He never said this (Picture: Twitter)
‘A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad,’ has always been attributed to the creator of Mario but he never said it.
Despite his huge influence on the video games industry, and the high regard with which he is held by other developers, Shigeru Miyamoto – creator of Mario, Zelda, and much else at Nintendo – rarely gives interviews or does anything much to share his wisdom publicly.
One of the few exceptions has been the phrase, ‘A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.’ That certainly sounds like something he’d agree with but while it’s been attributed to him, no one has ever been able to work out when he first said it – for the simple reason that he never did.
It now seems most likely that it was Siobhan Beeman, who worked on the Wing Commander franchise at Origin in the 90s, that uttered the phrase, or something close to it, for the first time, at GDC (Game Developers Conference) in 1996.
Beeman’s comment in 1996 wasn’t exactly the same, as she’s recorded as saying: ‘A game is only late until it ships, but it’s bad forever.’ Although she doesn’t claim to remember the exact wording anyway.
A subsequent comment from GT Interactive producer Jason Schreiber, in an issue of Gamefan from June 1998, is similarly close: ‘A good game is only late until it ships, a bad game is bad forever.’
According to website A Critical Hit!, the first time the exact quote was ever used, and attributed to Shigeru Miyamoto, is a Usenet post in October 2003, by someone calling themselves Charles E. Hardwidge and complaining about the game Judge Dredd: Dredd Vs. Death.
Of course there was a petition (Picture: Metro.co.uk)
However, there are early posts that also reference the quote and attribute it to Blizzard and, as far back as 1998, either Nintendo or Rare (the poster isn’t sure which was supposed to have said it).
According to Beeman, the reason for this is that the general sentiment was common amongst game developers of the era (this was back when consoles didn’t have patches and those for PC games were difficult to distribute) and so it’s impossible to know who came up with the general concept first – most likely it was several different people thinking along similar lines.
This is exactly the way things work with quotes and popular expressions outside of the games industry, many of which have been around for centuries and yet often end up being attributed to a specific person, who many never have uttered them – often an expert in the field or someone already known for pithy comments (it’s usually either Winston Churchill or Mark Twain).
What’s interesting about the games quote is that not only is it still relevant (although CD Projekt may feel they’ve beaten its logic with Cyberpunk 2077) but Valve found Gabe Newell was recently quoted using a slightly less elegant version of the phrase.
‘Late is just for a little while, suck is forever,’ he said in a new Half-Life 25th anniversary video, although it’s unclear if he was trying to remember the original quote or purposefully rephrasing it.
Newell also had another gem in the same documentary, where’s he’s talking about realism in games, and recalls various conversations with developers about the subject.
‘Somebody [would] say, that’s not realistic and you’re like, ‘Okay, what does that have? Explain to me why that’s interesting.’ Because in the real world, I have to write up lists of stuff I have to go to the grocery store to buy. And I have never thought to myself that realism is fun. I go play games to have fun.’
It could do with being streamlined into something a bit more quotable, but given enough time that will probably happen naturally, even if it ends up being attributed to the wrong person again.
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