Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Release Date Is Stupid


When the folks at EA and BioWare were trying to come up with a release date for Star Wars: The Old Republic, they probably settled on 12/20 for one reason: because people will be off work for the holidays and will theoretically have time to play.

But it’s certainly a non-standard date. The fall season is always an absolute clusterf–k when it comes to new game releases, because everybody is scrambling to push their big games out. And yet the fall AAA season typically tapers off by Thanksgiving. Why is that? I don’t know, really.

It could be that publishers want to be able to capitalize on Black Friday. It could also be that they fear that the market would be too oversaturated if they continued the big release calendar after Thanksgiving. Or maybe they’ve found that games released after Thanksgiving just don’t sell that well.

No matter the reason, it’s become standard for every fall AAA event title to release before Thanksgiving, and so it’s weird to see one break the trend. Of course, we can’t forget one big exception that could be what is providing EA a reason for choosing a December date: World of Warcraft Cataclysm.

Of course, the difference between SWTOR and Cataclysm is that Cataclysm was pretty much an obligatory purchase for those who were already playing WoW while SWTOR is a new IP, for all intents and purposes. They are both MMOs, though, and you have to think Cataclysm’s December 7 release made EA think it would be OK to put SWTOR out in December.

And, of course, they remembered that the white collar folks who make up SWTOR’s target audience will be off work for the holidays. And so I guess that’s why they decided to go full speed ahead with that launch date.

That’s a good thought, guys, but it doesn’t work in practice. Do you know why people get to take off work for the holidays? Because they’re traveling. Take the average GameFront writer. For the most part, we don’t live near our families. For the holidays, we hop on a plane and fly halfway across the country, leaving our PCs and game consoles behind.

“Oh s–t, I got a copy of SWTOR for Christmas! I sure wish I could play it…” I guarantee that’s what Christmas morning is going to be like for many of us.

But it’s not just that. The holidays are a busy time for us. One we arrive in the regions where our families live, we have to drive all over the place visiting everyone. Real life isn’t like Christmas Vacation where the entire extended family goes to one place. No, the various branches of the family hate each other, and so you have to visit eight different places. Hopefully, those places are within driving distance!

Now, consider that, and then imagine what it would be like trying to organize your guild with all that s–t going on. It’s an effing nightmare! It’s bad enough trying to coordinate your own family’s activities — try doing that while also trying to come up with a schedule that works for at least ten or fifteen of your guild members who are also trying to work around family arrangements! I mean holy cow, right?

But this is the situation we’re going to find ourselves in come December 20. The nightmare that is scheduling for the holidays will take on a whole new level of horror as we scramble to make time to play SWTOR with our friends.

And that’s putting aside the fact that we’re all going to have a half-dozen games in our backlogs to play. That’s my reason for enjoying a December with no new games — I finally get to catch up. A personal grievance I have against SWTOR’s placement is that it interrupts my catch-up time. But that’s just me. I know a lot of folks out there are ready to drop all other games for it, but will they be able to drop everything for it? No doubt some will. And no doubt many others will stare at the box longingly as they wish they could play it.

Follow Phil on Twitter: @philrowen

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16 Comments on Star Wars: The Old Republic’s Release Date Is Stupid

Mikun_EX

On October 5, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Luckly, in my case, the most of my family lives in the same city and that happens a lot in my country, Viva Chile!
Sadly, i dont have a pc to play SWTOR or the decent internet connection to play it lagless, friking wireless broadband like usb pendrive connection

iGamer

On October 6, 2011 at 8:35 am

I agree the release date is stupid, but still it is kinda nice to have it released during the holidays :)

Jax

On October 6, 2011 at 9:38 am

Your article sounds very self centered as if your problems are everyone’s problems. It sounds like a session because their release date does not coincide with your plans.

Dae

On October 6, 2011 at 10:23 am

Your article sounds very self centered as if your problems are everyone’s problems. It sounds like a session because their release date does not coincide with your plans.

Rick

On October 6, 2011 at 10:35 am

What a whine session. Look, there are several advantages for Bioware picking that date. One, it gives them more time to put in last minute fixes and polishing touches. Especially given that the game will get it’s biggest stress test to date in the form of all early access players. Two, the very fact that not every person will be able to play on that date actually helps ease the load on launch date. Three, it gives them the most time to work on the game and still hold to their initial promises of a 2011 release date. Let’s be honest, given that they probably weren’t prepared for an earlier release date, would you rather they released on Dec 20 or push the release date into 2012? I can tell you right now that if you picked the latter, quite a few more people would be unhappy than the people currently whining about the Dec 20 release date.

Ron Whitaker

On October 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

One reason that companies typically pass on December is that a large amount of the Christmas shopping money gets spent on Black Friday and the rest of Thanksgiving weekend. Because of this, games that release closer to Christmas end up being purchased after the new year.

Of course, this could coincide with Bioware’s ‘limited number of launch copies’ strategy. They figure the people who preorder will be playing over the holidays, and all those folks who decided to wait until retail release won’t pick it up until after Christmas anyway.

It’s a tough call. I’m sure they wanted to be able to hit a 2011 release date, but I’m kind of with Phil on this one. Not sure how it will play out. Of course, it’s Star Wars, which may be enough to nullify any argument against it.

Bill

On October 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm

So basically he said “It’s stupid because people won’t have time off, and everyone will be traveling (Yeah, because NO ONE stays home, or plays video games in the Christmas week…) and the market may or may not be saturated with non-AAA titles.

Yep, he sure knows what he’s talking about! I liked BOTH semi-solid points he provided.

psycros

On October 7, 2011 at 4:15 am

So, their releasing their MMO a couple days before Xmas, which is AFTER Guild Wars 2 debuts, and intentionally limiting the production run, which will undoubtedly result in shortages? Sounds like a winning plan to me!

John

On October 7, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Whole complaint ridden article is based on speculation, good job.

Maybe Bioware just wanted the most time they could get to polish the game without falling into 2012 and pissing everyone off and EA decided 12/20 was the cut off date for releasing a game this year.

Who knows, you and I certainly don’t.

Miss Gamer

On October 10, 2011 at 1:25 am

Well for one I’m glad it’s coming out this year (2011). The whole article seems a little one sided to me and many others who commented here and I can do the same…Christmas may be the time for family and friends but it’s the first time when everyone is off school/work for a long enough period of time to enjoy the game, especially if you’re planning on playing together in a guild. I’m lucky enough not to have to drive anywhere to see the family but even if I did they don’t live more than 4 hours drive away. Also we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we have sales after Christmas too so no Black Friday. Why compare this to every other MMO, aren’t we trying to break out of the generic anyways? EA/BW must have their reasons also, I’m just stating that what you’ve written above doesn’t apply to everyone.

Miss Gamer

On October 10, 2011 at 1:32 am

One more thing, I’m totally ready to drop all games for SWTOR, we’ve got 2 months yet…plenty of time to finish everything else and get ready for SWTOR; as for other MMOs, I’m only playing Rift at the moment to bide my time until it comes out. On the guild front, holidays like Christmas and the fact that I won’t keep to a schedule whilst playing a game (as it’s meant to be fun – have to live by schedules, why do it to yourself in a game also?) is why I never join a guild unless it’s with a small group of friends and family that live nearby that all have the same mentality of casual play. I’m extremely excited about SWTOR but it still comes second to my life.

Afet

On October 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Dude I am happy to have a release date. It seems that a lot of people cannot be made to be happy no matter what and it sounds like your one of them. There is a flaw to your article because most guilds will have some kind of early access the week before Christmas and I for one will have it set up and dialed in before the actual holiday. I have run a guild for over 6 years and have never had a problem coordinating guild stuff over the holidays

Hawk

On October 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm

First of all, you completely gloss over those that Pre-Order and get Early Access (which could be several days, a week, or even more) before the Official 12/20/11 Launch Date.

Second, SW:TOR has the basic Guild Tools already in place on their Website, if you want to use them. Sure, you may not be able to do all of the tweaking you want right away…but the game isn’t going anywhere.

Finally, make priorities! Is it more important to play an MMO, or visit grandma? Is it more important to plan that Operation, or visit with Cousin Mike? Or maybe you can do both? Maybe Cousin Mike is a Star Wars fan and just might be interested in seeing you swing a Lightsaber.

I plan to play TOR with my family over the holidays. If you won’t be…I guess that’s a personal problem.

mike

On October 11, 2011 at 10:03 am

I have less time to play at Christmas than I do on an ordinary weekend. Yes, because of stupid things with family that I have no choice about.

However, the December 20th release date tells me something completely different. It tells me the game is neither polished nor finished nor balanced! If the game was ready, they would release it in mid-November, for Thanksgiving week, Black Friday sales, earlier Christmas purchases etc. The December 20th release date says they are scrambling to just barely get their unfinished product out the door in time for Christmas itself. Their EA overlords must have told them, “Finished or not, you’ve got to have it out by Christmas.”

Mikeisanidiot

On December 14, 2011 at 7:39 am

Mike is an idiot, making assumptions about a game he hasn’t even seen or played. I beta tested from the start and I can assure you, Swtor will be fully operational on launch day….

Zune

On December 18, 2011 at 12:53 pm

I agree with the article and even if its biased the author is only stating his opinion and not assuming everybody is thinking the same thing.

Lots of people belong to guilds and play heavily at launch to get the guild started. These people would have a hard time getting everybody on during Christmas.