Fans may be frustrated, and the decision caused a drop in its parent company’s stock, but Irrational Games made the right move this week when it delayed the debut of the newest BioShock video game until 2013, analysts said.
“I think it’s an admirable quality to finish things properly before putting them out,’’ said Billy Pidgeon, game analyst at M2 Research in New York. “High-quality games are done when they’re done.’’
The forthcoming release, BioShock Infinite, had been scheduled to go on sale in October, near the start of the holiday shopping season. But on Wednesday, Ken Levine, general manager of the Quincy-based Irrational Games, wrote in a blog post that the game would instead be released in February to give developers more time to make “some specific tweaks and improvements. . . . The great can be made greater.’’
Pidgeon said that delaying BioShock Infinite means it will not have to face off against a wave of major game holiday releases, including the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed III, Halo 4, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, all expected to sell millions of copies. “There’s only sufficient time to play a certain number of games,’’ said Pidgeon. “My point of view is, it’s good to spread it out.’’
Shares of Irrational’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. of New York, declined after the delay was revealed Wednesday, falling nearly 6 percent to $12.63 on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The stock rebounded slightly on Thursday, closing up about one percent to $12.76.
Both Take-Two and Irrational Games declined to comment further on the delay.
BioShock Infinite is a follow-up to Irrational’s 2007 BioShock, a grim and intellectually challenging game inspired by the libertarian philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand. BioShock received strong critical acclaim and was one of the best-selling video games of 2007; it went on to sell about 3.8 million copies. A sequel, BioShock 2, sold 3.4 million games, but that game was developed by 2K Marin, a Take-Two studio in California.
The new game is not a sequel to BioShock but is supposed to be similar in style. Where BioShock was set in a decaying underwater city, BioShock Infinite takes place on a vast floating metropolis called Columbia during the early 20th century, with a storyline inspired by the rise of the United States as a world power.
The game’s designers had “aspirations [that] were more ambitious than the time they had to get it done,’’ said Michael Pachter, a game industry analyst at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. Pachter said that a delay that resulted in a better game would be welcomed by BioShock fans, mostly hardcore players who buy games year-round.
As a result, he said, missing the holiday season will probably have little effect on sales of BioShock Infinite. “As a practical matter, it’s not going to make much difference,’’ Pachter said. “That game’s not on grandma’s Christmas list.’’Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.