Remember when Eiji Aonuma revealed that he finished The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom 20 times? Be prepared for something even more surprising.
As Aonuma confirmed in an interview with the Washington Post, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom was actually supposed to release last year. As he put it, Nintendo made the decision to officially delay the game on March 2022 ““to make sure that everything in the game was 100 percent to our standards.”
That kind of statement is surely going to resonate with gamers getting disappointed with launches nowadays. From the start of the year, the biggest game releases, such as Dead Space Remake, where not coming out in a shape that should be considered acceptable in terms of performance.
Of course, the bigger and more obvious comparison to be made here is with Redfall. As we all know by now, Redfall launched with a panoply of performance issues, on all the platforms that it released on. However, as reviewers pointed out, even without the performance issues Redfall was quite problematic on the fundamental level of its game design.
Since that release, we have also learned the unlikely truth that Microsoft Game Studios did not meddle too much or force Arkane Austin to make Redfall. Instead, this was Arkane Austin’s baby entirely, and Microsoft’s mistake was allowing Bethesda and Arkane freedom to make what they wanted unsupervised.
We know some Xbox fans won’t like this comparison, but it clearly begs to be made. Microsoft knew that their reputation was riding on Redfall. They had promoted it as a major release for their own platforms. Nintendo did this very same thing with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. They were subsequently very mindful of the need to meet fan expectations.
Game development is surely a painful, difficult endeavor for those who are in the middle of it. Nintendo had to dig in deep to make the changes to The Legend of Zelda series that led them to the top of the sales and awards charts, after years of murmurs that the franchise was growing irrelevant.
Redfall was an entirely new IP, but Arkane Austin had a reputation to uphold for themselves. The Dishonored games did not put Arkane on an existential crisis as Nintendo was in, but they wanted to take risks, that perhaps should have been cut when it was clear it wasn’t going to work out.
While we don’t rule out the possibility that Redfall could run that unlikely comeback the likes of Cyberpunk 2077 pulled off, clearly it’s much better for game companies to not put themselves in that position to begin with.
Nowadays, it seems that entails delaying your biggest releases for as much as a year, to get things exactly right.