Put down your pitchforks and let your favorite studios make the games that we deserve
Yesterday, ATLUS announced that Persona 5‘s North American release has been delayed until February 14, 2017, effectively casting Mudo on the hearts of countless fans of the popular role playing game series. As someone who has considered himself a pretty die-hard devotee of the occult-tinged franchise since Persona 2: Eternal Punishment first appeared on the PlayStation nearly sixteen years ago, the announcement certainly came as a punch to the gut as I pored over the press release we received yesterday morning that served as a harbinger of the day’s sad news.
While Persona 5’s US launch slipping into early 2017 wasn’t entirely unexpected – after all, we’d learned few concrete details regarding the game’s western release since it was first delayed last September – it was still pretty hard to process. Few games in 2016’s lineup were quite as eagerly anticipated by the staff here at Hey Poor Player, and we’d all been hoping against hope to see the game make its way to the land of apple pie, bluegrass music and oddball politics before the year’s end. Was this ATLUS’ way of punishing us American fans for nominating Donald Trump as our presumptive Cheeto-toned despot? Please, tell us it’s all some misunderstanding! We only want to build strong social links, not walls. Only by fusing King Frost and casting Bufula on those godless Shadows can we truly make America great again.
After the initial sting subsided and I finished mopping up the frothy mixture of tears and coffee that I’d jettisoned all over my desk upon learning of the delay, I managed to pull myself together and look at the big picture. While it’s certainly disappointing that we’ll be waiting nearly half a year longer to get our mitts on Persona 5, I’m honestly very relieved to see that ATLUS is prepared to give the Persona 5 all the time it needs to live up to the lofty expectations of their fans, even if it means the game will ultimately see the light of day a few years after its originally planned release.
After all, this is by far the biggest release in the developer and publisher’s 30-year history. The Persona series, originally a niche offshoot of their long-running Shin Megami Tensei line of games, has essentially become ATLUS’ flagship franchise. The series has introduced millions of new fans to the genre thanks to a pair of unforgettable releases on the PlayStation 2 in much the same way Final Fantasy VII managed to do in 1997, putting the once-obscure genre on the radar of countless western gamers who, up until then, had never shown much interest in Japanese role playing games.
— Josh A. Stevens (@Joshawott) June 7, 2016
As you can imagine, the fan reaction has definitely been mixed. While many fans are happy to wait as long as it takes so long as the game lives up to their expectations, many have also come out of the woodwork to express their outrage over the delay. ATLUS USA’s PR Manager John Hardin understands fans’ frustration, but explained the company’s decision to delay the game’s western release in a post on the PlayStation Blog saying, “Why 2017!? You promised us 2015, and then 2016! Now it’s 2017?!!!?!” Well, the biggest factor in the 2017 release date is attention to detail. When we show off Persona 5 at E3 next week, I think you’ll understand what we mean. We’re making sure every bit is in place.”
“Persona has exponentially grown as a franchise,” he continued, “And considering that this is our first numbered sequel since 2008, ATLUS is taking its time to ensure this is the best possible experience.”
If that means we’ll have to bide our time for a few more months to ensure we get a game that manages to fill the gargantuan shoes of its predecessors, then I’m perfectly content to wait as long as it takes. Persona 3 and Persona 4 both clocked in at roughly 70 hours to complete, and each game featured a tremendous amount of spoken and written dialog. Suffice to say, if ATLUS plans on making Persona 5 their biggest and most ambitious adventure yet, then it goes without saying their localization team and stable of voice talent will definitely have their work cut out for them when it comes to bringing the game stateside. An RPG is only as good as the plot that drives it, and if the writing and voice work fail to deliver the goods, it’ll all but ruin Persona 5‘s experience. That said, I hope ATLUS takes their sweet time and delivers as much polish to the final product as possible to ensure the game delivers the experience fans of the series have been waiting nearly a decade for.
In a time when many publishers are more than happy to dump unfinished games at the feet of their consumers in the interest of hitting fiscal targets, ATLUS’ steadfast commitment to taking the necessary time to make Persona 5 the game that fans deserve deserves to be applauded. Of course, nobody likes to see their most anticipated games pushed back several months. The recent delay of developer Hello Games’ upcoming No Man’s Sky has underscored just how far some fans will go to voice their outrage over this reality. However, spending your hard-earned cash on a game that ultimately fails to live up to its full potential due to the need to meet some arbitrary deadline is a much worse alternative. Street Fighter V‘s incredibly lacking debut is a great example of what happens when a studio shoves a product out the door without giving it all of the time and attention it needs to be a success. While that’s a recent example, it’s far from the only time a studio has sacrificed a product’s quality for the sake of garnering quick sales. We’ve all played are share of games that feel utterly unfinished. The “ship now, patch later” mentality is one that’s been gnawing at the heart of this hobby for years now. It’s a problem we see all too often in this industry, time and time again. Having said that, I just can’t help but feel a good bit more relieved than angry that we’ll have to wait a bit longer to get our hands on Persona 5.
If you really want games to live up to their full potential then it’s time to put down the torches and pitchforks and let your favorite studios do what they do best – make phenomenal games that stay with you for years to come.
So, what are your thoughts on ATLUS’ decision to delay Persona 5? Do you think the game could have what it takes to live up to the hype when it releases, hopefully next February? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below and let us know what you think.