Earlier this month we learned that the Ratchet & Clank re-imagining was delayed until April 29, 2016 and whether we like it or not, game delays are becoming a disappointingly bigger part of the industry as a whole. More and more of our most anticipated games keep getting pushed back later into the year, but are game delays necessarily bad or are they actually good for consumers?
The fall of 2014 had some great games that were released in a timely manner. Many of the most anticipated titles of the year that consumers could not wait to get their sweaty palms on (Assassin’s Creed: Unity) were released on store shelves broken, bug filled and just plain unfinished. These were games that hit the market long before they should have see the light outside the developers studio.
Driveclub was the first to rear its ugly disc to the market last fall even after the multiple delays it had before release. The game debuted with a fragmented online mode, unfinished featuresand middle-of-the-road gameplay that failed to hold up to its promises. Then there was the release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity on the same day, making it more than just a coincidence that these games had multiple issues with them. Unity had cracks filled to the brim with game breaking bugs and horrible frame rate problems, as well as an online mode that didn’t work. Halo ended up having a broken online mode with matchmaking problems that persisted for months after its launch, and is still releasing patches and updates to this day. It seams as if broken online modes have become the trend for game releases in the 2014-2015 season.
There is a reason why these three games along with many others from gaming past and future are being shipped out half-baked and broken. They released them for one of the largest spending days of the year, the infamous “Black Friday,” as the gaming industry bumps up the development pace and size of its games during the holiday season. November and October are the two most lucrative months and everyone is trying to get their games ready to be ship by Black Friday. The holiday season is not the one to blame and games that are released in poor quality are not due to the developers being lazy or phoning-it-in a few months before its launch, but instead shareholders. That’s right, shareholders are to blame for most, if not all, of our biggest anticipated games flopping as soon as they are flooded into the market, and they are setup to fail from the very beginning due to the role shareholders play.
Money, as always, is the main reason AAA publishers are releasing half finished games as publishers such as, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Activision, Konami and THQ are all publicly traded companies, meaning that the companies ownership is distributed among the general public. Because of this, these gaming companies are obligated to please their shareholders to not only help them make money, but to do it on a tight schedule. If the risks of missing those specifically formed dates offset the shares of stocks, the benefits of putting in some more time and quality into the game are tossed to the wind and it will surely hit shelves broken and bug ridden. No publisher will ever admit they do this on a regular base, but the comparison to the timeline depicted along with the multiple game breaking issues at their launch are not coincidences and tell the story for us.
In the wise words of Shigeru Miyamoyo, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” Gamers have long voiced that they would rather wait to get their hands on a delayed game then delve into an unfinished and buggy one, but with some AAA Publishers the choice simply isn’t up to them. Unfinished games with bugs will always be apart of the industry; they’re just a part of the world now, but we don’t have to support them. There are plenty of other publishers who steer away from shareholders and focus only on the quality of their games. The indie realm features plenty of passion products that should be getting our attention, time and money, as they are just as passionate about gaming as we are.