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Mighty No. 9 Faces Third Major Delay, Release Slips to Spring

This time the culprit is the game's matchmaking. And yes, I am also surprised that this game has matchmaking.

What's colder, the fan support for Mighty No. 9 or the game's prerequisite Ice Stage?
What's colder, the fan support for Mighty No. 9 or the game's prerequisite Ice Stage?

Backers of Mighty No. 9, the Comcept-developed spiritual successor to Mega Man, are going to have to wait even longer to play the game they crowdfunded into existence. Originally scheduled for release last April, then delayed until September, and then until February 9th, the game's release has slipped yet again. In a letter released on the game's Kickstarter page, producer and veteran developer Keiji Inafune explains what the hold up is this time:

The reason for the delay is rooted in bugs inside the network modes, and specifically problems with matchmaking. There are two large reasons for this problem, one of them being the large number of platforms supported (the solution for each platform is slightly different) and the other stems from the fact that the engine we are using is no longer being updated which means adjustments for matchmaking and online code are being made manually (actually reprogramming parts of the engine by the dev team themselves).

Inafune owns up to the delay being the development team's fault throughout the letter, but I can't imagine that's much comfort for fans who were promised they'd receive the game last April. Especially since they may need to wait until this April--if not longer--to play the game: Inafune is cautious to give a new release date for the game, but "expect[s] it to realistically be in Spring 2016." We'll see, I guess.

The tone from backers in the comments is mixed to say the least. A few sympathetic fans offer support, but lots of people are understandably upset. Backers write that they feel "hollow" about the project, that they "regret backing the game," and there are more than a couple refund inquiries. Unsurprisingly, it even gets a little mean in there. People have feelings about faux-Mega Man, y'all.

While I can't support the name calling, I do get where the frustration comes from. Many backers were giving their support--financial and emotional--to a game that was supposed to pick up where their favorite Mega Man titles left off. With rare exception, the majority of those classics were single player experiences. So I'm not surprised that those fans were upset when they read that Mighty No. 9 was being delayed (again) because of busted netcode. At the same time, if the game launched without the multiplayer functionality pledged during the Kickstarter campaign, I'm sure I'd be here raking the developers over the coals for not delivering on their promises.

Hopefully Red Ash, Comcept's spiritual successor to Mega Man Legends, will have an easier time in development.
Hopefully Red Ash, Comcept's spiritual successor to Mega Man Legends, will have an easier time in development.

It would be easy to dismiss this as just the latest example of Comcept fumbling with a Kickstarter campaign (and maybe it is that, too). But I also see it as the latest illustration of the difficulty of managing these sorts of campaigns, where new features are promised in order to bring in more crowdfunding. For that matter, it's also the latest example of how crowdfunding shifts the standards of successful development. If this were a big budget release, some fans would be disappointed and others would be happy that the developers were taking the time necessary to fix things up. But once backer money is involved, everything gets much more complex and way, way more heated.

If Mighty No. 9 really does release this Spring, I wonder if fans will think the delay was worth it. Even more than that, I wonder they'll think backing the game to begin with was worth it. With so many projects up in the air, Comcept needs a hit so that the company can recover the good will its spent the last year or so rapidly losing.