Mighty No. 9 – A Mighty Disaster
“Network issues – God damn NETWORK ISSUES!!!”
These are word that are being uttered by thousands of Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter backers across the world who received an email last night from Keiji Inafune and Comcept that announced that Mighty No.9 was to receive a third delay this time pushing it from its February release date into Autumn. Gamers had already been growing disgruntled with its two previous delays, delays that related to online functionality, something that hardened Mega Man fans who were eager for Mighty No.9 had no interest in. Though I’m sure that Mighty No.9 will inevitably be a critical success, the question I pose is this: Has Mighty No.9 become a PR disaster.
In the gaming business, having earned the goodwill of the gaming community is important, it’s what builds fanbases, drives hype, sales and interest in potential sequels. Mighty No.9 has the great luxury of having 67,000+ guaranteed sales thanks to the Kickstarter campaign, a luxury that most games do not have. I argue though that thanks to the very public delays, and the frustration that is continuing to grow within the community of backers, the remainder of the community is starting to grow sceptical about the title. There’s a groundswell of frustration that might equate to fewer sales when the game is released.
You could also make the reasonable argument that countless other games get delayed, Uncharted 4 just recently slid back a month, Scalebound an entire year, so why should Mighty No.9 receive such a savaging. The answer is simple – the game, the core experience that those who backed the game wanted is done, it has been for quite some time. I’ve personally played a trophy enabled version of the game, but have also played it on numerous other systems, at events such as PAX etc. Many gamers contend that if it is leaderboards and other similar features that are responsible for the delays then patch them in after the fact and give us what we paid for. Others have grown tired of how vague much of the information we’re being delivered is. This only compounds the frustration that gamers felt after Comcept returned to the community seeking more money for Mighty No.9 in the form of a second Kickstarter, and the failed 2015 Kickstarter for Inafune’s next work (Red Ash) despite not even having released his current project.
So what can Comcept and Inafune do to get the ship back on track? Well the first step is that they need to be more transparent. Citing online problems only gets you so far, specifying vague release windows for a game that has already been delayed twice doesn’t engender love and goodwill from gamers. It’s time for Inafune as the public face of the game to get out there and be up front with the community, sit down for an interview and tell it like it is. Explain in depth what difficulities they’ve had, lock in a release date that is perhaps later than we would hope to ensure that there are no further delays to be had yet still gives us a concrete date to anticipate.
Games get delayed all the time, game development is tough as many will testify, and it sucks, but it isn’t just the delays that have hurt Mighty No.9. It is a culmination of all the controversies that have followed it that lead it to its now precarious position. Will it sell? Sure. Will it be well received critically? Quite probably. Will it resonate with the community? With each passing day the probability of that final answer being a yes reduces. Comcept have the advantage of having a publisher in the form of Deep Silver on board, so they need to do some serious damage control, if they wish to make many more sales than those that they’re currently guaranteed. The goodwill of fans is running out and if the game gets out to the masses and they’ve not already done some significant damage control then Mighty No.9 has the potential to be a massive commercial failure – which would be such a shame given the love that so many have for Keiji Inafune and the Mega Man games that he made and informed Mighty No.9.