Take-Two Plays the Waiting Game

A look back at games published by Take-Two since 2009 reveal the firm is terrible at shipping marquee, non-sports titles on schedule; future games troubled, too.

Last week, Take-Two Interactive delayed Irrational Games' upcoming shooter BioShock Infinite to 2013. And tomorrow, the long-awaited Max Payne 3 finally hits retail after being officially delayed five times. These two events got us thinking about Take-Two and its (in)ability to ship marquee, non-sports titles on time. With this in mind, we looked at the publisher's major non-sports releases for the past three years and counted up the number of times they were delayed.

There's a theme here: Delays!

Of nine major titles shipped since the beginning of 2009, Take-Two only managed to ship one of them within its originally announced release window. The rest were delayed at least once, with the average number of delays per Take-Two title coming in at 1.44. Civilization V was the outlier on Take-Two's resume, as that game was announced in February 2010, and made it out in September of that year, right on schedule.

Ed. Note: While Duke Nukem Forever was in development for over 10 years, and was drilled by a heaping handful of delays, Take-Two was only responsible for pushing back the game's release window one time. Thus, only one delay was factored into the average delay equation above.

Looking to the future, of seven announced and scheduled Take-Two titles, four have thus far been delayed: BioShock Infinite (once), the XCOM shooter (twice), Spec Ops: The Line (three times) and the aforementioned Max Payne 3. The average number of delays for Take-Two's current slate of announced games is 1.57, and that number may still climb.

When Take-Two announces a release date for GTA V, will it stick?

Clearly, Take-Two has serious trouble shipping big-name, non-sports titles on time. But that might be to the company's advantage. Shigeru Miyamoto once famously quipped, "A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever." Miyamoto justified delays with quality, and Take-Two attempts to do the same. Only The Darkness 2 and Duke Nukem Forever scored lower than an 8.5 on GameSpot, with four titles scoring a 9.0 or higher. Red Dead Redemption (9.5) even took home our 2010 Game of the Year accolade.

It's tough to say if these delays proved ultimately worthy for Take-Two, but it's difficult to argue with numbers. While the publisher hasn't given clear sales data for all of the games, sales of Read Dead Redemption (13 million) and LA Noire (5 million) alone would make the average sales for the nine games stand at 2 million, even if BioShock 2, Borderlands, and the rest of the delayed titles never sold a single copy.

Looking ahead, there's one major Take-Two property likely to be as big as anything included here: Grand Theft Auto V. This game was announced back in October, and no release date has been affixed to the project to date. But if history holds true, don't be surprised if the day comes and goes with no new GTA to be found on store shelves. Of course, if history holds true, it might also be a game well worth the wait.

We reached out to Take-Two for comment for this feature, but did not hear back. If the company does issue a statement, an update will be posted here.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

73 comments
Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

This article proved to be very true. 

frogman666
frogman666

I am still waiting to hear about Agent where is that news

Whitebloodsun
Whitebloodsun

Thanks for informing us that Max Payne 3 has been delayed 5 times and the obvious fact that Take-Two is synonim with delay. Other than that, I don't know what else this short article trying to do.

1234ritchie
1234ritchie

Would much rather a game be delayed than coming out riddled with bugs that they later fix with a patch.

k_h_a_n
k_h_a_n

 @pidow  I totally agree with u, delays for better production is alright but more than two times...really questionable

 

EliOli
EliOli

I'm really hoping Borderlands 2 ships on time.  That's the only game I'm really looking forward to this year.

pidow
pidow

Delays to make a better produce is all right with me...........however, five time is questionable at least.

TrueGB
TrueGB

All I see on that list is a bunch of great games (and Duke, but that wasn't their fault), so clearly TT knows how to make video games. I say let them do whatever it is they're doing because it clearly works.

Royial20
Royial20

if the delays make the games all worthy of editor choice/ GOTY and have little to zero bugs then I'm all for it.

 

Hopefully all these delays means better quality but why not just not set a date and work on the game until it IS ready? Makes your company look a little foolish if you say your gonna do something then go 'whoops sorry not yet' and push it back.

ryan_sr97c_1
ryan_sr97c_1

i gotta agree with the posts... this is kinda stupid.  i dont know what the article is trying to do. it starts off as something to criticize take two's inability to ship on time but doesn't really take off from there.

 

personally, i think delays are good.  if a company is willing to take the hit in order to ensure quality then we, the gamers, win (albeit a little pissed with the waiting).

luckylogan
luckylogan

What does delay 1.44 mean?  What a terrible article.

hesoyamdon
hesoyamdon

i really dont understand the point of this article !!! what is it trying to say !!?? delaying a game is go or bad ?? !!!

garysingh34
garysingh34

Rubbish article. If a dealy or two is what it takes to get games like read dead redemption, bioshock 2 and LA Noire released to the high standards they are, then delays should be welcome. Better than releasing a buggy game with post release patches (cough cough bethesda !).

AJC3317
AJC3317

what a pointless article

cheamo
cheamo

Delay in actual amount of time seems a lot more interesting than number of delays.

HelghastUser
HelghastUser

Tsk Tsk Tsk...

 

I'm sure people that have bills can agree, We could wait on a game for as long as it takes as long as it's going to be worth my money in the long run. I'll be HAPPY to wait 3-4+ years on a game sequel. More Dev time Better Game time...

Mr__Maniacal
Mr__Maniacal

Don't care for dates. just make the game dammit and when you do we will decide to buy it

cjlebron
cjlebron

funny thing is, with the exception of Duke Nukem and probably Darkness II, these are all games that no one can really say wasn't worth the wait. They all were quality products and scored well among press and gamers. Who can really complain when their product is consistently so strong?

frydo
frydo

i don't care if it's delayed, just release a good game.

 

civ 5 should've been delayed more, it was horribly buggy and almost unplayable on release due to corrupted save files. now like half a dozen patches later it is a very good game, sadly many people just gave up on the game due to frustration. 

UnaSolida
UnaSolida

 I hate to be cynical but most games are not delayed because of quality. For example, Max Payne 3 was ready to go back in march but Take-Two did not want to compete with Mass Effect 3(I don't know why). So it's more about calender than quality.

BryanParksSuper
BryanParksSuper

If a game is delayed its always for the best. Max Payne 3 gets a 9.5 from GameInformer. Ign gives a 9. The terrible GameTrailers gave it a 7.6. Only trust GameInformer for your reviews. They actually play the games they review.

LoG-Sacrament
LoG-Sacrament

i always agree with miyamoto in a distant hindsight. however, when a game i really want to play gets delayed i always think "but i want to play it nooooow!" :P

Trickymaster
Trickymaster

There wouldn't be delays if developers and publishers wouldn't feel so pressured to provide a release date. Blizzard, Valve, Nintendo and Rockstar had a long tradition of not telling when one of their AAA games will come out until they are absolutely sure about the release date.

 

"A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time." - Shigeru Miyamoto

Setho10
Setho10

I think the problem isn't the time it takes to ship the games, but the fact that they announce release dates before they should. Taking four or five years to make a game that ships 5+ million copies isn't a bad thing. Saying that it will only take two or three is. Take Two needs to figure out how to better schedule their releases. Obviously things go wrong and the occasional game is delayed, but when almost every game you ship gets delayed the problem is deeper than something going wrong. It shows a careless management strategy where games are announced far before they are ready and affixed release dates that are hard if not impossible to meet. It is always better to push a game up than delay it back. They need to do themselves a favor and either not announce release dates until they are certain when the game will ship, or add an extra year to when they "expect" it to ship and announce that. Of course some of these games have been delayed for half a decade so that may not help as much as it should.

WTA2k5
WTA2k5

I think one of the things that leads to Take-Two's delays are the developers they work with. Rockstar and Irrational strike me as particularly perfectionist dev teams, and my guess is that if they want more time to work on their game, they'll get it.

Vari3ty
Vari3ty

I don't mind delays, as most of Take-Two's games prove worth the wait. What I want to know, however, is where that heck is that PS3 exclusive teased in 2009, the game supposedly called "Agent" that is supposedly a stealth action espionage game set during the Cold War? If this game is still in production, please show something at E3 T2.

buzznugget
buzznugget

Remember the days before the Internet, when the only information on release dates were from month-behind print magazines?  Of course not.  Back then we only read game magazines for cheat codes.

rawsavon
rawsavon

Most of the games that have already released in the top graph turned out pretty damn good (most, not all).

 ...better to delay and get it 'right'

EvilShabazz
EvilShabazz

Don't just look at the delays, look at the titles.  I'll take delays if they get me games like Red Dead, LA Noire, and Bioshock 2.  Even Darkness 2 wasn't bad.  I'll excuse DNF on their roster since that was always a joke.

Xplode_77
Xplode_77

Duke Nukem Forever had way more delays than that.

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

Red Dead Redemption and L.A Noire were both PS3 exclusives shown in 2005, and they only got 2 delays?  I find that hard to believe.  I guess they weren't really games yet then.

 

...So maybe not so crazy

truluvnmemphis1
truluvnmemphis1

yeah as others have said, delays are a good thing for the most part as you are going to end up with a better game in the end. some people are way too impatient.

theloneronin827
theloneronin827

Remember, delays can yield happy endings, whereas no one wins with a rushed, poorly designed final product.

Maxor127
Maxor127

Compared to what?  I can think of very few games that haven't been delayed by any company.  I think delays are good.  I'd rather wait for a polished product then a rushed POS.  I see Civ5 wasn't delayed, but I can tell you it should've been.

commando1992
commando1992

...Who cares? Bad things happen when games get rushed. Anyone remember Knights of the Old Republic 2? 

DannyBoy2k
DannyBoy2k

 @Whitebloodsun They're trying to argue the point that delays are good, because it makes the game better...which is utter nonsense, of course. If you can't deliver a good game by the release date you set first, then don't bother making the game in the first place.

sirkibble2
sirkibble2

 @Royial20 There has to be deadlines in the industry or else a project will take much, much longer. Delays aren't anticipated but for Take-Two, they may be. Either way, it sometimes does make the publisher/developer look bad. But shoot, if the game is good, we quickly forget about the delay. lol

thrice00
thrice00

Average of delay from take-two, Without any day or month mesurement......... so yeah totally useless.

wwlettsome
wwlettsome

 @AJC3317 the point is that Take Two has trouble with meeting deadlines.  a good follow up question to Take Two that should have been part of the article is what do they have to say about it and are they taking any lessons from it?  or is it a deliberate strategy on their part to give the game more time to build hype? or can the author get some past or present employees to comment about this and what do they think about it?

Blackarrow26
Blackarrow26

 @AJC3317 What? That was really insightful and shows how, in practice, delays often indicate a better game.

Blackarrow26
Blackarrow26

 @cjlebron I actually enjoyed the Darkness 2, and with respects to Duke Nukem Forever, you could argue it wasn't in their hands. I agree with what you say, I would MUCH rather have a delayed game be perfected than a rushed, sub-standard game.

frydo
frydo

 @UnaSolida they are going to compete with diablo 3? i'll be honest i'm a big fan of max payne games, and i will be playing this one. but i'll be playing diablo 3 for the next couple of months first. 

gilthar
gilthar

 @Xplode_77 Apparently you didn't read the editor's note where he stated that the game DNF was only delayed once under Take-Two's watch.  Not their fault if it got delayed umpteen times by other companies. 

scyldschefing
scyldschefing

 @DannyBoy2k No, I'm afraid your comment is utter nonsense.

 

If you'd rather Take Two didn't publish games because they aren't punctual, rather than wait a little longer for very well-polished, engrossing, and fun games to come out, then I'm just plain confused. Are you the dean of a manners school who doesn't actually play games?

 

Games aren't simple. Sometimes shit happens during their development that takes longer to resolve than expected. It could happen on one of a number of levels, anywhere from gameplay and ultimate player experience to the nuts and bolts of code.

 

But once a game is out there, it better make a good first impression or it goes belly-up. It doesn't matter that patches may fix them, or that free post-release DLC may complete the game: if it gets bad reviews on release, that game is marked for death.

 

As the history of game development has repeatedly shown, impatience often enough leads to crappy games. Of course, there is a limit to this, as illustrated by the most extreme case of Duke Nukem Forever (which was delayed many, many times LONG before Take Two took that hot potato). But often enough delays are necessary to make well-received, well-made games.

 

Frankly, I think publishers should just stop announcing release dates altogether. People are too immature and impatient.

AJC3317
AJC3317

 @Blackarrow26

 not really. that may have been the point but all it really says is take two has delayed games in the past and may delay more in the future

picho86
picho86

 @Blackarrow26 I think that it actually says that a publisher that delays when needed, and cares more for the final product than deadlines, ship better games, and make a lot of money.

In other words, they don't have to delay to publish good games. Just not publish them when they aren't finished.

skyplaya
skyplaya

 @frydo Diablo 3 isnt release on console so they are not directly competing against it. I agree with Una, it's more about calendar than quality.