It’s an old tale that MMO developers will constantly eye their competition with worry where release dates are concerned and that they withhold or adjust new launches depending on who else is in the race the same year. Frequently, it’s been Blizzard that’s been accused of stalling the entire industry; the reason why Age of Conan did so badly, the reason why Rift was delayed, the reason why SWTOR took so long…..et cetera. You can find a forum discussion for them all. No matter what, somehow there’s a WoW expansion or other Blizzard culprit behind it.
…Or isn’t there?
I generally eye such claims with much skepticism. However, the whole argument was revived for me when reading this insistent comment by Doone the other day:
Now, I don’t doubt that game companies would engage in market analysis and politics when potential multi-million profits are involved; but just how realistic is it to “blame” Diablo III or MoP for ArenaNet’s current release date hesitation? Is it really wise to attribute that much power to a single factor or aren’t we entering the realm of conspiratorial speculation at this point? For what its worth, here’s ArenaNet’s more recent, official statement on the matter:
That’s pretty much the reply we’ve heard for a year now. It’s ready when it’s ready – an applaudable approach too. One we can still believe though?
I’m not an MMO developer or publisher, so I cannot make judgements on why/if ArenaNet would be under severe Blizzard angst right now, any more than the other way around. What we probably can say is that GW2 looks very ready and its launch seems imminent. Nobody is under the illusion that the pre-purchase betas are going to serve much testing purposes. It’s safe to say too, that it might prove tricky to find a perfect “launch gap” when trying to dodge major releases this year. But aren’t there many more factors at play and stake when it comes to finalizing MMO release dates? You know, on the development (final polish) or administrative side (servers, retails, community management etc.) of such a great undertaking? And how much power does truly lie in such launch timing, anyway? Maybe ArenaNet are simply looking to push the hype on for a few more weeks? This too would seem plausible to me.
I’d really like to hear more opinions on the matter. When do you think GW2 will be released and is there any close connection to Diablo III (due May 15th) or Mists of Pandaria which coincidentally is still missing a release date too? Personally, I still believe we are looking at late June to July for Guild Wars 2, fingers crossed.