During their Direct stream from E3 2019, Nintendo gave us our first look at Animal Cross: New Horizons. They also announced that the game would be delayed until 2020. While some fans were upset, the majority of reactions I saw were from people who seemed happy to wait if it meant a better product, and no crunch for the people working on the game.
It seems that investors were not at all pleased with the news. After the announcement, Nintendo closed have lost 3.5% of the value of their shares, which the Financial Times reports is worth about 1 billion dollars, and stated that it was the Animal Crossing delay that seemed to worry investors the most. While this is not the only factor, as investors always cited a lack of new hardware, a lack of cloud-based services, and no sign of any significant collaboration with Microsoft as also being factors.
This, for me, sums up the issue with a lot of market analysis and investing. Analysts make predictions that often have little basis in reality, then ply investors with this supposed knowledge. There were absolutely zero hints that Nintendo might announce a move into game streaming at E3 this year. Not a single rumor, leak, or prediction about it, but here we are.
More worrying, the reactions to the Animal Crossing delay lets you know exactly where these fine folk stands on the concept of crunch. It’s been a year of constant stories about the impact that poorly managed workloads and timelines can have on developers in the industry, but people still don’t seem to be learning. This kind of message to companies is not going to inspire them to find better ways to manage the development process to ensure a more relaxed time for the people who actually make the games that we all enjoy so much. Instead, it is designed to do the opposite, get the games out at all costs, because there are specific returns on investment that need to be hit to keep your company afloat.
Gamers are not interested in another Anthem, a game that was clearly pushed out because it had to hit a release window. We want high-quality games that have been made in a way that doesn’t erode the health of the people who make them. Personally, I am more than happy to wait until Animal Crossing: New Horizons is actually ready to play.