I have seen at least two games get delayed this week; Warhammer Online and Farcry 2. The first is not as much of a surprise, as MMORPGs are often difficult to accurately pin down a release date on a first time basis. Success on these projects are of absolute paramount importance, so delays are common and usually accepted with minimal community fuss. The second was a bit of a disappointment to me, however.
There are three main things in the game industry one must consider when developing a product. Each of these are a part of why projects are often delayed, or canceled altogether:
1) Scope: How large is the game going to be in content and mechanics?
2) Time: How long will the game take to develop based on the scope?
3) Cost: How much money must be invested based on the scope and time?
A project starts easy, "OK guys, we have three years, so this is what we're putting into the game...". Then "feature creep" problems get in the way when designers are allowed to run rampant on "new" ideas, bugs and other issues come up, or a team member suddenly decides to leave. The scope of the project grows out of control, more time is needed to complete it, and then of course more money is required for completion.
Developing a successful product is not just about having a good team, but having a good team leader (a.k.a. the Producer). When it comes down to it though, everyone is at fault on one level or another when a project is delayed or canceled. Completing a project is a difficult endeavor that every team tackles together on a daily basis. Why then are well respected companies still delaying products when they almost certainly know what they are doing?
I don't have the answer to that... I haven't had much experience (yet) with development houses to really understand this question and give a reliable answer (if there is one). Thus, I am leaving the end of my blog open to those that might. Please enlighten me if you are reading this...