Much Ado about Release Dates

October 8th, 2005 at 12:30 pm by The Missing Link

Goddess Rinoa already had an article about a similar topic, but I want to revisit this topic in a bit more depth. One of the fans of The Grand Adventures mailed me the other day with a question:

I know we’ve known about the delay for a long time and I know that there is nothing we can do about it[,] but won’t the delay of Twilight Princess hurt Nintendo rather than help them[?] I mean with the Xbox 360 coming out in November and the PS3 coming out next spring[,] won’t that draw the attention away from the previous generation games and consoles?

This question caused me to step back a bit because the “optimistic answer” wasn’t easy to defend at first blush. Of course, the fanboy in me wants to scream, “No way! Nintendo forever! Whooooooa yeah!” But that argument will only just agitate our lovely Microsoft and Sony diehards, and in the interest of keeping my mailbox free of nasty hate-letters, I decided that I should hold my tongue and come up with a slightly better explanation!

So let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. After the launch of the Sony Playstation, Nintendo and Square came out with Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, wildly acclaimed to be one of the best RPGs ever made, as well as Secret of Evermore and Super Mario World 2. After the launch of the PS2, Nintendo and Rare launched Banjo-Tooie for the N64. Some of these titles weren’t as big as the others, but all of them will have some mentioning in the history books someday. To be fair, though, we really should also look at games released slightly before the launch of the next console; let’s face it, you actually start having to crack open your piggy banks to see how much you have to save to foot the bill of a new console and game! (Almost always, that realisation causes severe heart attacks because of how much number comes out to, but I digress.) Here, you’ll find that Majora’s Mask launched fairly close to the PS2, but the gem of the whole argument is ChronoTrigger released within a month of the PS1. To date, it is my personal belief that ChronoTrigger is one of the only two games to single-handedly be better than every Zelda title ever made, and while some may disagree, everyone recognises the greatness that is ChronoTrigger. When you take a good look at the consoles themselves, it always seems that the lifetime of a console extends beyond the release of the next generation by a good half-year to a year. Sure, the console starts showing its grey hairs, but there have been amazing games to make their way out during a console’s dying days.

As far as the delays go themselves, Twilight Princess is easily not the record holder. Halo 2 (why must it always come back to Halo?) was originally promised to be on the shelves and ready to go by Christmas 2003; however, it did not launch until November 2004, eleven to twelve months after the date promised depending upon how you count it. This, ironically, created the website Red Vs. Blue. As much as I was upset over the initial delay of the game, Twilight Princess is only going to be delayed a “mere” seven or eight months, and a lot of games . This happens in a lot of games, though, and it’s no small wonder that there are jokes about what the term “scheduled release date” really means. But Halo 2 was a big deal; they did remarkably well despite the delay, so I really do think that Twilight Princess can overcome the initial hardships of the delay and become a modern classic.

Even from the hardware point of view, Nintendo isn’t in that big a trouble. The XBox 360 goes for US$300 or $400, depending upon which version you get (although only a fool would go for the XBox Light or whatever they call it). The PS3 is going to be “expensive”, and with the new hardware they’re floating with the console, my prediction is that it’s going to launch at $450. Those of us who are going for one of the new systems know that, no matter how you slice the dice, it will cost a pretty penny to be an early adopter. Now, colour me fanboy, but I honestly do think that the cost of these systems will make most gamers do a double-take when they’re launched. You’re still going to have some good games coming out for the *ahem* “older” consoles during this transition period, and I think gamers will keep buying the games while they wait for the “right moment” to buy a console. Not that no one will buy the consoles out of the gates, don’t get me wrong, but I think the current generation will stay alive for a little bit, at least until next June or July.

But what about sales? We haven’t talked sales yet at all; we’ve only talked popularity. Will it hurt the sales quotient on Nintendo’s end? Well, that’s a little more tricky to answer. Certainly it’s a possibility that it will have virtually no effect, especially if Twilight Princess is all that and a bag of potato chips, just like we were promised. But there are two hurdles that Twilight must surpass to reel in the sales, and they’re not easy to leap over.

  1. Final Fantasy XII: It is due to come out March 16 in Japan with an unknown release date in the US and Europe. Regardless of the dates, Twilight will be going head to head with this game, and I’ll admit, FFXII looks nice, very nice. Much of the how the sales go depends upon how close their release dates are. If Twilight immediately trails FFXII, that could sting them a little bit, especially if FFXII is a better game. Really it comes down to release dates first, and then if that comes down to a tie, game quality second. Realise that we’re just talking sales, not popularity.
  2. The lack of Gamecube sales: While the Cube very well could be in second place worldwide (I’ve seen numbers go either way), in North America and Europe, Nintendo ranks third among consoles. Twilight will be purchased primarily by people who already have Gamecubes, a much smaller market than any Sony or Microsoft title in the Western world. Sure, there will be people who buy a Gamecube just to play Twilight, but that number won’t be huge. The uphill struggle here is with existing popularity; Gamecube has a bad rep, and that’s going to be the highest hurdle to overcome.

So in short, I really don’t see the delays themselves as an obstacle other than the irony that it will be released somewhere around Final Fantasy XII. If anything keeps Twilight down, I reckon it isn’t going to be the delay that killed it.

Filed under Twilight Princess, Editorials, Nintendo

Follow This Entry | Read Other Posts by The Missing Link

20 Messages from the Gossip Stones about “Much Ado about Release Dates”


    Very eloquently put, TML - another thoroughly enjoyable read. I’d take Zelda over FF anyday of the week, but that’s just me ;)

    Very true. You have to make a distinction between the popularity and sales of a game.

    I’m one of those people who is going to buy a GameCube just to play Twilight. Of course I’m also going to buy Wind Waker while I’m at it =)

    I also have a feeling it will have to contend with Kingdom Hearts II, which is another wildly popular title comming some time next year. Not to mention any Suikoden Rapsodia fans (I know I’m one) and some other RPG’s comming out for the PS2 that pack potential. Of course, in terms of popularity it’s obvious that Zelda wins out, it’s just that many who don’t have a gamecube will also have to make this hard choice: get one of the games that are incredible and comming out for PS2, an easily accessible and better reputed system, or get TP for gamecube, which could be the biggest thing since sliced bread but is on a system that a majority of “hardcore” gamers hate. It’s too much of an uphill battle for me to think positively about the outcome, but I can always hope.

    I actually had forgotten all about Kingdom Hearts II. Whoops! However, I think that Final Fantasy XII will still be the bigger obstacle, if only because Final Fantasy is more world-reknowned… not to mention have been duking it out for dominance for years now!

    • 6. JC says:

    Heh. No one should say anything about release dates. Ever. What if the Xbox 360 came out and bombed horribly? That wouldn’t affect Nintendo fans or the company’s games that are coming out. It’s the downfall on Microsoft’s part, no one elses.

    Its pretty much the same for the PS3 (though, expensive it will be, it will sell.). But, then again, it won’t hurt a game. PS3 is Sony’s realm, and its a console. You can’t compare consoles to games. Consoles ALWAYS sell better than games because not everyone needs every game for every console. It’s absurd.

    Then again, when its games vs games, its a whole different beast. An earlier release date might make the other game suffer. Who knows. All depends on everything itself.

    I think that with the Revolution supposedly being released a few months after TP, we don’t have much to worry about. Seeing as how the Rev is backwards compatible, TP’s sales will probably go up at launch. That’s my speculation, anyway.

    Mongooseman makes alot of sense. I do think TP sales will go up more because of the rev. But what if its like “buy the Rev. then buy TP if you have the extra buck”…?

    Well, well I am buying both no matter what. :)

    Yeah, KHII is a force to be reckoned with…

    But, yeah, I dont think TP will suffer any serious problems. Not if Nintendo is gonna give us all we’v been promised.

    ah my 1st post as a gossip stone! i’m very excited to be here, im a fan of TGA way back. back in the days of link masakai, but anyway this is a pretty interesting subject. Sure it might have taken some of the attention away from from the Xbox, but it wouldn’t realy matter as microsoft is bloody rich. I would rather have the game better polished than have microsoft lose a little sales out of the gate.

    I guess Nintendo probably figured that if TP really lives up to the expectations as being the best Zelda game ever, that people will buy it no matter how late it launches. Like Mongooseman said, people who don’t have a GameCube can always pick up a Revolution to play Zelda.

    If Zelda was release this holiday season as planned, and it was only a good game, but not the great game that Nintendo (and everyone else) wants it to be, then it’s quite possible that that would end up hurting sales more than this delayed release ever could.

    I was one of those people who bought a Gamecube instead of a PS2 (I got a PS2 later) just so I could play Wind Waker. When I found out Twilight Princess was coming out next spring, I was in deep agony. I’m just impatient, really.
    (And Kingdom Hearts 2 is coming out in December, last I heard. WOO! I can’t wait!)

    • 13. jrz says:

    the new date is good for gameplay and graphics it is higher graphics than ps3’s zelda has high expectations for all gamers but we must concentrate on the plot will it be vatti or ganondorf or maybe a revalutionary war between realms who will it be a one shot foe like majora wait madora majora see a pattern items and people that are only in one game what if ganondorf found majoras mask thats a 1/856912 chance will there be a master sword chances 1/3 what will the bosses look like will there be the seven sages be there what will the bosses look like why does know-one think of the story-line why I ask you

    This isn’t a topic about the storyline, however. Not that it’s not important, don’t get me wrong; we’ll be talking about the storyline in a later topic, but don’t mix up the issues here. This is about sales amd release dates, not storyline.

    I think that it is werid that you think that the new date will make th egame worse personaly i think it will make it sell much more better and more people may get it hey id rather have in a bigger game and wait till spring then killing myself for beating it in a weak

    • 16. Mike says:

    I think the release date for TP would be a good idea, even though Nintendo doesn’t have a really big game coming out close to the 360 release, besides Mario Kart DS, Animal Crossing: Wild World, and Shadow the Hedgehog, Nintendo doesn’t have any big titles, which in a way could put Nintendo down the drain, I’m not being mean about it, but I’m kinda sad that the Revolution is coming out by summer next year. That’s all I got to say.


    PS: Visit Nintendo’s Castle Forums and join the community!

    I want it NOOOWW! WAAAAA!!!! Oh well (*_-) What can we do but play the new Fable coming out this fall. (please don’t shun me for playing other games)

    • 18. jrz says:

    i wonder if they will give a jam pack to whoever preorderd it

    yes I agree with you all Nintendo can drive us crazy with release dates, BUT I would rather wait for a truly GREAT game then get a rushed lame game.

    • 20. jrz says:

    i want a demo disk