The Bleak Midwinter: Big Games Slip To 2010

You'll have to wait to beat that child with a pistol, sir.

It’s going to be a quieter Christmas than we were expecting. A bundle of big-name games have announced in the last few days that they’ll no longer be bulging Santa’s sack, but instead offering themselves in the colder months of 2010. This year your Christmas tree will not be towering over 2K games BioShock 2, Mafia II, nor Max Payne 3. Indeed they’re not alone. A smattering of console-only titles have also slipped, as well as Activision’s Singularity. What’s a jolly-bellied man to do this holiday season? Deliver Modern Warfare 2 an awful lot, it seems.

It’s with perhaps some slightly poor timing that I received a parcel of viral BioShock 2 bumph. But it’s a nice collection of well-rendered children’s drawings of Big Daddies with weapons dripping in blood, along with a letter from one Mark G. Meltzer in New York appealing for my help to find his missing daughter. Mr Meltzer, racked with grief, invested his efforts into building a ludicrously elaborate flash teaser site, as so many panicked parents will. He saw fit to include a hand-scrawled note linking me there. They’ve filled it with clues and teases and puzzles and so on, although the hype it’s intended to build will have to stretch a little further than perhaps planned.

Take Two issued one of those frightening financial updates, explaining within,

“The decision to shift a release date is never an easy one, especially with a product as highly anticipated as BioShock 2. We felt that it was essential to invest the additional time to ensure that this title will deliver what its fans expect and deserve. As a result, we will now be launching sequels to several of our strongest franchises – including BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption – during the next fiscal year. These titles will anchor our lineup for fiscal 2010, and along with other products planned for next year, provide a platform for enhanced financial performance in what we hope will be an improved retail environment.”

(I also like the bit where they explain there will be a $0.12 expense per share due to “unusual legal matters”. I imagine them being sued by a shark, or taken to court for wearing too many socks.)

It really does look like a stunning 2010 line-up for 2K, and it can be welcome news when a game’s being delayed to make sure it’s good enough. It’s welcomier when it’s finished on time, of course, but better to get the best game possible a few months late. Although you’re going to have to start thinking of new things to put on your Christmas list or – hell – if you only wanted those games take the opportunity to just be naughty. What’s Father Christmas going to do?

The other recent slippage announcement is Singularity – Raven’s first “new IP” – which looks to be a Lost-inspired first-person shooter, meddling with time and physics. It’s also being held back to 2010 by Activision, although for a different reason. They don’t want to hinder their own sales by launching it against the all-conquering goliath that Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will inevitably be.

Speaking to IGN, an Activision spokesperson said,

“The level of excitement for Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 coming out of E3 well exceeded our expectations and therefore we have decided to move Raven’s upcoming sci-fi first person action title, Singularity, from 2009 to Q1 2010, said the spokesperson. We believe that the March quarter will provide a better opportunity to establish the new cutting-edge action IP as a must-have title and clears the way for Modern Warfare 2 to dominate this holiday season.”

This of course gives Raven a few more months to polish the game, and they’ve still got Wolfenstein coming out next month. But it means Christmas is a quieter period this year. Of course there will still be two million squillion games competing for your cash. In fact, it seems to work out rather well, giving you a chance to spread out your purchases across the year… It’s almost as if that would make sense as a release model for all publishers! I can dream.


  1. Feintlocke says:

    @Dominic White: Oh my, that game/video looks ridiculously good. Ambitious as hell too. What were they calling it? An MMO-Action-RTS? Sounds too much to be true.

    From what the little that I have gleamed (plus a little speculation) it sounds like an overworld map that somehow sets up 1v1 to 3v3 matches against the opposing factions. You then fight as a single hero (a la Dynasty Warriors) while somehow also directing your army. You then level up your hero and recruit for your army as the game persists.

    I’ll be watching this one closely.

  2. Feintlocke says:

    “From what the little that I have gleamed…” I have an incredible knack for deleting sentences (in part) and rewriting them without checking that the old and new parts combined make sense. Think I’ve shown that a good few times already on this site. Edit button come back! ;_(

  3. DSX says:

    As a PC only gamer, “Halo” is an adjective.. that’s all I can say politely.

    It’s really nice to see a major studio has the wherewithal to push back dates and deliver better quality then give in to whatever marketing or competition has driven so many other titles to release really crappy code just to make a date. *cough ARMA*

  4. malkav11 says:

    If you really want to know what Kingdom Under Fire works like, the new one’s a followup to two on the original Xbox. They’re quite neat. (And -those- are followups to a rather lackluster PC game that contains both RTS and RPG modes but doesn’t really do anything to mix them and isn’t much good at either.)

  5. Dominic White says:

    Yeah, the KuF series has a weird history. It started out as a weak PC RTS by a small Korean studio, and then seemingly dissapeared into nothingness.

    A few years later, it re-surfaced as KuF: The Crusaders an Xbox game that kinda played like a hybrid of Dynasty Warriors, the battles from the Total War series, and with more than a dash of Warhammer Fantasy in terms of theme. It was good. It was also ungodly hard, as you often had to micromanage your own personal melee (you only directly control your main character), as well as odering around 5-6 regiments of troops at once.

    It also had the funniest, weirdest bit of censorship ever, if anyone wants to hear it.

    It then surfaced again a year later as a straight update/prequel – KuF: Heroes. Even harder, more units, better graphics, etc. All good stuff.

    A couple of years pass, and they apparently begin work on a new KuF, but in the meantime, they (I think a third-party studio were involved in some major way) produce a spinoff to keep the money coming in on the 360. KuF: Circle of Doom is born, and while it got bad reviews in general, it was a fun enough Diablo-esque (tons o’ loot, random maps, etc) dungeon crawl with friends.

    KuF2 has been in the works for ages though, and I notice one of the screenshots shows you controlling no less than 12 regiments. That’s gonna be complicated if you’re also running around as your general as well.

  6. CdrJameson says:

    It says ‘Fiscal year 2010’, not ‘2010’.

    Fiscal year 2010 starts on 1st November 2009 for Take Two, still well in time for Christmas if they want that. They might just be ‘massaging’ the games into next years financials by releasing them a week later.

  7. Geoff says:

    Wow, I actually agree with Dracko here. Halo attracted so much mainstream gushing, especially from unlikeable 13-year-old console fanboys, that it’s cool to hate – doubly so if you’re a PC Games Only zealot.

    But in addition to their generally admirable level of polish, Bungie put a lot of innovative stuff in there, almost all of it positive, and much of it has since been appropriated by other games going forward. I’m currently playing Far Cry 2, and I have to admit that both the weapon system and the vehicle feel very Halo-esque. If your take was “meh, nothing to write home about”, then you weren’t paying any attention to the game design.

  8. Dominic White says:

    Likewise, I’m one of those people who think the Halo series really did a lot right. I also liked Far Cry 2 a lot, which has actually gotten me accused of being a Ubisoft developer…

    Such an odd insult.

  9. Dracko says:

    There’s also something very satisfyingly arcadey about the Halo games which put it more in line with classics like DooM and Quake in my mind over the likes of Half-Life or Modern Warfare. I think it’s on account of a clear focus towards constant conflict, and a lack of puzzles and such.

    So yeah, I think the backlash is solely on account of its popularity even towards tweens (As if Valve’s or Infinity Ward’s games were spared).

    I didn’t really want to bring it up in the free-roam article above, but even as a PC-only site; I think ODST should be worth keeping an eye on to see how it handles its sandbox exploration.

  10. Baris says:

    @Dracko: ! I’ve been trying to figure out why I love the Halo games so much for years (I’m an elitist prick, you see). I think you may have just figured it out for me.

  11. Spectre-7 says:

    The other recent slippage announcement is Singularity – Raven’s first “new IP”

    Wait, wait… What? Did I just slip into an alternate universe where Heretic/Hexen never happened? Gah! I hate when that happens…

  12. Susan says:

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.