My name is Jared Whittaker, one of the hosts and Audio Chewbacca of the Super-Fly Podcast and PCW! Welcome to Game Changer, a weekly burning missive about all aspects of video gaming with a little bit of opinion thrown in for fun. Proceed with caution and tread lightly, gentle gamers. It’s going to be good time. Like the first time you saw Super Mario 3 good time.
If you have read my column before, you may have heard about a game called Payday: The Heist. the game is a 4 player co-op multiplayer where you and three other cohorts attempt to rob a bank and make off with the loot. Think a video game version of movie Heat. The game trailer looks insanely fun and I’ve already pre-ordered it and I can’t wait to get into this game.
And I’m still waiting….
Payday: The Heist was initially was due to be released Oct 4th. But was delayed the night before release day for no given reason. I was alittle upset, but hey, it’s video games, right? Sometimes things behind the scenes happen, especially in this digital age we live in. But then Overkill, the studio producing Payday announced a few days later that the PS3 version of the game would be coming out on the 18th on PSN. While there was some grumbling, FPS fans started getting ready for some bank robbing action. Well, as of the writing of this, Payday is available on Sony’s Playstation Network yet is still nowhere to be seen on Steam, PC and Mac users biggest delivery system of video games. That lead me to think about what responsibility game developers have to get their games out on time to willing consumers.
Game delays are nothing new. They happen sometimes. Whether it be a miscalculation in development time or a sudden problem at the last minute, it’s one of those issues that just happen at some point or another when dealing with video games. I think we all remember how long it took Duke Nukem Forever to come out. But do developers and publishers have a responsibly to get game out on the date that they set? The short answer is “No”. While most games are fine and come out on time, sometimes, some games just don’t. There isn’t a safeguard for people that put money down on a pre-order for a game that gets pushed back. The closest thing is that sometimes the store that offer a pre-order will ask if you if you still want to keep your game. But most of the time, they don’t really do anything for the consumers. I’m sure that people pre-ordered Duke Nukem Forever at one point or another in the 15 years that it took for the game to come out. And I’m also sure that no stores were honoring pre-orders on DNF from 15 years ago.
So, maybe it’s a “buy at your own risk” type deal. Should we just assume that the event of a game delay is just part of the game? It’s never really been addressed as far as I remember. Most people would just chalk it up to “sh*t happens” sometimes. Pre-ordering is a pretty lucrative business for stores. It’s a way to make money on products even thought they are not actually available in consumer’s hands yet. I know that I was offered to cash in my pre-order for Grand Theft Auto 4 when the game was pushed back a few months. I decided to not to cash in, seeing that GTA games are the only games I usually pre-order because I’m not NOT going to get that game. In that situation, I knew the fact that the game was going to be late. I was informed about it and I decided that I was willing to wait for the game. It’s all good. In the case of Payday, however, it’s a little different.
In the case of Payday, the game was delayed the day of release. And without any real explanation about why and when the game is going to actually come out. That is a problem. Overkill also proceed to shoot themselves in the foot by posting the release date for the PS3 version on the Steam message boards. Many people saw this as a platform-wide release date. That ended up not being the case, as the game was only released on PS3 on the date in question. People completely lost their minds about this. Endless posts about how people will never buy another Overkill game, how they will never support another Sony Online Entertainment game and other various insults and taunts you’d imagine would jump off in a message board setting. It’s been pretty interesting so far.
Would the delay have gone over better if Overkill would have given a head’s up about it before it happened? Would people still have gone bananas if they did? Who knows? What we do know is that I, and a lot of other people, have paid for a product that they don’t have and don’t have any idea when it is coming out. That’s a problem. That’s a big problem. Even a digital product should have some kind of guarantee of a release time, or at the very least, a window. Currently, Overkill has a “October” release window. Which is incredibly vague. But as a company, should they have to come out and at least tell fans of the this game “Hey, this is what’s up with the game and we’re working to fix it and get it out as soon as we can”? It could be that the problem is deeper than they thought and could take a lot longer than anyone expected. That could lead to loss of money and hype. Sometimes, a game missing it’s release window can completely kill any hope of the game being successful. But even in the face of that, developers should, at the very least, be honest about these things and give people the courtesy of keeping them up to date on when something they paid for will be available.
I just want to rob some banks…..
What do you think? Do you have a game delay story and how did you react? Do game makers have a responsibly the consumers or are delays just a part of the game sometime? Let us know in the comments below.
Jared Whittaker plays a lot of games. Not as much as he’d like, but as much as time and money will allow. If you want to play some games with Jared, you can find him on Playstation 3; PSN tag: JFX. He is also on Steam and Battle.net as JFX316 and while he doesn’t have an Xbox 360, he has the coolest Gamertag in the world: Obiwan Jaborni. Feel free to add him as a friend or email him at JWhittaker@PanelsonPages.com. and on Twitter as JFX316