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