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Is Metro Exodus the latest game to flee from Red Dead Redemption 2?

THQ Nordic pushes post-apocalyptic shooter into 2019, assures that development is “progressing well”

Metro fans have been disappointed to read this morning that the next game in the series has been delayed.

Metro Exodus was originally due for release by the end of the year, but THQ Nordic's latest financial results reveal the game has slipped into a Q1 2019 slot.

In a statement, Metro publisher Deep Silver stressed that this is not indicative of troubled development.

"Metro Exodus is progressing well; we are all really excited by what we are seeing," the statement reads. "We have been constantly reviewing the games progress to ensure that we deliver a product that gamers and fans of the Metro series want and deserve, as well as keeping an eye on announcements from our competitor products.

"We want everyone to be able to experience what is the most ambitious Metro game to date at its absolute best and therefore we have taken the decision to move the release date to Q1 2019. We know that this will be disappointing news for fans that had hoped to play the game this year, but also know that you will appreciate the results that this additional development time and new release date will bring."

While the opportunity to add more polish may well be a factor, it's highly likely the company also pushed the game to avoid Q4's biggest release: Red Dead Redemption 2.

Following several delays, Rockstar's Wild West epic is now confirmed for an October 26th release date - right in the heart of the industry's busiest release period, with publishers historically overloading October and November with their biggest blockbusters to capitalise on increased consumer spending around the holidays.

Given the ongoing success of Grand Theft Auto V, analysts and industry professionals alike are expecting big things from Red Dead Redemption 2 - and the potential for outstanding sales has seemingly scared publishers into rearranging their own release slates, not wanting to compete head to head with Rockstar's latest.

The most telling is Activision's decision to release Call of Duty on October 12th - the earliest launch in the series' history. Presumably expecting a post-Red Dead release to suffer from the number of players still engaged in online high noon shootouts, Black Ops 4 will instead aim to secure consumers' cash as early as possible.

It's not alone. Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 has been given an August 28th release date for the UK (30th in other territories), which is the earliest launch for the series since 2005. It's also two weeks earlier than the mid-September pre-FIFA slot Konami has targeted since 2015.

It will be interesting to see if Electronic Arts moves its own release forward when FIFA 19 is announced, likely next month around E3. While there's likely to less audience crossover between football titles and Red Dead Redemption 2, the fact that Konami has pulled forward could suggest a similar shift from EA and a desire to avoid putting PES head-to-head with this year's FIFA.

Yesterday, Bethesda unveiled surprise sequel (well, minus the leaks) Rage 2, which will arrive on consoles and PC in Q1 2019. The announcement is in keeping with the publisher's strategy for the past few years, but where Wolfenstein II and Fallout 4 were both released by Christmas, the firm has opted to wait until after Q4 - and you can bet Red Dead Redemption 2 was a consideration in this.

There are other examples to offer, although these are more based on conjecture. Days Gone was planned for a vague 2018 release but has slipped to 2019, but this could signify the need for more development time given how little of the game has been shown.

Similarly, EA pushed BioWare's shared world online shooter Anthem from an autumn 2018 date to early 2019 - but the title has not been shown since it's E3 debut last year, so this is almost certainly indicative on slower-than-expected development.

As previously predicted, we'll get more of an idea how many publishers are avoiding direct competition with Red Dead Redemption 2 at E3 2018 when more titles are announced and dated. Perhaps the most interesting to watch will be Electronic Arts' Battlefield V, since the series usually opts for a later October date ahead of Call of Duty.

In the meantime, Metro fans will need to wait that little bit longer, although Deep Silver promised to showcase more Metro Exodus gameplay at E3 next month.

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