Horizon: Zero Dawn, Yooka-Laylee, No Man’s Sky, Persona 5, Zelda and the release of Nintendo’s new NX hardware have all been delayed until 2017. In the case of Horizon, Guerrilla Games’ response is understandable: they want to make the best game they possibly can, which takes a significant amount of time (on the triple-A level especially) and can go against the schedule for a publisher.
Beyond Guerrilla Games specifically (theirs was the most recent announcement, with a delay until next February) this assuredly goes for all the other developers mentioned above too, even in cases where it wasn’t explicitly stated. From the creative perspective of a studio, it’s common sense.
Some so-called fans don’t take this kind of thing lightly, leveling death threats and harassment at creators and writers alike, as was the recent case with No Man’s Sky. But when a game arrives late and ends up being highly polished or otherwise great, no one remembers the delays. They just remember how good the experience ultimately was.
Luckily, the trend to push things out of the all-important holiday release window is starting to become more common. A few years ago, every major title that wasnt getting a debut announcement at a major industry event like E3 or Gamescom – or games that had already had a few press showings – were more often than not scheduled for a November release of that year; last year, a good chunk of the big games expected to be holiday titles were pushed until later 2016.
You might argue that Naughty Dog getting away with delaying Uncharted 4 until May helped the cause for everyone else – it was originally supposed to launch in 2015, but went through a few delays to make sure the game was the best it could be.
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, The Division and Far Cry Primal also were either pushed back or targeted for a later date than originally predicted; it’s not a new trend, but it’s one publishers appear to be taking more notice in.
In general, thats good (though not all of those games turned out as polished as fans hoped). The game industry has suffered a long-held reputation of being driven more by business than anything else, even sacrificing the quality of a finished game to satisfy the potential for quarterly earnings.
The worst example of late is Assassin’s Creed Unity, which was such a horrible, buggy mess when it launched for the holiday 2014 season that Ubisoft had to apologize to fans by giving away free games and has since decided to tone down the yearly AC fervor, at least in terms of annual, main entry sequels.
Delaying games helps developers not be undeservedly crucified by fans, and it’s easier to be proud of something that’s actually, well, finished. Besides, it’s not like anyone is wanting for something to play. Before complaining, check that back catalog. Those publishers allowing big games to get pushed to 2017 are taking a risk and doing it right; the end results will likely be much better off in the long run.