Video game companies shouldn’t announce games until they’re finished

During an on stage conversation between Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller and Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO, Shawn Layden, at the 2017 PlayStation Experience in December, Miller asked if they planned on putting release dates behind of any of their 2018 games during the event.

At the time, PlayStation’s biggest 2018 releases, God of War, Spider-Man, Days Gone, and Detroit: Become Human, didn’t have release dates.

Layden went on to explain that they rather not put release dates on the games for fear of having to continually push them back because the game wouldn’t be ready.

“As soon as we get a solid feeling, we’re going to express that,” Layden said about announcing dates. Then Layden asked:

“Would you rather us not show the game until that moment, or do you still want to see the game earlier?”

With the recent Anthem delay announcement, the Red Dead Redemption 2 delay, the purgatory that games like Final Fantasy VII remake, Kingdom Hearts 3, and Crackdown 3 currently sit in, the answer is: just show us the games when they’re finished.

I understand that every year, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have to find a way to sell consoles and the best way to do that is to tease what games are coming to the platform. Yet every year, they’re touting games that won’t hit the platform for sometimes more than two years.

I don’t think we should be hearing about any game unless it’s coming out in the next three months to six months. It’s better for developers, it’s better for the publisher’s marketing and PR departments, and it’s better for the fans.

Killing the hype

I think both Square Enix and Sony are tired of being asked “When is that Final Fantasy VII remake coming out?” by both journalists and fans. It would’ve just been easier to alleviate that pressure by not even mentioning that the game was in development.

Crackdown 3 was announced in 2014 and has been delayed twice, to now spring 2018, although we still don’t have a release date. Microsoft could’ve waited to announce the game this month. It would’ve been a huge surprise, the hype train would’ve been steamrolling from jump, trailers would be analyzed from top to bottom, and for the entire first quarter of 2018, everyone would be talking about Crackdown 3. But it was announced almost four years ago, and in January 2018, hardly anyone is talking about Crackdown 3, and I’m wondering if anyone really cares about it. The hype is dead.

If Mass Effect Andromeda is any indication, this pressure to meet the announced release date or release window contributed to the game’s buggy, poorly written results. Imagine if we didn’t know about the game’s development and it came out last fall or this spring. I would like to see how that game with an extra six months to a year would have turned out.

The way Bethesda handled Fallout 4 should be the way developers and publishers should handle all of their games. During E3 2015, Bethesda announced Fallout 4. Six months later, November 10, 2015, it hit store shelves and was a success. Critics loved it. Fans loved it. And it was on almost everyone’s best of 2015 list. One of the best game's of the year didn't need one to two or three years of "hype" to be a success.

So hey, game makers, can you sit on your announcements a while?