Mighty No. 9 has had its fair share of controversies this year, and things just got a lot messier after GameStop informed the world that they'd been told the release date is being pushed back to 2016. Originally slated for release in April, Mighty No. 9 was first delayed to September 15, 2015, with the team stating they wanted to expand the voiceovers to more languages and add more features to the game before release. At the same time, Mighty No. 9 announced they would be partnering with publisher Deep Silver, who would be helping them implement DLC and the new language options.
However, last week GameInformer said their parent company, GameStop, had been told Mighty No. 9 would not reach stores until early 2016. No release was given to the public on this matter until considerably later, and only sent to backers. As of today, their public site does not appear to have any information on the delay. In fact the most recent news, from July 30th, still totes September as the release time for the game. A representative from Tinsley PR, the company helping represent Mighty No. 9, confirmed for TechRaptor that the date has definitely been delayed but no details on a hard 2016 date are available, sharing this message from Deep Silver: "We can acknowledge that the game will no longer meet its current release date and will now in fact appear in Q1 2016. We will announce a firm release date and further details once we have it later."
The statement to backers states bugs being the reason for the delay:
This implies the game has several fixes needed before its ready for the public. It is strange given that the first delay was done primarily to implement the new language features. Community members are also concerned by the lack of communication on the part of the development and publishing team. Part of the reason for the silence appears to be the focus on the Red Ash Kickstarter, which has the same community manager as the Mighty No. 9 forums. GameStop stated that, most likely, the delay was enforced by the publisher Deep Silver, rather than the development team, though no information on where the decision came from was presented to backers. The first public announcement came during Gamescom 2015, where Comcept officially stated there would be a delay in release.
The producer for the game has been open with the community however. Nick Yu explained some of the reasons for the delay, apologizing profusely to fans for the further delays in release. According to Yu, the single player campaign is 100% finished, but the online version is not, and the game cannot be published until the game is fully complete. He also explained that, because much of the game is done, some members of the team have moved on to other projects such as Red Ash. When this was initially explained, however, he said it wasn't made clear enough, saying: "Once you explain to people, they typically understand, but the initial message wasn't clear enough; the timing was bad. It's just -- everything went in a bad, bad direction."
Comcept and Deep Silver seems to be lagging on informing the public, despite GameStop having made this announcement last week. Even the Steam page for Mighty No. 9 still says the game will be released September 15 (as of August 7th). Mighty No. 9 has faced several issues in regards to their interaction with the community, and with the advent of funding methods like Kickstarter, it indicates a need to rethink how we approach community. Most games, funded internally or by sponsors and investors, have a responsibility to where their funds come from. The responsibility to the community in this situation is more public relations than anything—obviously no matter where the money comes from, it is important to keep a good rapport with your fan base.
With Kickstarters, this becomes doubly crucial. Not only is your fan base what will make your game successful upon release, they are your investors. Their return is a usable, quality product and the perks promised to them when they donated to your project. They are owed the same respect as a major investor. It is assumed that games funded the usual way, through individuals who pay large amounts in hopes of a monetary return, are given minute by minute updates—to leave them in the dark could easily signal the end of your production.
Projects funded through Kickstarters should grant the same treatment to their backers, and then some. Not only are these backers the only reason your project has the funding necessary to continue, but they are your primary consumer base. They are your advertising as well, since Kickstarters are largely funded by word-of-mouth and social media. And because Kickstarter backers provide so much to the project, it means they will also come down far harder should you fail to uphold your end. There seems to be this idea that, because they can't just withdraw funding at the first sign of trouble, that you can just ignore these backers. This is an enormous mistake, and the PR disasters that stem from bad community interaction can successfully kill your entire image.
It's baffling that, even after already dealing with a PR disaster earlier in the project regarding the behavior of their former community manager, Comcept and Deep Silver are so slow to explain their decision to delay. Most likely, as their community manager alluded to, the delays are due to the focus on the failed Red Ash Kickstarter. Red Ash is still coming, thanks to support from the Chinese company Fuze, but the failure indicates a dwindling faith in Comcept to deliver. Their Mighty No. 9 investors, the backers, are already impatient and sick of their antics, and this delay obviously has done nothing to improve matters. If they intend to fix it, the team behind Mighty No. 9 needs to turn their attitude around sooner than later, starting with a more detailed explanation to their backers and the community on the delays, and a more solid promise on the 2016 release.