First of all, I'd like to say that no official announcement has been made concerning the delayed release of Yuri's Revenge. In this article I plan to discuss a variety of points; such as why are they considering delaying YR, the sequence of events that has led up to this uncertainty as well as the opinions of myself and some other well known members of the RA2 Community. The article will also be backed up with the current facts that are actually known.
Why are they considering delaying YR? What is all the fuss about? Why would they even consider delaying the release? What Westwood are worried about is the box-art on the RA2 box. It features New York in ruins, a city devastated (probably due to Yuri's forces). However, in light of recent events (namely the suicide attacks on the World Trade Centre), the box-art has been deemed unsuitable, and hence has created a lot of controversy - thus meaning that releasing an expansion pack for the game could also arouse some controversy.
As for facts, a few are currently known:
The first news of a possible delay was on the 14th September, when Wal-Mart & Staples said that they would not stock YR because of the box-art. Here is the news snippet:
"In light of recent events, Wal-Mart and Staples, two well-known stores here in the U.S., decided to take RA2 off of their shelves, due to what they called 'a striking resemblance' to the events at the Pentagon. It is not yet known if this will in any way affect Yuri's Revenge".
Also, on the same day, YR was officially delayed in Germany; here's that news snippet:
Dear friends of C&C,
As you already heard we're going to delay the street day of Yuri's Revenge. As many of you are not in the mood for playing right now, it's the same for us. The things that happened within the last days hit us in our hearts and even if there are no direct losses in the WS/EA family we faced real pain in the last days.
The decision to delay YR was not an easy one; a new street day is not known yet. The final decision will be made around Tuesday or Wednesday next week. In my personal opinion I assume a delay of between 1 to 3 weeks.
The next day (15th of September) Westwood offered to change the box-art; to try and get Wal-mart & Staples to reconsider their decision not to stock YR, here's that snippet:
"Electronic Arts is offering to give retailers a new box cover image for Westwood's RTS game Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 to replace the current image which contains among other things New York's World Trade Center towers burning. EA's corporate communication's head Jeff Brown told HomeLAN via phone today that they were volunteering to replace the box cover out of respect for this week's terrorist attacks on the towers that resulted in their collapse and the deaths of perhaps thousands of people. Brown said it is up to the retailers to make the decision to use the new image. Brown said the new box cover images will be available 'in a week or two'. He added that they were still evaluating how this change will affect the release of the upcoming expansion pack Yuri's Revenge".
The next day, (16th of September) Rob spoke to an anonymous source (apparently very reliable):
"The game will be delayed until the middle of October... none of the content of the game is to be changed. But the box art will be and this delay should be long enough to stop sales being effected".
However, only four days previously, Delphi (the RA2/YR Community Manager) was quoted as saying (on the official renegade boards):
"Yes, Yuri will ship on time".
However, since then Delphi has been quoted as saying that the release date is now not currently known. The bottom line when it comes to the facts is that there is nothing officially to say that YR will or will not be delayed.
As for my opinion, I strongly hope that the expansion pack will not be delayed. Why? Because YR is due to be released at the end of the month (just under two weeks away). By this time I would expect the media attention for the incident to be considerably less. At the moment, I do believe that releasing a game with the current box art would be inappropriate, however in a couple of weeks this could easily change. However, this depends on a number of factors, such as whether America retaliates, or if there is another suicide attack.
Because of this 'probability factor', I believe that Westwood will either delay the release, as well as changing the RA2 box-art. I do have respect for their decision, and I realise why many people will support them. I however, do stand by my opinion that YR is just a game and however much it reflects real life, it is still a game - and must be treated as such. Yet it could be said that I am biased to a certain degree (because I, like many fellow C&C fans, really want to get my hands on YR). When considering Joe Public, I believe that delaying YR is a good thing. Releasing a game whilst RA2 has an inappropriate box-art could decrease sales; and delaying it and changing the box art is the only way to solve this.
So even though I hope YR will not be delayed, on the grand scale of things, I think it will be better if it is delayed - as there will no bad media coverage or complaints and thus the sales figures will be a lot better than they would be if Yuri's Revenge were to be released tomorrow.
As for the opinions of others, I asked two well known webmasters in the RA2 Community, what their opinion were. I asked our own webmaster, Rob, as well as the webmaster of RA2MD, Periclytes. They were both asked the same question: "What do you think about the delayed release of Yuri's Revenge (assuming it is to be delayed)?"
I believe that the game will be delayed for a variety of reasons.
First off, I have received word from a very good source that the game will indeed be delayed to the middle of October.
It would be a poor marketing decision to release the game right now. News of the game featuring the destruction of the World Trade Centre Towers has appeared in several major USA newspapers - releasing an expansion pack now would be a horrific marketing decision. If the game is released in a few weeks then the controversy will have died off. There will be less news about the tragic events, hence people will be more inclined to purchase the game.
Finally, there is the argument of respect - would it be disrespectful to release an expansion pack at this time? I don't know personally. There are lots of differing views. Whilst the basic fact is that RA2 is a computer game, it does have an unnerving tie with the tragic events that took place - by delaying the release Westwood will have time to make any necessary changes to the box-art etc. and will avoid a lot of bad media attention.
Although I am sad that the game has to be delayed so matters such as the box art can be resolved, I am 100% behind Westwood Studios for doing so. The event that occurred last week put a lot of stress on the minds of many, and having the old box art, in my opinion, would have harmed the sales of the expansion pack. I think their delay was in the best interest of the customers so that everyone stays happy
Here is a breakdown of the events that have unfolded over the previous week:
12/09/01 - Delphi says on the Official Renegade Boards that YR will not be delayed.
14/09/01 - Wal-Mart & Staples say they will not stock YR.
14/09/01 - YR officially delayed in Germany.
15/09/01 - WW offer new box art.
16/09/01 - Anonymous source tells Rob that YR will be delayed until Mid-October.
17/09/01 - Delphi says he is unable to comment on release date.
17/09/01 - Gamespot receive confirmation from EA employee that YR is delayed for 1-2 weeks.
I hope that this article clears up any uncertainty that any of you may have had over the past couple of days. It's very likely that Westwood will make an official statement over the next few days.
Thanks to Rob and Periclytes for sharing their opinions.