Dear developers, don’t announce your game if you can’t release it in the next 2 years
Making us wait for 6 years to play the game? No, thanks.
One of my biggest gaming related disappointments recently has been the amount of information we have been getting in regards to Final Fantasy Versus 13. Although the game was announced alongside Final Fantasy 13 back in 2006 much of the game’s information, let alone a release date, are nowhere to be found. What bugs me even more is the fact that Final Fantasy 13 was released in March of 2010 and it already has a sequel that is already at 70% completion ready to be on shelves by January of 2012. These really early announcements combined with huge development time spans that just build up layers upon layers of hype are not helping the industry at all. The game will eventually reach a point where it’s going to be extremely hard or rather nearly impossible to live to that hype. This can both wear out the player anticipating the game as well as hurt the game itself because people are going to look at it a lot more strictly simply because it took too long to get released . Either ways, really early video game announcements combined with large development cycles are things that this industry needs to tone down on.
The most recent example of a game that suffered at the hands of both a premature reveal and a long development cycle is none other than Gran Turismo 5. The game was announced near the release time of the PS3 and was one of the most anticipated exclusives for the console. The developers however were not really sure when the game will be ready and eventually kept pushing back the game further and further. This left fans of the GT series in frustration and disappointment because of the delay and it also raised the scale of what was expected of the game to a very high level. Eventually the game was released near the end of 2010, but was met with harsher criticism than usual because of the gigantic amount of expectations from it.
When it comes to the actual driving of GT5 it is one of the most accurate diving simulators to date if not the most accurate. The problem with GT5 was that it was built on a very early concept that just didn’t resonate well with the current presentation standards of games. The issue at hand here is that it went into 6 years of development that left it with an outdated presentation level that just did not cut it. The menus felt crowded and made it a real hassle to navigate through. The Career mode felt extremely dry mainly because it was based on something that would be considered normal back in the 2006 timeline. The combination of a 6 year development period and a premature announcement are leading factors as to why GT5 did not do what it needed to do.
If you look at a more “modern” game like Forza on the 360, you realize how much GT5 failed in presentation standards. Forza had an extremely appealing presentation with slick easy to navigate menus. It also included an actual voiced presenter that introduced the basics of the game to you and made it much easier for new players to actually get in the game. If you compare the two you would probably realize that Forza is the better game simply because of how much polish that went into it. To see that Forza was able to accomplish that level polish in nearly half the time span it took for GT5 makes us really wonder if 6 years of development were necessary to produce the game.
Do I think that really long development time spans are completely wrong? Not necessarily. I believe that with current development tools and standards you can accomplish what you need in a much shorter time. If there is a massive title that actually need that huge time period then don’t announce it until it’s a year or 2 close to being finished. Announcing a game and then waiting a large span of time to actually get it on shelves is a very risky move in our current times. Developers should learn where other games have failed to perform and avoid this glaring mistake. Time your development and announcement right and your game will be received at a much better light than if otherwise not.