As we get deeper into 2021, a harsh reality is setting in for gamers: Major delays are rampant. In our 2021 predictions, we noted that this was a very real possibility due to the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of 2020’s releases got shuffled around, those games were largely near the end of their development cycle. The real worry was what the pandemic would mean for games that weren’t quite as far along.
That anxiety is quickly turning into reality. Delays are dropping left and right, as some of the year’s biggest games move further down the line or to next year. That’s leading to a much slimmer release schedule than fans initially expected heading into what was expected to be an exciting year for gaming. Here’s a roundup of all the major video game delays that have happened so far.
Outriders (April 1)
Outriders had a tough time locking down a release date. Originally positioned as one of the big games that would launch alongside next-gen consoles in late 2020, developer People Can Fly quietly pushed it back to February 2. As 2021 got into full gear, the game got delayed once again, this time to April 1. Before the release, players got a demo on February 25 that covered the first few hours of the full game.
Returnal (April 30)
Among Sony games, Returnal always seemed like the biggest lock to hit its release date. While Sony was vague about dates for games like Ratchet & Clank: Drift Apart and Horizon Forbidden West, it had been firm on the third-person shooter’s March 19 release date. It had even shown up consistently in sizzle reels over the past few months, which made it seem like it was relatively safe from a delay. Unfortunately, Sony delayed it by a little over a month to April 30 to allow developer Housemarque to polish the game. At this point, this list is starting to look fairly identical to the list of our most anticipated PS5 games.
Humankind (August 17)
Even games that are just weeks away from launching aren’t safe from potential delays. Just a few weeks before grand strategy game Humankind was supposed to drop, the game was pushed back to August 17. The Civilization-like game’s sudden shift sounds a little more standard than some of the other titles on this list. Developer Amplitude Studios simply notes that it’s taking more time to respond to player feedback from a recent test. It’ll take an extra few months to work on features like accessibility, A.I., and pacing.
New World (August 31)
Not even Amazon is immune from the current game delay wave, though that may have less to do with COVID-19 than it does for other games on this list. The company has been trying to break into gaming for quite some time now, with weak results. Its free-to-play multiplayer game Crucible had a particularly rocky life span after it was put back into beta and then outright canceled. Amazon’s next game, New World, is having similar problems. Originally scheduled to launch this spring, the game has now been pushed back to August 31. Amazon says the decision was made to ensure the game had a proper endgame when it launched, so it’s likely the studio is trying to avoid the same pitfalls games that Marvel’s Avengers hit at launch. A closed beta for the game is now scheduled to open on July 20.
Resident Evil Re:Verse (Summer 2021)
Miraculously, Resident Evil Village looks like it’ll make it to its planned May 7 release date with no delay. That’s an increasingly rare feat among big studio productions this year. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Resident Evil Re:Verse. The multiplayer game was supposed to launch the same day as Village, but now it’s been pushed back to a vague summer 2021 window. The decision came shortly after the game’s first beta, which was full of matchmaking issues. Capcom did not cite a reason for the delay.
Deathloop (September 14)
It’s been a long road to Deathloop. When Arkane Studios announced its stylist first-person shooter, it seemed like it was primed to launch with the PS5. The game was eventually moved out of 2020 and scheduled for a Q1 2021 launch. That quietly became a May 21 launch day. Now, it’s getting pushed back even further, with Arkane citing the health and safety of its team as a primary reason for the delay. Deathloop will now launch on September 14, 10 months after the PS5’s launch last November.
Back 4 Blood (October 12)
There’s some good news and bad news for Back 4 Blood. Let’s start with the bad. The Left 4 Dead spiritual successor was supposed to launch this summer, but it has been delayed to October 12. No specific reason was cited for the move outside of the usual “need more time” note. The good news is that the multiplayer game will get an open beta this summer. So, fortunately, players will still get a chance to play it around the time the full game was supposed to launch.
Axiom Verge 2 (Q3 2021)
Axiom Verge 2 is set to be one of this year’s biggest indie titles. The Metroidvania-style game is a long-anticipated sequel to a beloved 2015 classic. It’s such a hot commodity that Epic snatched it up as a PC exclusive via the Epic Games Store. However, its release date has been a little wishy-washy. It was initially supposed to launch in 2020 before being pushed to the first half of 2021. Now it’s been delayed again, to the third quarter of 2021. No exact date was given, so we’re still no closer to knowing when it’ll land.
Halo Infinite (Fall 2021)
While it was originally scheduled for a 2020 launch alongside the Xbox Series X debut, Microsoft delayed Halo Infinite indefinitely. We now know that the company is planning for a fall 2021 launch, putting it a full year out from its original release plan. Like many games on this list, it’s not fully clear if the pandemic has been a key factor in Halo’s delay. While companies like Ubisoft have been transparent about the struggles of work from home, others are a bit more tight-lipped about why the schedule shakeups are happening. Whatever the case may be, Halo Infinite’s delay is the most significant to occur yet.
Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach (Late 2021)
For fans of the Five Nights at Freddy’s series, the road to the upcoming Security Breach has been a long one. The horror game was originally supposed to launch in late 2020, but it was quietly pushed to early 2021. Four months into the year and we hadn’t heard a peep about a release date. Now creator Scott Cawthorn has confirmed that the game is moving to late 2021, putting it a full year out from its original launch window. Cawthorn notes that the game’s scale has ballooned during the development process and it requires more time and money to complete.
Riders Republic (TBA 2021)
Following Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake’s delay, Riders Republic was the sole Ubisoft game that had yet to be pushed back in some form. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. Originally scheduled for a February release, the game was pushed back to “later this year,” with no specific time frame attached. Ubisoft has not shared new details on the game since it was first announced during a Ubisoft Forward stream in September.
Gotham Knights (2022)
Gotham Knights was originally scheduled to launch sometime in 2021, but many fans predicted that a delay was inevitable. So it’s not surprising that the next big Batman game has been pushed to 2022. Warner Bros. casually announced the game’s new launch window with a generic message about giving the game more development time. At this point, it’s more shocking when major studio games release on time, rather than when they don’t.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (2022)
Last summer, Bungie announced an ambitious and thorough plan for the next few years of Destiny 2. The developer planned to drop three major expansions, one each year until 2022, starting with 2020’s Beyond Light. This year, the plan was to continue that expansion’s story with The Witch Queen, but now those plans are changing. Bungie has delayed the expansion to the first half of 2022 due to the coronavirus and the game’s scale, meaning players won’t get a major Destiny 2 expansion this year. Bungie did not mention whether 2022’s Lightfall expansion would also shift as part of the schedule change.
Gran Turismo 7 (2022)
Gran Turismo 7 getting delayed is both surprising and entirely obvious at once. Sony seemed pretty confident that the game would not only launch in 2021, but in the first half of the year. Considering that anticipated release window, it seemed like the game was likely in good shape and would launch by the end of the year, even with a delay. However, Sony has been entirely silent on the game, signaling that something was off. In an interview with GQ, Sony confirmed that the game was undergoing “COVID-related production challenges” and would now launch in 2022. With that big delay, it now looks like only three major Sony first-party releases will come out in 2021 … and that’s only if Horizon Forbidden West still drops in 2021 as planned.
Hogwarts Legacy (2022)
Hogwarts Legacy was set to be one of 2021’s biggest power players. The open-world Harry Potter game was first shown during a PlayStation 5 livestream, signaling that it would be a next-gen game to watch. Unfortunately, the title has been pushed back a full year to 2022. Warner Bros. hasn’t clarified how deep into 2022 the game is expected to launch, so next year is already looking like as much of a mystery as this year.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum (2022)
Back when new console talk was first making the rounds in 2019, Lord of the Rings: Gollum was one of the first games to be confirmed for next-gen. The somewhat mysterious game originally seemed like it was on track to be a PS5 or Xbox Series X launch title, but that never panned out. In fact, details about the game have been sparse since its announcement and all we’ve known is that it was supposed to come out sometime in 2021. Now, the game has been delayed to sometime in 2022 following a new publishing deal between Nacon and Daedalic Entertainment.
King of Fighters XV (Q1 of 2022)
While some games have been delayed a few months due to the challenges of pandemic development, others have seen much deeper delays. King of Fighters XV was originally scheduled to launch in 2020 before getting pushed to 2021. Halfway through the year and the fighting game was pushed back again — this time to 2022. SNK attributes the delay to the still-rising number of COVID-19 cases in Japan, which could signal that more Japanese productions could see unexpected delays.
Pragmata was tentatively scheduled to come out in 2022, but it’s worth mentioning here because it highlights how long-term the industry’s problems might be. According to a Sony video reel dropped during CES, Capcom’s mysterious sci-fi game has been pushed back to 2023. Since the video came out, Sony has since released a new version that scrubs the game out of the fine print, along with all other third-party games.
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (TBA)
Even Lego isn’t safe from delays. With the game calendar clearing out, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was shaping up to be one of the more delightful releases this spring. It never got a firm release date though, which started looking like a red flag the deeper we got into March. TT Games announced that it would no longer make its spring window and was moving the game. No new release window was given. The post doesn’t even say if it’s expected for 2021 at all anymore. TT Games says it will update fans “as soon as possible.”
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake (TBA)
Ubisoft is a recurring name on this list. Even before 2021, the company started making significant changes to its plans. Far Cry 6, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition were all moved out of their 2020 launch windows, signaling that more titles could follow. As far as planned 2021 releases go, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake was the first to move. Originally slated for a January 20 release, the remake was shifted a few months to March 18. Now, Ubisoft has announced that the game is delayed indefinitely. A February 5 tweet updating fans on the game’s progress now simply says it’s coming out “at a later date.” Oddly, 2021 isn’t mentioned at all, which could mean a much bigger shift than anticipated is happening.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 (TBA)
This is the roughest delay story of the year so far. Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 has been delayed indefinitely after it was scheduled to launch in 2021. Why? Because the game’s lead developer, Hardsuit Labs, has been fired. Publisher Paradox Interactive confirmed that the game is still in development, but that it would be going in a different direction moving forward. On top of replacing the game’s developer, Paradox has canceled all pre-orders for the game entirely. The game was already delayed once after it was scheduled to release in 2020, so the latest move certainly makes the situation behind the scenes sound a bit dire.
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