At this point, it’s a tale as old as time- at E3, at TGS, at Gamescom, at PlayStation Experience, at just about any major event that you can think of, Sony brings out the big guns, announcing major, highly appealing first party in house exclusives currently in development. We all go nuts over what has been announced, and declare Sony the ‘winners’ of the event, even though the games that have been announced either have no release dates attached to them, or have ones that are years away. Then, when the release date of that game approaches, we find that Sony are delaying their game, sometimes by a few weeks, at other times by as much as a year- it is a long and frankly exhausting journey from the games’ announcement to their release.
So far, this generation, there has been hardly one single major PlayStation first party game for the PS4 that wasn’t delayed prior to release- inFamous: Second Son, DriveClub, The Order 1886, Bloodborne, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Ratchet and Clank, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Last Guardian, Gravity Rush 2, and Gran Turismo Sport are all examples of major Sony games that were announced, but delayed before their release. It happens all the time- so often that we’re past the point where we can be annoyed at it. We’re even past the point where it’s a running joke. We’re at the point where there’s just a numb acceptance of it, like a sort of taking it for granted- of course a Sony first party game will be delayed. What else is new?
Look, I’ve been a big critic of Sony about this in the past. At any review for any Sony showcase or event, I note their tendency to announce games prematurely. Every single time a Sony first party game is delayed, I’m there to call Sony out on their inability to manage their development cycles and schedules. But as 2016 draws to an end, with all three Sony game releases this year – Ratchet and Clank, Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian – having been ones that were delayed in some measure or the other, at least once, from their original announced release date, I need to ask myself: does it truly matter?
"So far, this generation, there has not been one single major PlayStation first party game for the PS4 that wasn’t delayed prior to release."
I mean, in a sense, I am sure it matters. There’s a statement to be made about hype culture, about Sony’s inability to manage their development cycles, about the rising cost and resources mandated by AAA games, and so on- but I am talking about it in practical terms. If I own a PS4, does it matter that a PS4 first party game is likely going to be delayed?
There is no question about the fact that Sony’s games are incredible, and almost always worth the wait when they finally release. While they may have had a bit of a rough spot right at the beginning of this generation, almost everything from Bloodborne onwards has been worth playing- and almost everything from Bloodborne onwards also saw delays. The delays were frustrating as we all excitedly waited for Uncharted, but they were worth it. They didn’t diminish Uncharted, The Last Guardian, or Ratchet and Clank as games- in fact, they almost certainly made them far better than they would have been otherwise. Uncharted 4 is among the highest rated games of this generation, and a landmark game in its genre, while The Last Guardian did the impossible and somehow managed to live up to ten years of hype. The games’ ultimate legacies will not be ones about their multiple delays, but rather, about just how great these games really are.
So if Sony must by necessity delay a game so that it turns out to be as great as we now expect a Sony first party game to be, can we really be mad at them for that? If I have the chance to get Horizon Zero Dawn five months earlier, but have it not quite be as great as it could have been, versus swallowing the news of the delay, but getting the best possible game it otherwise possibly would be, why would I not want it delayed? As a fan of games, anyone would rather take the hit and get a delayed but great game, than a not delayed, but ultimately disappointing one.
"If Sony must by necessity delay a game so that it turns out to be as great as we now expect a Sony first party game to be, can we really be mad at them for that?"
It’s not even like Sony games being delayed means that there is a shortage of games to play on the PS4 otherwise- this isn’t the Wii U, where Nintendo’s first party content is literally all that there is to play on the system, and a delay of a major game means that owners may now go as much as months without having a new title to play. The PS4 is the most supported console in the world, getting major AAA third parties, smaller independent developers, western third parties, Japanese third parties, all on board, who put games out on an almost daily basis. If Horizon were to today get delayed out of February, you’d still have Nioh or Sniper Elite 4 to look forward to in that month- assuming you hadn’t already made your way through Digimon, Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, or Gravity Rush 2, all of which would have released just a month before it.
This happened this year, too- Gran Turismo Sport and Horizon: Zero Dawn, both of Sony’s tentpole releases for this Holiday, got delayed out of this year, and into the next. Even The Last Guardian got pushed out of the busy November season and quietly into the beginning of December , PS4 fans had no banner first party title to fall back on. But that didn’t mean that there was a shortage of games to play- we still got Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2, Final Fantasy 15, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, not to mention games from just the previous month, like Skyrim, Battlefield 1, and Titanfall 2. While the delay of Horizon Zero Dawn definitely might have sucked in this case, you don’t come out the loser in the big picture- you get a better game in Horizon Zero Dawn than you might have otherwise, and you still have a lineup of some great games to play. I don’t know what there is to complain about in that case.
"There’s an old quote by the legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto, one that is almost as overused as it is old. It says, ‘a delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is bad forever.’"
There’s an old quote by the legendary Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto, one that is almost as overused as it is old. It says, ‘a delayed game is eventually good, a rushed game is bad forever.’ It’s a maxim that holds as true now, in the age of post launch patches and updates, as it ever has. If creative and ambitious game developers feel like a few extra months will get them the time they need to push out a product that is worthy of their name and your time- who are we to say otherwise? After all, we don’t want another Assassin’s Creed Unity, do we? Delays suck, and I’m always very disappointed and let down by them when they happen, mostly because I tend to get very excited and hyped up about things I am interested in. But at the same time, I think it is good to have the awareness in mind that in the larger picture, delays are the lesser of two evils- I’d rather not play a game for another few months, and then get a truly memorable experience on my hands, than get it now, and be let down by it thoroughly. In the meanwhile, it’s not like there is a shortage of games to play on the PS4, either.
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