With recent news that another game has been delayed (The Witcher 3, delayed until 2015), it made me really contemplate game delays. It seems that the rate of delays has gone up in the past 7 months or so, and I began to wonder why. Why set a date to release if you aren’t going to realistically make that date? Why push the game back; were the developers really that far behind schedule? Will delaying a game begin to hurt it’s appeal, and perhaps affect sales? For a long time, in my eyes, delays were like a game’s death. The delay would bring skepticism that it would even come out, or foster doubts that the game might be buggy when actually released. However, my view has changed on the subject.
I like to record music, and when I do, I try to make it the best final product I possibly can. I don’t want to release it half-finished, or with any doubts in the back of my mind, nagging at me that I missed something. The final product needs to be as perfect as I can humanly make it. When I go to my job, week in and week out, I try to efficiently do the best I can do, to help the company progress and to feel like I’ve done everything I can. So why shouldn’t creating a game be any different? Another factor I have had my eyes opened to is the timing of releasing a product: sometimes it is better to wait a little while longer if there is another hot game releasing the same time. That way sales (theoretically) won’t go down as much.
So, after thinking about it, I realized that delays could actually be good things. Now, this isn’t a sure thing (it really depends on the studio and if the game is actually any good to begin with), but it doesn’t automatically make it a bad thing either. All this to say one thing: delays that are based from polishing the product will ALWAYS be a good thing. In our culture, if something doesn’t come out when it is said to come out, we freak out. A perfect example of this is Ubisoft and it’s late release of Watch Dogs on Wii U. Now, I’m one of the few optimists on the subject (doesn’t mean I’m not upset with Ubisoft with how they are handling the situation), and I hope that Ubisoft is being truthful in saying the game is still coming to Wii U. The key thing I’m keeping my eye on is whether this delay pays off or not. If Wii U owners get a port of a game that came out on every other console previously, then the delay was a fail and nothing more than damage control. However, if Ubisoft releases the game (even at the end of the year) and it becomes a “definitive version,” separating itself from the other versions and truly giving a unique gaming experience for Wii U owners, then the delay was needed.
Long story short, delays are good when utilized. We, as gamers, need to wait and hold judgment until a game is released (or not released) – otherwise, we will look like idiots who want our products right now, even if they suck.