Last year around Bethesda’s E3 conference, the company officially announced Fallout 4 along with it’s release date. And unlike many other publishers and studios, they actually delivered on their promise. Meaning the game was announced and released within the same year. Which is something you don’t often see from big budget game publishers.
The amount of time between when a game is announced to when it’s actually released can vary but normally it’s about a year or two. There is quite a fine line to walk for when you announce a game, especially if it’s a new IP. Too long and people will forget about it, not long enough and you won’t have time to gather pre-orders and build hype.
Many game publishers choose to announce their games early, often years before it’s release and at a gaming event like Gamescom or E3. In some ways this is a good thing since people can try out the games, play them and give feedback. It also gives developers the chance to talk about the game more and release more footage and trailers, increasing the buzz around their game. But it also has many negatives, with people forgetting about games, losing excitement and developers now having more pressure on them with the whole world knowing what they’re up to.
Video game delays are at times as often as game announcements these days. But that’s not because games are getting harder to make or because of technical difficulties. A lot of the time it’s because game developers simply need more time to work on a game. It’s a problem that could easily be fixed if the game either wasn’t announced yet or it’s release date wasn’t out in the public. When I see games get delayed months or even years past their original date, I’m just astonished. How could a game publisher or studio have so little foresight that they couldn’t even realise their game would need that much more development time? There has been a multitude of video games within the last couple of years that were announced early along with their release dates and ended up being delayed well past those original dates. Games like The Division, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian, The Witness and many others.
So when it comes down to it, when should video games be announced? For me I would love for games to be announced and released within two years, anything longer is a bit of a stretch. I’m fine with publishers and studios announcing the mere existence of their games early on but the release date is something that needs to be concrete and stable. Having games constantly move their release dates around will only serve to hurt them in the future.