video games are always delayed, 2020 delays, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes, and all of your favorite video games being delayed. Instead of looking at release dates like scripture meticulously carved into stone for all time, see them rather as plans written out on an Etch A Sketch that can be erased at the slightest jostle of a table.

Now yes, this young year has been particularly filled with video game delays. In just the past week or so, Cyberpunk 2077, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Marvel’s Avengers and Iron Man VR, and Dying Light 2 all slipped out of their initial spring release dates into various points further in the future, with Dying Light 2 not even having a new date assigned. Other highly anticipated 2020 games like The Last of Us: Part II, Doom Eternal, Watch Dogs: Legion, Gods & Monsters, and Animal Crossing: New Horizons already moved from their original launch dates. But don’t look at this as some sort of cursed omen that 2020 is doomed — far from it, if you compare it to other historically similar years. The fact of the matter is — a lot of games you love have been delayed.

If I asked you to name your five favorite games of this generation, there’s a solid chance that at least one of them was delayed at some point. Nintendo pushed the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which let them ultimately release it at the Switch’s launch. Rockstar publicly moved Red Dead Redemption 2 twice and pushed Grand Theft Auto V a few months as well. Persona 5 was initially slated as a 2015 game for PlayStation 3 before moving back two full years and launching on both PS3 and PS4. And CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3 received several delays in the year leading up to its release.

Persona 5 art

Honestly, aside from the Call of Duty series and a handful of annualized sports franchises like Madden, it’s tough to find a major AAA game that hasn’t been delayed. Obviously this can be attributed to any number of factors — publisher pressure in announcing a release date early in order to fit into specific fiscal periods, feeling the need to reveal information at rigidly scheduled gaming events like E3, and the growing complexity of video game development as a whole. We’ve even heard from developers and publishers recently who’ve delayed projects to help avoid crunch and promote a healthy work environment, though some would argue that pushing a release date doesn’t necessarily equate to getting rid of crunch.

Delays are by no means a recent trend in the video games industry, either. Rare’s Perfect Dark Zero began development on the Nintendo GameCube before moving over to the original Xbox after Microsoft acquired the company, with the game finally releasing as an Xbox 360 launch title in November 2006. Nintendo has a long and storied history with delays in The Legend of Zelda series dating back to Ocarina of Time. And then there are examples of games that get delayed throughout the course of a decade like Duke Nukem Forever, Spore, and Too Human, all of which eventually released to various underwhelming results.

It seems like some of the only games that manage to avoid being delayed are the ones that don’t publicly exist until the 25th hour. Apex Legends was pretty much revealed and launched simultaneously. Fallout 4 was officially revealed in 2015 just a few months prior to its November release date. We had no idea 2019’s Link’s Awakening remake for Switch existed until Nintendo showed it off last February, and it managed to stick its September landing cleanly. And assuming it doesn’t catch the delay pox like all of its other 2020 buddies, Resident Evil 3’s upcoming April date is just a few months after its Game Awards reveal last December. Who knows? Maybe the reason WB Montreal has been holding back on officially revealing their Batman game is because they want to make sure that they’ll hit whatever date they initially settle on.

At least video game fans can rest easy knowing that their hobby isn’t the only one that falls victim to the gods of delay. Movie aficionados need look no further than this Hollywood Reporter article from 2012 about how the still unreleased Avatar 2 would be delayed from 2014 to 2015. To put that in perspective, when that news story was written, the most recent movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Captain America: The First Avenger. Of course, Marvel isn’t impervious to delays either, with half of the movies announced in their October 2014 slate for Phase 3 being pushed or (in Inhumans‘ case) straight-up canceled. And of course, the less we say about George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter, the better.

So yeah, delays happened, are happening, and will continue to happen. The fact that something with as many moving parts as a video game is ever able to be completed is a miracle in and of itself. Having to wait a few extra weeks/months/years to play something you’re looking forward to isn’t the end of the world — plus, there are likely plenty of games in your backlog to tide you over in the meantime.

Look at that, we made it through this entire piece without mentioning that godforsaken Shigeru Miyamoto quote about game delays. I’m proud of us.

Marty Sliva
Marty Sliva has been writing about video games, popular culture, and the 1995 film Babe professionally for the past decade. You can follow him on Twitter @McBiggitty.

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