If you hadn’t already heard, Persona 5 was delayed (again!) this week. The ATLUS localization team announced that the game’s United States release would be pushed back from February 14, 2017 to April 4.
This is the third or fourth time the game has been delayed (it was originally announced as a winter 2014 title), but Persona 5 is already out in Japan. It sold well, was well-received, and given a near perfect score by Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu.
ATLUS cited a desire to polish the translation and make the localization as high-quality as its prior titles. In fairness, as good as ATLUS is at making quality video games, they are just as good at adapting those games for an American audience.
I know I should be OK with this. I love the Persona series. I already know it is a good game based on the response from Japan. And I know that the delay is only to make Persona 5 as ready as possible for the American audience. Besides, it’s only a delay of seven weeks; or 49 days; or 1176 hours; or 70,560 minutes.
I know it’s not that long of a delay. Yet, every time this game gets delayed I die a little more inside. Persona 4 was released in the U.S. way back in December of 2008. While there have been several spin-offs and re-releases in the series since that time, it’s been nearly a decade since a mainline entry in the Persona series.
Sadly delays are par for the course. As video games get more advanced and the time it takes to complete them gets longer, delays will continue to be a thorn in the side of gamers.
And I want to be clear before you read any further, developers should be allowed to take as much time as they need to complete their games. After all, video games are art, a form of expression, and should be completed at the pace that best accommodates the artist’s vision.
The problem is that while delays may make for a better finished product, the news creates nothing but disappointment. No developer or publisher wants their game to be associated with those kinds of emotions.
The gaming industry doesn’t necessarily need to get better about meeting release dates, they just need to get better about setting them. Too often, games are given unrealistic release windows or release dates that (apparently) are unmanageable. It’s a systemic problem that no developer or publisher that I’m aware of is exempt from. It also seems like a problem that is inherent to the gaming industry, and doesn’t affect other entertainment mediums as drastically.
Delays create disappointment among the fanbase at a time when companies should be creating excitement with trailers, previews, etc.
This is definitely a situation where I’m pointing out a problem without proposing a solution, but that doesn’t change the fact that delay announcements hurt properties. The only way to ensure a game is completed as intended and avoid any bad press a delay can cause, is to be more liberal with release dates—even if it means developers giving themselves more time than needed, so long as it is released on the correct date.
The truth is that publisher’s start losing money as soon as game is finished if it’s not on store shelves, but wouldn’t the avoided fan disappointment be worth the cost?
Sadly, that’s a question that only publisher and developers can answer.
In the meantime, all I can do is hope I’ll be playing Persona 5 on April 4, 2017, but even that could be wishful thinking at this point.