It is never “good” news when games are delayed. At the core, it shows that for whatever reason, a game is not able to meet the previously scheduled release date.
The recent announcement that both Redfall and Starfield would be delayed into early 2023 hit Xbox fans early Thursday morning like a ton of bricks. What once was shaping up to be an exciting second half of 2022 has quickly changed, reminding everyone of the challenges of modern day game development and the reality that no release date is safe.
Reaction to the news varied from understanding and support for the teams involved to the extreme opposite, with some questioning Xbox’s management and decrying the entire organization’s competence.
While various takes today and over the coming weeks and months will be made about what these delays “mean for Xbox”, one thing is clear: the delay of Redfall and Starfield shows a commitment by Xbox to release quality games.
No one wants nor plans to delay a game; these are difficult decisions made by teams who decide they simply need more time to complete their vision. As head of Xbox Phil Spencer noted on Twitter, “These decisions are hard on teams making the games & our fans”.
And as the official announcement of the delays communicated “The teams at Arkane Austin (Redfall) and Bethesda Game Studios (Starfield) have incredible ambitions for their games, and we want to ensure that you recieve the best, most polished versions of them.”
These decisions are hard on teams making the games & our fans. While I fully support giving teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we hear the feedback. Delivering quality & consistency is expected, we will continue to work to better meet those expectations. https://t.co/mIfXGd3rui— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) May 12, 2022
An update on Redfall and Starfield. pic.twitter.com/pqDtx26Uu6— Bethesda (@bethesda) May 12, 2022
It is clear through the messaging Xbox have put out that this decision was not one made lightly and it was ultimately made to ensure the games could live up to their anticipation. Make no mistake, these delays severely impact Xbox and slows the momentum the brand was building coming out of 2021. As Xbox continues to grow a cohesive first party team, however, their commitment to quality releases continues to show.
This isn’t the first time Xbox has had to make a difficult decision regarding a delay. Halo Infinite was famously delayed out of the Xbox Series X|S launch window due to it’s own development issues. The game was ultimately granted an extra 13 months of development time and that showed with the extra polish and content the game had at launch. Qualms about post launch support aside, no one can argue that Halo Infinite failed to benefit from the extra time 343 were given to make the game.
We saw the opposite effect happen in 2020 with CD Project Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. The game launched broken and filled with bugs. It was so plagued with issues that PlayStation decided to temporarily remove the game from it’s digital stores.
Notable industry journalist Jason Schreier recently shared that a few people he spoke to last year who were working on Starfield were worried about the November release. The term “Next Cyberpunk” was relayed to Schreier by alleged members of the development team when discussing their apprehension regarding the 11-11-22 release date. Developers are keenly aware of the impact an incomplete game can have on its reputation and trajectory. No one, fans or developers alike, want another situation like that to happen again.
Last spring before E3, I spoke to some folks on Starfield who were extremely worried about committing to a 11-11-22 date based on the progress they’d made so far. (“Next Cyberpunk” was the term floated.) Good on Bethesda for delaying even after announcing that specific date. https://t.co/QdWFf0zGIY— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) May 12, 2022
While in the moment delays can feel incredibly disheartening, the end result is almost always a better game. A moment of bad PR for Xbox is being traded for a greater chance of their games being successful, and that shows patience and a willingness to give teams enough time and resources to deliver the best product possible. In the end, we all just want to play great games. It is through these multiple, high profile delays that Xbox is showing that they have the fortitude to give their games the best possible chance to succeed.