Considering that last week's catastrophic earthquake has impacted just about everybody in the video game industry in some manner, it should not come as a surprise that several key games that were scheduled to release in the near future have been delayed or canceled outright in Japan and abroad. Kotaku reports that heavily anticipated titles such as Motorstorm: Apocalypse and Yakuza 4: Of The End have been pushed off into the unspecified future, while Disaster Report 4 has been canned entirely. What is the common thread binding these titles together? As it turns out, all three games revolves around chaos stemming from a massive natural disaster. Meanwhile, Square-Enix has temporarily shut down the online Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV in order to conserve electricity and Capcom has delayed the Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds downloadable content release of new characters Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath.
Tokyo-based developer Irem has completely canceled action game Disaster Report 4 which had been slated for a spring release. The company has apologized to those connected to the game and those looking forward to the title. In the days following the earthquake, the game was actually rising up the Amazon Japan sales chart. The Disaster Report games are set against the backdrop of natural disasters, and the fourth entry in the series seems to have hit too close to home.
Other games, like Motorstorm 3: Apocalypse and Yakuza: of the End - both with apocalyptic-themes - were delayed. The timing couldn't be worse for both games, which show urban environments in ruins. Sony will provide a new release date for Motorstorm in the future. The game was scheduled for a March 17 release. Likewise, Yakuza: of the End, which was supposed to be out this week, will be released at a later date.
There is a precedent for this kind of thing. Any film or television show that featured the World Trade Center was edited or tossed down the memory hole for a while following the terrorist attacks of September 11, for instance. Sometimes I think the self-censorship in the name of political correctness goes too far (how long was that "The City of New York vs Homer Simpson" episode of The Simpsons out of syndication circulation, anyway?), but I can see the logic in canceling a game that is based around an earthquake immediately following an earthquake. On the other hand, I also sort of expect to see a JRPG or two centered around a tragic earthquake as a main story point in several years when time has started to heal wounds. Sometimes inspiration comes from the dark part of history.