By Sage Ashford
Like every other industry, game delays are actually pretty common. Most are usually small–a delay of maybe a month to bang out last minute problems. But then there are others that can completely change everything for both gamers and the publishers, as a delay of a several months can majorly affect a company's bottom line, while a game moved to the wrong area could end up losing a lot of its attention to a different game with a larger fan base (or advertising budget). That's why the month of October is so jam-packed with releases–no one wants to come out in the same month as Destiny or Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and risk being ignored.
But while game delays are somewhat normal, the year of 2014 has been pretty legendary in terms of the numerous high-profile games that have been pushed back to 2015. Let's take a closer look at what I mean.
CDProjekt's final installment of Geralt of Rivia's story is noteworthy for several reasons: it was the series' first foray onto a Playstation console, it was meant to be one of the few major RPGs for the year, and finally it was one of only a handful of current-gen only games to come in 2014. For all of that, as well as The Witcher's sterling reputation built up over its two prior games, fans were crushed when the company released a letter announcing the release date of The Witcher 3 had to be pushed back to 2015. We've since learned the game is actually scheduled for a release late in February–earning it a bit of a "close, but no cigar" in terms of hitting its initial 2014 date. Unfortunate, but as gamers would learn later in the year, it was only the first of many similar disappointments to come.
The Order: 1886 was one of the standout games shown off during E3 2013, and was in fact the only new title Sony bothered to show during their pre-show press conference last year. Ready at Dawn's third-person shooter set in a beautifully dreary 19th century London that was "steampunk, but not steampunk" had been set for a late 2014 release almost from the moment it was revealed.
But the murmurings of delays began to appear in mid-May, only to be confirmed at the end of the month. With both journalists and developers alike agreeing that it was a solid move in order to give the game extra polish, the title is now set for a release on February 20th, 2015, placing it amongst a number of other highly anticipated games releasing at the top of next year.
Alongside The Order: 1886, Destiny, and Titanfall, Tom Clancy's The Division played a major part in making E3 2013 so memorable, and showing off what the next-gen consoles were capable of. A gorgeous, persistent massively multiplayer online world with both TPS and RPG elements, The Division tells the story of what happens after a disease that hit on Black Friday has torn America apart. From what we've been told, players would be a part of a special force granted authority by the President to save and restore what's left of the United States.
Another title promised at the end of 2014, an anonymous developer working for Ubisoft described the idea of the game being released at the end of 2014 "laughable" at the very beginning of the year. Such sources are usually considered "dubious" in an industry where everyone seems to have some sort of secret insider knowledge, but Ubisoft was already two for three after having to delay both their open world hacking thriller Watch_Dogs as well as their open-world driving game The Crew; a hat trick seemed not only possible, but likely.
Sure enough, in the middle of May, Ubisoft confirmed that The Division would join The Order and The Witcher 3 as a 2015 title. However, the fact Ubisoft hasn't attempted to give a release window either in the letter or at E3 earlier this year indicates that the other rumor about 2015 being "optimistic" may not be far from the truth. Alas, it may be far longer than next year before gamers can get this title in their hands.
Another "final installment" kind of game, Batman: Arkham Knight was Rocksteady's ending to the amazing Arkham series they began back into 2007 with Arkham Asylum. Another of the few current-gen only retail games, it was first leaked via a GameStop promo poster, only to be officially revealed as a Game Informer feature shortly afterwards. Arkham games are often revealed and released in the same year, so it came as a surprise when it was reported here on Bleeding Cool that the game would be pushed back. So much so, video game news sites didn't even bother reporting it as a rumor, making the blow all the more severe when it was confirmed as a 2015 title in a trailer only two months after its initial reveal.
Given the game had already spent an extra year in the oven, it's suspected that the title is being pushed back so Warner Bros. can give proper attention to Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor. If that's the case, it would not be surprising to see the game surface sometime in the early bits of the next year.
This one could be construed as unfair. Though Xenoblade Chronicles X had been on Nintendo's release schedule for 2014, it didn't even have a name until this trailer came out. As one of the titles I was personally looking forward to the most, I was crushed when "2015" appeared at the end of this trailer. But, considering the scale of what XCX is attempting to do, I can't be too upset that the game is missing it's year to join all the big releases in 2015.
Polish developer Techland, creators of the action-RPG/survival horror game Dead Island, just can't get enough of zombies. That's why their latest game, initially a mere Dead Island sequel, expanded into a game of its own, with an expansive open-world and a game that takes advantage of a custom day/night cycle system the developers have implemented. In the day, the zombies tend to be threatening, but they can be easily avoided while the player forages their area for supplies. But at night the zombies all become far more dangerous–they're faster, they hit harder, and they can jump and climb after the player, leaving them forced to rely on the traps and distractions they set during the day to survive as best they can.
Even as a non survival horror fan, what Techland was doing with Dying Light sounded unique, so of course it got delayed. Like most of the games on this list, the title is now scheduled for a release sometime in February.
With just over two months remaining until this game released, Evolve's delay was another unfortunate surprise. The 4v1 one first-person shooter had established a decent-sized fan base after revealing it's unique gimmick: in each multi-player session, one player gets to be the "monster" the other four players try to kill, with the ability to literally "evolve" to become stronger over the course of the game, becoming bigger and stronger while the players gain better weaponry to fight back.
Evolve was a Game Informer cover feature back in February, and much like The Witcher 3, quickly distinguished itself as the main title of its genre to be released in 2014 that would be meant for current-gen systems only. The game received an Xbox One-only demo though, and the general response seems to have been that the game needed more polish. The statement released by 2K Games was fairly boilerplate, but it seems to agree on that, and now the game is scheduled for a release on February 10th, 2015.
Battlefield: Hardline was one of the worst kept secrets in gaming. Initially referred to as "Project Havana", the idea of a police-themed Battlefield title surfaced around early February, it was finally revealed and titled during E3, so people could stop calling it "Battlefield: Cops Edition" or whatever. It played a major part in EA's press conference at E3 as one of the few titles that actually looked like a video game rather than a bunch of concept art or test design work, and they even announced a "surprise" demo that went online during the presentation as their way of closing out the show.
It's unclear what lead to the game's delay, and the response by DICE VP & GM Karl Troedsson certainly didn't shed any real light on the matter. The best guess is that EA and DICE are both terrified of releasing a broken product along the lines of Battlefield 4 again, and so back in the oven this went for a few more months. I'm not heavily into first-person titles, but I hope it leads to a great game–the trailer they showed at Gamescom had a fairly neat 'buddy cops in a big-budget action film' kinda feel, and I'd hate to see that wasted.
Okay, so 2014 was fairly dry–which is why things like the mediocre Watch Dogs selling eight million and The Last of Us: Remastered (a game that released just last year on PS3) selling over 600,000 copies in a single week make any sense at all. There were a lot of delays–some from shifting schedules, but mostly just from these being major titles being released on new systems. The developers were unfamiliar with the hardware and needed more time to adapt and create the future classics for these new consoles. It's disappointing, but at least the drought months appear to be over, and just from this list alone, 2015 is looking absolutely fantastic. And that's before we get into all the titles that were actually scheduled for that year. Of course, that's another story.
Sage Ashford is a college kid with far more hobbies than he has free time. You can find him on Twitter @SageShinigami, but also at his own blog Jumping in Headfirst.