With Animal Crossing: New Horizon coming out next year, I just wanted to talk a little bit about why delaying the release date is actually a good thing for both Nintendo and us, the hardcore fans.
Nintendo’s E3 presentation was, in this writer’s opinion, bloomin’ wonderful. In addition to the announcement of BOTW 2 and more Luigi’s Mansion footage, we got the most wholesome trailer for New Horizons. However, all good things come at a price- and at the end of the trailer we were shown that the release date had been pushed back to March 20, 2020 instead of the 2019 release date we’d been told originally.
The trailer was then directly followed by a heartfelt apology for the delay from Nintendo’s Yoshiaki Koizumi, the Deputy General Manager of the company’s Entertainment Planning & Development division. He stated that New Horizons had been pushed back “to ensure that the game is the best it can be”.
It’s since come out that Nintendo, along with other companies in the industry, are taking a stand against the burnout of staff, often known as ‘the crunch’. Game developers are raising awareness that increased pressure on staff to produce, develop and release games in small, pressured time-frames to appease fans is severely impacting the work-life balance of employees.
One of the most famous quotes from Nintendo over the years is one attributed to Shigeru Miyamoto: “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.” Nintendo has never been one to shy away from delaying games to ensure their quality; indeed, in 2018 they announced the delayed development of Metroid Prime 4. Games in the world-famous Legend of Zelda series are renowned for being late.
“A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”
However, unlike Metroid Prime 4 that was delayed to due to a complete developmental reset to ensure the game would meet fans’ expectations, the latest mainline Animal Crossing game seems to be pushed back due to Nintendo’s fight against the burnout of staff.
When IGN’s Tina Amini interviewed the President of Nintendo America, Doug Bowser, at E3, he told her that “The crunch point is an interesting one,” and went on to say that “For us, one of our key tenets is that we bring smiles to people’s faces, and we talk about that all the time. It’s our vision. Or our mission, I should say. For us, that applies to our own employees. We need to make sure that our employees have good work-life balance.”
“One of those examples is, we will not bring a game to market before it’s ready. We just talked about one example [referencing the Animal Crossing delay]. It’s really important that we have that balance in our world. It’s actually something we’re proud of.”
In an interview by Waypoint with Reggie Fils-Aimé, the former President and CEO of Nintendo of America, Reggie described how Nintendo of America uses extra employees to reduce the total work hours for staff. “We flex through the use of contract employees. We flex in the way we work with our agency partners. Our mentality is we’re going to flex by adding headcount as appropriate to help us get over a crunch. That’s the way we approach it.”
He then goes on to elaborate “so we’re not asking people to go for a couple days without sleep. We’re not asking people to ignore their family and friends and their social life. We’re not asking people to do things that are unhealthy. That is not our approach.”
So whatever the reason for the delay, we as fans should be grateful that the next instalment in our beloved series is on the way, albeit just a couple of months later than we were expecting. We should be supporting Nintendo’s decision to push back big titles like Animal Crossing and Metroid Prime 4, because surely if they released the game prematurely before it was completely polished just to please fans wanting a release date that’s sooner rather than later, we could end up with games that are below our expectations.
No game, no matter how highly-anticipated it is, is worth the burnout of the employees who put their heart and soul into creating the games that we love. Giving Animal Crossing: New Horizons a couple of extra months in development will mean that it won’t be rushed or have features cut due to the approaching deadline- Nintendo can take all that extra time it needs to finish the game, giving us the quality content we’ve come to expect from Nintendo without it coming at the price of exhausted staff.
We’ve waited six years for the next mainline Animal Crossing game… we can wait till March 2020 if it means that the game will be amazing, and also Nintendo’s staff actually get a good quality of life, as without them we wouldn’t have our favourite games in the first place.
Until next time,