Crackdown 3 is delayed, but is that such a terrible thing?

After the news broke earlier today, I found myself flooded with messages on social media about Crackdown 3's delay, which now moves over to spring 2018. News like this is always controversial with the hardcore crowd, with Xbox detractors using it as a means to gloat and proselytize the downfall of the entire platform.

Microsoft's struggles with second party studios are pretty well documented at this point. Games like Ryse, Quantum Break, and Scalebound – exclusives built by contracted non-Microsoft studios – struggled in various ways, with the latter being canceled altogether.

It was reported that Crytek and Microsoft had a falling out over the Ryse IP, while Quantum Break's developers, Remedy Entertainment, announced plans to hit PlayStation almost immediately after shipping their much-hyped time-bending third-person shooter. And we all know what went down with Scalebound. What I'm saying here is, the fears for Crackdown 3 aren't without merit.

Crackdown 3's single player campaign is being put together by Sumo Digital, who has worked extensively with Microsoft on franchises like Forza, while the multiplayer component is being put together by Cloudgine, who are building technology that powers cloud-based physics.

Perhaps it wouldn't be such a huge deal if Crackdown 3 wasn't one of fairly few core exclusive titles launching on Xbox One this year, which is of particular interest due to the imminent launch of the Xbox One X. Some have decried Microsoft's 2017 lineup as particularly weak, given the abundance of quality exclusives Sony's PlayStation has enjoyed this year, and delays always provide the opportunity to kick Microsoft for those commentators who are so inclined.

As far as fans and gamers go, however, is moving Crackdown 3 to 2018 such a big deal? Maybe it is, but it's not a bad thing.

Delays are a necessary evil

Some of the greatest games in recent history have been the subject of delays. The Witcher 3 was famously bumped a couple of times, and Grand Theft Auto V too, both on previous generation consoles and PC.

The last thing any company wants to do is delay a game, because it eats into profit margins when you have to invest several additional months of development time before the money starts coming in.

Imagine a world where the maligned Mass Effect Andromeda had received an additional six months of bug fixes and polish.

I'm by no means assuming the delay will turn Crackdown 3 into something with the depth and scope of the Witcher 3, of course, but the sentiment that it will result in a better game should hold true.

I know it had already seen delays of its own, but imagine a world where the maligned Mass Effect Andromeda had received an additional six months of bug fixes and polish. We now live in a world where Mass Effect might not even exist anymore because EA gave up and shipped the franchise's most buggy and unpolished game to date. One of gaming's most beloved sci-fi franchises ever is on hiatus as a result. As a fan of Mass Effect, I can't possibly emphasize how disappointing that is.

I wish Mass Effect Andromeda got delayed.

I wish Mass Effect Andromeda got delayed.

For Microsoft to delay Crackdown 3 shows a willingness to push further to deliver a quality game. The much-rumored ReCore Definitive Edition will reveal what that game would have looked like with additional development time, and if my information is correct, it will be far superior to the game we saw last year, in terms of content, polish, and engine performance. Perhaps Microsoft is changing its ideology on how to handle first and second party titles, having learned lessons from the ill-fated Scalebound.

Why was Crackdown 3 delayed?

I've been unable to verify this information, so take it with a grain of salt, but I've heard from a few independent sources that the technology that powers Crackdown 3's cloud-powered multiplayer mode is at least in part to blame for the delays to the game. The technology is incredibly impressive, and we've seen it first hand at Gamescom a couple of years back, but that was in a closed environment. Add in the chaos of the world wide web, and server-side physics computations sound like a far more complicated affair.

If it is true that the multiplayer component of Crackdown 3 is holding up the game, it's not as though Sumo Digital will be sitting around doing nothing for the next few months. Microsoft Studios general publishing manager Shannon Loftis said that the delay will allow them to add visual polish to the game, delivering a more immersive experience in the process.

The alternative option would have been releasing Crackdown 3's single player separately to the multiplayer, but then you would be paying full price for half a game. The ideal solution was to delay the whole thing and improve every aspect, rather than wait for one piece of it to be completed.

I played Crackdown 3 at E3 2017 a few weeks back, and found it to be a resoundingly fun, and surprisingly well-polished affair. Still, there has been some commentary about the way the game looks, given its in-game cel-shaded visuals are a far cry from the quality of some of the CGI cinematics we've seen, featuring a digitized Terry Crews in all of his epic glory.

I saw this Crackdown 3 in-engine concept image floating around the web and have been unable to track where exactly it was posted, but the game at present looks nowhere near as detailed as the above. Perhaps there's a chance it could get closer to that conceptual goal as a result of this delay.

Is it really a big deal?

Crackdown 3 would have dropped in among the likes of Star Wars Battlefront II, Destiny 2, Call of Duty: WW2, Shadow of War, Assassin's Creed Origins, and various other photo-realistic heavy-hitters that would have quite easily stolen the spotlight from Crackdown 3. Even if Crackdown 3's delay wasn't technical, shifting it to a later date gives it a much bigger chance to shine on its own.

But what about the Xbox One's winter lineup? What about the Xbox One X's launch titles? The Xbox One X will be showcasing games like Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Forza 7 and Assassin's Creed Origins to showcase its full 6 TF graphics capabilities. While Crackdown 3 is full of flair and fireworks, I feel as though it's those photo-realistic games that will really have people's jaws dropping when they see them in full 4K on the X this November.

Microsoft's chief competitor, Sony's PlayStation, doesn't exactly have a huge exclusive lineup for the holiday season either, so it's not as though Microsoft needs to meet Sony head on with a heavy-hitting library of exclusives for the fall-winter games rush. It's the multiplats that almost always take the sales crown anyway. And seriously, who wants to go up against Battlefront II while a new Star Wars movie is about to hit movie theatres?

All in all, you have to assume that the delay will result in a better game for us, a better critical reception for its developers, and better business for Microsoft, who frankly have a lot to prove with the death of Fable Legends and Scalebound still fresh in people's memories. The delay is a good thing, but it will only amplify the pressure on Sumo Digital, Cloudgine, and Microsoft to really deliver something truly "AAA" next spring.

How do you feel about Crackdown 3's delay? Hit the comments and let's get discussing.

More: Hands-on with Crackdown 3

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Becoming more frequent with Microsoft....that annoys me. It's like they announce early to hype but deep down they know it wouldn't be ready by that time.
  • Yeeeep, this is why Phil said they're gonna stop announcing things early.
  • I'm pretty over the Crackdown series anyway, I never even bothered finishing the second because it just got so boring. So I'm more than happy to wait, although I can understand how frustrating it must be for some.
  • not sure if im even going to get it. didn't play the first 2. maybe ill try it one day. 
  • Even the biggest catastrophe is a win for Microsoft... At least in WindowsCentral. 
  • I really think you are getting money from Microsoft to publish only positive reviews. Even your "negative" reviews are formulated in a manner that sounds nice. Do you cook up new hypes every time you meet with Dona or other Microsoft employees? In this article, the graphics are bad.
    Still, there has been some commentary about the way the game looks, given its in-game cel-shaded visuals are a far cry from the quality of some of the CGI cinematics we've seen, featuring a digitized Terry Crews in all of his epic glory.
    In the Hands-on article, the graphics look "gorgeous"
    On Xbox One X, Crackdown 3 will run at a 4K resolution, complete with enhanced visuals and improved texture density. It looks stunning at 4K and should serve as part of a solid lineup of first party games hitting the Xbox One S and Xbox One X this fall.
      Microsoft has had a lot of serious problems lately, and the whole world has been reporting about that. Meanwhile, you have reported on other stuff noone cares or about new accessories for your PC (and how great they are). 
  • A: this isn't a review, but k B: nowhere in this article says the graphics are bad, but k C: you're right, Microsoft paid me $1,000,000 to write this article, I'm having caviar for breakfast
  • you can upgrade that tiara
  • thank god
  • A: I didn't say this is a review. I was talking about reviews (or I should have said articles, in general) in WC. In fact, I wasn't writing to your person at all. The only thing that references to you is the quote from this article and the hands-on article (which you authored, by coincidence) and the fact that you are in the team of WindowsCentral. B: No, you don't say that, but obviously they are as you say a "far cry from the CGI" and you wrote that it was also nowhere near the in-engine render above, which doesn't let me think that you really meant they look "stunning" like you wrote in your hands-on. C: No, I don't think they pay you that much, because if they would have, you wouldn't have 2 sponsored articles (Ads) for 1 real article.
  • > A: I didn't say this is a review.
    > In fact, I wasn't writing to your person at all.
    k... > I really think YOU are getting money from Microsoft to publish only positive REVIEWS.
    ... funny.
  • A: if you read my stuff you'd know that I'm not afraid to criticize Microsoft, but I'm not gonna jump on the negativity train for clicks if it's not what I believe in my heart, I'm simply not that good at lying. B: It DOES look stunning... for a cel-shaded stylized game in motion. Photo-realistic games will ALWAYS be more impressive. You're drawing a false equivalency in an attempt to add merit to your false analysis. C: we get nothing directly from Microsoft, save for the dynamic ads provided via a third-party (that appear on every site using Google Adsense) Ironically, unlike the major game sites out there, we have zero direct advertising from Microsoft. Some of the big game sites out there in fact do take money directly from Sony/PlayStation for ads, but I rarely see people question their integrity when they're writing articles that crap all over Xbox.
  • Wow aren't you just a big ball of negative fun.
  • I am just tired of hypetrains, selective coverage, etc. that's all. I believe this site has so much potential and it's not being used because I think someone is afraid of speaking out. A website like this can be successful even if you critizise your main topic, when appropriate.
  • I will criticize Microsoft when I feel it's appropriate, and I in fact highlighted them in this article over their handling of "second party" studios.
  • You know Jez, I think Microsoft listens more to you than to their Feedback Hub. There is so much wrong going on right now, like the Photos App rename, for example. If you really think that their handling of second party studios is that bad, you should write an article about that, because an anecdote is not a critique. You don't have to "lie" to tell Microsoft, when they are doing something wrong. In fact, right now you don't even have to search to find stuff that is just plain wrong. I can give you lots of examples that are big and easy to solve and are there for years already. Most of them have to do with a bad User Experience, to the point I am wondering if Microsoft even has a UX Specialist in each team. Here's a list of some of the problems that are present and which may or may not be worth an article: Language Settings don't work for everyone outside of US (I believe). Every App handles the language settings differently. In some Apps, like Edge or OneNote you get corrected every time when you write an English word and you don't have the English Language selected. In a lot of Apps, you can't turn that off. OneDrive... The execution of OneDrive is really abysmal. If your PC starts synchronizing everything you have (without even asking), and you can't stop it because "not everything is synchronized yet". Luckily, there is a pause button in OneDrive. Sadly, if you pause the button you can't access the settings. (Who designed this!?) Oh and the One Drive Desktop design is bad too. Why can't they just give you all the informations you want to see without having to wait years for a small UI update? They have the informations already, they just don't have the UI to show it. This is a small fix, even a 15 year old doing an apprenticeship can deal with it. Edge: The UserExperience in Edge is terrible. Why does noone want to use Edge? Well we could start with openning a Tab. If it takes longer than one second, you don't get feedback. User interactions should never take longer than one second, but you click the button and nothing happens until eventually a new tab opens. The user doesn't know if he misclicked, it worked, it just didn't get the click or if Edge is just ignoring him. This isn't fixed in the new Update coming, even if they said Edge should look more responsive. This is also a really really easy fix, to give a feedback to the user on actions he is doing. (Who designed this!?) You could write an article about this. Even if you use Edge on a daily basis. Cortana doesn't work well anywhere outside US. There is a big fragmentation. In fact, a lot of features and for example discounts are US bound. I remind you, that your audience is not only from the US and maybe you could talk for your audience and make them feel understood? But you know your audience better than me... Fragmentation. Most of Microsoft Apps have same features but they are disperced over many apps that do the same. One Drive can search for Photos better than the Photos App. Photos App doesn't have OneDrive integration. Even Outlook is getting a Photos App inside. All these three Apps have similar functionality but not all the features. Maybe you could write an article about how big this problem is? Multi-Display-Support: If you have multiple displays connected and they do not have the same resolution, **** happens. Big visual artefacts appear, when I try to put OneNote and Drawboard side by side and resize them. How is it possible that there are no fixes for an OS that's years old? Of course, Microsoft expects everything to be logged into the Feedback Hub. But is there really a will to log every Bug into the FH? There are so many and they are hard to describe sometimes. They will be lost in the depth of the Feedback Hub and noone will ever read them (partly due to limitations in the FH App itself).
  • On the other side of the coin, No Man's Sky was delayed a bunch of times and still released in a not so great state last year. So yeah a delay can be good but it can also be ultimately worthless.
  • You have to assume a game with Microsoft's financial backing will see a more robust development cycle than No Man's Sky, which is an indie, but yeah it could easily go that way too. Mass Effect Andromeda itself was also delayed a couple of times, but was far bigger in scope than Crackdown 3 (several open world planets, dozens hours of campaign vs a dozen or so, etc). It could go either way for sure.
  • No its not a big deal, MS made a good decision with the game to bring more quality. Where todays fanboys only care about "My console has more games than yours" no matter how broken games can be, I don't mind delays to have a better game in the end. 
  • I like you
  • HA! i can say the same and keep up the great articles. 
  • Hey if Crackdown 3 becomes a better game and really delivers next year, I am fine with a delay. Allows me to snoot my other awesome games coming out this holiday. I rather get a good game, than some company trying to meet there quota and delivering a bad game
  • Things to keep in mind: I don't really like games being exclusive to a platform (even timed).  I am something of a MS fanboy... It's great that they are releasing a higher quality game, I am a big fan of not releasing buggy as hell games, which seems to be the norm now.  However, MS has really gotten the reputation of not being able to deliver first party content, for all of their bragging otherwise.  We've seen at least 2 very high profile exclusive cancellations, 1 exclusive released before it was finished (ReCore - great game otherwise), and numerous games that have been repeatedly delayed.  Meanwhile, PS has had a stellar couple of years delivering exclusives. TL;DR: No, by itself it is not a huge deal, but it really LOOKS BAD for Microsoft's ability to deliver games.
  • Agreed
  • This isn't the first or even the second delay.  A delay at this point mean they are struggling to fulfill the promised they originally made for the game.  
  • Blah, I'd rather they get it right over getting it fast. Probably will still need a 15 GB day one patch. :)
  • The biggest issue with launching in spring next year is it's going up against RDR2.
  • I dont Know Jez, it is not this particular delay, that I´m ok with btw, but the whole picture. I like your articles and think you are rising as important voice for xbox fans in the midia, but dont you think it could the time to check the heads of MS studios and maybe get some new ppl on board? Because we had Fable Leg and Scalebound cancelled and State of Decay 2 and Crackdown 3 delayed, they werent able to put out almost nothing on this command. I'm not putting down the work of Phil but I think it is time to him to abandon the "everything is wonderful" mantra and start acting, delivering on game line up, because what we got so far it was almost all related to Mattrick administration (Ryse, Sunset, Ori, Recore, etc.).  
  • I agree whole heartedly that they're creating a perception of incompetence, but behind the scenes they're undergoing a period of transition from deals put in place in the Don Mattrick era. Maybe Mattrick would've been happy to let Scalebound limp along in development hell for another couple of years, maybe Phil has a different approach. I think it's too early to call Xbox leadership into question... now if we're talking about Phil's boss... that's another matter. :)
  • This was supposed to be a signature launch title for the One X, now it's just Forza 7. This game is clearly in trouble. It was show to,the press two years ago then went dark. It pops up at this years E3 again and mightily underwhelms, now a delay. I liked the original title so I hope,they get it sorted out but I will defiantly be waiting on it to see the reviews fist.
  • Crackdown 3 being delayed isn't an issue by itself.  As mentioned in the article, there is a strong third party lineup this fall and Crackdown 3 would likely be lost in the shuffle and extra time is almost always beneficial. The problem is the continuing trend of delays, cancellations, average games, and the lack of exclusives (Xbox/Win10) from MS Studios.  Add to that the stellar year PS has had in that department and it's a big deal. From 2013-2016, you can at least argue that MS had a better exclusive lineup depending on your tastes, etc.  This year any rational thinking video game fan would say that exclusives on PS destroyed what Microsoft has had to offer.  And if you're an Xbox exclusive gamer, this is worrying. 
  • "Sony's PlayStation, doesn't exactly have a huge exclusive lineup for the holiday season either" - what a load of crap. Between 1st August and the end of the year Sony has 20 true exclusives and 32 console exclusives on the PS4. I would say that's pretty 'huge' - especially when it isn't including the 3rd party games
  • I'm amazed that even though you quoted what I said, you didn't read it. Try again.
  • Technically crackdown 3 wasn't suppose to be released in the "holiday season". Isn't that period suppose to be between November end to early January? I do understand your point and agree with it as you are talking about the direct competition releasing in the same period (early november). But I also see his point as he was looking at a bigger period.
  • I'm always saying delaying a game is almost always a positive thing. I rather want a finished game than one with missing features and/or broken.
    I hope this delay was because they want to complete the game and make it as good as possible. So I think there is one positive. I guess they are struggling to get the cloud working with this game. Or maybe all the criticism they got from recent gameplay will help them improve that. I guess people can thank critics if that happens... Looking at MS/XB, imo it is HUGE negative. It exposes even more the lack of exclusives. When we look this year or recent year, when we look at last few E3/gamescom... "cheap" time deals with small indie studios... Cancelled games, studios closed... I see a clear pattern. MS drying the investment in making games.
    Yes, the PS4 doesn't have that have as many exclusives in the last few months as the start of the year (still A LOT more than XB1's offering) but overall the PS4 just kept getting exclusives and console exclusives throughout the year. If you compare the 2 it's ridiculous and extremly poor for XB1.  ofc it doesn't look good for the launch of a new console. And also it's funny how you talked of Fable Legends and Scalebound. Both these games have been delayed multiple times before MS had enough of it and just cancelled the game. Hopefully this won't happen to this game.