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Grab Your Towel, Don’t Panic


Posted on May 27th, by Admin in Tatooine Press. 15 comments

Don't Panic

For most people, May the fourth was recognized as “Star Wars Day.” I was curious as to the date of, or even if there was, an international Star Wars day. According to reliable sources (yes, Wikipedia. Shut up.), it’s officially May 25th, per the city of Los Angeles. May 25th was the date of the release of the original Star Wars movie, long before it was ever subtitled “A New Hope.” If you look up May 25th on Wookieepedia, you’ll find a vast number of other Star Wars related milestones on this date. One other celebration of May 25th happens to be “Towel Day.” For those not in tune with British science fiction, the towel is the most important item you can ever have with you, according to the best-selling Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s with one of that book’s most notable quotes with which I’d like you to consider with me the recent shake-up of Electronic Arts’ release schedule and the much-talked about possible push-back of Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Now, I completely understand why nearly everyone has taken the news of EA clearing their fourth quarter release schedule of anything non-sports related quite poorly. Given the precedent that has already been set by the developers and publishers of SW:TOR and all the pushing back that has already happened, it’s unfortunately only too understandable. However, as mentioned on episode 39 of Mos Eisley Radio, there are several factors to consider that should not only diffuse any potential animosity towards them for the potential delay, but also make one wonder if there even will be a delay.

Firstly, I’d like to address the length of the development of this game. We’ve been watching the news trickle out of the developer studio down in Austin for nearly four years, creeping up on five. Compare this to when World of WarCraft was in development. Does anyone even remember when WoW was in development? For being such a cultural zeitgeist, for most it seemingly came out of nowhere. I’d wager that most of WoW’s 12-million players hadn’t been amongst those Blizzard loyalists who begged at the doorstep of blizzard.com for most of 2003 and 2004. Even for those of us who played every game they’d developed leading up to the release of Vanilla WoW, I don’t recall there ever being the fervor and foaming at the mouth that there is for TOR. Is it simply a matter of this being Star Wars? Or is it rather a matter of a change in the media and how any company deals with its public relations? If one were to look back at WoW’s development, or listen to one of their podcasts, they’d find that WoW took every bit as long to develop as TOR has. The groundwork of WoW was being built simultaneously to WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos and its expansion The Frozen Throne. With that in mind, one could make the argument that Mass Effect and DragonAge should be those analogous appetizers, filling as they are, to hold us over until we get The Old Republic.

Jedi

Secondly, and this one will only be a quick follow-up to the first, we waited HOW LONG for StarCraft II? And how many WoW expansions did we get before we even had access to SC2 beta? I think BioWare can be forgiven for adding a few months on to the dev time in order to get the game where it needs to be.

More seriously now, any potential delay may not even be at the behest of the development team. Remember, there are three major companies with a tremendous amount of vested interest and capital in this game: BioWare, Electronic Arts, and LucasArts. Not a one of them wants to even let the most infinitesimal glimmer of failure enter in at launch time. BioWare has a tremendous amount of capitol with its fanbase that they can continue to milk with future titles; LucasArts has plenty of money, but their in-house developed games have not always brought the level of accomplishment and acclaim that their third-party titles have, as can be seen when one compares Knights of the Old Republic with The Force Unleashed; and Electronic Arts, while they certainly don’t lack for a following with their sports games, as a publisher, has seen a significant downturn in their yearly sales, with fans becoming less willing to shell out sixty dollars a year for their annual iteration of sports titles, as well as being luke-warm to some of their less-than-innovative titles (Dante’s Inferno and Army of Two, amongst others). In short, the team down at Austin is dying to release their game and be able to openly talk about it like the fans they are, too. Though, they most assuredly want their baby to be ready before it’s released into the wild.

A final point to consider is the game’s competition. Anyone thinking that WarCraft is the only title that will be vying for fans’ rather limited attention spans towards the end of 2011 is sorely mistaken. If there is anything that makes even the hardest of hardcore MMO players abandon ship for even a short time, it’s the fourth-quarter console extravaganza. Speaking of yearly iterations, trailers for Modern Warfare 3 have already been released; it’s a good bet that MW3 will likely drop the first or second week of November. The first trailer for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception has already stated that 11.11.11 is the release date for that sure-to-be award-winning, blockbuster title. I just finished Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and I fear for when Assassin’s Creed: Revelation is released in November, because I may have to abandon EVERYTHING in life until I put the finishing touches on Altair and Ezio’s story arcs. There are so many other titles releasing in the post-summer season, including Elder Scrolls V, Resistance 3, Gears of War 3, Batman: Arkham City, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, and Rage, that I don’t think the average gamer will be able to play all the titles they want. We’ll all be forced to choose sides and MMO’s are such a precarious beast to deal with that they have to be sure that the iron is still hot, but not being thrust into the fight at the wrong time. Oh, yeah, almost forgot: Diablo 3. How could I have missed that one?

sithvstrooper

Finally, Bioware’s biggest opponent might have been themselves. Originally, they had slated for both Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 to launch within three to four months of each other. Granted, there might be some MMO players who have no interest in ME3, and I suppose the inverse could be equally true, but I think it’d also be fair to say that, amongst scifi, rpg, and Bioware fans, there is an immense amount of crossover with that company’s three flagship titles. To make their fanbase split their time between two massive titles, or even, heaven forbid, be forced to choose which one to spend money on at a given time, it makes no sense, either in terms of drawing in as many people as possibly, nor even in stark dollars-and-cents terms. When both games were removed from EA’s release slate, ME3 was immediately given a relative release date in Q1-2012, while no further approximate date has been given for TOR. I think it’s reasonable to expect, therefore, two things: one, that they don’t want either title to perchance have a negative impact upon the other, and, two, that they’d like to avoid the fall-winter rush and maybe even get such a foothold in the market early on that the average consumer, who does not buy every major title at the midnight launch, will purchase and stay with TOR through the barrage of console releases and eventually will want a break from MMO’ing and jump back into the Normandy for awhile, only to return to the Star Wars galaxy.

After all that you might be wondering, just what does Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy have to do with this? Simple: “Don’t Panic.”

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15 thoughts on “Grab Your Towel, Don’t Panic

  1. Good read, people do tend to lose sight of how much info we are getting on a game that been in dev forever! Your points about wow and blizzard were spot on.

  2. Sweet read. I’m torn because I WANTZ CAN PLAYZ, but then again they don’t need to pull it out of the oven before it’s done. I’m here for the long haul though. I mean It’s been something like 2 years or so when I first found SWTOR and had to change my shorts over Decieved. I’m not the whiner that’s “Honestly getting uninterested due to the lack of a release date.” (Which is just an illogical mind screwing black hole of stupidity) It’s coming out and it’s gunna pwn end of story.

  3. You clearly have no idea what your talking about in terms if throwing bioware a bone. It’s there fault they hyped the game up so much, tell us it’s going to be a spring release and them saying, oh by the way we will be at E3, and never give us any REAL information about what the CUSTOMERS want. So bioware needs to shape up if they don’t want to lose any more customers.

    • It’s simply a fact in the gaming industry. Delays happen with lots of games. Does getting mad about it really change things? Are you going to NOT buy it because it took longer than YOU wanted? My advice would be to find a way to get into the games industry and start telling them that this is unacceptable and maybe they’ll change the way they’re doing things. Of course, when games are released before they’re ready we get Knights of the Old Republic 2 and The Force Unleashed 2, which would have been solid games had they not been rushed out the door by LucasArts. The fact that EA has yearly iterations of their sports franchises should not be the paragon of releasing deadlines for all game types. MMO’s are extremely tricky. You wouldn’t want TOR to end up like Age of Conan, Warhammer, or Final Fantasy XIV, would you?

      And if I have no idea what I’m talking about, I’d be more than happy to read anything you’ve published. Please provide a link! :)

      • See that’s funny cause we all know he hasn’t published anything and he’s just getting angry for things he doesn’t know about! LOGIC PWN I love the anti-trolling of Evan and Zach. Keep on makin um feel dumb it never gets old.

  4. Chuckerslee is a type of person is lives in his moms basement so I don’t care what he has to say lol. But evan, the funny thing is I do work in the gaming industry and have been for the last 10 years, as far as writing articles for a low end web site I would not call that any thing extraordinary, however Zachary and Brooks are very good hosts, you are nothing to this site and I do not know what they were thinking when they put you on here.
    For the game itself, I never said it was ready, but I do say they need to stop hyping the game and tell people one thing and doing another. That’s not good business, and yes if this game does not come out this year I won’t be buying due to better games that will be out. I believe they went to E3 to soon and release to much information to soon. Now they are just b.s’ing there way until E3 which I hope they give the fans what they want and thats a release date. Bioware thinks we want more videos, but we don’t.

    • Wow, I am impressed. Thank you, sir, for your criticism! I can’t believe I have been wasting my time here. I will humbly tender my resignation this moment.

      I will pass along to everyone else here that this is a low-end website and that they should stop listening to us. I will also pass along to our friends at BioWare that you will not be buying their product. I’m sure they’ll try to find some way of compensating you, or perhaps offering you some sort of incentive for possibly trying it out when it’s available.

      I’m sure Zach and Brooks will be happy to hear that you hold them in such high esteem. Is there any chance you’d be willing to work with them in the future? I know they’d be thrilled to work with someone as winsome and personable as you.

      In short, thank you sir. Good night and good luck.

      Although, I might add, if you don’t mind, that is, that bad-mouthing other site users is not something we do here and if that’s how you treat people we don’t want you here. I couldn’t give two craps what you think of me, but if making fun of other people is how you enjoy life, then take your flaming troll-butt out of here.

  5. Good job Evan! I liked the article very good read. My question is do you really think it will be out early next year? I hoping not but if that’s what it takes to have a good game I’ll wait, I have been waiting since 2008 along with everyone else so a few months won’t hurt!

  6. Perfect! Concise and very well written. I loved the shout outs to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s one of my all time favorite books. SWTOR will come out when it’s ready and not before. We should all be glad that Bioware, EA and LucasArts are very profitable companies, with no need to rush a product to stores to meet its bottom line. Atari and the there handling of Star Trek Online is a perfect example of this. You are absolutely right, Don’t Panic! I plan on relaxing playing other MMOs (Aion and DCUO), waiting on the weekly Friday update (2-3 years and they haven’t missed one yet!) and enjoying all the SWTOR podcasts. Mos was my first! “You never forget your first.” (CSI) :)

  7. hmm hate for evan? its ok i still love you in a non gay way :P anyway good article and i am going to assume you were using sarcasam about resigning now i am really a nnob when it comes to mmo’s never been around a mmmo before its realease intill now and to be honest if it wasent for the fact that biowares making it i proberly wouldent be here i personaly think all these whiner need to calm down Bioware has been making solid products for more then 10 years now nnever come across a bad bioware games except maybe da 2 (hides from flaming from bioware fanboys) so if bioware feels it needs to be delayed then thats fine with me people just need to chill out have a chill pill and wait 6 more weeks till pax prime and then all shall be good with the world

    btw for those who dident get what i just said i am giving my predictioon that they will give a realese date at pax prime

  8. Fantastic article guys! Really enjoyed the nice read and agree completely with you on people needing to have patience regarding TOR.

    This will be my first true MMO experiance and i can’t wait to see everyone in game! :D

  9. This is a very sound argument, we’ll see if EA, Bioware, Lucasarts are logi and come to the same conclusion. If they release with other big titles, it would be a very bad move. One more title in a sea of great titles already proven top quality in previous installments is a risky manuever.

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