The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Release date: November 11, 2011
Why it should have been delayed: Skyrim isn’t on this list for the same reason the other games are. While titles like Battlefield and Goldeneye came out against strong competition in their genres, Skyrim is arguably in a class of its own. But as much as we've loved our time in the game (and gave it a 10/10 in our review), and for as many hours as we plan on putting into it over the next few years, we really wish we didn’t need to qualify every praise with “Sure, it’s buggy, but…”
Let’s face it: many elements of the game were simply unfinished. We’ve covered the debacle over the PlayStation 3 version’s issues ad nauseam, but both the PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game were buggy and glitchy as well. For the most par,t the flaws are harmless – NPCs disappearing, physics glitching out, or dragons flying backwards – but they’re still flaws, and when they're accompanied by the occasional crash or reports of bugs that make the game unplayable for some, they become a lot harder to ignore. While there’s no way Bethesda could have completely eradicated all bugs and glitches from the absurdly massive game, it still would have benefited from a few more months of polish.
Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Why it should have been delayed: War in the North didn’t have any big problems (we gave it a 7/10 in our review), just a bunch of small problems that kept it back from being an exceptional game. But even if it had been exceptional, it likely would have been ignored just as readily due to its early November release date – a date that put it right in the center of the year’s biggest releases. Sure, it's not necessarily competing with Call of Duty, but throwing a fantasy game out a few weeks before Skyrim? That's just not right. It’s a cooperative game that’s best played with friends, and if getting three people together is hard when there aren’t many new releases to distract them, getting them together in the middle of the holiday season is even harder.
But there’s another reason War in the North should have been delayed not by a month, but by a year: The Hobbit. Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of the Lord of the Rings prequel is coming out in December of 2012, and releasing a good Lord of the Rings game (even though it would take place many years later) could have led to some great cross-promotion opportunities, as well as plot tie-ins that otherwise were completely ignored.
Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Release date: November 1, 2011
Why it should have been delayed: Well, did you even know it came out? This HD remake of the Wii remake wasn’t bad at all (we scored it a 6/10 in our review), and might have been a good game to play in the earlier parts of 2012, once we’d finished up our backlogs of games from 2011. Instead, Activision released it a few days after Battlefield 3, and a few weeks before Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – which it also published. Usually, publishers do their best to avoid direct competition with games that are guaranteed to sell over 10 million copies, but Activision just sent Bond out to die a lonely death.
There may have been a strategic reason to release it in time for the holiday season – maybe Activision saw this as its chance to get a Teen-rated FPS on shelves for households that weren’t picking up the mature shooters – but we doubt that made much of an impact. Instead, we got a game that was dead on arrival, with servers that were all but barren only weeks after launch as gamers went back to Battlefield or began buying Call of Duty.