Is the 2021 holiday season going to be the year of highly polished AAA titles?

Mar 9, 2020
125
572
1,470
With the pandemic canceling last years major game news conventions we didn't see as many titles/release dates get announced. Some publishers may of taken the opportunity to delay announcements and allow developers more time to work on nearly finished games that they postponed.

Now E3 is almost upon us and I'm wondering if holiday 2021/ early 2022 will feature some of the most polished AAA games we've seen in a while. What do you think?
 
I'm wondering if holiday 2021/ early 2022 will feature some of the most polished AAA games we've seen in a while
I doubt it. The driving force behind the publicly listed AAA companies hasn't changed—ie driving maximum shareholder value. So CEO & C-levels are driven by that, since if they're not, they get fired.

That means revenue & profit asap, which means sales and minimizing costs. So we'll get releases, the Q being what kind of shape they're in.

I haven't see anything about how production people—those who make the games—have been working this year and last. Have they all been furloughed or working from home or in the studio? I doubt their co-ordination has improved since 2018-19.

So with hundreds working on a game for years, what's fallen thru the cracks recently? How has the integration of different studios working on the same game been affected? I can't see it being better than before, and expect it to be worse.

Far Cry 6 releasing October 7th will be interesting. Ubisoft will have been working on it for 5 years by then with presumably multiple studios involved—eg 5 Ubisoft studios worked on FC5. Far Cry games have generally released in good shape, so FC6 should indicate what to expect from holiday season releases.

I would guess that a title with a lot of pre-orders will be released regardless of what shape it's in—no CEO can let such captive revenue wait in the wings. Games with low pre-orders will have to weigh the pros & cons of some immediate revenue v killing later sales.

Capitalism is all about the current & next quarter tho, so I'm not optimistic that many decisions will be taken where gamers' interests are a factor.
 
I hope so! I'm looking forwards to Dying Light 2 especially as well as Deathloop. Not sure if anything else big is coming up that's been delayed though? At least nothing I'm excited enough about to remember.

Dying Light 2 has been cooking for a while. The parkour traversal combined with the combat in that game was the highlight. I just hope its more of that and less of The Following, I didnt have as much fun in a buggy.
 
Last edited:
Mar 9, 2020
125
572
1,470
I doubt it. The driving force behind the publicly listed AAA companies hasn't changed—ie driving maximum shareholder value. So CEO & C-levels are driven by that, since if they're not, they get fired.

That means revenue & profit asap, which means sales and minimizing costs. So we'll get releases, the Q being what kind of shape they're in.

I should expand my reasoning here a bit I suppose.

If revenue and profit are the driving factor for releasing a game, and the 2020 holiday was the target pre covid, then some companies may of seen consumers and the market becoming financially unstable as a reason to delay.

Gaming sales for triple A titles is largely a "flavor of the month" where publishers want to see the biggest numbers on day one purchases that they can get. Of course, they'll still ride out the tail but Activision share holders really like it when the latest COD breaks day one sales records (as they've done multiple times). Basically, the smaller the buy in, the less total sales they expect as newer releases take over the headlines.

Now, I don't know if it's actually true that some unannounced games from last year were delayed internally for this reason, since companies are fairly opaque about release schedules in the first place, but if it's the case that we did miss some titles last holiday season, then last quarter 2021 could be a very good year for triple A games.

Unfortunately, unless developers come out and outright say they got extra time to develop because of a pushed back target date

So with hundreds working on a game for years, what's fallen thru the cracks recently? How has the integration of different studios working on the same game been affected? I can't see it being better than before, and expect it to be worse.

Oh, definitely not better, but more time is more time. Stuff like bug squashing and UI design is more what I was considering when I said "more polished".

I would guess that a title with a lot of pre-orders will be released regardless of what shape it's in—no CEO can let such captive revenue wait in the wings.

Punching me in the 2077 feels here.
 
publishers want to see the biggest numbers on day one purchases that they can get
Yes. Max Day 1 is the goal, because that results in better placement by the algos in prime spots like home page, top sellers etc. Like movie opening weekends in a way.

more time is more time
Cyberpunk was announced 9 years ago. More time is only useful if time is a main constraint, but often it's something else. I would expect that when a game was 'finished', the more time was deployed to developing DLC or a new game rather than polishing.

Stuff like bug squashing and UI design
UI will only get extra work if someone upstairs says "Hey our UI sucks".
There's only so much debugging can be done in-house—test maybe a few thousand of the most common PC configs. It's when the game gets out in the wild among the trillions of possible hardware, software, and versions that all the unknowns become known.
developers … got extra time to develop because of a pushed back target date
As I said above, it's very unlikely such time would have been spent on the delayed game—almost definitely deployed to new revenue-generating work.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Pifanjr

Latest posts