South Park: The Stick of Truth went through development hell and emerged a flaming piece of great entertainment. Several delays, the collapse of their publisher (THQ) were all meaningless when faced with the quality of the finished product. The Fractured But Whole recently received its second delay, pushing back from the original Dec 2016 date to a potential 2018 launch!
Disappointed? Maybe, but I wish more publishers would be willing to do the same.
Too often we see games released rushed and buggy. ReCore squandered a promising beginning with a literally unfinished back half. Star Wars: Battlefront delivered a gorgeous, but shallow experience that failed to deliver the expectations they set when cashing in on the name “Battlefront”.
The ability to slap day-1 patches onto “finished” games has changed game development for the worse. No longer does a developer receive a well-earned break after their game goes gold. Instead, they often get right back to work on the critical patch required before the consumer can even play the product purchased.
Not all companies do this of course, Nintendo may be all over the place when it comes to industry standards (online, specs), but at least they retain the tradition of a game being done when it’s done.
South Park’s Advantage
Of course, this isn’t an equal comparison. A South Park game could be delayed for years and still nail the visual look of the show with relatively under-powered tech. A big-budget AAA project touting bleeding-edge lifelike visuals however, can’t afford to wait as long. The Last Guardian started development on the PS3 and it shows. It provides a unique charm and experience not found anywhere else, but the presentation and performance is noticeably worse when compared to today’s best.
Publishers hoping to produce quality projects in a profitable time should take a good hard look at scope. Not every game needs to be open world, and not every game needs both single and multiplayer. I was more than satisfied with Rainbow Six: Siege’s lack of single-player (although Siege and other Ubisoft products are egregious offenders of broken launch games) and I would have been just as satisfied with Uncharted 4’s 15 hour campaign if it didn’t include a multiplayer component.
Release a great game late, not a bad one on time.
We’ll be here passing the time with unfinishable backlogs 😐