With Sony recently delaying PS4 exclusive Days Gone people aren’t too happy. This, however, is something to be excited about. Not because we wanted the game to be bad, or Sony to be hurt by it, but because delays are good for games and the industry as a whole.
When a gamer sees a game delayed, it’s never a good feeling. Especially if it’s a game they were particularly excited about. However, video game delays are a part of our industry, whether we like it or not. Just this year alone we have seen several high profile games get delayed such as Anthem, Red Dead Redemption 2, Days Gone, System Shock Remastered, Yakuza 6, and We Happy Few. And those aren’t the only ones. There have been plenty more, and plenty in 2017 as well.
However, this is rarely a bad thing, not only for the game but for gamers as well. You may be scratching your head there, but allow me to explain. There are some things that a delay does for a game that makes it a better game. Such as:
The Things About Delays Almost Nobody Considers
Think about it. Do you really think a delayed game will stay the same as it was before the delay? Even if they don’t add a single thing to the game, it will be better due to the fact the developer now has more time to polish the systems in place. In fact, in some cases that would be the best case scenario. They wouldn’t have to deal with the process of developing new things such as systems, graphics, animations, overlays and so on. They could just stick with what’s there, and make it better, less buggy, and an overall better product.
However, if the game gets a hefty delay such as Anthem, Red Dead Redemption 2, or Days Gone received, you know they will be getting some big changes. Perhaps the delays were to fix a bad storyline, or a mechanic that just didn’t pan out as planned. But in the end, you know they will implement some new things. Maybe it will be new areas, new weapons, items, a new mechanic such as climbing, or what have you. The point is, the delay allows the developer to do more to expand the game past the scope it had before its delay, which will almost always mean a better game.
Another thing that is completely ignored for whatever reason, and is touched on above, is that even if the game ends up being terrible, it will still be better than it would have, or even could have been before its delay. Even after massive delays, a game can come out awful on the other side. (I’m looking at you, Duke Nukem Forever). But, can you imagine what games like Duke Nukem Forever would have been if they WEREN’T delayed? It hurts my heart to even think about the kind of garbage it would have been.
Shigeru Miyamoto, of Nintendo fame (honestly, if you don’t know who he is… why are you here?), has some wise words on the topic of game delays:
A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.
This isn’t entirely true in today’s world of post-launch updates, as can be seen by games like Final Fantasy XIV, The Division, No Mans Sky (if you think I’m wrong on this point, you’ve likely not played the game since launch), Diablo 3, and so on. But it’s still a good truth to live by. Because if your launch is so broken, such as the aforementioned NMS, your reputation will be tarnished no matter what you do. Even if you eventually make your game one of the best available after the fact.
The last point that just about everyone agrees on, even if we’d rather not have a game delayed in the first place, is that it lessens the strain on your wallet and time. There are a ridiculous amount of games that come out every year, to the point that it has become too much to play. Even if you want to play all the big AAA games that release in any given year, you can’t. You simply must make sacrifices and skip out on some no matter how badly you don’t want to. Just look at your backlog of games (every gamer has one), and tell me you don’t wish you had more time to play the games on that list.
The main takeaway here is that delays are good for games, even if the game ends up sucking in the end. However, the big games that get delayed were not likely to suck in the first place.
Although, There Are Bad Things Associated With Delays
It should go without saying, that there is, of course, a bad side to developers delaying their games. It could mean a multitude of things, and it often puts gamers on edge. Unless you’re a developer like Naughty Dog or Rockstar… they have the privilege to say it’s done when it’s done and no one bats an eye.
The first point goes hand in hand with a point made above, in that just because it’s delayed it doesn’t mean the game will still be good in the end. The developer may not be an experienced developer, or maybe they just had bad management, or any number of things. Delaying a game doesn’t guarantee the game will be good, so it’s something that needs to be thought out to make sure it’s the best choice for the company and the game.
It could also put people off from buying a system until that game releases. I’ve seen it said many times on comments in forums and Facebook. People will say they no longer have a reason to buy a console until that delayed game comes out. In fact, I’ve seen it with today’s delay of Day’s Gone already. While this point only applies to Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, it’s still one that needs to be made.
Something else that doesn’t help the brand, company, or game is that when a game gets delayed, it just looks bad. Perhaps the game was announced too soon, which was the case for Kingdom Hearts III, Final Fantasy XV, The Division, and so on. Heck, announcing games too early is even something some publishers have admitted to. It just doesn’t look good, even if the developer gives all the reasons in the world.
Or, a delay could make it look like the game is in some sort of developmental trouble. Typically, when a game is delayed it’s not for too long. Maybe a couple weeks, or even a couple months, but when it hits a year or more, or just keeps getting delayed, it’s almost certain that something isn’t right. But sometimes the delay has nothing to do with development, as was the case with games like Days Gone, which was apparently delayed for “Business Reasons.” But in the cases where development is an issue, frequent delays could end up leading to a canceled project many people were excited about. The one most recently hurting our hearts being the Xbox One exclusive Scalebound.
Thanks For Delaying Your Game
In the end, I think delays, while disappointing and never something we look forward to, ultimately help the industry. Either because the game will be better than before it was delayed for a multitude of reasons, or because it gives the developers time to add more and reassess what they’re doing with their game. Or, it allows players some much needed time to work on their backlogs before the next plethora of games releases.
Of course, there are some negatives to delays, but ultimately, I salute the developers and publishers willing to make that hard decision. So thanks, Sony, RockStar, EA, and anyone else who delays a highly anticipated game. We know it’s not an easy choice, but it’s for the best.