Why I'm Not Even Mad The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Is Delayed
Okay, I may not be mad now but I may have shed a tear or shaken a fist angrily at the heavens for a moment or two. It's frustrating when the game that you've been most anticipating this season gets pushed into the next one. You know what's even more disappointing? When you finally load up a game that you've been eagerly looking forward to playing for months, a year or even years--and it feels like a mistake.
There have been so many "good news bad news" situations with games lately, with a heavy lean to bad news; Destiny launched as the husk of a great game that is still being built up, Halo: Master Chief Collection is a beautifully remastered Halo retrospective--that didn't have functional multiplayer at launch and already has more patches than a hobo's bindlestick, Drive Club looks beautiful but was so broken at launch that the planned free version didn't follow and still hasn't launched, and Assassin's Creed: Unity made some bold steps forward for the series--but also took several back, and arrived in such awful condition that I stopped halfway through the latest installment in what used to be one of my favorite IPs.
Have you ever bought a sandwich that looked so awful you didn't want to eat it, but you already bought it and now you're just hungry and stuck with it? Now imagine if that sandwich was delivered; you hear a thud on your front door and open it to see that the sandwich maker has thrown it against your door, and it lays on the stoop in a disarray of lettuce and sauce like some kind of condiment crime scene. It's not even on sourdough, its pumpernickel! I hate pumpernickel, and where's the cheese? At the foot of my door a week later, I find a sourdough roll with a slice of a cheese under a post-it note that reads "Sorry, our bad. We're working around the clock to fix your sandwich." That's how playing Unity felt.
The developers want their games to be played, we want to play them and the publishers really want us to buy the game so they can start making their money back. Delaying a game should mean one thing: It won't be ready.
As much as I've been aching to get my hands on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and as much as my immediate reaction to the delay was a sniffled, "But why?" I know that it's the most common "why" that could ever be behind a delay. The developers want their games to be played, we want to play them and the publishers really want us to buy the game so they can start making their money back. Delaying a game should mean one thing: It won't be ready yet. We should be thankful for those few and far between developers that are willing to lose steam on the hype train by delaying its release, in order to be damn sure that the game copied onto retail discs is as close to the final vision that's been driving them all this time to work so hard.
I Want the Thing
It's easy for us as consumers to say "I want the thing. Give me the thing" without exercising even a moment of empathy for the human beings behind those products and the Herculean hours of work they put into them. From the time this game went even from concept to it's current state, members of CD Projeckt Red have surely had losses in their families, new family members born into them, hirings, firings and promotions, birthdays and holidays and very little free time throughout all of it.
If these people are willing to put even more of their personal lives second to making this game a reality, so that we can melt away from ours and experience a thrilling conclusion to Geralt's adventure...let them--don't just let them, commend them! Show CD Projekt Red support on Twitter, with fan mail or merely by not raging some self-entitlement-fueled nonsense and just patiently wait for the game to completed to their standards. If you want to be angry, be angry about the unfinished games we play at full retail price or the collective space on your consoles filled exclusively by patches.
“We owe you an apology. We set the release date too hastily. It’s a hard lesson, one to take to heart for the future. We know what we want to do to make Wild Hunt one of the best RPGs you will ever play. And we continue to work hard to achieve just that. So, we apologize and ask for your trust.”
- CD Projekt Red's news blog.
I think this whole sandwich metaphor spawned out of my long and storied history working with food, but it's apt. Anyone that's worked in food service knows that there's absolutely nothing wrong with making someone wait for their food as long as it is great when they do get it. Sure, if it's no good after a long wait that's even worse that getting something mediocre quick--but you're still left with crappy food. When someone asks me if I mind waiting a little longer for a sandwich, I always say yes. When they don't simply say "It's not done yet" and instead, along the lines of the above quote, say "it's not great yet, and we want to make it great for you" I say yes please, take your time.
Just in case none come to mind for you, here's a quick list of games that were delayed and turned out exceptionally well:
- Half Life 2 was essentially delayed a full year and is commonly referred to as one of the greatest games--both in narrative and gameplay--of all time.
- Bioshock and Bioshock: Infinite had long development cycles for Irrational and had issues with delays and releasing well after annouced release dates.
- GTAIV and GTA V both dealt with delays and long, expensive development cycles and then set sales records. GTA 5 still now reigns as the highest rated game of all time on metacritic.
- The Last of Us was a risky departure from Naughty Dog's wildly successful Uncharted trilogy and a month delay into May had a lot of us worried it would get lost in the chaos of E3 and it still became a massive success.
- Let's not even mention Blizzard.
Only time will tell how great The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will be, but it's looking good from what we've seen so far and between this delay and the free DLC, it's clear that CD Projekt Red has a major committment to their games and those of us that play them.