Game Delays are a Good Thing

By Joe Strange


Earlier this week Rocksteady announced that Batman Arkham Knight would be delayed once more, this time by three weeks, giving us a world wide release date of June 23rd. This isn’t the first time the highly anticipated conclusion to the Arkham series has been delayed; originally planned for an October 2014 release, it was delayed by eight months to June 2nd of this year, the reasoning? The team wanted to make sure that the game was absolutely complete, and up to their own standards, stating that they didn’t want to release something they weren’t happy with.
The reasoning behind the most recent delay is the same; Rocksteady want their final foray into the Batman story to be an experience that isn’t hindered by bugs, glitches and the other types of faults that this generation of gaming is rife with.

There was very little uproar this week when the team announced it, after all, three weeks isn’t that long, but I remember being livid when the game was delayed back in June of 2014, I had been waiting for the game since I finished Arkham City and I wanted more. I turned to a petulant, entitled kid who wanted what they thought they deserved.

That was, until Assassins’ Creed Unity hit in October. I don’t need to tell you how much of a sh*t-storm that game caused; with enough bugs and glitches to make a Fallout game look perfect, all in a game that isn’t half as endearing and charming as the Bethesda series of Wasteland survival, Unity had journalists and gamers alike up in arms. The game was not finished, it was not good, it was not acceptable.

In Ubisoft’s defence, they had backed themselves into a corner with their annual release schedule for the franchise, and were under the assumption that people needed another instalment every year. The end result was, well, weeks and weeks of patches, criticisms and fixes for a game that will forever be an off taste in the memory of an otherwise good series.

343 Industries, however, was a different case. The much anticipated Halo Master Chief Collection promised Halo fans the chance to play all of their favourite maps and game types in glorious remastered brilliance, but immediately people ran into problems with matchmaking. In this 5000+ word article, in fact, Rhys Weir has chronicled all the reported issues, patches and generally painted a picture of the game’s first 100 days of being released, he concludes with saying that it’s still dysfunctional and broken, despite the effort that 343 have gone to try to fix it all.

This isn’t so much because the game was rushed, but because it was poorly prepared, which is just as bad, and would have been more avoidable given more testing time, I imagine. But for a game like Halo, which has such a focus on the multiplayer, having a multiplayer system that just doesn’t work (when previous games in the series have worked flawlessly) is inexcusable.

The truth of the matter is, with the game industry having such a dedicated following and with people clambering for any information on the next big game, the hype train is unavoidable, which puts pressure on developers to roll out the games while the excitement levels are still high.

Games like Dragon Age Inquisition, which was heralded as one of the best games of the last year, released with very few bugs, yes there were some here and there, but none were game breaking, and none really took away from the core enjoyment of the game. The Dragon Age fanbase is enthusiastic, dedicated, but most of all, they know that to get what they want, they have to wait.

Patience is a virtue, after all.

So, back to Arkham Knight, Rocksteady didn’t develop the last Arkham game, Arkham Origins, and while it wasn’t received badly, it was the weak link in the series so far. It would have been tempting for Rocksteady to forgo the polishing process and release Arkham Knight last October to make up for what could have been considered a mistake, but what would they have gained in releasing a broken game? What does any developer gain in doing so?

Ubisoft apologised for Unity‘s upset by giving away free DLC, which would have otherwise been paid for, or, for those who had bought the season pass, a free game from their recent release lists. 343 have plans to release a remastered version Halo ODST for the shortcomings of the Master Chief Collection, all this is more work and less profits for the studios and the dev team. Meanwhile, Rocksteady have a few more weeks to finish the game so that people have faith that not only will they be getting a complete game, but that they can trust the studio.

And faith in a studio is worth a hell of a lot in a time where they’re under a lot of scrutiny.

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