Is Final Fantasy XV's Delay Cause for Concern?
Launch delay drama has struck once again as Square Enix have confirmed the weekend’s rumors and announced that Final Fantasy XV will be delayed by two months from September 30th to November 29th.
Game release delays are never fun, but it seems nowadays that many of the biggest games get pushed back. From No Man’s Sky to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, at least one delay for a big game is almost a given and most people with interest in the industry know not to take initial release dates (or even years) too seriously.
That said, delays still have the power to really get under fans’ skin. They work directly counter to the increasing hype that accompanies a game’s marketing campaign in the build up to launch, and it’s often especially frustrating for customers who have pre-ordered copies with the assumption of receiving them on a specific date. When journalists receive death threats for reporting on a highly anticipated game’s delay it’s clear that not only the game, but the industry itself, can be hurt by delays.
Final Fantasy XV adds another layer to the building hype, given that it's already been ten years in the making. The action-RPG has been in development in one form or another since 2006 and, like The Last Guardian, has almost taken too long to surface in finished form; so there’s a lot of pressure on its shoulders to perform when it finally does. For many long-term fans, Final Fantasy XV will be the “make or break” game for the future of the beloved franchise. Its success could see a return to form, but a poorly received game might sound the death knell of a series that has had serious ups and downs in recent years.
This pressure, however, is surely even more reason for the development team to make sure they get it right. With such anticipation surrounding FFXV, a delay at this late stage might set the alarm bells ringing -- it’s not like they can blame lack of time for this one surely?! On the other hand, delaying a game to ultimately provide a better overall quality of experience is much preferred to shipping a disappointing version.
Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata has explained that the postponed release will allow the team to provide extra polish and iron out any final issues to ensure that the game consumers receive is the best it can be. As the legendary Shigero Miyamoto said:
"A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”.
Being a huge Final Fantasy fan I would much prefer waiting a few extra months if Tabata can deliver on his statement -- and I believe he can.
Other recent high-profile PR debacles -- including Pokémon GO -- have shown that positive communication direct from the studio is vital in handling bad news successfully (or conversely further angering consumers). Thankfully it seems that Tabata is taking the right approach in showing respect for both the FFXV and its fans. By releasing a video with the direct message himself, Tabata will be more able to soften the blow; conveying clear passion for the game and reminding us that it is in good hands.
It would be nice for everyone if a release date could be trusted and stuck to, but with the current nature of video game development that doesn’t seem possible. With antiquated quality assurance/certification systems for games to come to consoles, it looks like we’re going to have to learn to live with inevitable delays for the foreseeable future. And we can, as long as these delays more often than not result in great games for us all to enjoy.
I’m not worrying about Final Fantasy XV’s delay, and neither should you! It still looks stunning and I’ll be clamoring to play it along with countless others when it does finally release.