To be perfectly honest, it’s somewhat difficult to argue that point that games should be allowed to be delayed. It’s a point that’s hard to argue because no one wants games to be delayed, not even the developers or publishers. The comparison between games industry and the movie industry is especially relevant here. You would never see a poster that says “Avengers 2 Coming Summer 2015” and then have it NOT happen.
If there is any argument to be made that games should be allowed to be delayed, let’s start with they why. I’m no expert on making movies or making games but from an outsider’s perspective it seems that games are vastly more complicated than movies in terms of production. Movies have been around a lot longer than games, and therefore have had time to develop a more robust production pipeline. Furthermore, the technology for making movies has been somewhat similar for many years. Sure, there are important decisions to make; digital vs. 35mm, IMAX, 3D, etc… but movies in general still only have to answer maybe 10 major production questions at most, and the rest is all basically the same. You write it, you shoot it, you do the post production, you market it, you release it. Done.
Games don’t have the luxury of a technologically stable industry like movies do. It seems like more than ever before, major game production comes with massive amounts of questions and sub-questions. What platforms will it be released on? PS4 and Xbox One hardware is somewhat different so how do we optimize the game to run well on both. If the game has multiplayer, who is hosting the servers? Does the game have microtransactions? The list of questions seems to go on forever, and with the industry moving so fast in terms of business model changes, and technological evolution, that list is only going to get longer.
Furthermore, it seems like publishers have a lot more to do with the ability to delay a game than say, a movie producer. Typically movies contain a lot of footage that gets cut. If the producer sees a rough cut of the film and decides that a certain scene doesn’t fit, then the director will have to go back and edit that out. In the same way though, if a game publisher decides that a game mechanic isn’t work, or should working differently, the time it takes a developer to change that could be absolutely massive in comparison.
Alright, so I have to be honest here. While I believe that the points I listed above are true, they’re really just excuses. The fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t seem that hard to simply NOT announce a game until you know that it’s just about ready. So far I’ve never thrown in the towel on a point / counterpoint, but I think I’m going to have to on this one. The truth is that no matter what type of obstacles there are in game development they can ALL be avoided by simply not announcing things until they’re ready. And to publishers, stop forcing developers to smash a multiplayer mode into a game that is set to launch in 6 months. Stop forcing in microtransactions at the last minute because it’s the hot thing to do this year. Make a game and when it’s ready, announce it. When you announce it set a realistic date and stick with that. It’s really not that hard.