It was several days ago that Rockstar gave all us rabid GTA fans a nightstick to the gut when they announced the delay of Grand Theft Auto V from late spring/early summer to September 17. This is, of course, nothing new in the videogame world. More than any other form of media, videogames are prone to delays for numerous reasons.
Bug testing/quality assurance is a common one. Games are vast jumbles of code, and that code doesn’t simply write itself (in fact, we’re still waiting on someone to write some killer code that will write its own code!). What’s more, you also need to make sure everything is structured and performs as one would expect. Bug testing often uncovers hundreds of little errors or inconsistencies that require fixing, then the whole process has to take place again to ensure those fixes haven’t interfered with something else.
In other cases, developers are simply over-ambitious in determining the time, manpower, and resources it will take to see their creation brought to fruition. All it takes is a delay in one department to hold up work in other departments, potentially bringing the whole thing to a grinding, screeching halt.
Then there are developers who are simply not satisfied with their work and want to add more and more gaming goodness to their magnum opus (kick-ass game). This is a challenge every good developer faces, as it’s a rare occurrence that a company is ever completely satisfied with what they’ve wrought. There is always more that can be done; more content, more refinement, more secrets, more anything and everything!
In GTA V’s case, it’s probably safe to assume that the delay is due to a little (or a lot) of all three. Of the three however, the latter is the most likely cause of the extended development time. And while that’s certainly noble, it raises the question of GTA V is perhaps a little bigger, and a little more ambitious, than it really needed to be.
The world will be gargantuan, and in fact larger than the worlds of Red Dead Redemption, GTA IV, and San Andreas – combined! While you wrap your head around that (and it may take a while), consider also that there will be more vehicles than in any other GTA game, that you’ll be able to control three different protagonists and switch between them at will, and that you’ll be able to take those three heroes underwater, for a swim with the fishies (a literal one this time).
Variety may be the spice of life, but bigger is not necessarily always better (I’m not gonna touch that one). Does it really improve the game to have such a massive world? Or could it in fact even be a detriment to getting around, finding things, and completing missions? Do we really need three different characters to play? For a feature that is probably adding significantly to the development time, is that really going to improve GTA V in any meaningful way?
New features are great. More and more of everything is great. But eventually a point must be reached where the developers need to say “we’ve made a great game, now let’s get this baby in the hands of our waiting customers”. Sadly that point hasn’t been reached yet, and all we can do is hope that the delays are really worth the wait. To finish with an overused cliché – only time will tell!