A Tough Lesson On Estimating The Release Date
I’ve been playing video games for years…a lot of years. I’m not an amazing gamer. I certainly don’t have those twitchy reflexes of a 20-year-old, but I’m an enthusiast. To me, gaming has always been a social thing. I put on the headset, grab a drink and a cigar, and spend the evening shooting friends and talking trash. That little beat-down, whether it is mine or theirs, always makes my week better. So, I get excited when one of my favorite titles announces a new release date.
My favorite games have always been an FPS (first-person shooters). I love everything in the Unreal family, whether Unreal Tournament, or even games built on the Unreal Engine. I’ll play a good game well beyond its expected shelf-life, but the time eventually comes that the guys and I need something new. So I’m always excited when Epic Games announces a new version of UT – and it always kills me when they miss their release date.
It seems to be a common thing to do with video games. Announce it, announce a release date, and then release the game late. Ahhhhh!!!! Drives! Me! So! Crazy!
Or even worse, a game developer releases a game ‘on time’ and the game is full of bugs. Several patches later, it runs like it should – which is basically the same as releasing the game late. I’ve never understood this. I thought it was bad business, and it frustrated me to no end, even though I’d play the games until there was nothing left of my computer but a few smoking chips. At the time, I just couldn’t imagine doing this, until I started publishing my books.
I learned the hard way with my second book. Readers would ask and I estimated a release date. They were upset when I missed it by six months. I didn’t do it on purpose and had legitimate reasons for the delay. My series lost its momentum, and I lost more than a few readers.
An Involved Process
There are so many things that go into publishing a book. The day job interrupts my writing schedule constantly, but there’s more. Editing after early reader feedback. More editing when my editor is done beating it up. Cover art. Formatting. It’s tough to estimate a release date. I can only imagine how much harder it is for big budget video games.
When It’s Ready
Thoughtful video game companies now say their title will be released when it’s ready. I think that is wise. Sure, you can lose momentum by taking a long time to publish between books. Losing trust can be even worse, and readers want the story done right. Even if they have to wait.
My Next Release Date
My next book always takes longer than I want because I’m so excited to share. I’ve got a lot of stories to tell and want to hurry and write the next one. But, it’s more important to take my time and write the best book I can. So now, if someone asks when my next book is coming out, I won’t give a release date. I just have to say, “When it’s ready.”