There was a time not so long ago that we as gamers, could look at the release date several months out and know that regardless of what school brought our way, family drama arose, or any other of life challenges found you, that you could count on getting your hands on the game the day you were promised. While obvious that this is no longer the case with delays being announced every other day, it is important to come to grips with this pattern now for sake of your expectations and overall gaming happiness.
Video game release dates no longer mean what they once did. Accept that. But this is not always a bad thing, and more often than not- this is actually a very good thing. Now before you start penning your “How dare you!” email, let’s find some common ground so you can understand where I am coming from. If it is one thing that I have learned ignites a fire in the gaming community more than most things (outside of the word micro transactions), it is telling a gamer that they are not going to play a game as soon as they had originally anticipated. Trust me, I have been burned time and time again on game delays. Hell, anyone that has a PlayStation this generation should be completely used to it by now. From games like The Order: 1886, Uncharted 4, and don’t even get me started on DriveClub… So yes, I feel your pain.
We have gotten to a point in games however, that we must begin to revert our expectation of solid release dates and begin to look at them more as Release Windows. Logically, it does not make sense to announce a game release date a year in advance, and expect to hit the deadline every single time. That is just not the way that game development works nowadays. However this does not give game developers or publishers a pass in all scenarios. Games like Batman: Arkham Knight being announced for an October release date then being pushed to nearly 8 months only a few short weeks later, is more than a mere oversight.
Here is what I propose for all parties involved: as gamers, lets ease up on the developer that wants to take another few weeks to help realize their final product. However, as developers and publishers, try to stay away from giving release dates several months in advance. I understand that you need to build hype for your game, but there are better ways to go about that. Besides, delays will many time hurt a games reputation with the community, does Watchdogs ring a bell?
This reasoning in itself is probably why Sony didn’t go out this past week during their E32016 showcase and hit us with a bunch of release dates. It wasn’t a mistake, they didn’t just forget to add them at the end of the demo. While I believe most of the games shown were 2017 releases (with the exception of Death Stranding- 2019 at the earliest for that game, promise), why crush the hype they have built later down the road with a delay, when they can announce it when they are ready and give the gamers something to look forward to and believe in.
Before I hop down from my soapbox, let me leave you with one final thought on the matter. Support the developers that have the courage to step up and ask for more time; these people know what this does to us and the kinds of reactions they will inevitably receive. Our complaining doesn’t help the situation, nor does it benefit the end product. Which is why we are all here, right? Developers take your time (not talking about you The Last Guardian). Build the game that you wanted to. The gaming community is better for it.