BioShock Infinite has been delayed a month to March 2013, Irrational Games chief Ken Levine has announced.
Levine told press at a preview event held this week and attended by Eurogamer (check out Jeffrey's hands-on preview) that the delay will allow for extra polish and big fixing. BioShock Infinite will now launch on 26th March 2013. It had been due out on 26th February.
“When Rod Fergusson [former Gears of War franchise director at Epic Games] came on board we looked at the game,” Levine said.
“He was there for about a month and he said, 'look, I've been looking at the schedule and looking at the game and frankly you could really benefit from another three or four more weeks for polish and bug fixing.'
“We talked about it. I knew I'd probably get beat up in the press a little bit about it. But at the end of the day, if it's going to make a better game we're going to do it.
“So the new date is March 26. That's my bad news.”
This latest delay is the game's second. It was first announced for release in October 2012, but was delayed to February 2013.
The first delay coupled with high-profile exits from Irrational Games and BioShock Infinite's absence from both E3 and Gamescom this year has led to speculation that the project has endured a troubled development.
“The problem is there's nothing particularly dramatic,” Levine told Eurogamer in an interview. “The game was delayed. This is our second delay. The first delay was a few months and the second delay was a month. Some people have said, 'oh, it's been delayed like five times.' It's been delayed twice.
"I think because we announced it a long time ago, originally we announced it as a 2012 game and we announced the date as October 2012, which was not a delay. Then we said it was going to be February 2013. Then we said it was going to be March 2013. So these delays are not particularly dramatic considering how things go in the industry.
“Somehow we got attached to this sense we had some more dramatic delays, but it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. Nobody remembers delays. Even if they were long, nobody remembers delays because once a game comes out it's either a good game or it isn't.”
In August product development director Tim Gerritsen and art director Nate Wells left the studio. Wells' departure was seen as a particular blow. He was a 13-year Irrational veteran and one of the brains behind the first BioShock game's stand-out art style. At the time Levine said Scott Sinclair, the art director on BioShock 1, had replaced him for Infinite "to bring it home".
“In terms of people leaving, I wish I had exciting stories to tell you, but you've worked at companies, people come and people go,” Levine said, addressing this concern. “Because there was so little news about the game... the reason there's little news about the game is, we've really felt we showed what the game was at E3 last year. It was very representative of what our vision for the game was. We didn't see a point in constantly going out and beating the same drum because what were we going to say at that point besides, here, play it?
“At that point I didn't want to go into, here are the weapon types and here's this and here's that. We knew we'd be inviting a lot of speculating by doing that, but look, I've been doing this for a long time. I've learned going out and trying to defend against every internet meme or every hysterical moment is not a particularly good use of time.”
Later in August a Kotaku report revealed Irrational had worked on at least two multiplayer modes for BioShock Infinite but decided to scrap them.
The first of these modes placed shrunken players inside an old-timey arcade machine where they'd have to do battle with waves of enemy toys in a tower-defense style game. The second was a co-op mode called Spec-Ops and tasked four players with going through levels from the single-player campaign together.
Levine told us some of the development team felt “betrayed” by the fact that some Irrational staff had spoken out, anonymously, about the status of the development of the project.
“A lot of people on the team who don't have as many grey hairs as I were very upset, especially by the people who were on the team who revealed things about the project. They promised not to do things like that, and some people felt betrayed by that,” he said. “They were very upset. They also felt, we need to go out and tell people the game's going fine!
“I'm like, no. I did one interview during the whole thing. I said, 'you're going to play the game and you're going to tell me whether the game's in trouble.' I was very confident about where I thought the game was at. I didn't really feel it was a good use of my time to go out and start fighting every internet meme that came up because, what's the point? At the end of the day it's a good game, or it isn't.”
Levine insisted BioShock Infinite multiplayer “was never cut” because “we never announced it”.
“I think the press have been totally fair with us. The one thing the press was unfair with was when they said multiplayer is cut. When I go out and I specifically very clearly do not announce a feature and do not promise a feature when people ask me about it over and over again... what I said is we work on things all the time. If they end up being a match in the game we'll include it in the game and if not we won't.
“It's great to go out and announce a big feature like multiplayer because it gets you a lot of attention and a lot of press and articles. But then you need to deliver that. And I specifically very very carefully never announced it and never promised it and never said we had it. So when the thing came out, it said multiplayer cut, and I was like, ahh.
“We were exploring multiplayer. We had the whole story in co-op. This is not uncommon on games in fact. There were a lot explorations that got left by the side of the road not because they weren't cool, they just weren't a fit. With multiplayer, we just never found a place where we said, 'okay, this is enough of a fit where we want to have this much of our attention to it.'
“We have a team of people and we thought for a long time that maybe this is something, something maybe. We were never sure. That's why we never announced it. At some point we said, 'you know what? We don't think this is going to be the right investment of resources for us.' We were working on something I thought was really interesting but it wasn't getting to the place where I needed it to get to for it to be worth the investment and resources we would need to bring it to fruition.”
New screenshots are below.