So when IS the right time to announce a game?

Saw some interesting points in the other recent thread about games being announced too soon, but it sort of became more about how delays these days are less and less likely to actually make a game good compared to previous generations.

So I want to bring it back to the announcement time itself. If you're working on a game, at what point in development/how long before release do you think is the right time to announce it to the world? Too close to release and people might completely miss it, and too far might squander the hype it initially creates.

So when should a game announce itself to the world, and why?

For me, game announcements would ideally be like 6 months from release. I remember Vanquish being shown at an E3 and I loved that it was releasing that Fall. On the other hand, it is also useful to us gamers to know the big games releasing on the platform over the years (to make an informed choice) like how we've known for years that TLOU2 and FFVII we're coming to PS4. I personally think gamers just need to grow up and stop hyping shit the way we do, it's a fucking game, not a life-changing event, I honestly don't really start looking into gameplay vids for games until they are about a month from releasing. Plus, rarely do these big AAA games end up being the best games for the platform (now more than ever) and something like Disco Elysium just comes out of nowhere or like how Temtem looks to be a much better Pokemon so why get so hyped for Pokemon (or any big game series). Indies and mid-tier devs are killing it these days.

5 years in advance, 5 days in advance, I really don't care.

What I do care about is how terribly whiney gamers can become when a game is delayed; like don't you have anything else in your life, does it really revolve around waiting for a game to release.

I don't think game delays mean anything more now than they have in the past. Games come out broken with delays, games come out broken without delays, games come out fine with delays, games come out fine without delays. People only really remember delays in the event of a crash and burn; a year after release, nobody remembers the original release date of a good game, only when it actually came out.

The truth of the matter is that games have delays all the time, you just don't hear about most of them cuz it's internal deadlines that get shifted; they only become noticeable when a date is publicly announced. You'd ask why then do they just not announce a release date once the game prints a gold copy, but that's just not the way investment capitalism and logistical support works. Big publishers want to release games in a strategic schedule, to minimize competition. They need to make agreements with distributors, and those distributors have a whole supply chain to work out (this applies even to digital sales, with storefronts, servers, and network infrastructure). Investors want their quarterly returns to be predicted and adhered to. The entire marketing cycle. There is just so much stuff that goes around based on a release date that the common consumer doesn't see. And yeah, a delay hurts that, but the industry understands that these things happen; there may be wasted time and effort, but it is preferable to have to shift plans around delays than to only start the process while the game is just sitting there ready.

A public delay is unfortunate, but in the midst of all this stuff that necessitates an announced public release date, while being an industry where deadlines are rarely if ever met (something that I've heard from game developers themselves can't be helped, their coding always takes longer than planned, even when you plan it'll take longer than planned, because of the nature of encountering new and impossible to predict problems in the process of programming that have to be iterated on and solved), this is the reality. Shit doesn't always go according to plan.

I don't mind announcing a game early or delaying a game to finish it properly, I only mind releasing a game unfinished or buggy or somehow incomplete.

Ideally, a long development process that is announced ahead of time is best, since that way you get a feel that a lot of work is being put into a game and it helps build the hype, whereas if a game is announced and comes out within half a year you don't feel as confident about it even if it was in development for ages before the announcement.

A big part for this is that if you commit to releasing a game like for example persona 5 which took over 3 years to make ahead of time, it shows you how confident you are that you're really gonna make the game, whereas if you hold back on announcing it, that's because you want the option of canceling it to be on the table in case the game blows but you don't want the flak you're gonna catch when you cancel an announced game (Scalebound comes to mind) so that makes games announced late to seem like games the company has low confidence in. Meanwhile SE can announce final fantasy xiii-versus something like 7 years before the eventual release (in FFXV form no less) and the game is definitely getting made.

You can announce it whenever you damn well please. But don't give a release date unless you know it won't change.

bluegate:
5 years in advance, 5 days in advance, I really don't care.

What I do care about is how terribly whiney gamers can become when a game is delayed; like don't you have anything else in your life, does it really revolve around waiting for a game to release.

You have a point, but I see it as the one of those grey areas. Some times the frustration is understandable; other times the gaming audience goes way overboard.

SupahEwok:
I don't think game delays mean anything more now than they have in the past. Games come out broken with delays, games come out broken without delays, games come out fine with delays, games come out fine without delays. People only really remember delays in the event of a crash and burn; a year after release, nobody remembers the original release date of a good game, only when it actually came out.

The truth of the matter is that games have delays all the time, you just don't hear about most of them cuz it's internal deadlines that get shifted; they only become noticeable when a date is publicly announced. You'd ask why then do they just not announce a release date once the game prints a gold copy, but that's just not the way investment capitalism and logistical support works. Big publishers want to release games in a strategic schedule, to minimize competition. They need to make agreements with distributors, and those distributors have a whole supply chain to work out (this applies even to digital sales, with storefronts, servers, and network infrastructure). Investors want their quarterly returns to be predicted and adhered to. The entire marketing cycle. There is just so much stuff that goes around based on a release date that the common consumer doesn't see. And yeah, a delay hurts that, but the industry understands that these things happen; there may be wasted time and effort, but it is preferable to have to shift plans around delays than to only start the process while the game is just sitting there ready.

A public delay is unfortunate, but in the midst of all this stuff that necessitates an announced public release date, while being an industry where deadlines are rarely if ever met (something that I've heard from game developers themselves can't be helped, their coding always takes longer than planned, even when you plan it'll take longer than planned, because of the nature of encountering new and impossible to predict problems in the process of programming that have to be iterated on and solved), this is the reality. Shit doesn't always go according to plan.

The thing is though, compared to the era of generations 4, 5, & 6, games came out more frequently with most development cycles only taking 2-2.5 years at longest. If it was a game that took 5 years, you would not know about until the game was a year from release. I remember the advertising for Heart of Darkness (PS1) and they boasted how the game took 5 years to make. When most people did not know about the game until 6-8 months from release. What does not help nowadays is that a lot of AAA companies take graphical fidelity over gameplay almost every single time, rather than equally or gameplay over graphics. Just to justify the costs, or the casual and hard consumers. And then you have things like Early Access which blurs the line even further, but at least most of the time, you're getting constant updates from the developer(s) working on the game. And the long development is usually at least justified there, due to either a way smaller development team, or just one person making the entire game. You have a lot of points still, but I think that's where the dissonance and divide comes from.

The Rogue Wolf:
You can announce it whenever you damn well please. But don't give a release date unless you know it won't change.

For smaller developers/publishers this usually is not a problem, but for AAA studios, they can't keep their announcement stiffy in their pants. This is usually a problem for big Japanese studios, but I am noticing it more with Western studios too.

It is not about when you announce a game, but HOW you present the announcement.

For example, do you remember the trailer reveal of Devil May Cry 5? It is still one of the BEST trailers I ever saw!
Now take the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6. I don't give a single shot about this game like EVER!!!

SweetShark:
It is not about when you announce a game, but HOW you present the announcement.

For example, do you remember the trailer reveal of Devil May Cry 5? It is still one of the BEST trailers I ever saw!
Now take the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6. I don't give a single shot about this game like EVER!!!

Hell yeah! Give me a virtual five!

When i say so.

SweetShark:
It is not about when you announce a game, but HOW you present the announcement.

For example, do you remember the trailer reveal of Devil May Cry 5? It is still one of the BEST trailers I ever saw!
Now take the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6. I don't give a single shot about this game like EVER!!!

Except people jizzed their pants for ES6 and, off the top of my head, Metroid Prime 4.

Anyway, I can't answer the thread's question. Right or wrong time can only be determined in hindsight.

Once you know when it's coming out.
I don't really think too much about it though. It's out when it's out. Not my business until then.

I feel like the best case for the consumer is to announce a game when you have a set release date.

Nintendo actually just did a great example of this with the last Pokemon Direct. There had been no news about a Mystery Dungeon game prior (aside from hopes and dreams) and boom they not only reveal the game but also give a release date that is barely 50 days away.

That's great. Announce it when you are very near release. It doesn't have to be 50 days, but don't announce a game and then go radio silent for 5 years before appearing out of nowhere. But if you announce at E3 and then say it's coming novemeber, or Jan of the next year that's totally fine by me. So long as you have a release window when you announce I'm good.

Maybe there's a benefit to announcing a game early and getting a bunch of marketing in now? Especially considering stuff like pre-orders. Once money is out of my pocket at least, I tend not to try to hard to get it back if the product is delayed or whatnot. Just wait for the product to come out.

Personally, I enjoy the more two to four months announcement. Either way though, no big deal.

SweetShark:
It is not about when you announce a game, but HOW you present the announcement.

For example, do you remember the trailer reveal of Devil May Cry 5? It is still one of the BEST trailers I ever saw!
Now take the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6. I don't give a single shot about this game like EVER!!!

For the benefit of those that don't remember- can you explain the difference between the two reveals?

In my perfect little sordid fantasy world, everything is better when it's announced the day it's released. Of course, that goes against the perpetuating of hype culture to encourage feeding pre-order culture all for the benefit of those more interested in juicier profits than creativity. But hype is noisy and hollow and a lot of the time it can make something lose its appeal way before it's even out. Death Stranding curiosity just petered out completely by the time it released, same with that Joker movie. I ain't sure when I'll ever try them, but the over-exposure just kills off any potential wonder after a while and the motivation dies off.

I'd go with saying nothing about the game at all until 3 to 4 months prior to when you intend to release, but not a release date until about 1 to 2 months. That way it's all but certain that you're actually going to release it, there's plenty of time to build up hype for the game and advertise it, and if for some reason you end up having to push it back for a few months you haven't disappointed the public because you haven't said when you're going to release it to begin with. Then, if for some reason you end up having to scrap the whole thing prior to the 3-4 month window since you never announced it to begin with the public doesn't know and thus you don't have to deal with the reputation blow the well justified consumer disappointment and rage over the cancellation of a game they've been anticipating for a long time would cause. You also wouldn't be forced to rush out some lazy half assed buggy game to conform to a deadline that's only in place because you decided to announce a release date long before you realistically could be anywhere near certain you were going to meet it. You also don't have to overwork your employees to meet that deadline.

Of course, this make sense, so it's never going to happen.

Squilookle:

SweetShark:
It is not about when you announce a game, but HOW you present the announcement.

For example, do you remember the trailer reveal of Devil May Cry 5? It is still one of the BEST trailers I ever saw!
Now take the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6. I don't give a single shot about this game like EVER!!!

For the benefit of those that don't remember- can you explain the difference between the two reveals?

I mean...for starters the DMC5 reveal was a three minute trailer, while ES6 was a 36 second teaser? The DMC5 trailer focused on action and tone, the ES6 teaser just panned over a landscape and gave a partial titledrop? They're pretty much night and day.

Squilookle:

SweetShark:
It is not about when you announce a game, but HOW you present the announcement.

For example, do you remember the trailer reveal of Devil May Cry 5? It is still one of the BEST trailers I ever saw!
Now take the announcement of Elder Scrolls 6. I don't give a single shot about this game like EVER!!!

For the benefit of those that don't remember- can you explain the difference between the two reveals?

DMC 5 reveal

ES6 reveal
image

 

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