"Silksong is an unbeatable product": Metroidvania dev understandably concerned as Hollow Knight Silksong delay pushes it closer to their own game
Hollow Knight Silksong fans were a bit disappointed to see the game delayed to the second half of 2023, and at least one other indie Metroidvania developer was also a little concerned by the news because it means increased competition for the tail end of the year.
Lead level designer Enrique Colinet of The Game Kitchen noted that Silksong is now much closer to the late summer release date of Blasphemous 2, the promising sequel to perhaps the grisliest Metroidvania around. Colinet joked in a tweet that "I think I'm legally allowed to publicly display how a panic attack looks like in games development."
In follow-up comments, Colinet clarified his thinking: "It's not a direct issue with sales, it's about presence in media and social media. Releasing too close to Silksong will overshadow our presence and will slow down our growth. Silksong is an unbeatable product, so better to stay away from its release, especially if we share a genre."
Interestingly, he noted that the original Blasphemous once faced similar headwinds: "Back then we were way more concerned about Bloodstained eating us. In the end, Bloodstained launched three months prior to our game, so everything worked fine."
We still don't have an exact release date for Hollow Knight Silksong, so it's currently unclear just how close it will be to Blasphemous 2, but there's no doubt it will now be closer, which could well lead to the tense competition Colinet mentioned. Blasphemous is also great and has a following of its own, of course, but few games command the loyalty and anticipation of Silksong, so it's a very legitimate obstacle, especially within the Metroidvania space.
This certainly wouldn't be the first time this kind of overlap has happened in games; just ask the Horizon series. Aloy seemingly can't help but arrive shortly before other hotly anticipated open-world games devour the public's attention – first with Breath of the Wild, then with Elden Ring, and arguably again with the Burning Shores DLC launching less than a month before yet another Zelda (which, per our Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom review, will most certainly be discussed for a long time).
Horizon is a particularly useful example because it also shows that stiff competition doesn't necessarily stop multiple games from finding success within the same genre, both at and after launch. The Horizon series recently topped 32 million units sold, after all.
Obviously this comparison is a bit broken because Horizon is a AAA juggernaut with an entire console marketing it, but Blasphemous 2 and Silksong are both sequels to excellent Metroidvanias that are competing within a similar development and marketing power band, so the principle isn't totally off-base. It'll be interesting to see how closely the two ultimately line up, and if any plans are shifted to account for that overlap. In any case, I can tell you I won't complain about getting two Metroidvanias later this year. Hell, I'd happily take these two tomorrow.
One indie developer once moved up its Steam launch to avoid competing with Cyberpunk 2077 – not its release date, exactly, but the fact that big news from CD Projekt Red could've pushed it down the Steam charts otherwise.