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Hear ye, hear ye, all rise for the honourable judge Joe Martin.

Thank you, clerk Joe Martin. In the matter of Disgruntled Gamers Vs. Developers Who Delay Their Games, the prosecution – in this case gamers who are sick to their back teeth of highly-anticipated video games being delayed for three, six, or sometimes 12 months at a time – allege that the development industry taketh the piss, and by denying them access to the games they want, when they want them, their entitlement, nay, their very human rights as gamers are being infringed.

Would the prosecution, Joe Martin, please present its evidence.

Certainly, Your Honour. I put to the jury a simple question – have you, in the last year, pre-ordered or anticipated a game that was set to release shortly, only to find at the last moment that the title you so greatly desired has been pushed back to the following year? Were we capable of taking a show of hands from this most handsome of online juries, I feel certain that the court would see a veritable tsunami of hands thrust forth into the air, accompanied by the grim-faced nodding of heads that shows a gamer burnt by the fires of development hell.

Watching helplessly as your desired game is sent back into development limbo can temporarily crush the soul of even the most hardened gamer. Internet forums, clearly the most reliable, mature and unbiased of all evidence bases, tell tales of manly men, truck drivers, would you believe, with hearts and jaws of stone who can bite through tree trunks and witness the murder of Bambi’s mother without feeling nary a flutter of emotion, who have broken down and wept a waterfall of sorrow at the news that Batman: Arkham Knight was delayed from 2014 until June 2015.

What of those poor souls who have finally, tragically, run out of foreigners to shoot? How, pray tell, are the screeching, mewling pre-pubescents who crave Battlefield Hardline like a flower craves the sun cope once homework season hits them hardest? What is to happen to the fabled three-breasted Orc Princess of Coldharbour now that the console version of Elder Scrolls Online has slipped to 2015? Let’s not even speak of the trauma inflicted on parents who pre-ordered The Order: 1886 or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for their children’s 2014 birthdays only to realise that they must not only comfort their loved ones, but try to find a suitable replacement at horrifically short notice. I put it to the jury that the emotional harm caused by these events should not be under-estimated.

Evidence example 1: Arkham Knight, delayed from 2014 to 2015

Exhibit A: Arkham Knight, delayed from 2014 to 2015

A compelling and truly upsetting argument. Joe Martin, for the Defence, what say you?

My learned friend raises some very good points, Your Honour. But I ask the fair jury of the internet – is the disappointment of a delayed game more crushing than the disappointment of purchasing a broken game? Was it less heart-breaking for gamers who sprang out of bed last November to play their shiny new copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity, only to discover that the game was so broken it should have come packaged with its own dustpan and brush? A game that was virtually unplayable at launch and in many ways remains so even after nearly 20GB worth of patches?

Was it less heart-breaking for gamers who played their shiny new copy of Assassin’s Creed Unity, only to discover that the game was so broken it should have come packaged with its own dustpan and brush?

And what of DriveClub, a game packed with more bugs than a cockroach sundae even despite being delayed? A game which, even after patching, operated a one-in, one-out policy for its online races. Such policies may work for heaving nightclubs on a Friday night, but for a game which operates solely online, I put to you that this treatment of the enterprising gamer is tantamount to one of the circles of hell. Had these two ghastly titles been delayed by another month or three, had extra testing and development time been put into making them the best they could be, would these issues have occurred? We will never know for certain. But common sense alone tells us yes. There is mounting evidence that developers and publishers are releasing unfinished games to meet deadlines, because failure to do so will massively impact their budgets, perhaps even push them into financial instability.

For in this age of DLC and day one patches, why release a finished product when you can release an unfinished one in the hope that launch day patches will fix the game’s myriad issues? Would gamers looking forward to Evolve, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Dying Light rather have the game on its original release date and risk glitches, crashes and unplayability, or would they rather have it later, in all its fully functional splendour? Is a broken game released on time better than a working game released at a later time? Is a warthog wearing lipstick still a warthog, or is it a classy lady of the night? I digress. But I implore you, the jury, to think carefully, not with emotion, but with logic, about which of these options is the lesser of two evils. Neither option is perfect. In many ways, neither option is desirable. But much like our would-be piggy prostitute, developers who strive to release a finished product without relying on a veritable clown-car full of patches and day one fixes should be commended for their effort. Nothing further, Your Honour.

Evidence example 2: Assassin's Creed Unity was released too early and was full of glitches (image courtesy of Kotaku).

Exhibit B: Assassin’s Creed Unity was released too early and was full of glitches (image courtesy of Kotaku).

Thank you both. This court shall now adjourn while you, the online jury, consider your verdict. When you have reached a decision, please make your thoughts known in the comments box below. In the meantime, this honourable judge has some The Evil Within DLC to play. What? It’s slipped from its early 2015 release slot? Son of a…