We all know this frustration. A game is announced, no release date attached, and then you think: It’s years away. Why is this such a bad idea?
Well truthfully, announcing something before it is ready, or even before active development, is a terrible idea for consumers and for developers.
For the gamers, you have to understand there is a “Hype cycle” announce a game a few months too early and people will be clamouring to just see it be released already, the “We get it please shut up” approach. This actually happened with Super Mario Odyssey if you can believe it.
On the flip side for gamers, announcing it soon or close to release isn’t such a bad idea. It may be for their wallets but you get a good period of time to promote the game and out the door. Something like Wolfenstein II or Mario + Rabbids springs to mind, with a few months between reveal and launch.
This goes down incredibly well. A focused, brief campaign, not too stretching on the budget, and it keeps the game in the cycle for the duration with well-timed releases. This benefits the developer as well. Gamers want it now, so getting it as fast as possible in concise ways is great.
Then we have what happens when you announce a game too far in advance. We all know the success or horror stories of games being announced close to launch, either with great campaigns or people forgetting said game was even coming out (Evil Within 2 anyone?) but the other end of the scale is far, far worse.
Who remembers Final Fantasy XV? Who remembers what it originally was? Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a spin-off to Final Fantasy XIII. This game was announced all the way back in 2006, final lands in 2016. It took over 10 years to finally arrive, going through development hell (Though reports suggest by 2012 it was barely in development anyway) and changes in staff.
The problem is, I can’t fathom why Square Enix felt the need to announce a spin-off to a game that wouldn’t even come out for another 3 years. Final Fantasy XIII didn’t land until 2009, so the timing of this reveal makes no sense. When you don’t know the first game will be a hit or not, why try to build a universe around it?
To compound issues, let’s jump to 2013, with Kingdom Hearts 3, now saddled with a 2018 (Sure) release date. We haven’t seen much of the game, but apparently it’s coming in 2018. But now gamers are frustrated and just want a date and to finally play the thing.
Jump ahead to 2015, where Sony announced that the Last Guardian was coming to PS4, a game announced in 2009 I might add, Shenmue 3 via crowdfunding (Yes really) which has had spotty development updates and no gameplay shown, yet is due next year apparently, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake, of which we have seen some gameplay, it fell off the radar, and reports of development restructuring came to light. It’s also episodic, so expect to finish the remake in 2030.
All these games had the same problem. They showcased ideas. They didn’t sell us the game, they simply said it existed. Then radio silence, the gamers get nothing. Doing that, as shown with Final Fantasy XV, is incredibly damaging, as during development you don’t know how much it will change, if it will be cancelled, but having nothing to show instills no confidence in the consumer.
But then there is the damage to the hype cycle. Take E3 2017 for Sony. It was a repeat of 2016, barring a sprinkling of new games, and this left people wondering, why was that stuff at E3 2016, when it could have been held over for this year, closer to release (We think), and some stuff from 2015 that still isn’t dated could be pushed into E3 2016. It creates a confusing message for the consumer, games appearing and disappearing at random with no clear timeline, just that they exist, and based on how things go you may or may not be shown new things next year. It’s damaging to the image of the games.
Plus, being honest and personal for a moment, announcing a game too early in development means if a snag does come up, and bam, one delay. This is very damaging to a hype cycle and while people say “It’ll be more time to make the game better”, sometimes you have to wonder if the perception of a delayed game would be different if we didn’t know how long it had been in development.
Will this impact sales? Probably not. Though FFXV has yet to hit budget apparently (Can’t think why), and the PlayStation titles will no doubt sell well, the gaming world is looking for faster, more rewarding turnarounds. As some developers know, letting it stew for too long builds some unrealistic expectations.
If you enjoyed this article then give it a like and a share, and I’ll see you all next time! Until then, Happy Gaming!