Video games get release dates announced quite often. Just as often, it seems, these same games get delayed for weeks, months and even years at a time. People often wonder why these delays happen. Are they good or bad for those games? What do developers usually do with that time?
The most common reason for delays is so that game developers have more time to make sure that their games are free of bugs, glitches or anything else that may hinder the experience. These delays are usually announced closer to the release date, when developers realize the actual state of their game. Examples of this include “Grand Theft Auto V” for PC and “The Last of Us”.
However, delays can be used to help a game sell better. For instance, if two games, Game A and Game B, share a similar demographic and the developers of Game B know that Game A is sure to do better, then Game B could be delayed so that there is some breathing room between the two releases. Sometimes, game releases can even be moved up to do the exact same thing. This allows people who can only afford to buy one game a month to get both games instead of having to choose.
Often, game delays are used as a bait-and-switch to get people excited for a game. “Batman: Arkham Knight” was announced early in 2014 to be released in the fall of 2014. However, about two weeks after this announcement, “Arkham Knight” was delayed until June of 2015. Preorders were still open, though, for the game. Many believe the game was originally going to be released in 2015; this tactic was a way to increase preorders and hype for the game.
Usually, when developers delay a game, it is obvious what the intent is. If the game is delayed closer to the release date, it may be simply because the game needs more development time. If the delay happens to come around the same time another game is announced, then it is likely just a marketing tactic. If the game is delayed shortly after its announcement, then there may have been less-than-honest intentions.
What does this mean for the game? It depends on the length of the delay. If the game is going to come out at most 6 months after the original release date, then these may be minor changes and the original game is mostly likely unaffected. On the other hand, lengthy delays are a sign that the game needs much more polish. These delays are divided; they can result in great games like “Bioshock: Infinite” or less-than-worthy waits like “Driveclub”.
On the whole, delays are not the worst thing in the world when it comes to the quality of the game, but beware of long delays and the bait-and-switch tactics that publishers love to use.