Take-Two delays highly anticipated BioShock Infinite until Feb. 2013

BioShock Infinite was picked as the most anticipated game by the Game Critics Awards at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), but now the game has been delayed until next year and won’t even be shown at this year’s E3.

Irrational Games, which has established its reputation as one of the most creative game studios in the industry, and publisher Take-Two Interactive announced today that BioShock Infinite is being delayed until Feb. 26, 2013. It was originally scheduled for release on October 16. That’s too bad, since it is expected to be a cinematic experience that will push the industry toward high art — and better sales. The game industry has already been hurting from a lack of big titles, and this delay won’t help it this year.

BioShock took the industry by storm in 2007 when it was released by the 2K Boston (now Irrational Games) division of Take-Two. That shooter was set in an underwater utopia-gone-wrong city called Rapture, and it was praised as one of the most original games of its time. Bioshock sold more than 4 million units, generating about $240 million in revenue at retail. Take-Two followed that with BioShock 2, a more derivative sequel that debuted in 2010.

Irrational Games’ Ken Levine, designer of BioShock, moved on to BioShock Infinite, an extremely ambitious title set in a 1930s style alternate universe dubbed Columbia, another utopian city, which floats in the sky. Bioshock Infinite is being built by a team with more than 100 people, and it could help Take-Two diversify beyond its staple Grand Theft Auto franchise.

Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, noted that there won’t be any more risk of cannibalization since Take-Two’s other big game of the year, Grand Theft Auto V, is scheduled to be released in October.

Levine said in a statement, “When we announced the release date of BioShock Infinite in March, we felt pretty good about the timing. Since then, we ve uncovered opportunities to make Infinite into something even more extraordinary. Therefore, to give our talented team the time they need to deliver the best Infinite possible, we ve decided to move the game s release to February.”

Here’s the full note from Levine explaining the delay:

When we announced the release date of BioShock Infinite in March, we felt pretty good about the timing.

Since then, we’ve come to realize that some specific tweaks and improvements will make Infinite into something even more extraordinary. Therefore, to give our talented team the time they need, we’ve decided to move the game’s release to February 26, 2013. We wanted to let our loyal (and very patient!) fans know this as soon as possible.

I won’t kid you: BioShock Infinite is a very big game, and we’re doing things that no one has ever done in a first-person shooter. We had a similar experience with the original BioShock, which was delayed several months as our original ship date drew near. Why? Because the Big Daddies weren’t the Big Daddies you’ve since come to know and love. Because Andrew Ryan’s golf club didn’t have exactly the right swing. Because Rapture needed one more coat of grimy Art Deco.

The same principle now applies to BioShock Infinite.

What does this mean for you? It means a bit more waiting, but more importantly, it means an even better BioShock Infinite. The great can be made greater, and we owe it to both ourselves and to you, our fans, to take this opportunity. Irrational Games is one of those rare developers lucky enough to ask the people who sign the checks: “Hey, can we have a few more of those checks?”

We are also going to hold off on showing BioShock Infinite at the big events of the summer, like E3 and Gamescom. That way, the next time you see our game, it will be essentially the product we intend to put in the box. Preparing for these events takes time away from development, time we’re going to use instead to get the best version of Infinite into your hands in February.

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