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Game delays are the new day one patch

Cyberpunk 2077 is delayed. So is Watch Dogs: Legion, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Marvel’s Avengers, and Doom Eternal.

Cyberpunk 2077 developer and publisher CD Projekt Red announced on January 6 that it will move the game’s launch from April to September 2020. It’s never fun for players to hear a game is delayed, especially when years have passed since the game’s first teaser trailer.

Yet delays can be a good thing. They show developers realize when a release needs more time and, rather than rushing it along and patching it later, they’re taking it seriously.

Cyberpunk 2077 review

CD Projekt Red expressed that sentiment in its announcement, saying, “We are currently at a stage where the game is complete and playable, but there’s still work to be done.” That statement, from co-founder Marcin Iwiński and head of studio Adam Badowski, made clear the extra time would be used for “playtesting, fixing and polishing.”

In the end, gamers are likely to have a better experience — even if that means waiting longer. Rushed projects are also more prone to developer crunch, which entails long hours and poor working conditions for the people who make games.

However, while pushing a game’s release date doesn’t mean crunch won’t happen, straining for an unfeasible timeline certainly isn’t a solution either. In fact, CD Projekt Red co-CEO Adam Kicinski said in a Q&A this week that he expects the team will work extra hours as production enters its final stages. Though not unexpected, it’s disappointing.

Delays are becoming a more popular option than half-baked releases with day one patches. After all, nothing kills anticipation like ripping off the plastic of a new game only watch a progress bar on the television and waiting to play a game as intended — or at least closer to the way it was intended. Pushing a game out too quickly turns players into playtesters, who can find game-busting bugs and issues before they’re patched.

As fans commiserate the extra wait, they should be able to find solace once a genuinely complete and well-crafted game is out. Especially when it comes to a high concept undertaking, like Cyberpunk 2077 hopes to be. Execution is everything. Fans will be critical of every detail, which CD Projekt Red knows well. The Witcher 3, despite its popularity, saw a backlash because the game’s graphics (though gorgeous) didn’t always live up to early trailers.

The emotional response to news Cyberpunk 2077’s delay is proof gamers have high expectations. Come September, we’ll get to see if the wait was worth it.

Updated on January 17, 2020: Added information on work hour expectations post delay.

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