We’re only a few weeks into 2009, and already we’ve seen what is likely the first of many games shoved from their comfortable 2009 release dates into the uncertain depths of 2010. Scarcely six months after confirming Final Fantasy XIII as a multi-platform release, Square Enix announced that its flagship role-playing epic wouldn’t appear until at least next year. Which, if you think about it, shouldn’t really have come as a surprise to anyone; FFXIII is slated to be a huge game, and so far all we’ve seen is a few pretty cutscenes and screenshots, none of which feature actual gameplay.
Above: Sad as it is, we won’t be playing this in 2009
In these dark days of overambitious projects and economic uncertainty, it’s a no-brainer that FFXIII is only the beginning, and 2009 is going to be plagued with more delays, disappointments and even cancellations. In order to help you (and us) prepare, we’ve looked over the upcoming crop of top-tier titles and done our best to predict – using a complicated mixture of research, past experience and gut instinct – which ones are most likely to bide their time until next year.
First announced: December 2006
Since then, we’ve seen: Sharp-looking screenshots, trailers and a pretty-but-dull demo that was sold as a commercial product.
Why it’ll be delayed: Gran Turismo 5 (the real game, not the $40 tech demo that was Gran Turismo 5: Prologue) has long headlined the wishlists of millions of PS3 owners. For whatever reason, though, there haven’t been many firm announcements about it, except for a few vague promises that it’ll be ready sometime late this year. Meanwhile, developer Polyphony Digital seems to have been more focused on (or at least more talkative about) expanding GT5: Prologue than on actually getting GT5 out the door.
Granted, GT5 could still make a huge splash at this year’s E3 and be out in time for winter. But it seems almost as likely that Sony will throw up its hands and simply declare Prologue to be the “real” GT5, releasing a few premium add-ons to turn it into a finished game. Whatever the case, we put about as much stock in GT5 hitting this year as we do in the franchise finally appearing on PSP.
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): Polyphony could suddenly and inexplicably forget that Gran Turismo 5: Prologue exists, and commit all its energies to turning out the most realistic driving sim it’s ever made - crash damage and all - in time for the holidays. And then, within weeks, the PSP version could finally arrive, bringing with it all sorts of cross-platform functionality. And then you could get a pony and a million dollars, just in time to celebrate all your dead pets and relatives coming back to life.
Hey, it could happen. Just sayin’.
First announced: June 2008
Since then, we’ve seen: A large assortment of screenshots and videos showing a remarkably polished-looking game.
Why it’ll be delayed: Blizzard has a long history of releasing fantastic games, usually several months to several years after they were supposed to be released. Granted, the company’s foot-dragging has produced some of the most stellar PC games ever created, but that doesn’t make the long waits any easier to endure. It also doesn’t make us terribly optimistic that we’ll see Diablo III – announced just last year and probably slated to be a ridiculously huge, detailed adventure – anytime in the near future.
There’s also the fact that, since the advent of World of WarCraft, Blizzard has almost completely abandoned its other franchises. Not that we blame them; if we had a license to print money, we’d probably be just as reluctant to work on anything else. But that focus might also mean that resources could be diverted away from huge, time-intensive projects like Diablo III and StarCraft II in order to feed the massive, bill-paying cash cow. After all, Blizzard fans are used to waiting, right? It’s not like this could turn into another StarCraft: Ghost, or anything…
Best-case scenario (if we’re wrong): Having (potentially) expanded its development teams with all that endless World of WarCraft lucre, Blizzard will defy expectations and have Diablo III – or at least a demo of same – ready for consumption alongside the release of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.