With E3 just around the corner, it's the season of big announcements! Unfortunately, not all of them are good news for eager fans. Ahead of the big annual convention there's been a high concentration of announcements of game delays, with multiple big titles being pushed from a Fall 2018 release into 2019. Is this mass exodus of games (pun intended) merely coincidental, or is there a driving cause?
Publisher Deep Silver recently announced that Shenmue 3 has been delayed to 2019, pushing it back from its "second half of 2018" window. This by itself isn't too surprising; Shenmue 3 has been delayed before. What's interesting to note is that Deep Silver mentions a desire to "release the product in the best possible timeframe." This suggests that the delay isn't just about taking some extra time to polish things up. There would seem to be a reason why late 2018 is not an optimal window for release, even though that's just in time for the lucrative holiday season.
Next up is Metro Exodus, also published by Deep Silver, and also slated to launch in the latter half of 2018. Deep Silver announced its delay earlier this week, and developer 4A Games has revealed that it's been pushed to early the first quarter of 2019 to make it "the absolute best." No indication is given here of a scheduling issue, as with Shenmue 3.
Skull and Bones, Ubisoft's upcoming pirate adventure, has also been delayed. Players were supposed to be able to sail the high seas this Fall, but now it's been pushed back to "2019-2020." In this case, perhaps the delay has less to do with competition in the marketplace and more to do with wanting to avoid the same kind of mixed reception that Sea of Thieves received for launching with less content than players expected.
Finally, it appears likely that Borderlands 3 has been delayed. Gearbox's upcoming shooter was expected by many to be at E3 following the Walmart Canada leak, but Randy Pitchford says this isn't the case. Right around the same time, publisher Take-Two announced that they had delayed a "highly-anticipated title" from one of their biggest franchises. They won't say which game has been delayed, but Borderlands 3 is the most likely suspect.
Some are pointing to Red Dead Redemption 2 and its October release date as the primary motivation for companies to delay their games out of the Fall 2018 window. That could be true to an extent, and it wouldn't be the first time a studio has pushed a near-completed game to avoid tough competition, but only Shenmue 3's delay announcement openly indicates strategy over necessity. Then again, most developers aren't likely to come right out and say they're scared of the competition.