Thursday, August 2

very tricky R* - or - trendspotting

of course, along with good news (Halo 3 online co-op) must come bad news.

Game of the Year 2007 just became Game of the Year 2008.

Rockstar announced today that Grand Theft Auto IV will NOT be coming out mid-October as promised (i think the October date's been set for a year and a half now) - it will in fact be pushed back to fiscal Q2 2008 (Feb 1st - April 30th).


this is pretty big news. in the past R* has laid down the date for their GTA games pretty early in advance and has consistently been able to hit the mark. however, lots of companies are constantly pushing their release dates back nowadays, especially in the early stages of this next-gen cycle of consoles.

the main reason? dealing with the next-gen hardware AND software. R* said they're having trouble getting a handle on the new platforms, and i think it's a big problem for a lot of developers...

hardware: the Xbox 360 is supposed to be fairly easy to program for, but it's still a new system so there are going to be hitches, the main one being that these huge next-gen games are supposed to fit on a normal DVD for the 360, which some developers have come out and said is too small for their games - the PS3 on the other hand is supposed to be pretty difficult to program for but has all the space in the world on its blu-ray discs. all that said, more than a few games come out on the 360 weeks or months before their counterparts do on the PS3.

along with the differences between the two (and the Wii) is the fact that games can't be ported as easily anymore. the Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube used to be a lot more similar in their internal makeup which would facilitate porting - now developers need a team on the 360 version of a game, and at least a mini-team of engineers on the PS3 version (or vice versa on the consoles), and the Wii versions almost always get their own team.

software: there's been grumblings in the industry that Epic's new Unreal engine - which has been licensed by like half the developers - is having it's own growing pains. Silicon Knights even went as far as to sue Epic for not delivering the product and support they said they would (something i forgot to post on, but here it is). i don't know who's side to take, but it's clear that there's issues with the engine.

just this WEEK Lair for the PS3 was delayed 2-3 weeks, and Blacksite: Area 51 was delayed a number of months! here's more games that have been plagued by delays:

- Assassin's Creed
- Mass Effect
- BioShock
- Turok
- Stranglehold
- The Darkness
- Unreal Tournament III
- Metal Gear Solid 4
- Too Human

and these are just some games that had announced earlier release dates and were then pushed back months, even years! i didn't even list other games that never set any release dates and are just taking forever to be developed...

will things get better? i think so - somewhat. games have never had the most reliable release dates, but it's just been REALLY bad lately because of the new hardware and new engines. after a studio gets a next-gen game under its belt, they'll be able to better plan for the next one. best practices ftw.

now, back to GTAIV. am i upset? not really... i would have been had i preordered it (which i almost did). i'm more shocked really than anything, shocked that R* moved back a firm date for a GTA game. however, i've got PLENTY to play this fall/winter, so one less game is actually welcome in terms of my time and my wallet... that is, unless MORE fall/winter releases start pushing their dates back...

it could happen - hell, it's already happened for a lot of the titles coming out this fall/winter.

- kawitchate

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