Why Videogame Delays are Not Okay Whenever a game is postponed there are legions of defenders for the delay. They let complainers know that games are complicated, design takes time and brandishes the famous Shigeru Miyamoto quote “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad,” like a weapon. They are correct on all accounts. But we aren’t just consumers, we are customers. Developers should treat their fan base with respect instead of an endless cash supply. Outside of comics (which are burdened with a similar mindset), I can’t think of an industry where projects are continually pushed back haphazardly with no regard to the purchaser. The mentality of developers when a game is delayed is a shrug “What are players going to do…not buy the latest Halo?” Games like Watch_Dogs prove consumers will purchase a game regardless of the string of delays or mismanaged communication. Market Buzz When a game is announced it draws the attention of the community. Amazon updates the listing with an official release date, GameStop displays in-store banners and IGN writes an article to let fans know. Pre-orders begin and developers generate a baseline of projected sale numbers. These are all positives for the industry and the consumer who now has a release date to look forward to. This occurred when Batman: Arkham Knight was announced for October 2014 in March. Gamers only needed to wait seven months; not too bad in an industry with title cards displayed during E3 five years before release. This was not the case. In June, Rocksteady informed fans that the next installment wouldn’t’ be available until 2015. Even now, an official release date is unknown. It is understandable that games are delayed, but it isn’t understandable why a game would be announced and delayed within the same quarter. The only answer I can come up with is that the teams were not communicating with each other properly or this was a marketing ploy. Either response is not fair to the fans. No apology is provided for the wait. No reward is bestowed upon them for pre-ordering a product which went from a firm release date to an abstract concept of release. The developer’s decision is made without considering the impact to their most loyal consumers. The delay, and subsequent new announcement is another opportunity for the developer to release a press release and generate additional buzz. From a news perspective, the current infrastructure makes it more appealing to developers to announce, delay and re-announce their game’s release than Transparency Games will be delayed. These products are multi-tiered projects with rotating teams, deliverables, and concepts that must synchronize perfectly with one another. The difference between a good delay to polish the game and a bad delay is based upon the timing of the announcement in relationship to the amount of delay Dragon Age: Inquisition moved from an October 7 release to November 18 in July. This delay is a little more than a month and was conveyed to fans three months before release. The team involved recognized that they needed additional time to create the polished version the envisioned. Could they have mentioned it sooner? Possibly, but they were hopeful that they would make their anticipated date. When a game’s date is pushed by four months, with less than two months before release, such as Evolve, I can’t help but wonder if they were trying to squeeze every pre-order possible. Games take a month to print and ship to stores. Unless an unforeseen game breaking bug, which is possible, was discovered during testing it seems suspect that the project manager didn’t see the writing on the wall sooner. This could have been conveyed to fans in a timely fashion. Honesty is the Best Policy If a developer is unsure of meeting a promised street date, don’t announce one. Games should stick to release windows until they are a few months from completion. By communicating a date, and accepting pre-orders, they are making a promise to consumers that they will deliver a product. When this date is altered, they are breaking that promise. Fans need a way to communicate this displeasure, (politely…I do not want to see us turning into trolls) to developers. Creators should be held accountable for their actions and promises. The current culture of release dates continually shifting is not a good environment for the consumer. Instead of seeing customers as business partners, which they are by the nature of exchanging cash for goods, they are treating fans like children who will receive dessert when it suits their parents’ mood. Level Up, Friends!