King of Fighters 15 Delayed to 2022 due to COVID-19
SNK announced that KOF 15, which has been steadily gaining hype and popularity due to the rollout of character trailers at an almost daily rate, has been delayed to Q1 2022 due to the number of COVID-19 cases in Japan, as well as a slow vaccination process in the country.
Why Was KOF 15 Delayed?
KOF 15 being delayed is unfortunate timing for the developer, who has been killing it on the marketing end for the game and could stall out interest in the new title.
“The development timeline we set out to reach in the beginning has been affected by the ever-still rising cases of COVID-19 within Japan,” said Yasuyuki Oda, King of Fighters 15 producer, in a release. “We have made the ultimate decision in the end that the product’s quality must come first, and so with that decision comes an altered release window. We sincerely ask for your kind patience and understanding as our development teams continue to work hard on KOF XV as we draw closer to its release.”
The pandemic continues to be a key concern worldwide, despite data showing that various vaccines are about 95% effective. The rollout has not been smooth for every country on earth after all, with some countries facing significant delays and shortages. In Japan, only 4.1% of the population had been vaccinated as of May 20. They only started vaccinations at workplaces and universities on June 21, putting far more than just game development at risk. Even the Tokyo Olympics this summer could be an elevated risk for attendees and athletes.
Therefore, that game developers continue to have to take precautions, which should hopefully look to alleviate as 2021 continues.
Of course, SNK is far from the only company that’s seen delays as E3 2021 approaches. God of War for PS5 has also been delayed to 2022. While this is ultimately unfortunate for fans hoping to play more games this year, it could also be seen as a good thing. Companies have started to come under intense scrutiny for asking their staff to crunch to make deadlines on their games, as was seen with Cyberpunk 2055, and sacrifice some quality time working on the game.
When speaking about God of War and Horizon Forbidden West, Hermen Hulst, the head of PlayStation Studios, perhaps said it best, and it applies to King of Fighters XV as well. “With these things, something’s gotta give. It cannot be the quality of our titles, and it surely won’t be the health or the wellbeing of our amazing team.”
That has got to inspire some confidence that even though fans might have to wait longer, they’ll get a better product at the end of the day. In KOF 15 being delayed, perhaps the extra time will be used to polish further the game’s unique style or rollback netcode, which was confirmed back in February of this year.
Rollback Netcode Could Improve Further With the Delay
In the meantime, the fighting game community remains hyped for the release of Guilty Gear Strive, the first of what could reasonably be called the next generation of fighting games. It will also be one of the first AAA fighting game releases to feature full-on rollback netcode, which doubles as a preview of what’s to come from developers like SNK with KOF 15.
Rollback netcode has become a key issue during the past year, especially as esports pros and casual tournament entrants have not attended events due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. While this will be less of an issue as time marches on, the lack of online infrastructure has seriously limited the growth of fighting games as an esport and the casual appeal of the genre overall. While that reputation will take time to shed, this will be a good first step.