected to be stellar video games that would make them tons of money. However, some micro transaction nonsense, strange upgrading necessities and other user complaints have stunted their growth and their projected sales. And because of that, Ubisoft has decided to delay their upcoming games, most likely to reconstruct their business model and give the player what they want in order to get their games in as many little hands as possible.

It felt like Ubisoft simply wanted to make all of their games some sort of “game as a service” - which I enjoy, don’t get me wrong. When done correctly, I absolutely love games as a service. I think Destiny is genius, I had high hopes for Anthem and I can’t wait for Avengers. But a game like Watch Dogs doesn’t need to be that. And a game like Gods and Monsters definitely doesn’t need to be that. So if either of them were heading in that direction, it’s best to nix that now and release them when they make more sense to avoid the mixed-messaging.

Not only that, but we are only a year away from the launch of the next generation of consoles - the PS5 and Xbox Scarlet. And every time a new console launches there is a severe lack of launch titles to incentivize players to jump ship. So maybe Watch Dogs Legion is better served as a launch title to boost sales of the PS5 and Xbox. And that gives them enough time to make the game every bit as good as it’s potential. And when you consider the fact that there may not be a giant, first party PlayStation exclusive ready for the day the PS5 releases, Sony may be pushing Ubisoft to hold some their releases for their own sake as well.

Delays happen. They always have, they always will and I think the worst way to react to it is to get angry when that unfortunate press release hits. From a business standpoint - not just for profits but also for their livelihood, putting out a product that they are proud of and void of any known errors is going to benefit them in the long run. As it will for you. So embrace the delays. There is so much other shit to play anyways.