It's always bad news when you have to write "has been delayed again," but that's what many have been doing all morning with the news that, for a second time, Ubisoft's upcoming South Park: The Fractured But Whole has been delayed.
Delayed until when is a good question, as Ubisoft said, during its quarterly earnings report, that the South Park: The Stick of Truth sequel would be delayed until their next fiscal year, which means anytime between April 2017 to March 2018. They did not give further specifics.
It's hard to believe that many are more excited for The Fractured But Whole than I, being a huge fan of Trey Parker's and Matt Stone's satirical cartoon, and this just underscores how incomprehensible this second delay is. Games get delayed fairly often, but usually not under these circumstances (not being a graphically intense game, not releasing in between console generations), and a second delay is even more head scratching.
But more than just my personal expectations, this delay will carry with it a dark cloud of skepticism that will follow The Fractured But Whole to its eventual launch date. It's not secret that people review delayed games differently, because everyone who plays the game, reviewer or not, will be asking themselves why the game was delayed. Sometimes, the answer is obvious.
Take Batman: Arkham Knight, for example, which suffered an 8-month delay only to debut with a PC version that required a phrase even more extreme than "literally unplayable." Sure, one can take the mantra of "a delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad," (Thank you Miyamoto), but gamers know that there is always a reason for a delay, and we've been told the "everything is OK" lie one too many times to believe it without skepticism.
The simple truth is that South Park: The Fractured But Whole is now the "twice-delayed" South Park: The Fractured But Whole. You don't lose that title. And now I'm even questioning the change in developers from Obsidian Entertainment to Ubisoft San Francisco, a thought that never really occurred to me.
Now, I'm not ruling out the success of, or even really betting against The Fractured But Whole. Many games have been delayed only to release without a hitch, and I had enough fun with The Stick of Truth to make this game a must-buy for me when it eventually releases. But now that confidence has been shaken, and I'm not longer sure that I will get my money's worth.