The world is currently in the grips of a devastating pandemic that—along with killing tens of thousands of people—has upended and disrupted the economies of pretty much every industry in some way or another. We’ve seen countless event cancellations as lockdowns are initiated and the remainder of the year is left in question. Companies have also been forced into work-from-home scenarios, creating interruptions in development workflows and timelines. It’s also left supply chains severely impacted, which has created messy release scenarios for major games. We’ve seen the effects of it firsthand this past week with Final Fantasy VII Remake both releasing early and having delays in its physical shipments, which will spread its launch out from a single day to across more than two weeks. So will that culminate in a Ghost of Tsushima delay?
Yesterday, Sony and Naughty Dog announced a delay for The Last of Us Part II. They didn’t just kick it down the road a month or two. This is an indefinite delay, citing logistical issues with supply chain and release that would make a unified launch experience impossible. Naughty Dog is also working from home which is probably putting some strain on the final months of development, though Sony and Naughty Dog both claim that the game is basically finished and the delay has nothing to do with needing more time to work on it.
Then there’s arguably the thematic issue of The Last of Us Part II being set in a post-apocalyptic world, a dark and heavy story featuring a major pandemic. In a time of crisis, Sony may have thought the game a bit too heavy to release right now. It wouldn’t be the first time a piece of media was delayed in the interest of hitting a little too close to home on current events, even if Sony didn’t explicitly state that as a reason for the indefinite delay.
Along with this delay, Sony curiously announced a delay for Iron Man VR. This delay is also indefinite, with no release date or even window currently in sight. While Iron Man doesn’t face the same thematic issues, it’s a flagship title partnering with Marvel for a relatively niche Sony platform (PSVR), and perhaps Sony and Marvel didn’t think trying to push it in the middle of the current global crisis would exactly spell success for the game. It was arguably designed as a system seller—I mean, putting you in Iron Man’s suit is a pretty effective way of convincing people to buy a PSVR headset—and in the current state of the world, I imagine the overall demand or financial ability to buy an expensive console accessory like PSVR will be severely diminished.
Will There be a Ghost of Tsushima Delay?
Both Iron Man VR and The Last of Us Part II were scheduled for May, which currently leaves the month wide open for releases. But what about the following months? Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima recently got a release date of June 26. Originally this would have been a few months separated from The Last of Us Part II’s release before its other delay to May, but now with the pandemic pushing games back, will Ghost of Tsushima be delayed too?
Sony’s official stance is that there are no other delays to announce at this time. Ghost of Tsushima would have been the final big PS4 exclusive before the PS5 later this year, a sendoff for the current-gen console. But now? It’s likely the game would feasibly run into the same logistical issues as The Last of Us Part II, not to mention the disruption to development potentially causing issues with Sucker Punch even hitting the target date. As Sony shuffles release dates, how will the final months of the PS4 play out? Will The Last of Us Part II replace Ghost as the system’s swan song? Will they be pushed to sell PS5s as cross-gen games?
I’d argue that it’s almost a guarantee that Ghost of Tsushima will also be pushed, and I’ll go one further. I’d say it’s even possible that Marvel’s Avengers and Cyberpunk 2077, both scheduled to release in September, also see delays of some sort. At this point, the remainder of 2020 is so up in the air, I don’t think most developers or publishers quite have a handle on what’s going to happen in the next few months. If lockdowns are lifted and things begin to return to normal from the perspective of development and supply chain, there’s still the economic viability of releasing a game at a specific time to consider. Release dates are carefully chosen around that very thing, and with economic regularity thrown out of whack, it’s anybody’s guess how the industry will decide to respond.
The question as we get further out continues to be what we’ll see delayed and for how long. May is basically a wash at this point. I expect June to probably catch the tide as well. September is a pretty big question mark, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of other delays by then. What about the October/November season? Will Call of Duty still get revealed and then released on time for its yearly iteration? What about other fall games that companies have planned, or the holiday 2020 releases that are expected to pair with the release of next-gen consoles? Not to mention that we don’t even know if The Last of Us Part II will have been rescheduled for release yet. Indefinitely could mean it gets pushed all the way into next year, circumstances considering.
The biggest takeaway is that we simply don’t know. Sony probably wants to hit the targeted release dates just as bad as the fans want to get their hands on the game, but reality is a far crueler mistress. With Ghost of Tsushima less than three months out and the coronavirus pandemic showing few signs of slowing, we can probably expect it to be pushed out of its release date as well. As for anything after? Don’t be surprised if anything you are eagerly anticipating this year doesn’t make it out when it’s currently scheduled to.
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