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Christmas Rushed
"We don't usually keep set release dates. A delayed game can be made great eventually, but a rushed game is bad forever."

Christmas Rushed is the practice of rushing a product's development in order to coincide with a major holiday shopping rush (like Christmas, naturally). It often happens to highly hyped products, products made by big-name developers, or products that are part of a Cash Cow Franchise or tie into something already currently successful.

It can also apply to any product that is rushed for release by a certain date, or in time for a certain event (such as the deadline for an award nomination or convention appearance). Whatever the case, the fact that the product was rushed often leads to a poorly made product. The Problem with Licensed Games and Porting Disaster usually occurs due to this, as the developers are rushed to have the game released at the same time as the licensed property's premiere/launch/kickoff.

This can often lead to Development Hell. Worse are those products that do manage to be released on time, since it's often obvious that they're rush jobs.

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • In this modern age of easily-downloadable bootleg fandubs, many American anime licensees will compete with the pirates by rushing out a quick-and-dirty sub-only streaming version on either their own web site or sites like Hulu or Crunchyroll to give fans an official version to watch while they wait for a full-featured, English-dubbed DVD release or TV showing. Depending on just how much of a rush they're in, the streaming version may include translation errors, typos, or Adaptation Induced Plot Holes that are corrected in later releases.
  • Each Pokémon anime is out when the games they're representing are released, and must end just before the release of the new generation of games. Because of this, we often got situations such as the incredibly rushed finale for the Sinnoh League. The saga after was more brisk all around, but it was rushed even further with the release of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.
  • When Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann gained a lot of buzz through (bootleg) fansubs, U.S. licensee Bandai made the controversial decision to push out a sub-only DVD release as a stopgap rather than wait for an English dub to be complete and possibly lose business to piracy. They did eventually release a version with a (very well-regarded) English dub some time later.
  • Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle was a produced with a six month period of development. Typically a series will have a development time of ten or more months.

Comic Books
  • Generally a Comic Book Adaptation will be prepared to coincide with the release of a film; as a result, they have to work with earlier drafts of the movie rather than the final cut. Marvel Comics' adaptation of Star Wars, for example, included Jabba the Hut, looking much different from his appearance two films later.
    • A better example would be the weird-looking Yoda in Marvel's adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, which had to be pencilled before the puppet's look had been finalized. The trade paperback redid the panels to make him closer to the Yoda in the film, but he was still clearly too big.

Film
  • Mentioned in The Last Starfighter, a movie about an alien race who recruits pilots through video games:
    Rylan Bursar: "Return the money, Centauri."
    Centauri: "Return the money! Are you delirious? Do you know how long it took to invent the games? To merchandise them? To get them in the stores by Christmas?"
  • Last Action Hero was rushed to open for the 1993 big summer movie season, to the point that post-production on the film was only finished a few weeks before its initial release.
  • Cloverfield had to be rushed into production (which started in August 2007) to be ready in time for its stone-set date of January 18th, 2008 (the trailer, which was released a month earlier, came out while the film was still in pre-production).
  • Steven Spielberg rushed Munich into production and post-production in just five months so he could open it in time for Oscar qualifying. Though the film was a box-office disappointment (due to advertising not being ready until two weeks before opening), it did get some Oscar nominations.
  • Oliver Stone had to rush the production of W. (which began development in late 2007 and began filming in April 2008) so he and Lionsgate could have it out before the 2008 election (the original plan was to release it in January 2009 to get more post-production work done but Lionsgate was wanting Oscar nominations so it was moved up).
  • Alien vs. Predator Requiem was timed to be released in 2007 on Christmas Day, and had an appropriately-themed marketing campaign ("This Christmas, there will be no peace on earth."). In addition, the film was Not Screened for Critics, and debuted to negative reviews and box office apathy.
  • Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III began production in August 1989 in order to make a November 3rd release date (trailers shot before the film was were shipped out with that date before prints of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child). But despite finishing production just days before the original date, issues with the MPAA forced a delay to January 1990 and the film flopped due to said delays and the cuts to get an R rating being very obvious.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was rushed into production for December 1991 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the franchise as a whole. Thanks to its smaller budget the film did relatively well at the box office, it was considered a massive improvement after the lackluster results of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and rivals Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan for many fans as their favorite film in the series, proving that Tropes Are Not Bad.
    • The rushed postproduction period may have been the reason the movie was changed slightly for home video. The VHS and laserdisc releases had remade end credits and included some explanatory dialog that was missing from the theatrical release (which wasn't seen again until 2009).
  • Muppets from Space was planned for release in early 2000, but Columbia Pictures wanted it to be part of their Summer 1999 lineup, resulting in this trope.

Music
  • The Beatles'
  • Part of the tension which led to Roger Waters firing keyboardist Richard Wright during production of Pink Floyd's The Wall was that the band were promised a bonus by Columbia Records to deliver the album on schedule in December 1979 in time for the holiday shopping season, meaning Roger had to ask a uninspired/unreliable/unprofessional Wright (who, granted, was going through marital difficulties) to cut short his vacation in Greece to finish the keyboard parts. Wright was frustrated at the decision, presumably gave Waters a hard time about it, and Waters decided to tell the band and management that either Wright would be fired or Waters would leave, taking The Wall with him. As Pink Floyd were in desperate financial straits at the time, were already a little agitated at Richard's behavior and needed a hit album to restore their fortunes, they fulfilled Waters' wishes and let Wright go note .
  • Caribou by Elton John was rushed into production in six days in an experimental mountaintop studio of the same name in Colorado owned by Chicago svengali James William Guercio, in a very brief window of time off between tours. The result was not one of Elton's more consistent albums, partly as a result, and was a bit of a disappointment coming on the heels of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, but its slapdash charm has its fans, and "The Bitch Is Back" and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" remain favorites in the Elton catalogue. As Tantrums And Tiaras pointed out, though, when Elton's much younger future husband David Furnish was invited to Elton's mansion as a first date, he broke the ice with the singer by telling him he grew up listening to Caribou!

Pinball
  • The original Amiga version of Pinball Fantasies was rushed to avoid missing the Christmas 1992 shopping season, and ended up with numerous bugs as a result.

Tabletop Games
  • Companies that manufacture board games and role-playing games often have to rush to get them out in time for major conventions such as GenCon, Origins Game Fair and SPIEL in Essen, Germany. The latter is big date, because it starts Christmas shopping season in Europe, and a game not in Essen has little chance of making it big in Christmas sales.
  • The Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide was very obviously GenCon rushed, with references to class abilities that don't exist, incredibly poor balance between classes, feedback from the playtest phase ignored, and most tellingly, a Tyop on the Cover.

Toys
  • The mother of all "Don't Miss Christmas" marketing has to be the 1977 Star Wars Early Bird Certificate, which was basically a cardboard display and a ticket with the promise of getting Star Wars action figures. Surprisingly, this worked- it allowed time to develop quality action figures, and Star Wars was so blindingly popular that no one seemed to mind.

Video Games
  • ET The Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is an infamous example; the game was made in only six weeks so it could be released on time for the holidays and tie in with the then-popular movie, leading to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983. The Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man suffered the same problem; the programmer was only given six weeks to write the game. At the end of those six weeks, all he had to offer was an unfinished alpha - and they released it as it was.
  • It is presumed that this is why Natsume's translation of Harvest Moon 64 was released at the end of November, with so many on-screen typos in the in-game English-language text.
  • Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords suffered this fate, with a horrible ending that tied up very few loose ends capping off a game that could have been Legendary Good. LucasArts just needed it to be out by Christmas, and damn the players' satisfaction with the game. Obsidian has stated that they were under the impression that they were to be given more time by Lucas Arts but unfortunately they didn't get it in writing and still had to release the game by the end of 2004 which led to even more rushing, and even with the rush, it didn't reach Europe until February.

    And the worst part about this example is that LucasArts then specifically told Obsidian they couldn't restore the cut content in a patch. But that hasn't stopped a few different fan groups from trying to create their own patch/restoration projects over the years, pulling the unused audio and video files from the discs, rendering their own game play and animation to fill in the gaps, and using the same or similar templates the two KOTORs used - but most of them suffer from the opposite problem or are never finished at all.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) was rushed: A.) for a Christmas release, and B.) to mark it as the 15th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog. The result was an Obvious Beta, widely considered the worst entry in the entire Sonic franchise.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was also rushed, causing the loss of five planned Zones (one, Genocide City, was turned into a third act for Metropolis Zone), and a time-travel feature that was implemented into Sonic the Hedgehog CD instead. Despite that, it wound up on the opposite end of the spectrum and is considered one of the best Sonic games produced.
    • The same also goes for its sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, where the developers were simply too ambitious for both their time limits and the limitations of the system they were making the game for, so the game had to be split into two, the first part being released on February 2nd, 1994, or "Hedgehog Day", and the second part, Sonic & Knuckles, released eight months later, allowing players to combine the two parts to play the two back-to-back (with a few added features) as Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
    • And Sonic Spinball, which was a holdover for until the above was released.
    • In Japan, Sonic Adventure was rushed out to meet the high demand and capitalize on the 1998 holiday season. Sonic Team USA then spent an additional year polishing it and fixing various bugs and glitches for its Western release, and this version was also re-released in Japan as "Sonic Adventure International" in October 1999.
  • Enter the Matrix was rushed so that the release would coincide with The Matrix Reloaded.note 
  • Word of God is that Epic Mickey was rushed to reach store shelves by the 2010 holiday season, which explains a few of the game's rougher edges. Even with the rush, it missed the "Black Friday" after-Thanksgiving shopping weekend.
  • Spyro: Enter The Dragonfly is to the Spyro the Dragon fandom what Sonic 2006 would become to the Sonic fandom years later, with the added issue it was the first console game not done by Insomniac. The game was supposed to have 120 dragonflies instead of 90, feature both Gnasty Gnorc along Ripto as villains, over 25 levels with several homeworlds (instead of 9 levels and 1 home world), high framerates and low loading-times. It was rushed for Christmas and all we got was a glitchy mess with Loads and Loads of Loading (the loading screens have loading screens), bad animation, and tons of lag.
  • Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny is considered to be Summer Holiday Rushed as it is severely lacking in modes and unlockable items. It even advertised itself as a simpler version of Soul Calibur 4 for players new to the game, which is a way of the makers admitting they couldn't make it as good as they wanted to.
  • An odd example occurs with the Call of Duty series, as Activision orders their various studios to have games ready by Veterans Day. That the series has two different developers making every other new game in the series means nothing truly game-breaking slips through - but once the newest game is out, the other team basically have to drop their previous game entirely to start on their next one, so any glitches that aren't patched within a year of release will never be patched.
  • Car Tycoon was literally Christmas Rushed for Christmas 2001. It ended up not simply having a few bugs, but being borderline unplayable, something that even two bugfixes couldn't repair. For example, the cars sold by the competing companies clogged the streets so it became impossible to even deliver new cars to the stores because the number of cars in the game, their lifespan, and the overall length of the streets were badly balanced.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's questionable writing quality is blamed by several fans on the game being Christmas Rushed. This is supported by the later-released European version clearing up several awkward comments compared to the American version.
  • World of Warcraft's Cataclysm expansion, despite Blizzard's insistence otherwise, is a case of this. See also Aborted Arc.
  • Mario Kart 7 was released as an emergency to improve the catalogue of the Nintendo 3DS for Christmas 2011. (So much that they had to request a company which Nintendo frequently gave tight deadlines on their own games to complete it.) Surprisingly, the game received very positive reception and only had one flagrant bug, and five months later Nintendo introduced a new patching system for 3DS hardware just to fix it.
  • A similar case was The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Put out for the 25 anniversary of the series, but arrived with a nasty surprise: a Game-Breaking Bug. Nintendo was pretty quick to issue a patch for that one too.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was hit by this as well, with the game rushed out for Christmas 2002 in Japan and some important content cut out to reach the deadline; namely, two whole dungeons were cut out and replaced with the Triforce Hunt. Fortunately, according to Aonuma, the dungeons found their place in later titles.
  • Tomb Raider'':
    • Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness was in Development Hell for a while, and then ironically rushed out for the Christmas season, which was one of the reasons the game had a ton of cut content and bugs up the wazoo. To make matters worse, the game didn't make it since it wasn't released until February of 2003.
    • Tomb Raider Chronicles was shoved out to meet Christmas sales at the end of 2000. While the game itself wasn't terrible, it was considered to be short and mediocre and the writing was questionable due to plot inconsistencies when compared to the previous games. Chronicles wasn't even supposed to exist since Lara's apparent death in The Last Revelation, but Executive Meddling forced the developers to pump out another game.
  • Inverted by Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon. It was scheduled for a November 2012 release, then was pushed back to March 2013 for The Year of Luigi.
  • The Virtual Boy was rushed for different reasons, as Nintendo didn't want to waste anymore resources with further development with them wanting to focus on the Nintendo 64. It was released far before its creator, Gunpei Yokoi, felt it was ready. The system flopped and Yokoi was given the blame and demoted to a desk job before leaving the company.
  • The Xbox 360 was rushed to market to give it a year's head start on the PS3 and Wii. Reports are conflicting, but it seems clear that its hardware problems were known (although their full scope might not have been) and it was pushed out the door anyway on the theory that a year unopposed would balance out the cost of manufacturer-warranty repairs. There was also the issue of nVidia's contract to produce the original Xbox's graphics chip expiring, so Microsoft had to rush its next-gen console or else go an entire year without any console on the market.
  • ICO was Christmas rushed, but curiously only in the NTSC region. The end result was Yorda's AI being much worse (very bad considering that the whole game is essentially an escort mission with her being escorted) to the point of fan hatred at her stupidity and being considered The Scrappy, various bonuses and features being missing, puzzles being altered and made too easy, and truly awful cover art. Compare this to the un-rushed PAL region release, with much better AI for Yorda, a secret bonus ending along with other Easter Eggs and a very beautiful and distinct cover made by the lead designer of ICO based of the painting "Nostalgia of the Infinite". Because of the huge backlash from the NTSC version, the HD re-release was a port of the PAL version, but with the aspect ratio modified so it would fit NTSC TVs.
  • The Sega Saturn release was pushed forward in an attempt to get a lead on Sony's (then) new console; the PlayStation. This however backfired as developers weren't told (or weren't told soon enough), leaving pretty much nothing (at least, nothing that also wasn't rushed) to actually play on it until four months later, when it was supposed to launch.
  • Jessie Gosha Jr. Remedial Algebra was "Wedding Rushed" to preserve its intention of being playable by Gosha on his wedding day. (This forever sealed its fate as an Obvious Beta.)
  • An aversion: SWAT 3 was to suffer this, but the devs demanded more time to properly finish the game or else they'd cancel the project outright. Thankfully, Sierra budged and was lenient enough to give them a few months more to properly finish the game. In the end, it was a good decision, since the game became one of the most critically praised FPSs of the late 1990s.
  • Inverted with Gears of War 3, which was complete in April 2011 but was deliberately delayed until fall to release around the holiday season.
  • It's commonly believed that this is the reason why Dragon Age II was released pretty much unfinished (game-breaking bugs, recycled maps, overreliance on fetch quests, etc.) and had such divisive reviews—the game had a nine-month development cycle. Presumably the fallout this caused and the reputation hit caused to EA, BioWare, and the Dragon Age franchise is (one of) the reason(s) why Dragon Age: Inquisition was delayed to autumn 2014.
  • According to some of the developers themselves, this was why Mass Effect 3 seemed to lack the depth of story that was present in the other games of the franchise, and why the ending of the game seems so arbitrary. Electronic Arts wanted their cash cow, and they wanted it now, instead of the months it would have taken to wrap everything up properly. The irony here is that the game's March 2012 release date was already a delay: it was originally scheduled to be part of the 2011 holiday season. Apparently even this wasn't enough to truly polish the game up.
  • Inverted when Nintendo delayed two major Wii U releases (Wii Fit U and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ), originally planned for the 2013 holiday season, to instead be released in the first few months of 2014. The official reason was for the games to have more time to be polished up, but gaming journalists and commentators have speculated that it was more so they wouldn't be overshadowed by Super Mario 3D World and so there wouldn't be a first-half-of-the-year game drought like in 2013 that would once again kill momentum for hardware sales (indeed, sales analysts have noted that February 2014 hardware sales for Wii U were significantly up over February 2013 thanks to Tropical Freeze).
  • Sensible World of Soccer was rushed out for Christmas 1994 after its release had already been postponed several times. Despite not being finished, the game received rave reviews and immediately became a top seller. A bug-fix patch was quickly produced, and the first Updated Re-release was sent out for free to registered users.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic released in a fairly decent state at first glance with quality voice acting and story writing, but being rushed to the market (against both a World of Warcraft expansion and Christmas selling season) released it with poor optimization that meant that powerful computers had trouble with it even on low graphics. The game was also released with a noticeably barren (that is to say, three dungeons and a raid) endgame. After a year, Bioware was forced to try to recoup the money they lost on keeping the project going by announcing their failure in all but name.
  • Tales of Xillia was rushed to be the 15th anniversary title for the Tales Series. As a result of this, many things that were to be in the game, such as a hot springs scene and a section where you would play as the Big Bad, were ultimately left out. These missing events would eventually make it into the sequel, Tales of Xillia 2
  • When first announced, the developers of Defiance made a lot of pie-in-the-sky promises that unfortunately they were not able to implement because they were under a deadline to launch the game at the same exact moment the show began broadcasting. The developers have been open about this happening, and are trying to add the promised features and content to the game as quickly as they can through updates and downloadable content.

Western Animation
  • While it would eventually get 52 episodes, the production of the 1st 3 episodes of the Nicktoon Speed Racer: The Next Generation were rushed heavily in order to be released at nearly the same week as the release of the live-action movie, and the franchise's 40th anniversary. It didn't hinder the quality of it compared to the rest of the show, but the characters' shading was scrapped except for scenes with dramatic lighting, and there are a few Aftereffects layering errors.

No Stunt DoubleProduction ProcessExecutive Meddling
The Character Died with HimReal Life Writes the PlotChuck Cunningham Syndrome
Channel HopCreativity LeashContractual Purity

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