Gamers love when Blizzard says that a game will be “released when it’s ready” because they believe it indicates the final product will be of high quality. However, we don’t really react well to news of a delay, do we? When Bioware announced that Star Wars – The Old Republic was being pushed back an extra year into 2011, the community on their forums went into a nerd-rage.
It started with an EA executive talking about the company’s reduced expectations for profits in 2010. Reduced expectations could be due to anything, but he also mentioned that they were now planning to launch a major MMO in spring of 2011. Considering the fact that EA has only one MMO announced, people assumed it was TOR, and they were right.
Bioware and Star Wars fans had good reasons to think the game was coming out soon. Bioware reps stated at E3 2009 that they hoped not to be present at E3 2010. Several books, including a novel that takes place in TOR’s time said to be releasing “around the same time as the release of The Old Republic”, were slated for spring of 2010. The hype-machine for Bioware was in full-force for the last few months. The beta sign-ups were announced. At one point, over a dozen separate articles on the Sith Inquisitor and Consular classes were released in the same week after Bioware flew reviewers and previewers out to Skywalker Ranch to play their game. Some of the exclusive interviews with Bioware ended with words like, “Look out for TOR in 2010!” The news of a 2011 release came as a shock.
How can you keep a community excited about a game that they won’t actually get to play for a year-and-a-half? How many of the half-dozen TOR podcasts will still be doing shows about a game they haven’t played in 2011? How many pre-launch guilds are now disintegrating because of the wait until launch?
The fanboi and fangrrl were not meant to live on hype alone. Being hyped is something we endure because it can enhance the flavor of our game once we get to feast on it. But you can’t stay hyped forever. For some people, the hype limit is less than a month. For other people, the hype-limit is less than six months. Very few people can stay hyped into an MMO for years prior to it’s launch.
I want to play TOR when it’s ready, but I also want to play it right now.
If anything was launched before it was ready, it was the hype-machine for TOR.