Video game release delays impact gamers, companies


Griffin DeLadurantaye

Watch Dogs: Legion made the bold promise of allowing players to recruit and play as anyone in London. It was first planned to be released on March 6, 2020, but was delayed to October 29, 2020. It was met with a generally positive response.

With video game delays happening more often and Cyberpunk 2077 sparking discourse in the gaming community, knowledge on the topic of delays is handy to have right now.
The most controversial video game release in recent memory was the rocky launch of Cyberpunk 2077, which had a turbulent development and release. Its first teaser trailer premiered eight years ago in 2013, and it was delayed three times before its release; once from April 16, 2020, to September 17, then to November 19, then a final time to December 10. Despite all this time spent on the game, what was released on December 10 was a game riddled with bugs and issues that resulted in wide-scale refunds and even a class-action lawsuit.
“I tried to like it,” senior Alex Dakin, who plans to record an episode of the Dotte Radio on the topic of video game delays, said, “but it had so many issues that I just didn’t want to play it, so I ended up refunding it.”
Many games are delayed because the developers need extra time to add polish to the game and remove bugs and glitches present in the game. Often these delays are fairly short and result in players getting a better game on release, like Resident Evil 4 and Final Fantasy VII Remake, which were each well received and only delayed by about a month. An example of a longer delay would be Persona 5, which released two years after its first planned release date but was still very successful at launch.
“I remember that I was upset when Batman: Arkham Knight was delayed,” senior Devin Diehl said. “I think it was delayed by about seven or eight months, but I was happy with it afterward.”
Not all games delayed to add polish turn out well, though. Mass Effect: Andromeda was the most recent addition to the critically acclaimed Mass Effect series. It was delayed from December 2016 to March 2017 but was met by heaps of criticism; many focused on its poor writing, bad animations, and how it overall did not live up to its previous installments.
“Delays are overall good since they’re going to make the game better in the long run,” Dakin said. “If it’s for the wrong reason or if they don’t use that extra time how they should, it’s a bad thing.”
Another reason that video games get delayed is because of issues within the company’s game development. The Crackdown series, for example, includes three games, each of which were made by different developers. The most recent in the series, Crackdown 3, was developed by Sumo Digital, which faced many issues causing a three-year delay and very negative reception at launch. Halo: Infinite is currently experiencing similar issues; technical issues and multiple directors leaving the project have led to the game being pushed from what was once supposed to be a launch coinciding with the Xbox Series X all the way to the fall of 2021, almost a whole year later.
Sometimes, these issues can mix and become more serious, leading to games being stuck in development and some never escape. Duke Nukem Forever is the most notable example of a game being stuck in development for an extraordinary length of time. Once planned to be released in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever never saw the light of day until 2011. It has since become infamously known by the gaming community as one of the worst games ever. Other games ended up canceled altogether. Some well-known games that never escaped development included Star Wars 1313, which, after a long development period, was scrapped when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, and Scalebound, a promising Xbox One exclusive that was shelved after not meeting expectations.
“It sucks when a game that looks exciting gets canceled,” Dakin said, “but at least it can make room for new things.”
Recently, COVID-19 has caused many delays. Many companies have pushed back releases for workers to keep safe during the pandemic. Some of these include Ghost of Tsushima, Deathloop, and Minecraft Dungeons.
As Cyberpunk 2077 has taught us, no game is ever assured to be amazing, no matter how good it looks. As delays are becoming more commonplace in the gaming world, what is important to be aware of is why it happens, and what developers are doing with their extra time. If they do it right, then it is all worth it in the end.