Sony: Delaying Games Is 'The Right Call'

Sony: Delaying Games Is 'The Right Call'

It's been a year of high-profile delays. Evolve, Battlefield Hardline, The Division, Batman, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Assassin's Creed Unity, The Order and GTA 5 on PC are just a few high profile slips on the list. Chances are: if you want it, you're going to have to wait a bit longer.

Delays seem to be increasingly common as budgets and expectations spiral out of control, but they also lack the stigma they used to have a generation or two ago. In the past, a slipped date might cast a shadow on development. Why isn't it out on time? What's gone wrong? Now, however, most delays are accompanied by a uniquely special message that's often hard to argue with - "we can make this better."

Sony has one of the most notable recent delays with Driveclub, a high profile PS4 launch game originally promised as the first big next-gen PS Plus freebie. Currently it's targeting October of this year and according to Sony's UK VP and MD Fergal Gara, in certain situations, holding something back is simply the right thing to do.


"If you've made a big investment and you bring it out half ready, for the wrong reasons, then there's going to be a cost."


"Personally I think it's the right call," he told me. With games getting increasingly more astronomically expensive to produce, the cost of a misfire isn't just about disappointed gamers or sales, it's about the opportunity to sell on. "If you've made a big investment and you bring it out half ready, for the wrong reasons, then there's going to be a cost. You're certainly not going to sell a second version of that new franchise you might be taking to market," says Gara.

It's not just about numbered sequels either any more. As the landscape of gaming changes, additional content and longevity are overtaking iteration. "A project like Destiny is a perfect example of how you can layer a ten year road map," explains Gara, "and it's peppered with disks and non-disks and digital content and a whole evolving landscape."

Overall Destiny's been well received despite a mix of opinions and some gameplay highs and lows. Considering the insane amount of money that's been spent it had to be. Although when the release date was confirmed for this September, even that differed from the previously pegged 'Spring.' When asked about the delay, Activison CEO Eric Hirshberg mirrored Gara's own thoughts, stating: "It was the right decision to delay it because you never get a second chance to launch."

Ultimately, says Gara, questioning whether you're making the best game you can is "always the right call." Returning to Driveclub, he highlights the decision process that lead to its extended development: "the call was taken to pause, re-assess and reset the ambitions and make sure it delivered the vision we laid out." The questions that a developer needs to ask are always this basic: "Is that as good as it should be? Do we think that's going to review as well as it should do? And ultimately sell as well as it should?" The only problem he sees is if "you lose too many in a key period and therefore end up with a drought."

He could almost be describing this year.


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This post originally appeared on Kotaku UK, bringing you original reporting, game culture and humour with a U from the British isles.


Comments

    Obviously I want to play ALL THE GAMES NOW! but delays are almost always a good thing unless you want Watch_Dogs as your future gaming standard.

    Racing fans sure are lonely on the PS4 right now!

    *goes and has a race in Forza 5 while Forza Horizon pre-loads.

      I think if you bought a PS4 solely on the promise of Driveclub being a launch title, you'd be pretty upset. How many people would have done that? There was a bit of noise on the forums because of the delay, but I think people either cancelled the pre-order or made do with other games or other systems. At least we had Need For Speed on PS4.

        Except need for speed is terrible, wiping progress constantly. Very glad I dodged that bullet. Plus side is you guys will have a better selection of wheels before decent racing games come out.

      Don’t even get me started on Polyphony’s management of the GT series since the PS2 era.

      Botched release date after botched released date, failure to manage customer expectations, failure to judge when to replace and when to reuse assets, failure to Incorporate a decent front-end into their titles. Releasing ONE title in the entire lifecycle of the PS3 and one after the PS4 has already been released. What was once the benchmark in racing (and my favourite PS game) shouldn’t be expected on the PS4 for another 5 years unless we get “GT6.5” featuring assets that have been reused since the PS2.

      The whole thing is just a mess. It’ll be interesting to see how Forza Horizon stacks up against Drive Club when the two go head-to-head over the next month.
      It’s becoming rarer and rarer that we get an old-fashioned head-to-head battle of exclusives in the same genre (and even sub-genre)!

        Honestly couldn't agree with you more. I have played every Gran Turismo game bar 6. I had been playing Forza 3 for a whole year when GT5 came out, but didn't care how many cars GT5 had, when i could tell straight away that the majority were a simple copy/paste from GT4.. I would have thought they would have at least run some sort hardware tessellation process to increase the amount of polygons, additionally they could have redone textures for door handles etc and created new complex shaders for different materials. The community and customisation options felt empty and sterile compared to Forza. Even some of the tracks looked unfinished and were missing those extra track side details, and good quality textures.

          This is exactly how I feel too !!
          and honestly with Forza at least we kinda know each iteration is going to be solid, can't wait for Horizon2!!

          also just worth noting anyone predownloading Horizon 2 get it off the USA Xbox live marketplace, not only is it cheaper but you get it earlier too!!

          I played the shit out of GT3 and loved it. I skipped GT4 (I was late to the party and GT3 kept me occupied long enough) but when I got GT5 I was still pretty dissapointed. It didn't really do anything much better than GT3, which was 10 years and a console generation behind...kinda killed it for me. Which was a shame, as I loved playing with those gear ratios to get the perfect acceleration...

    Delays the right call when trying to ensure you release a quality product, but you can't allow yourself to get caught up on that line of thinking and draw the conclusion that delays are acceptable or good. If you do that you end up in Valve-time where nothing ever gets released.

      Valve time is a bit different though as they have Steam revenue to fall back on, whereas most developers can't afford not to release games every x years.

    Here's the solution - just set realistic release dates! We don't care if you announce a game way in advance (actually that just gives the hype train more to speed up!)

      MGS5 Ground Zeroes/Phantom Pain is one of those examples of games that were announced so far ahead before the game was ready, that the only way to keep some hype going for it was to sell the tutorial missions as a standalone game (which actually killed the hype for a lot of people). Kingdom Hearts 3 is another one, having supposedly been in on-and-off development for years, only to have parts poached for spin-off titles, and then have them announce not long after an actual real KH3 trailer that they really had nothing to show other than a teaser, as there was barely any game yet. The same company just recently shunted Tetsuya Nomura from Final Fantasy XV back onto KH3, after more than 8 years of development on it! And the less said about The Last Guardian the better.

      Sometimes announcing a game way in advance is one of the worst things you can possibly do.

        Yeah the wait for MGSV is getting beyond a joke - just announce a date already - I say don't announce more than a year out.

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