Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Rumor: The Old Republic launching in September

As far as rumors go there isn't a lot of meat to this one. So it's good to remember that this is a rumor and likely to be false. This isn't an official release date announcement by any stretch of the imagination.

Anyway, website MCV is claiming that they have "development sources" saying that Star Wars: The Old Republic will release in September. Here it is in their own words:
BioWare's MMO will arrive later than some had expected, sources tell MCV

Long-awaited MMO Star Wars: Old Republic will be released worldwide this September, development sources have told MCV.

The date is later than many had predicted, with EA CEO John Riccitiello himself suggesting a year ago that a spring 2011 release was likely.
And that's really the entirety of the rumor; the rest of their article looks back at some other 'recent' news (such as EA Louse). It doesn't specify what their 'development sources' are or whether those would be sources that would know such a thing (it could be developers of a completely different company making a completely different game making an educated guess based on publicly available information as those are, technically, 'development sources' as well; heck I probably would've guessed September or October too).

After the break I'll look at two issues pointed out in the comments and handle some news noting that investors are being pessimistic towards SWTOR.

The comments on the article point out two (additional) problems with the article as well, but I feel they are mistaken on both counts. First they take issue with the article mentioning that the game has been "in development for over two years", saying that it has been five years. But "over two years" includes five years and the two year comment seems to match the time to original announcement. As far as I can recall there isn't any official information available on how long before that the game has been in development; all we can say for certain that it has been in development since it was announced (i.e. more than two years).

The other point the comments take issue with is that the article calls EA Louse a (supposed) "anonymous BioWare dev", stating that he was a (supposed) Mythic dev. But Mythic is now (and was then) "BioWare Mythic" and as such that would make him technically a (supposed) BioWare dev. Though I agree that the article falsely makes it sound as if the (supposed) developer was directly involved with developing The Old Republic.

Either way it doesn't really matter. It's a rumor; it could be September or it could still be spring (which I consider unlikely at this point) or it could be another month in 2011. Heck, it could also be postponed until 2012. We'll see it when it arrives.

In other news, this week some news surfaced stating that investors are being pessimistic as far as SWTOR goes. Here's a quote from the news article:
With the Star Wars brand and BioWare at the helm of Star Wars: The Old Republic, it looks possible to make a case that Electronic Arts has a very good shot -- it seems safe, at least, for the publisher's investors to feel optimistic if not confident in the game's potential.

But EA's investors may not be ready to trust so easily, says Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey. There are other factors surrounding EA at the moment that may weigh on their confidence, and the shares by extension -- people are waiting for more clarity on the Playfish portfolio and on the outcome of the Activision lawsuit, for example.

Mainly, though, Hickey says EA's investors know how difficult the MMO space is, and what an enormous risk it is to launch a title of SWTOR's scale -- and that in fact they may feel pessimistic.
Reasons the article lists for this investor pessimism include the difficulty of the MMO space, EA's less than stellar MMO record, the suspected subscription model, the perceived modest previews, and the high cost of development. Personally I think it's all just general 'sensible' investor caution. One has to remember after all that investors look at these games differently than players do. For example, for us as players it doesn't really matter much how much it cost to make the game, as long as the game is good and fun and has enough content to enjoy. For investors however it's much more of a risk analysis to see how likely it is that they'll get return for their money.

And I think that, in general, it's good and healthy to be cautious of the game. If players expect the second coming in MMOs then it can do little other than disappoint, and that's going to hurt eventual enjoyment of the game. But if you're wary and don't expect too much, are hopeful perhaps but realize that it could be a poor game, then the final game is much more likely to be enjoyable. At least I have, in the past, enjoyed far more games that I didn't really expect to than that I enjoyed games I thought would be great.

As long as people are willing to give the game a chance, and I think that a lot of people are, there is a good possibility that BioWare will give a very enjoyable experience.

[link] to release date rumor at MCV.
[link] to investors pessimistic news at Gamasutra.

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