Weekend Hot Topic: The longest wait for a new video game
Readers discuss the longest they’ve ever waited for a video game to be released, including the mammoth waits for Shenmue 3 and Persona 5.
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Tony T. and was inspired by the recent delay of Starfield, as well as many others this year. So we asked what’s the most disappointed you’ve been with a game delay and how did you feel when it eventually arrived?
Given how common delays are in the games industry everyone had a story to tell, but in general most people were happy to wait as long as the end result was worth it, which in most cases it was.
Worth the wait
I think Nintendo has cornered the market on enormous waits for games, that are constantly delayed but always turn out to be worth it in the end. It’s got to the point to where if a game doesn’t take ages, and isn’t delayed for years, then I’d get suspicious. Not that that has ever happened, mind.
They have three obvious culprits at the moment in Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2, Bayonetta 3, and Metroid Prime 4 which I have no idea when they’ll be out and wouldn’t believe a release date if they had one. Metroid Prime 4 is especially impressive though because they actually canned that game and started again from scratch with it. That’s not something many companies would do and as disappointing as it is I definitely appreciate it.
Of course none of this is new, all of the modern Zeldas have been delayed massively, especially Ocarina Of Time which as a kid seemed to take an especially long time to coalesce into a real game. And when it did it was the best game ever so… you can’t really ask for more than that, can you?
Better to wait
It wasn’t the longest wait ever by any means but I remember getting so frustrated by the constant delays for Cyberpunk 2077. The game looked so amazing in the trailers and, given that and The Witcher 3, I was convinced it was going to be the best game ever. So you can imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the biggest disappointment of the generation.
Of course, what was needed was a further delay but nobody wanted to wait for that. Not fans and not CD Projekt who wanted their money ASAP. That lack of patience almost destroyed the company and certainly destroyed the franchise, so clearly delays are necessary in some, perhaps all cases.
It’s certainly made me cautious about the future, in terms of both looking forward to a game and getting too attached to a released date. Nowadays I see a delay as a positive sign and not a negative.
The first game to come to mind for this was Persona 5 so I went and looked to see how long it had been since the last and it was a staggering nine years! Nine! Overall it was worth it, because the game is fantastic, but not only was the wait excessive but I’d say, objectively, the game was too long and with a lot of unnecessary bloat.
It would’ve been at least as good, and probably better, if a third was cut out of it. Not only that but I’m sure most non-fans never got anywhere close to the end, and I don’t blame them. In a lot of ways Persona is still a very old school franchise and I think not knowing when to stop is very much in keeping with those older styles of games.
I’m okay with it, and I’d much rather it turn out the way it did than be rushed or too short, but somehow I don’t think that’ll ever be a problem with these games.
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I try not to get excited for games early doors these days, as the examples I give all didn’t live up to the hype in varying degrees, but an olde worlde E3 trailer used to get me revved up for a game, like the 2018 Cyberpunk 2077 trailer.
The most memorable one for me is the 2014 No Man’s Sky trailer, which is still awesome. I didn’t have to wait that long to play it as it arrived two years later, I think. But it might be the game I waited the longest to play fully. On release I left it after 15 hours, as it clearly wasn’t the game in that inspiring trailer, and waited for patches. They arrived and Hello Games restored their tattered reputation. But among the rumours was incoming PlayStation VR support and I thought I’d wait for that, what a cool game to play in VR.
PlayStation VR support arrived and I excitedly fired it up on my PS4 Pro and it was pretty bad, the PS4 Pro couldn’t handle it. Terrible pop-in and low resolution made it unplayable in VR for me, so I thought I’ll wait for a PlayStation 5 patch. And bless ’em, Hello Games delivered.
The PlayStation 5 patch (confusingly you’re still playing the PlayStation 4 version, just optimised for PlayStation 5 as the proper PlayStation 5 version doesn’t have VR support) can’t overcome the low tech PlayStation VR headset but it’s a big improvement and, most importantly, the resolution and pop-in aren’t now a distraction to enjoying the game. But a thought occurred to me, how good will this be on PlaySation VR 2? I’ll wait for that. So it could be seven years after buying it before I play it properly.
But the game I’ve waited longest to play is The Last Guardian, after that enchanting 2009 E3 reveal. I’d watch it fairly regularly wondering how are they managing that on a PlayStation 3? When the game arrived in 2016 it was on PlayStation 4, so the probable answer was they’re weren’t.
All is forgiven
I bought a Wii U as soon as Zelda: Breath Of The Wild was first announced in summer 2014. It seems a bit daft buying a console so long before the main game you want it for is released but the reviews of Mario Kart 8 and the general look of that game had me teetering on the brink anyway.
What I’d really been looking for, though, was some assurance around Nintendo’s philosophy at the time. Specifically, after the shaky start of the 3DS and the courting of non-gamers with the Wii, that they were going to support their newer console in the ways I valued most as a fan. I felt this new Zelda represented that, a big ambitious open world treatment that threatened to do away with an increasingly stale template for the 3D games was enough to convince me.
I don’t want to turn this into a Wii U rant but for pretty much the whole time I owned that console, I was waiting to sit Zelda alongside Mario Kart 8 and, eventually, Splatoon to properly justify my purchase. I felt like Nintendo was leading me on with Zelda’s prospective release, with games like Super Mario 3D World feeling like lower effort stop gaps in comparison.
Failing to even properly show the game for two years after announcing it didn’t assuage concerns about how invested Nintendo was in the Wii U but any doubt around that was removed at E3 2015, which was so abysmal for a console 2.5 years into its life that I called it right away that they’d be lining up Breath Of The Wild for the launch of their next machine. That wasn’t confirmed till much later but the additional delay out of 2016 proved a lot more than the Wii U’s fate hinged on the game.
Even thinking back about how it spurred me on to buy a console I never got much out of it was clearly the right approach, and so much frustration at how Nintendo handled things went out the window once the game finally came out.
Of course, my hope is the same principle applies to both the sequel and to Metroid Prime 4 in terms of quality and it also seems sensible to predict that at least the latter will release on both the Switch and its successor.
The obvious one for me here is Shenmue 3, although I’m not sure if it counts exactly because for most of the time I was not exactly waiting for it because I never expected it to happen. When it suddenly looked like the game would actually get made I was kind of shocked and when I was sat there, at my TV, actually playing it I was just as flabbergasted.
Ultimately it was a disappointment, I think any Shenmue fan would admit that, and weirdly all it did was kick the problem of the unresolved story down the road a bit. Except now it’s even less likely to get any kind of resolution. Talk about being careful what you wish for!
My longest wait for a game was Ocarina Of Time from The Legend Of Zelda series. This was mainly because of the long, long wait since A Link To The Past and Link’s Awakening.
I don’t remember any particular official delay with the game, due to limited news being released from the mainly paper magazine sources back then. I was eagerly going to Woolworths and WHSmith and purchasing or reading any available information from the entertainment magazine sections of the store.
I did not get any Final Fantasy games until after Ocarina Of Time, so I did not have too many role-players or action adventure games previously, before getting my hands on Ocarina Of Time. Mainly 2D and 3D platformers were my choice of game. Super Mario, Earthworm Jim, and Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts were what was challenging me.
Slower story lead and quest driven narratives was something new to me and quite frankly that was what lead me onto the next stage of my gaming hobby with Ocarina Of Time, Majora’s Mask, and Final Fantasy 7 and 8.
Time felt it was going pretty slow back then and a Song of Time jingle was definitely needed to get to Ocarina’s launch date. Luckily, the game was awesome and the memories that came from it were just so rewarding to me, as I experienced this all-time classic title. Nowadays I am way more patient and quite happy to let the developers do their magic and get the rewards from the work involved, whenever that may be.
These days we know exactly what’s happening in the gaming world and not much is unknown. But thankfully I am still excited these many years later for future releases and definitely more chilled, no matter how long we will be waiting for them.
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