Hype can be a dangerous thing, and few games in recent memory have enjoyed the feverish pre-release buzz that currently surrounds Elden Ring. Ever since Bandai Namco revealed the game’s initial release date during Summer Game Fest Kickoff in June 2021, excitement has only continued to build for the George R.R. Martin / FromSoftware collaboration. It’s starting to reach Cyberpunk 2077 levels of pre-launch buzz — and we all remember how that worked out.
On October 18, Bandai Namco and FromSoftware confirmed that Elden Ring’s release date was pushed back by one month. Elden Ring will now be released during one of the busiest periods in all of 2022. How will the video game industry at large respond to this?
What happened — On the same day it announced a network test for Elden Ring, Bandai Namco confirmed on Twitter that the game’s release date has changed to February 25, 2022.
“The depth & strategic freedom of the game exceeded initial expectations,” a tweet about the delay reads. As is the case with most AAA titles that change release dates, the developer needs a little more time to polish their game.
What the delay means —Previously, Elden Ring was supposed to be the first major AAA release of the year. Now, it’s coming out right in the thick of the early 2021 video game release season.
Elden Ring launches on the same day as Saints Row and Atelier Sophie 2, which is already relatively close to the release of titles like Sifu, Gran Turismo 7, and Horizon Forbidden West. Even Destiny 2’s The Witch Queen expansion launches just a few days before on February 22. While no company has indicated plans to delay their titles just yet, publishers now have significantly tougher competition in late February.
Ampere Analysis Research Director Piers Harding-Rolls tells Inverse this announcement could push delay discussions for other games over the edge.
“February 2022 is very busy for big console releases, so for games planning to launch in that window, if there are any lingering development issues, there may be a temptation to delay later into Q1 or early Q2,” he says. “In other words, Elden Ring coming a month later may add weight to a decision to delay if that is already being discussed.”
The Cyberpunk 2022 Effect — While CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 was ultimately a divisive title due to its rough, bug-filled launch, it received a comparable amount of hype to Elden Ring before launch.
As such, other publishers tried to stay out of Cyberpunk 2077’s way, rescheduling games to later in the year. When Cyberpunk 2077 was moved to its final release date of December 10, 2020, a Path of Exile expansion, Everspace 2, and The Medium were all pushed back to 2021. No other notable game even wanted to try to compete with Cyberpunk 2077.
Elden Ring is the first game since Cyberpunk 2077 that we could see potentially having a similar effect. Harding-Rolls is a bit more lukewarm on that idea, especially for games that don’t overlap with Elden Ring’s Soulslike and open-world elements.
“Although highly anticipated, I wouldn’t put Elden Ring in the same bracket as the hype that fuelled Cyberpunk’s release,” he says. “The other factor is audience overlap: If the overlap is judged to be limited, it is unlikely that Elden Ring will trigger a delay.” Do Saints Row fans also play FromSoftware games? The overlap between potential player bases could be a major contributing factor here.
In the best-case scenario, nothing will change. But as more upcoming releases go gold and release dates are finalized, Elden Ring’s new release date will likely be an influence to publishers and developers when working out the timing.
Elden Ring will be released on February 25, 2022.