“When the games are the least interesting part, there’s a problem.”
-Warren Spector on an increased emphasis on non-game apps at E3, including services like Netflix
“There are people who love the stuff I’ve worked on … but there are probably an equal number of people who just think I’m an asshole.”
When you hear names like Bioshock: Infinite, Tomb Raider, The Last Guardian, and Half Life: Anything; most likely you are hit with a small feeling of sadness. All these games have been pushed back multiple times; and the classic gamer worry of if they will ever come out sets in. All of these are supposed to be Triple-A titles, and have tons of anticipation going for them; yet they can’t seem to get out, “on time.”
Yet, maybe the issue isn’t the games, but the gamer.
We can get so excited over a release date; hopping a ride on the hype train, and then when it doesn’t happen, we feel betrayed. Yet, think of your other options. Would you rather have the game released “on time,” and partially incomplete, or would you rather them take the time to make the best product possible? Bethesda and Blizzard seem to be great examples of this.
Bethesda has earned a lot of goodwill from gamers over the years with their amazing games and is a source of great creativity in the industry. Yet, they also have the wonderful award of being known as the company that cannot release a game without issue. Their products notoriously needs day one patches, and many fans will argue that the game isn’t “complete” until a handful of months down the road when everything has been patched out. I only need to mention backwards flying dragons, people exploding, and other Skyrim issues to make the point. That is not to say that Skyrim isn’t a great game. In fact, it is an amazing game; deserving of many of the accolades it received; but it also wasn’t a finished game at launch.
Blizzard takes the exact opposite approach. As a company they won’t release something until it is complete to their standards. Look at how long people have been waiting for Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, or their production time table for Mists of Panderia or even the just released Diablo III. Last year they did not have a Blizz-con because they realized that they had to finish up work on the two aforementioned products, and get them out the door. People will wait years for a new Blizzard title, and do so joyously because they know the quality of the product will be top notch.*
*Ironically, Diablo III did launch with some serious issues, which caused quite an uproar. As of the writing of this article, many of those issues have been fixed.
Nonetheless, these are two extremes of game development; what about the games that just don’t make date? It can be a frustrating thing as a gamer, but truthfully it is bound to happen. Sometimes a game just needs some more work done; and need to be at their best because the company may be riding on its success; a la Darksiders II. While others may just be gifted with more time by the publisher to bring it to perfection; which seems to be where Bioshock: Infinite lay. For games like The Last Guardian or Final Fantasy Versus XIII; only God knows where they are and what is going on. Nonetheless; there are myriads of reasons as to why a game can get pushed back; some good and some bad; and as gamers we need to grow up and understand that this is simply part of the industry we take part in.
Mass Effect 2 and 3; Grand Theft Auto IV, Max Payne 3; all are games that were delayed in one form or another; and all were wonderful experiences. Because we do not work at those companies; we may never know if they “needed” those delays and if the games were going to be “broken” if they were not; yet all we can say is that we were given fantastic experiences. We are all taught as children that patience is a virtue; and maybe that is something that we have forgotten in this industry. Personally, I’ll leave the decision up to the developers to determine, “when it’s finished.” They’ve got a bit more experience than I do.