The Last Guardian Has Been Delayed... Again.
When The Last Guardian was finally given a definitive release date at E3 in June, fans began to believe that there was light at the end of the tunnel. After nearly 10 years of development, it appeared that Team Ico's illusive title would finally see the light of day. That is until yesterday, when The Last Guardian was delayed - again.
According to a post by Shuhei Yoshida on the PlayStation Blog, "The Last Guardian will launch on December 6, 2016." Yoshida goes into more detail, writing the following:
"A delay is a difficult decision, particularly with this game, but we have encountered more bugs than anticipated while in the final stages of development. To ensure that The Last Guardian delivers on the experience that the game’s creators have envisioned, we need to take the extra time to work on those issues."
Those who have been waiting so long were, needless to say, a bit disappointed.
Though surprisingly, the community's reaction wasn't entirely one of anger.
A Game Stuck in "Development Hell"
For as long as I have been interested in gaming journalism and news, The Last Guardian has been on the verge of coming out. After the idolization of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus by PlayStation fans, Team Ico knew that fulfilling those fan expectations would mean crafting nothing short of a masterpiece for their next project. In 2007, the studio set out on a development journey that no one expected would be as long and painstaking as it has been. With its announcement at E3 2009 and an original release projected for 2011, The Last Guardian was certainly on course to fulfill the visions of those at Team Ico who were putting in countless passionate hours of work to craft a memorable experience for gamers.
As time went on, countless issues plagued the development process. The game as a whole was struggling to run on the PlayStation 3, so much to the point that outside help from Sony's other studios was brought in to try and remedy the situation (to little avail). In the midst of this, Fumito Ueda, creator of Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, and The Last Guardian itself, left Sony in 2011 to found genDESIGN. Instead of abandoning his former project, he and the team at genDESIGN chose to work towards finishing what they had started, teaming up with Sony to finish The Last Guardian.
By the time development had resumed, the PlayStation 4 was preparing for worldwide release. The team elected to rebuild the game for the PlayStation 4 rather than to release it on the PlayStation 3, a platform where it would never be able to reach it's full potential. Once the game was successfully rebuilt on the PlayStation 4 and presented to the public at E3 2015, fans were prepared for an imminent release of the game that blew audiences away six years prior. Over the course of the next year gamers soaked in that anticipation of the debut of the prodigal son, searching every nook and cranny of the internet to find the smallest detail about its release, graphics, or story. The excitement came to a head at this years' E3 conference with the announcement of an October release date that was later pinned down to October 25.
Though, like the boy who cried wolf, some fans were hesitant to trust any release date after so many let downs over the better part of the last decade - unfortunately, they were right. The delay to December 6 is not a significant delay by industry standards. However, with "more bugs than anticipated" this late in the development cycle, it is harder than ever to turn a blind eye and continue to have faith in the game. To delay in mid-September when the game is due out in late October means that this is more than the team wanting to put a few finishing touches on the project - it means rushing to fix crippling bugs that would create a launch disaster for a game that the industry as a whole has been waiting so long for.
Ready or Not, Here It Comes
Over the next few weeks, there is no doubt that the entire team will gather all of their resources and work hard to create the best experience possible for those waiting to get their hands on The Last Guardian. However, with a history of technical issues, structural issues with the development team, and a transition to an entirely different console, the quality of the final product is uncertain. By all means, continue to hope for the best. That being said, there has never been a better time for those anticipating The Last Guardian to temper their expectations - this could be a rough one.