It’s become too much of the norm in the current video game climate. You pop a disc into your machine or you get your download prepped on the cusp of 99.9% waiting for the minute hand to tick over to midnight so you can let loose months or sometimes even years of anticipation and excitement only to be stonewalled by a Day One Update/Patch that’s multiple gigabytes in size. In this article, we’ll share how the industry can learn from Metroid prime 4 development to improve their products.
And just like that, your jubilation plummets back down to Earth. All that pent-up kid-on-Christmas-morning energy dissipates and you’re left staring at a slowly moving progress bar and listening to the subtle hum of your hard drive transmute each individual pixel and byte.
Accepting the State: Learn from Metroid Development
It’s old hat now as the announcement was made a couple of years back, but that’s almost made the fact that less studios have adopted the same tactic even stranger.
For those that missed it, a lot of Nintendo fans (myself included) were awaiting any kind of news about Samus Aran’s next FPS adventure since the very limited announcement in 2017. This finally arrived in 2019 but it wasn’t the news anyone was hoping for.
Shinya Takahashi, Nintendo’s Senior Managing Executive Officer, appeared on screen and gave a very frank and honest speech about the game not being up to scratch and not anywhere near the quality they wanted to deliver to their fans. Within that same statement, Takahashi revealed that Metroid Prime 4’s development and restarted from the very beginning, with series veterans Retro Studios now manning the helm.
Expectations to Learn from Metroid Development
While this brought a lot of initial disappointment from fans all over the world, this quickly subsided and the positives of the situation began to expose themselves like a beam of sunshine piercing through the clouds after a raging storm.
The fact that Nintendo had the guts to cut their losses and start over from the very beginning rather than grin and bear the consequences of releasing a game that both critics and fans wouldn’t be happy with shows that they take shoulder the weight their brand’s name holds with a staunch seriousness.
Sure, you can fix a game with a D1 Patch, but that’s the digital equivalent of admitting that the developer failed to manage time, expectations, or both.
Video games have paid for this dearly both before and after. Why this method of approach for dealing with hiccups in the development of big releases by others. Especially after Nintendo was both the first ones to do such a PR move and was with a value for their honesty, is baffling to me.
Don’t Get Cyberpunk’d
This reluctance to extend launch dates/windows and not put games back in the oven. Until they’re ready was the most recently with Cyberpunk 2077. Where CD Projekt Red’s stellar previous work on The Witcher series and their track record of having good business practices. Couldn’t save them from the wrath. So, ire of fans who objectively game in some regards and a product not like what they were. So, a good thing to learn from Metroid development.
I don’t want to throw accusations around at the good men and women at CDPR. So, we imagine that they worked their butts off to put out the best possible product. In the timeframe available to them. I also imagine that they were under pressure from not only themselves. To get the game out before the big holiday window. But were present on exponentially by Sony and Microsoft. In order to push people to buy the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game.
This essentially meant CDPR was designing 5 versions of the game. Two for old-gen consoles, two for new-gen, and one for PC. So it’s no surprise a game on new hardware. Up against time constraints, in the open-world genre, a genre notorious for harboring bugs on the best of days. So, turned out the way it did.
It would be better for everyone if they come clean like Metroid development. Dealt with the initial backlash of fans wishing the game was ready sooner. But would have had their reputation intact and a much, much happier player base.
I’m not ignorant to the fact they would have had board members and executives to answer to. But Nintendo would have been in the same situation.
A Bad Game is Bad Forever
Even if games do get a fix in a relatively short amount of time after their release. They continue to carry the stigma of their botched debut long after it passes. There are few exceptions where GTA V first PC release was questionable. But a very quick release for GTA V accounts came up fast and exceeded everyone’s expectations.
My wish is simply this: if your game isn’t ready yet, don’t release it. For everyone’s sake.
As the great Shigeru Miyamoto once said “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is bad forever”.