Mighty No. 9, an upcoming video game about a blue robot who fights against evil robot masters and collects their powers, was recently delayed until next year. This would not be an issue — video games get delayed! — if everything around it wasn't so damn shady.
Take, for example, the timeline. On Thursday, July 23, retail listings for Mighty No. 9 on Amazon and GameStop suddenly switched the game's release date from September 15 — the original plan — to a placeholder date in 2016. Fans and Kickstarter backers immediately wondered what was up, but producer Nick Yu was quick to assure one of their forum moderators that this simply wasn't true:
Meanwhile, it must be noted, the people behind Mighty No. 9 were still trying to salvage Red Ash, the follow-up Kickstarter they'd launched to tepid reactions in early July. An informed observer might wonder if those developers were in fact trying to hide the news of Mighty No. 9's delay until the Red Ash Kickstarter ended in early August. Hm.
Back to the timeline. On Friday, July 31, the magazine Game Informer reported that they'd talked to their parent company, GameStop, and discovered this wasn't just some retail mixup — publisher Deep Silver had actually told the retail chain that the game wasn't making it out in September.
Still, backers believed in Mighty No. 9 director Keiji Inafune and his company, Comcept. After I wrote about Red Ash and briefly mentioned these delay rumours, half a dozen backers posted Kotaku comments and sent me emails to proclaim that the rumours were bullshit and that the game was indeed coming out on time. Nick Yu said so on the forums!
On Wednesday, August 5 — less than two days after the Red Ash Kickstarter ended — Comcept officially announced the delay. And today, Yu wrote a Q&A to backers on the Mighty No. 9 forums with some explanation for what had happened and why they'd denied a rumour that turned out to be true.
Q: When did you actually find out about the delay and why it wasn't informed to the backers right away?
A: The delay was decided about a week ago. We (all partners) all made the decision together. The decision required discussion since we needed to consider the possibility of releasing the game on time but with some bugs still inside. However, doing that would not only damage the game itself, but most importantly damage the actual gaming experiences of our backers and fans. The reason we waited until Gamescom to announce the delay is simply that it took time to weigh the options and make a final decision. There was a rumour already out there, but I can assure you that backers received the news of a definite delay (100% confirmed by us) before anyone else. I gave the go-ahead to Josh to post the update before the very first interview we had during first day or Gamescom (today).
Of course, something doesn't sit right about this explanation. If they'd decided to delay the game last week, why were retailers changing Mighty No. 9's release date on July 23? And if they were even considering delaying the game when those retailers changed the release date, why'd Yu lie about it to one of their poor forum moderators?
Q: Why were there rumours circulating about the delay from retailers before backers were informed?
A: For retailers, the shipping of boxes with discs in them across the world takes some time before a game can be on shelves everywhere. Because we were running into these problems so close to release, our publisher informed retailers that the game would not make the date we were targeting. Some retailers changed the release date to a placeholder date as a result, but we weren't sure yet ourselves how much time we would need to fix everything for all platforms.
This unfortunately created a situation where we weren't able to say exactly how long of a delay we were looking at, while people saw the stores change the release date before we could explain why. We're sorry for all the confusion that arose as a result.
Uh, what? If they knew they were running into major bugs that would require any sort of delay, why would they send out the message that everything was on track? If Deep Silver informed retailers on or before July 23 that they wouldn't make the September release date, why didn't they tell their damn Kickstarter backers?
There are very few video game fans who would take issue with a company delaying a game to fix major bugs. But who wouldn't be pissed about how Comcept has handled this entire situation? As one backer told me this morning: "I can't say I'm not ridiculously disappointed."