The last couple years have seen numerous games delayed as developers scramble to complete upcoming titles. I sincerely hope we see an end to this practice in 2016.
Over the last couple years, there’s been an alarming trend in the gaming industry. Game developers have announced release dates for their games, only to report a delay, setting the game back a few weeks or a couple years. This practice needs to end in 2016.
I recognize that game developers face many challenges in their work, and completing a high-quality game before a release date is one of those challenges. But the problem lies in setting a release date before a game is completed, or even close to completion. Doing so has the potential to create one of two major issues for gamers.
First, a developer may rush to release a game on time, but at the expense of launching a broken game. It seems like over the last couple years, this has become far more prevalent than ever before. Game-breaking bugs and issues have plagued gamers in numerous games, including Halo: Master Chief Collection, Assassin’s Creed Unity, and Batman: Arkham Knight.
The other issue that arises is that a developer is unable to complete a game on time, so it delays the release by a few weeks or months. Now I know this isn’t the end of the world, and I doubt anyone will die from the act, but that doesn’t make it any less of a frustration point for gamers.
Naturally, most gamers (myself included), would prefer a game be done right rather than released with numerous issues, just so a developer can meet a deadline. But I would also like to see developers be more responsible about their release schedules. Don’t establish a timeframe until the game is actually close to completion.
A good example of a developer announcing a release date when its game was almost done is Bethesda with its announcement of Fallout 4. In fact, shortly after Bethesda announced the open-world game, the developer’s VP of Marketing, Pete Hines, revealed that the game was “basically done” and that it was “by and large done before we announced it, in terms of the features going in.” He mentioned that the team at Bethesda was in the act of making a few fixes in Fallout 4, but that the core game was ultimately ready for launch before the developer ever even announced it to the public.
In my mind, this is a best practice scenario from a developer. There is so much that can happen over the course of development that it just doesn’t make sense to announce a release date until the game is “by and large done.” There’s always the possibility, like in the case with the upcoming Xbox One exlusive, Quantum Break, that the developer overhauls numerous aspects to a particular game. In that case, it’s not surprising that the development schedule would be lengthened.
Another example of this would be Tom Clancy’s The Division. The game, which was first announced at E3 in 2013, was supposed to release in 2014. Ubisoft delayed The Division to late 2015, only to delay it again to March 8, 2016. Now, I understand that Ubisoft wants to hold onto the game until it’s truly ready for release, and I don’t blame them. In fact, I appreciate their desire to make sure the game is truly finished and ready to go before launching it to the masses. But please, Ubisoft, quit setting dates that you can’t meet.
Ultimately, I hope game developers take a page out of Bethesda’s book and refrain from setting dates until their games are “by and large done.” I don’t have a problem with them announcing games years in advance of their launch, just please don’t tell us a game will be releasing on a specific date unless it’s ready to release on that date.
What do y’all think? Are you as bothered by the constant delays as I am, or does it not really affect you? Let me know your perspective in the comments.