The launch of the new Mass Effect is almost upon us! After years of waiting, it has finally arrived! Good things come to those who wait, or so the saying goes, but whether or not it’s better to wait longer for new releases is a topic worth discussing.
Yes, excitement is in the air, and loved ones everywhere are going to be missing their significant others, because let’s get real: if they want to hook up with a gamer, they have to live with us disappearing for an inordinate amount of time when highly anticipated games come out. Especially if we’ve waited an inordinate amount of time for the release of said games.
Perhaps the degree of excitement gamers feel when a much awaited sequel finally comes out after years in development is a foreign concept to the uninitiated, but for those of us in the know, it’s a feeling that only comes around every once in awhile. I must admit that I’m going to be really pre-occupied as there is a new Persona game coming out next month after even more years of waiting, and while a new Danganronpa isn’t that many years out from the localization of its predecessor, said games don’t come out every day either, so I’ll be preoccupied once again at the end of the year.
Of course, my excitement for new releases is at least somewhat proportional to the amount of time I have to wait for one in my favourite series, so in many respects waiting longer only serves to make me want a game that much more when it finally does arrive. But, waiting a long time is also considerably more agonizing, and there are other drawbacks to a long drought in a given series.
Ending games on cliffhangers is generally a bad idea as their continuation is no guarantee and even if they are produced we may have to wait a long time for them, as the case was with the Corpse Party and Zero Escape franchises. I’m glad we finally got a Sly 4, but we don’t even have a hint of a new Sly 5 to pick up from its cliffhanger ending.
Even if stories are capped off nicely though, there are the concerns of “overhype” and “development hell”. “Overhype” is when a new game becomes so hyped up that even the best of games would be hard pressed to be received as anything but a disappointment as the game fans were hoping for was placed on so high a pedestal that expectations are nearly impossible to meet. Though it’s not the only way to overhype a game – refer to the No Man’s Sky debacle – waiting a very long time for a title generally has that effect.
When a game is in development for the better part of a decade, it’s perceived to be in what is known as “development hell”, and it is generally believed that games that come out of it end up falling short in many respects. While there have been exceptions, such as the excellent Final Fantasy XV, there are also games like Duke Nukem Forever that only serve as prime examples of why gamers are weary of development hell.
Of course, there is another side to every coin, and short development cycles are not without their pros and cons either. While it’s great for Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed fans to have a new title to enjoy every year, new entries can be hit or miss with some regarded as amazing, and others regarded as rushed. Of course, fans of CoD don’t generally ask for much more than minor enhancements to the online experience they are otherwise fond of regardless.
It’s obvious that certain games take longer to develop than others. An indie platformer in a 16 bit style isn’t going to take as long to make as a state of the art RPG, because there is more that goes into the latter. In fact, the development time for the new Mass Effect has actually been quite reasonable all things considered. A FPS series that only requires a few adjustments to keep the experience current and fresh is also not going to take nearly as long to turn out. That doesn’t make either experience better or worse, and the payoff of the wait for each is generally what is expected.
Granted, as of the writing of this article, I’m unsure whether the new Mass Effect will live up to my hopes and expectations, but that didn’t stop me from pre-ordering the biggest collector’s edition that actually comes with the game, as I have no interest in one that doesn’t…seriously EA, your potential buyers aren’t as stupid as you think. But, I’m still remaining cautiously optimistic.
The point remains though, that as much of a cop-out as it may sound, there is no ideal waiting time for a new game, as that can vary based on the product, expectations and many other factors such as budget, staff and resources. Perhaps the response will range from “Hey, a new Call of Duty is out, sweet.” to “Hey, a new Mass Effect is out! Sweet!” However, that is only to be expected, and there are certainly pros and cons to long and short development cycles and the wait for their completion.
What are your thoughts on development cycles and wait times? Do you sometimes wish games didn’t take as long to come out, or have you found that longer development cycles add more polish to a game? As always feel free to leave your comments below.