XDefiant, Ubisoft's upcoming multiplayer shooter that some have hailed as the return of a more old-school, more 2010s-style, perhaps more try-hard Call of Duty-esque experience, has been delayed for an indeterminate amount of time. Why? Because it somehow offended the console gods: failing to pass the certification process for at least one of either PlayStation or Xbox, which means we all have to wait to get our hands on it until Ubisoft can rectify the problems that cropped up and try to get XDefiant certified again.
If you're used to the sunlit uplands of PC gaming, where the only barrier between a developer and a videogame release is whether they can be bothered to upload a build to a cloud storage platform, "certification" might be a bit of a mystery to you. In short, it's the process by which platform owners like Sony and Microsoft scrutinise games that release on PlayStation and Xbox to make sure they meet those platforms' requirements before coming out.
According to a post on the Ubisoft blog, the game didn't meet those requirements for at least one of the consoles (though which one isn't stated), so the game's being pushed back.
"At the end of July, we started this process, and we got our first results back by mid-August which was a Not Pass," wrote XDefiant executive producer Mark Rubin, "We realized then that we had more work related to compliance than we had anticipated." If XDefiant had passed its first attempt at certification, the game would probably have released at the end of August, but alas, it wasn't to be. Instead, Ubisoft has spent the last month or so working on rectifying the issues that cropped up during certification in order to submit it again.
Rubin says Ubisoft will "hopefully be submitting to 1st parties in a little less than 2 weeks." If all goes smoothly, then XDefiant could "be looking at a mid-to-end of September release," but Rubin reckons there's "a likely scenario where we get a conditional Pass meaning we have to do a Day 1 patch with some final fixes to ensure compliance." If that happens, then Ubisoft will need to take a little time to piece together that patch, which would push the date to "early/mid-October." Gosh, this game development lark seems pretty complicated if you ask me.
If you're curious as to why this is happening—we don't often hear about big games failing certification—Rubin has an answer for you. "If we were following the standard rules for game releases, we would have set a date far enough in advance with enough buffer to have a confident release date," said the executive producer, noting that "like a lot of things with this game, we have not chosen the typical route."
"Having millions of people play your game long before it’s ready is not normal. Not being afraid to show an unfinished game to millions of people with all its flaws is not normal," said Rubin, pointing out that playtests of the game "were real tests and not just marketing events." Apparently, that meant Ubisoft couldn't—or wouldn't—give itself the usual buffer period necessary to make sure games can settle on a relatively solid release date. Rubin says that means "when it comes to when we will release the real answer is 'as soon as we can.'"