Bioware’s much anticipated potential “WoW killer” MMO, The Old Republic, is apparently facing potential delays. Much to the fear (and potentially rightly so) of fans of the upcoming game, no official release date has yet been given, essentially giving them that much more room to move the date around. Until now, all that’s been said is that it would be released late in 2011 – this means they could move it months and months away and never have to rescind their statement. But now it looks like even a 2011 launch date might not prove true. And we won’t know for more than another month. While speaking to investors in the company, Eric Brown said this:
“In terms of timing we haven’t given a street date yet. We won’t do so for some time, possibly at our next upcoming earnings call towards the end of October.”
This means that for upward of a month, we’ll have no new information on the official release date, leaving fans to sit in silence and worry over whether they’re going to be see The Old Republic as something to while away the dreary winter months, or something to keep them inside for yet another spring and summer. But apparently this is nothing that wasn’t expected. Read on for more of what Brown said:
“We did hold out a slight possibility that it could slip to our March quarter,” he said, “and the factors that would cause a slip is, for example, us not being completely satisfied with the scalability testing, and wanting to tune it for several extra weeks.”
Whether to avoid backlash from the fans when they heard this news or because of more legitimate reasons, though, these statements were apparently never supposed to have been heard outside of the investor conference. Bioware and its employees have been quick to say that nothing is certain yet. Stephen Reid of Bioware said this:
“Investor calls and conferences are for investors. They are not meant for the general public. It’s important to also note the word ‘possibly’ was used in Eric’s statement above. Just as he didn’t promise that you would get a release date announcement in September, he isn’t promising a release date before the next earnings call. It could happen, but it’s not a promise.
Unfortunately, it’s the lack of promises and certainty that seem to create the fear and worry in the gaming community. Until the official release date is announced it’s likely that many gamers are going to be on the fence about what to buy this holiday season, amid all the other amazing titles such as Dark Souls, RAGE, Gears of War 3, Halo: Anniversary, Battlefield 3, and Modern Warfare 3.
The usual holiday rush of titles that you “have to play”, in addition to many lesser titles, means that from September until December, and lately even into January and February, the wallets of gamers everywhere are going to be getting lighter and lighter. It’s possible that waiting to announce the game means that gamers – suspecting the title won’t be released until next year – may not save money for it and spend what they usually allow themselves on the games I mentioned above, plus others. And most of those titles are coming out before the end of October; long before the supposed announcement date.
If Bioware does move it to 2012, it’s also possible that the lack of a holiday season early in the MMOs lifespan may create a lackluster momentum. When an MMO is new, people are much more likely to buy it, suspecting that there will be hundreds of thousands of others like themselves and that the game will have plenty of other players to enjoy it with. But if the game doesn’t get that rush of holiday buys, there is always the increased risk of players buying the game, playing it for a month, and getting tired of seeing nothing but barren fields with perhaps a single other player among them.
When those players start to leave, then more will leave because of a further decreased player base. One of the reasons World of Warcraft is so powerful in the MMO market is likely because anyone, at any time, can join in and know that there will be many, many others like themselves playing the game. An otherwise ingenius MMO that fails to get that critical momentum may fall short regardless of its gameplay or graphics.
But The Old Republic has reached out to everyone; even Star Wars fans that otherwise wouldn’t play video games. The game’s trailers, gameplay footage, and other information given out through various media all look astounding. Hopefully the game won’t be delayed, and hopefully it will be a resounding success and make its mark on the gaming community in a similar way to the massive footprint World of Warcraft leaves every time the new expansion comes out.