The Horizon IP has quickly proven itself to be one of Sony's biggest moneymakers. Even though it's only going to be two games deep by the time Forbidden West is released, Guerilla Games' latest franchise could very well end up being the next God of War or Uncharted. Thus, with so much riding on it, it wouldn't be that bad of an idea to delay the game to 2022.
Delaying Forbidden West plays to Sony's favor
These past two weeks have been quite a revelation for PlayStation fans all over the world. First, audiences got an initial, extended look at Forbidden West. Sony wasn't afraid to show off its upcoming first-party title in all of its beauty in a gameplay trailer that lasted nearly half an hour. Then, just a week later, PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst revealed that Sony expects Forbidden West to release some time in 2021.
With that said, Hulst's exact phrasing didn't really inspire as much confidence as expected. His exact words were "we think we are on track to release this holiday season." He even goes as far as to express doubt, saying that the Forbidden West's launch "isn't quite certain yet". Although he did clarify that the team is working hard to confirm the release date, the fact that there's some lingering doubt suggests that Forbidden West could release in 2022.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing though - in fact, delaying Forbidden West to 2022 could actually play in Sony's favor. Keep in mind that video game delays have been very common throughout 2020 and 2021. Titles such as Gotham Knights, Deathloop, Dying Light 2, and Back 4 Blood, among others, have all seen their respective launch dates be delayed by a couple of months if not an entire year. Because of this, no one will be blaming Sony for wanting to delay Forbidden West, especially if it gives Guerilla Games more time to work on the game.
As beautiful as Horizon Zero Dawn was on the PS4, PS4 Pro and PC, Forbidden West is an even more ambitious title. The worst part is that Guerilla Games has the unenviable job of making the game work just as well on the PS4 and PS4 Pro as it will on the PS5.
How Guerilla Games can accomplish this is something worth keeping an eye out on. Unlike other games that received patches for next-gen consoles, Forbidden West is a true next-gen title. There probably wouldn't have been much outrage if Sony decided to keep it as a PlayStation 5 exclusive, regardless of its release date.
This, then, brings us to the point that we're trying to make here - why Sony has little to lose and doesn't need to release Forbidden West in 2021.
Why Sony has a sound reason for delaying Forbidden West to 2022
Similar to Santa Monica Studio's next God of War game, which was confirmed to be delayed to 2022, as well as Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 7, Forbidden West is a cross-generational title. The main reason why we're pointing this out is that cross-generational open-world titles tend to have problems running on older consoles.
The best example of this is Cyberpunk 2077. To date, Sony has yet to re-list Cyberpunk 2077 on the PlayStation Store. The risk of releasing Forbidden West on the PS4 prematurely and with performance issues far outweighs that of not releasing Forbidden West in 2021 at all. Technically, doing so would leave Sony without a big release for Holiday 2021, which is an important window. The closest thing it would have would be Deathloop, which is set to release in September 2021 barring further delays.
Without a big hitter of its own, Sony will essentially be handing over the Holiday 2021 to Microsoft with Halo Infinite for the Xbox Series S/X on a proverbial silver platter. That said, even if this happens, Sony doesn't really have any reason to worry at all.
High-profile games are often labeled by audiences as system-sellers. These games are what get people to buy a particular console. However, Sony is in a unique position that it doesn't need to worry about that at all. In fact, Sony is having trouble keeping up with the demand. Meanwhile, it's a somewhat easier to get your hands on an Xbox Series S/X because fewer people are buying Microsoft's latest consoles due to the lack of exclusive titles, among others.
At this point, the PlayStation 5 needs no additional selling. The console sells itself. Even if it doesn't have far too many exclusives, the list of games is growing. By 2022, the PS5 will have outpaced the Xbox Series S/X with its library of exclusives even further.
In a way, delaying Forbidden West to 2022 could be a good thing as audiences will have had more time to get their hands on a PS5 by then. On the other hand, Guerilla Games could also use the extra time to polish up the gameplay for Forbidden West on the PS4.
Now, don't get us wrong - we would love to see Forbidden West released in 2021. It's just that we don't feel like it would make a difference whether it releases in 2021 or 2022.