When it comes to video games and their development, release dates seem to have taken a backseat to profit. I understand publishers like Ubisoft and others want to ride the wave of success and line their pockets by building franchises. That’s business. But when your model consists of pumping out a new addition to a famed series like Assassin’s Creed every year, you get Unity.
A game that had some of the worst and most memorable glitches ever. Missing faces that make characters look like the Invisible Man slept with a Rabbid, running on ropes sideways, and weird physics. Glitches in Unity were so bad, Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez said during a call with investors, sales of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate which followed it were “clearly” affected.
But then something happened. Ubisoft decided to take two years off to develop Assassin’s Creed Origins. The result? In its first 10 days, the game outsold its predecessor by double.
Ubisoft President Yves Guillemot also added during his call with investors, player engagement “is a lot higher than it was in Syndicate”. Which brings me to my next point. Dear publishers, respect the release dates of the games you publish. When it comes to release dates, it’s okay to spread them out over a number of years to ensure a game’s quality.
As we saw with Origins, and are now seeing with God of War, distance between games creates anticipation and memorable experiences. To be frank, I wish all developers and publishers had the mindset of CD Projekt Red. Which is we know you want Cyberpunk 2077 really bad, but we’re going to release it when we feel it gives you the perfect gaming experience. They could have released The Witcher III: Wild Hunt a year after the second game, but they didn’t.
Instead they waited four years to release it and as a result the trilogy has made over $250 million, and has sold over 25 million copies. Bethesda released The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in 2006. They were patient and spent the next five years creating Skyrim and have reaped the benefits.
Over 23 million copies have been sold worldwide since its release, and it was ported over to the Nintendo Switch in November of last year. Since then the game has generated over $1.3 billion in revenue for Bethesda. I just finished God of War earlier this week. But because of the time between God of War III and the newest one, the developers were able to make a huge world.
One with many different realms containing different objectives, causing me to want to earn 100% completion which is a rarity for me. There were no day one patches, no weird physics, just a deep and immersive game that I’ll replay over and over and never trade in. Plus when I picked it up during the day, there was a line of people waiting to pick up their copies, something I mentioned in my mid-game review of it.
Do I expect every publisher to take the route Bethesda, CD Projekt Red, have taken with every game? No. But putting “coming soon” or “when it’s ready” at the end of a trailer is better than announcing a release date and having to repeatedly announce the game has been delayed. Cuphead did that and it turned me off from wanting to buy it.
My biggest hope is when it comes to sequels to franchises, publishers give developers the time they need to make the types of games they (developers) want to make. When they do that, everyone is happy.