Up For Debate - Should video game release dates be announced if they aren't guaranteed?

Written by Arnhawl on Sun, Jan 26, 2020 12:30 PM
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How should game companies be held accountable for missing release deadlines? An interesting question, and one that has been discussed at length in the comment sections of many of our articles, most recently regarding the delay for Dying Light 2

Originally planned for release in Spring 2020, the complete radio silence surrounding Dying Light 2 gave little hope. And then, at the beginning of this week, there was an announcement the game was being delayed to an undisclosed date. 

Dying Light 2 isn’t the only game to have been delayed recently; CD Projekt Red made waves by delaying Cyberpunk 2077 until late this year and even before then Nintendo announced  late last year Animal Crossing was to be delayed. Delays are an inevitable part of the video game cycle, but should anything be done to help reduce the sheer number of delays? 

One such idea presented in our comments section was to fine companies due to false advertising. If a publisher announces a game is to be released on one date, and then later pushes the date back, does this qualify as false advertising? The key thing when thinking of this is intent. Did the publisher announce a release date knowing full well that it wasn’t going to hit it? Or, has it fallen behind schedule and so delayed the game out of necessity? The difference is paramount in deciding whether or not the game has been falsely advertised. If a developer were to be fine for delaying a game, you can safely bet we’d have even more buggy launches. 

When delaying their games, publishers are already in a tough predicament. Delaying a game will increase the maintenance costs on their end - they’ll need to continue paying staff (and paying overtime if necessary), paying to continue work on the game and even basic office costs, all with a delayed payout until the release of the game. If they don’t delay the game, then similarly, they face repercussions, just look at Anthem for example: The game was released in an early, unfinished state, got absolutely ripped into by the gaming community and has been attempting to rebuild itself ever since. 

It’s a tough situation to be in, especially with how hype culture works - Cyberpunk 2077, for example, has been riding the hype train even before Keanu Reeves blessed us with his presence at E3, and the announcement of the delay has sent ripples into the growing fan base. 

There is no clear and definitive answer to what or if anything should be done regarding the delaying of video games. People are all too quick to criticise early access as a platform, but it is a way for game developers to give people a game, and also improve upon it once released - allowing them to edit and improve a game post-launch, reducing the need to delay and keeping players happy and content. 

I’m not saying early access is something that should be adopted by every game company out there, but it certainly does offer a solution to delays, and the resulting disappointment seen in fans. 

What do you think? Are there any other ways for delays to be avoided? And should we hold publishers more accountable for the release dates they advertise?

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09:58 Jan-28-2020

nope as its better that release date get annoynced right before release as suprise is better then disappointment

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18:39 Jan-27-2020

Maybe a speculated release date like "Q4 2020". This way we can know if the release will be soon (within 2 years) or late

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08:23 Jan-27-2020

How about giving the release date after the game has gone gold

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20:18 Jan-26-2020

I genuinely couldn't care less. I've learned not to get myself hyped over any game anymore (mostly for my wallet's sake), so I don't mind delays or broken release dates at all. Game exists for me once it's released, and when that is no concern of mine.

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19:23 Jan-26-2020

There was no pre-order for dying light 2 or cyberpunk 2077. No one lost money and there was no definitive date. Therefore it's not false advertisement under any law. People are upset and just crying out things that are untrue.

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19:26 Jan-26-2020

I pre-ordered Doom Eternal and then it got delayed. There is actually no law that allows me to sue them if I do wanted because the pre-order can be cancelled without financial repercussions. My health was not affected and that covers them..

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19:30 Jan-26-2020

on that end. Because they have set a new release date and have been upfront with everything, id is covering their @$$es and not falling under false advertising laws anywhere. Personal opinion aside, ...

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19:31 Jan-26-2020

I'm welcome to actual proof with cited references if someone says otherwise.

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09:38 Jan-28-2020

There was a pre-order for Cyberpunk, after Keanu announced the release date. I remember it being a top seller in Steam for a week even and Rock, paper, shotgun mocking people for preordering it. The delay is no reason to sue them ofc

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17:19 Jan-26-2020

Well, the problem with that and all other software releases is that it is really hard to predict the date it is done (and actually software including games is almost never done, there will always be bugs) which would mean that they could only set the release date like weeks before the actual release.

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15:48 Jan-26-2020

Not really. You might plan for something, but it sure as hell won't be followed precisely. Very rarely does everything go as planned.

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15:35 Jan-26-2020

No 100%.

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15:11 Jan-26-2020

I had to stop and think how it is false advertising - in that I didnt get what they could possibly be "advertising". So its just for people who preorder?
If so, its a little surprising how one sided the responses are considering how one sided opinion is regarding preordering (dont preorder!).
Imo release date is the same as any pre-release info, its hype, which is actually nice for fans

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14:44 Jan-26-2020

No
duh

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14:18 Jan-26-2020

It's rubbish to set a release date and delay it constantly. Set a release date after you have finished a game. That way you only need to polish it till release and won't cause these horrible disappointments and loss of hype. It's quite misleading when you have already payed for the product by pre-ordering. This needs to stop immediately. If you set a release date stick to it and don't hide under repeated statement that it's not ready yet. Most of the games that got delays I fully knew was going to happen considering their ambitious scale, so if we knew, they certainly knew as well. The ones who pre-orderd deserve more information to know that they aren't being mislead and they have a reasonable excuse. I know pre-orders can be cancelled but they had already invested in the game and for that period that's money spent.

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13:48 Jan-26-2020

Yes, because imagine if developer would be then forced to release game on deadline. It would either be unfinished and extremely buggy mess, more than usual, or there would be inhumane amount of crunch pushed into it. Yes, delays can be bit of a bummer, but it is one we can understand and usually behind release date announcement, there is no malice.

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13:51 Jan-26-2020

But as it is with all creative projects, delays do happen. You can try making educated guess to when it will be ready, but you never could guarantee it. So alternative would either be very dark or things would just get announced last moment. But I have feeling that big publishers would just go down darker route I mentioned earlier. So I will rather take delays.

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13:39 Jan-26-2020

Well i'm happy that some game companies started to understand that unfinished game leads to poor sales and reputation, but i think companies rushes a little bit too much release date for their upcoming tittles thus causing a little bit of disappointment among some gamers. Yes definitely, games shouldn't be announced until companies are absolutely sure that it is close to completion.

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13:41 Jan-26-2020

It was getting crazy, announcing game releases something like year prior to release which is ridiculous attempt to make hype and derailing after not delivering due to their own tight release schedule.

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13:21 Jan-26-2020

Game developers are short in money and for that they advance release date. So they can get the preorder money and use this money for something. Also i'm not sure about movies, but when there's release date you can't buy the ticket right away in order to watch it on premiere? Or you can?

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12:59 Jan-26-2020

Well theres a business side to this and a consumer side. Business side is showing stockholders we are doing a thing also building hype dont sell all of our stock. Consumer side id rather know when i get the game i want(to plan for it) rather then just get a game today i didnt know was being made. 2020 seems to be the "alot of game devs f´ed up so lets make sure the video game works before we ship it".

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12:49 Jan-26-2020

Same here, No.

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12:41 Jan-26-2020

Hell.


No.


It's misleading as hell and should only be used for early access games, not full AAA title releases as indies dont know tf theyre dealing with in terms of scope while AAA studios have more resources at their disposal.

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12:37 Jan-26-2020

No.

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