It’s no hidden truth that Horizon: Zero Dawn is truly a remarkable title. It’s gorgeous in every sense of the word. This game does something most don’t do, especially in the modern era, and that’s offer something new and unique. Some might call this dumb luck, while others will call it executing on a carefully defined vision. What Horizon: Zero Dawn is able to achieve didn’t happen by coincidence. Rather, it is a direct result of doing whatever it takes to build a game that would blow away the minds of its user, even if that meant the dreaded “D” word - delay.
For whatever reason, the entire gaming stratosphere has collectively gravitated towards this idea that game development should take significantly less time than it already does. Group that ideology with nearly all AAA publishers meeting the demands of their consumers, and you’re left with an industry plagued by unoriginality. Game after game seems to either copy elements from a similar titles or lack the innovation and true creativity that would push it over the top.
Horizon: Zero Dawn is innovative and truly creative simply because the developers waited. The game took five years to complete, but they still decided to further delay it until it was perfect. The fantastic part is, Sony Interactive Entertainment embraced the push. Neither side seemed to break stride. In the end, the game is a complete masterpiece with so much thought infused into it that you could literally feel and experience the extra sweat equity that went into it.
This isn’t the first time delaying a title has paid off. GTA IV was delayed by a year after a two year development cycle. It went on to sell 3.6 million copies, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for GTA V, perhaps the greatest GTA game ever made. Half-Life 2 was also delayed a year after nearly four years in development. It’s still hailed as one of the great games ever created for its innovative gameplay, storyline, and immersive techniques. We certainly can’t forget BioShock and its nearly three year development time, which equated to a groundbreaking title that contained story and game design elements that had never been seen or done before.
The other side of the coin is that many, if not most, gaming publishers won’t embrace extended or delayed development cycles, because it doesn’t yield instant, tangible results. It’s time we change our mindsets and embrace the fact that Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t coming out until December and we might not see The Last of Us 2 for quite some time. That’s ok. We’ve reached a point where we can either keep pumping through the same decent titles quarter after quarter or finally embrace that genius and innovation takes time to cultivate. Ultimately, the choice is in the hands of us. As Spider-man’s mantra says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”