Xbox One indie exclusive Below finally has a release date -- and it's sooner than you think.
Developer Capy announced back in 2016 it had indefinitely delayed the title, but brought it out of hiding earlier this year to put it in the hands of the press. Now the studio and its publisher Microsoft have announced the game will be available for all Xbox One and PC users on Friday, December 14.
It's the end of a long journey for both Capy and Below, with the game originally being announced at Xbox's E3 press conference way back in 2013. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, the studio's co-founder and president Nathan Vella admits that this was a little premature.
"No-one would have cared if we hadn't announced it too early," he tells us, referring to years of calls for a release date. "We're definitely not going to announce things too early [in future], that's for sure. That's the No.1 learning. We know a lot more about when games are ready to be discussed. In the five years since we announced, we've learned a lot and that's a big chunk of our experience."
In our full interview --- which will be published next week -- Vella discussed how the concept and scope of the game shifted and expanded as development continued, hence the long delay and accompanying silence. While he maintains it's been beneficial to the quality of the final game, he acknowledges there was "a ton of risk" in how the studio has handled its messaging around Below.
There is also a danger that years of waiting may have deterred people who were initially excited for the game -- especially given the wealth of roguelike titles that have been released in the interim. But Vella remains confident that Below will differentiate itself, and that even a niche audience will justify the risks Capy has taken.
"I'm not at all afraid of how this game is going to perform," he says. "I have no idea how it's going to perform, that's why I can't really be afraid of it. I think we have something that some people are going to love and some people are not going to like, and I think that's a strength.
"The fact that it's hard, brutal but fair, challenging in the sense that you actually have to figure things out -- there is a learning curve. There is a point where people are going to say 'screw it', and that's okay. Not every game has to be for everyone."
He continued: "Some people are going to pick it up and beat it in two days -- and I'm going to be so mad. But some people are going to take some time to get over the hump, and I hope they do. I also know some people aren't going to because it is very different, and it does have a different ask of players than some of the games that are super popular right now."
It may be surprising that Capy and Xbox have announced Below's release date just a week ahead of the actual launch, thus denying them much time to repromote the game and re-engage those who previously showed interest.
However, Vella observes that the market has changed so much in the past few years that he and the team "know how hard it is to release games right now", adding that "having the support of platforms is integral."
Ultimately, given the long silence surrounding Below and the disappointment surrounding it's previously indefinite delay, he believes today's announcement is all the game's fans will need.
"I never know the best way to release a project," says Vella. "You can never know. You don't have the A/B data, you can't focus test a release style, you can't expect your release is going to work well because it worked well the last time.
"Everything changes so fast, and in this case we know what people want most out of Below: a goddamned release date."