"A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad." - Shigeru Miyamoto
This quote is what most often comes to mind when we hear about yet another delay for an anticipated game. Although most often directly quoted for Nintendo delays due to the origin of the quote, it has found application across all relevant games on any platform either in piece or whole. From the recently announced Final Fantasy XV delay to polish the experience, to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being delayed multiple times until confirmation of the NX release, recent examples of delays after establishing a release window or even a release date have not been uncommon. Recent examples include the likes of No Man's Sky, XCOM 2, Outlast 2, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Persona 5.
Often, a game delay leads to a positive result. We get a better functioning experience on day one rather than having to wait two months for the developer to develop a proper patch for issues anyways. Let me establish now that I think releasing a product that represents a complete and refined product is important. There is nothing worse than being excited about a new game only to end up with an Assassin's Creed: Unity. The problem lies in accountability.
At this point, I'm not sure if its publishers pushing to establish release dates and at least semi-specific release windows, or if it's developers completely overestimating how far along they are in the development cycle at any given time. Either way, it seems at least one party is feeling like they need to provide a release date of some kind, and it is hitting a point where we hear "delay" and think it's simply par for the course. Of course the game got delayed, we have come to collectively think. Development these days is complicated and unpredictable in problems that may appear all the way up to the point where the product would otherwise be considered finished.
This way of thinking is giving one hell of a pass to everybody involved with a given game's marketing though. Although it is likely publishers pushing and making these errors much of the time, even an almost completely self contained developer/publisher like Nintendo can't seem to avoid having to announce delays like with the aforementioned Zelda and the likes of Star Fox Zero. They build expectations, abuse gamer commitment, and then say "sorry, we were off by half a year or so". Let's not ignore how unprofessional this can be in cases where just announcing the release date was its own event, like with Final Fantasy XV.
Some delays are less terrible than others. XCOM 2, for example, is having only a three week delay, which is otherwise acceptable in terms of unexpected last minute bug squashing. Other delays make you wonder why the developer even bothered mentioning the game exists to begin with, like with Breath of Wild. Delaying a game so hard it makes it to the launch of a new console is almost an achievement in its own right.
Now, I'm not asking for the industry to completely change how it operates. All I'm asking is for publishers and even developers to take the level of accountability necessary to not commit to release dates or windows until they are confident they can either hit that window, or get so close to it the potential delay could hardly be considered one at all. As gamers, we need to stop rolling over and accepting the liquid movement of release dates and let industry leaders know that jerking around their customers like this is ridiculous.
Let me close out my thoughts with an augmentation to the quote at the beginning:
A rushed game may be forever bad. A game that goes through its full development cycle before release has the best chances of being good. A delayed game will continue to shake confidence and lead to disappointment being the common feeling leading up to a game's release.