When did rushing anything ever result in greatness?
Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto has said a lot of things about videogames, but not all of them have the tang of his pronouncement that “a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad”. It’s a straightforward, accurate observation, and one that he made many years ago, and yet it continues to be overlooked by even the biggest game makers. Hence we see Electronic Arts pushing Battlefield 4 out of the door on its appointed date – a week prior to Call Of Duty: Ghosts, crucially – when the game is plainly missing a final layer of refinement. What does it say when one of the highestprofile, most keenly anticipated releases of 2013 is treated this way? At the very least, it says that EA knows it can get away with it.
Other entertainment fields don’t work like this. Gareth Edwards’ forthcoming Godzilla reboot won’t arrive in cinemas with botched CG sequences, because that would see it laughed off the screen. If videogames have an inferiority complex, the people who are signing them off aren’t helping.
Consumers’ exposure to so many rushed, buggy productions has possibly had an unusual benefit for some developers, however. Consider how easy it’s been for PC users to transition to handing over hard cash for the privilege of playing incomplete versions of games such as DayZ and Rust. In pushing developers to publish unfinished work, players have conspired to build a new model where anything goes, overturning some of videogaming’s oldest rules.
Despite what EA’s output may suggest, this isn’t yet an arena in which mainstream publishers want to play. For Ubisoft, it must feel like a particularly uncomfortable place, given its willingness to put the brakes on even its biggest projects when they’re not measuring up. In 2012, Far Cry 3 was held back, and the benefits were eventually clear to all. With Watch Dogs, a game granted even more time to be finessed, the company has ambitions to create something to underpin a series to match the triumphant Assassin’s Creed games. The foundations, then, have to stand up. In this issue’s cover story, we discover how its developers are meeting the challenge.