As of today, Sony has once again delayed The Last Guardian, which at this point seems like an elaborate prank. Originally slated for an October 25 release date, Sony’s exclusive title is now set to launch on December 6.
After years of delays, The Last Guardian is the most recent example of a Sony-published exclusive being delayed. Just looking at the list below makes it pretty clear that Sony has struggled making their initially intended launch dates.
- Uncharted 4 delayed from March 18, 2016 to April 26, 2016
- Ratchet and Clank delayed from 2015 to April 12, 2016
- Bloodborne delayed from Feb. 6, 2016 to March 24, 2016
- Until Dawn delayed from 2013 to May 26, 2015
- The Order: 1886 delayed from 2014 to Feb. 20, 2015
- Horizon Zero Dawn delayed from late 2016 to Feb. 27, 2017
- Gran Turismo Sport delayed from late 2016 to 2017
- Drive club delayed from November 2013 to October 7, 2014
With delays becoming so common on Sony’s console, the question needs to be asked: why do Sony’s games (as great as they may be) keep getting delayed?
Thinking Too Far Ahead
Part of the answer lies in Sony’s release and marketing tactic. Sony revealed most of these games at press conferences way ahead of their eventual release dates. The Last Guardian is the most obvious example of this. Until Dawn was originally shown in 2013 (released in 2015), and both Uncharted 4 and Ratchet and Clank were announced in 2014 (released in 2016).
No Man’s Sky – which was also published by Sony– had heavy delays after a 2014 reveal.
Gran Turismo Sport, originally announced at the 2015 Paris Games Week, doesn’t even have a proper release date other than a supposed 2017 release window.
Sony gave some of these games a release date years before the eventual release. This tactic of announcing games far before their release date clearly generates a lot of hype and attention for Sony. However, the delays end up getting just as much attention and can frustrate gamers.
With that said, gamers would certainly agree that delays almost always produce better games. Two of the best Sony exclusives – Bloodborne and Uncharted 4 – were delayed by at least a month prior to release. Most of the time delays are meant to give developers time to fine-tune a game. It’s always better to delay than rush a game out the door.
The development process is complicated and involves so many moving parts. Developers constantly add, take out, and test features and mechanics. It’s understandable that developers might need more time to craft these massive, ambitious experiences.
Sony has never been afraid to give their first party studios the time they need to develop and perfect a game, but the tactic of announcing a release date so far in advance for these games ends up hurting the developers later on down the line. Overexposure can make gamers sick even before the game comes out. So why not cut down the time between announcement and release?
The Bethesda Tactic
Other publishers are already taking the hint and announcing games only months before release. Bethesda did this with Fallout 4, which ended up selling millions of copies worldwide. This shorter announce-to-release cycle benefits gamers and developers alike. Gamers don’t have long to wait for their games. Developers can keep delays internal for longer if their release date is only a couple months out.
President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida addressed the recent Last Guardian delay in a recent Sony blog post:
“We have encountered more bugs than anticipated while in the final stages of development. To ensure that The Last Guardian delivers on the experience that the game’s creators have envisioned, we need to take the extra time to work on those issues.”
Outside of the context of this game, this would be a perfectly fine justification for delaying a game. However, the truth is that The Last Guardian is only the most recent and obvious example of Sony’s problematic release strategy.