The Division was originally announced at E3 2013; now, it is finally releasing, almost three years later, in March this year. It’s been an unbelievably long development cycle- for context, the game was announced back before the PS4 or the Xbox One had been released, it was announced before Rainbow Six: Siege had been announced and then released, it was announced before Final Fantasy Versus XIII had been renamed Final Fantasy XV.
That’s how long it’s been.
But this long development cycle was a product of just how ambitious the game is, and how much new ground it is breaking. Ubisoft believes that given the scope of the game, the long development cycle was very necessary- and they wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“Yes, we’ve been in development for a long time and we announced in 2013,” saidUbisoft Massive’s Magnus Jansén to The Examiner. “Trying to do an open-world game, but for co-op as well, in terms of the design challenges, especially on the narrative side, is all so new that it has taken it’s time to get it right and I’m very proud of where we are. I do believe that we did get it very right.
“Considering the multiple firsts that we’re sort of doing with all of that, I think it has been fairly quick. I’m very happy with where we ended up and with the pace in which we got there, considering the design and technical innovations that were done.”
I get that- I understand a game needing time to be developed, and I respect, even more, the developers actually getting that time, rather than the game being rushed to the market for a quick buck. My problem here, however, is that the game should never have been announced as early as it was. Protracted development and hype cycles help nobody- they don’t help the audience, who can lose patience and interest, or conversely, have unrealistic expectations; they can’t help the developers, who now have the pressure of an audience that is scrutinizing everything that they do; they certainly can’t help publishers, who have more time for their intended messaging to go out of control.
This is one practice that I think the industry needs to grow out of.