Star Wars: Hunters receives another setback, delayed to 2023

STAR WARS: HUNTERS logo. Photo: /

The Star Wars: Hunters saga continues.

The Zynga-developed arena combat game set to be released later this year on mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch has received yet another delay, this time, until an undisclosed date in 2023. Zynga announced the news on social media, writing, in part:

"We are working tirelessly to achieve our vision for Star Wars: Hunters. Our ambition is to create a competititive battle arena game that will entertain for years to come. To ensure we meet the high expectations we are setting for fans globally and ourselves as developers, we have made the decision to delay the worldwide launch of Star Wars Hunters."

Now, if you’re saying to yourself, “hasn’t this game released already?” In some ways, you’d be right.

Hunters was originally revealed with a  teaser trailer all the way back in 2021, set to be debuted later that year. Then, the release date was pushed back to 2022 and a soft launch ensued in which the game was available to play on IOS devices in some international markets. Hunters even made an appearance at Star Wars Celebration earlier this year with a panel and another build of the game.

Initial feedback seemed, in fact, quite positive. The Overwatch-style experience provides something fresh for the Star Wars brand, with familiar species and worlds respun in an entirely new light. Performance and gameplay could use a little polishing, sure, but beyond that, things seemed to be in a great place, especially for a mobile game. Instead of jumping to release, the developers will continue working within this limited audience until they get things right.

With that backdrop in mind, I actually find Zynga’s decision to delay the game a second time quite refreshing. Development has been underway for over five years now, showing just how much they have committed to the project. Mobile games often have a reputation of being rushed and flooded with microtransactions. That, fortunately, does not feel like the case here.

At the same time, this game faces a number of unique development challenges too. There is the remote environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the cross-platform nature of it and the fact that this is the biggest undertaking Zynga has ever embarked upon as a developer. All of that combined with the pressure of the Star Wars IP and it’s no surprise things have taken this long.

On the flip side, this is an all-too-familiar pain for Star Wars gaming fans. It feels like every game — from LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga to Star Wars: Eclipse or the lost soul of Battlefront III — sits on the doorstep of development troubles ranging from delays to controversy or outright cancellation. Hunters has been no exception.

That said, Hunters has gotten much further than many of those canceled projects, and what we’ve seen so far looks pretty promising. Plus, if Galaxy of Heroes is any indication, Star Wars already has a recipe for success in the lucrative mobile marketplace. So let’s hope that Zynga is slowly inching toward creating a game for Star Wars fans of all kind to enjoy. And no matter when it releases, that Hunters will be here to stay for many years to come.

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