When last week’s Horizon Forbidden West gameplay preview came and went without a refining of its 2021 release window, folks were rightfully curious why a concrete launch date hasn’t been set. According to PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst, it’s because things are still in flux behind the scenes after the events of the last year.
“We think we are on track to release [Horizon Forbidden West] this holiday season,” Hulst said in a new PlayStation Blog interview. “But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can.”
Horizon Forbidden West was first revealed in 2020, with a vague 2021 release announced a few days later. Shortly after last week’s demo, developer Guerrilla Games acknowledged the lack of a release date, only saying that development is on track and that more news is coming “very soon.”
It’s no secret that the ongoing covid-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the game industry’s plans over the last year, resulting in delays for several high-profile releases. Hulst was open about the challenges PlayStation Studios and its subsidiaries have been facing with regards to traditionally in-person work like performance capture.
“So you’ve got a choice,” Hulst explained. “You could do [performance capture] later in the schedule, which could cause you problems. Or you could risk the final quality by doing it in a different way. But I can tell you, we’re not going to risk the quality. We want to ship extremely high-quality games, finished games, and we have to do that obviously without pushing our teams to the breaking point. We have, currently, two very big, very narrative-driven games in development: Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War. And for both of those, they’re frankly affected by access to performance capture and talent.”
As the God of War sequel started production after Horizon Forbidden West, it’s not quite as far along, which prompted Sony and Santa Monica Studios to delay its release to next year.
“With these things, something’s gotta give,” Hulst added. “It cannot be the quality of our titles, and it surely won’t be the health or the wellbeing of our amazing team.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Hulst dropped a few more tidbits about the work being done across the PlayStation universe. Days Gone developer Bend Studio, for instance, is working on an entirely new game rather than a sequel to its middling bikers-versus-zombies, open-world survival game from 2019. Team Asobi, makers of wonderful PlayStation 5 propaganda Astro’s Playroom, are apparently hard at work fleshing out that series.
And while not technically part of the PlayStation umbrella, Hulst said PlayStation Studios is still very interested in continuing to work with developers like Kojima Productions and From Software, perhaps as a response to rumors that Microsoft is in talks to publish the former’s next game.
“To me, in many ways, there really is no difference,” Hulst said. “They’re all PlayStation Studios. We are, at the end of the day, a creator-led organization. Which to me means that we want to find the best possible development studios in the world and help them passionately pursue their ideas. It’s important that PlayStation Studios is a place that allows creators to join us and do the best work of their career. That’s really what I’m after.”