“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” These are the words of world-famous game designer Shigeru Miyamoto referring to the delayed launch of the Nintendo 64, a delay that allowed him to realize his vision for Mario 64.
In more recent years, this philosophy is becoming more common in the industry. We’ve seen a number of high-profile games affected by delays in the name of completing the creators’ vision. Just a few recent examples include Watch_Dogs, The Division, Batman Arkham Knight, and this week’s Uncharted 4. In these cases, the delays seem to have had a positive impact. Watch_Dogs, The Division, and Arkham Knight all have large open worlds with a variety of side tasks while Uncharted 4 is a completely polished experience by all accounts that makes the most of the PS4’s power.
So delays are always a good thing then? Not quite.
In some cases, continued delays can crush the hype for a game. Each game’s margin of error for this is different. Watch_Dogs and The Division both saw relatively long delays but fans were willing to overlook the setbacks due to the generational leap and online nature of the games. There was an understanding with the fans in their cases. Likewise, Uncharted 4 saw multiple delays totalling about six months, but the airing of Naughty Dog’s dirty laundry gave fans a point of reference to understand what was happening that set back development.
One of the latest games to get delayed doesn’t seem to be getting the same enthusiastic treatment from its fans.
That game is Mighty No. 9, the spiritual successor to Mega Man being developed by the series’ original creator, Keiji Inafune. Originally set for release in April 2015, Mighty No. 9 has since been delayed three times out to June 21, 2016. On top of that, ports to PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS will be launching at an ambiguous, “later date.”
Given the game’s exciting Kickstarter origins, the constant delays seem to be causing more confusion and apathy than anything else. If you take a look through this NeoGAF thread, many Kickstarter backers for the game are unsure of which version they’re getting at launch while others just don’t seem to care about the title at all anymore. There’s still hype for the game of course, but when you compare it to the original thread on NeoGAF, you can certainly see the dropoff in excitement.
Some of this can be attributed to its new launch date, June 21st. If you’ve been keeping a close eye on summer releases, you probably know that indie superstar No Man’s Sky is also launching that day. While exclusive to PC and PS4, No Man’s Sky aims to fulfill the promise many gamers have always dreamed about; an infinite universe littered with solar systems full of planets to explore. Sure, these two games aren’t really competing for the same market, but given the choice to explore new horizons or retread a classic formula, I feel like many gamers will be looking at No Many’s Sky as their first choice at the end of June.
One famously delayed game that didn’t come together very well was the PS4 exclusive racer, Driveclub. Originally slated as a 2013 launch game for the console, Driveclub missed that holiday season altogether. When it finally launched a year after its original release date, there were still issues with the game’s servers, making it nearly unplayable for its first couple weeks on the market. These issues also meant the free PlayStation Plus version that was promised for launch was also delayed.
Between its technical issues at launch and all of the negative press surrounding Driveclub, it’s clear that the delay didn’t help it sell any better. Unfortunately, Driveclub‘s developer Evolution Studios was shut down by Sony earlier this year after the title underperformed. (Luckily, the majority of Evolution’s staff was later hired by Codemasters to work on a new racing IP.)
Looking back at Miyamoto’s quote, I don’t take issue with the principle that a rushed game is forever bad. Rushing along a creative process like game development hinders a project from becoming the best possible version of itself. The beginning of his quote though…that a delayed game is eventually good? That seems like less of a guarantee.
With Mighty No. 9 coming out in just over a month, we’ll find out if, amidst all the delays, it eventually became good.