Shigeru Miyamoto’s stance on game delays rings true to this day.
Another day in gaming, another unsurprising story being bandied about on the internet as if it is surprising in any way. Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately then you have probably heard that the anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed yet again, even after supposedly going gold, and will now be launching even later than what was expected after the previous couple of delays. To those who follow games even badly this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Games get delayed all the time, especially large ones that are coming out on multiple consoles at once.
While having to wait another month or so for a game that you’ve already waited over three years for might not seem like a big deal, for some, for whatever reason, it is. Thankfully this hasn’t spawned any sort of mass drop-in pre-orders or huge backlash to a seismic degree, but as usual there are some folks out there who have a massive problem with this delay, even resulting in some death threats being sent to the developer. So what better opportunity to talk about why delays are generally a good thing, and why we should be in favor of them taking extra time to polish the game this time and even another time if need be.
A wise man once said, “a delayed game is eventually good but a rushed game is forever bad.” That man was Shigeru Miyamoto, one of the most influential figures in gaming to ever exist. It was his willingness to delay things that actually led to the Nintendo 64 being itself delayed by several months in an effort to make sure that everything worked correctly. It’s hard to say what exact things he wanted to work on during those three months, but there’s no denying that the Nintendo 64 was an excellent system and undoubtedly benefited from that delay and that extra little dose of TLC.
This is almost always the case with delays. Sure, you could look at some Kickstarters and Indiegogo projects that were arbitrarily delayed to avoid admitting that certain projects just weren’t shaping up well and were not going to work out. and if you search for a really long time you might find a couple of mainstream AAA games that were delayed simply so they could acquire more pre-order sales before launching a bad game. Outliers exist. but the truth is the vast majority of the time when a game is delayed it is for a good reason.
CD Projekt RED has not gone into extreme detail with why they delayed Cyberpunk 2077 this particular time, but they did allude to the fact that there are so many versions being made at the same time and the fact and a lot of their staff is working from home right now as a big chunk of the reason, and I don’t see much of a reason to doubt that. Developing games this large is hard enough on its own. When you put a global pandemic and relocation of staff on top of that you have a pretty weird recipe that could easily result in problems for projects that were otherwise completely on track. They also mentioned in their announcement tweet that, “We’re aware it might seem unrealistic when someone says that 21 days can make any difference in such a massive and complex game, but they really do.”
And again, I see no reason to doubt this as the game is clearly in the polishing stages and is currently playable from beginning to end on all of its versions as cited when the game went gold a while back. This brings up another point that seems to have generated a little bit of confusion in the gaming community. While ideally going gold means the game is done and in a playable state, it does not necessarily mean that there’s nothing left to do with it from a developer’s perspective. Anybody who has ever worked in any sort of creative medium can surely understand that. The act of actually finishing something and walking away from it is incredibly difficult. This is especially true after working on something for a very long time that has a lot of moving parts to it which Cyberpunk 2077 certainly does.
While I am no fan of games being released on disc that immediately need day one patches, as someone who also creates things for a living I can totally understand how utterly impossible it is to really feel like anything is ever totally done. Art rarely feels finished to the artist. we absolutely work within a world based on deadlines though so there is a balance that needs to be maintained between striving for perfection and getting out from under one project so you can move on to the next in a timely manner.
And just to be clear, no amount of online harassment or death threats will move things along any faster. The artistic side of game development operates the way it does no matter how mad other people are and the business side of game development also sees no benefit from ridiculous amounts of backlash. Besides, delivering a quality product is something that CD Projekt RED has demonstrated their ability to do multiple times now. Despite their rather long development cycles, the content they do put out is rather excellent and they are nothing if not a distinguished developer in their industry.
Still, Cyberpunk 2077 is in a much tougher spot than The Witcher 3 was. While The Witcher only really had to worry about the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One and the PC for its launch, Cyberpunk is being made for all of those plus three next gen consoles all at once. The PS5, Xbox Series X, and Series S, respectively. Getting a game as massive as Cyberpunk is promising to be running on that many machines all at once is quite a feat in and of itself, let alone making sure the game is good. Pulling this off before the end of 2020 is a small miracle in and of itself considering everything that’s going into this project, but even if it does need to be delayed well into 2021 a game like this will be all the better for it.
If you absolutely need to get your cyberpunk fix before December, you do have Watch Dogs: Legion and Cloudpunk to keep you satiated until then. While those games will probably not even compare to 2077 in myriad ways, they do exist and have well over a month or so of content to keep you busy until Cyberpunk launches.
Perhaps the biggest mistake CD Projekt RED has made with Cyberpunk 2077 is announcing it so far before I was ready to launch. If there is anything to criticize them for it is that. A marketing cycle that has completely dwarfed the one that death stranding went through has kept prospective players on the edge of their seats for far too long, and that has probably contributed to some of the backlash that they’ve gotten from this most recent delay. People are just tired of waiting and I think anyone can understand that, but at the end of the day, Miyamoto is still right about a delayed game eventually being good, and a rushed game being forever scarred by a botched launch.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.