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Release date shenanigans

Published by under news on Sep. 21. 2011.

Every time the CFO of Electronic Arts, Mr. Eric Brown, has one of his financial conferences with the investors community managers at Bioware get a headache. This is because Mr. Brown always talks about the hottest topic on the block, and that is release date and beta details. This was the case yesterday as well. As you all know the release window (for now) is Holiday 2011. The running joke in the community is that we would at least like to know of a date when they will tell us what the release date will be (release date of a release date – is that a dateception?). In that regard Eric Brown said:

In terms of timing, again, we haven’t given a street date yet. We won’t do so for some time, possibly at our next upcoming earnings call towards the end of October.

Another quote from the conference that sent the community into the frenzy is related to what was mentioned several times before in similar conferences, and that is leaving the possibility for the release to be pushed into early next year:

But we did hold out a slight possibility that it could slip to our March quarter. And the factors that would cause a slip is, for example, us not being completely satisfied with the scalability testing, and wanting to tune it for several extra weeks. So what’s important to us here is not Month One, Month Two, but this is going to be a multi-year, consider it a ten year journey, an investment in an MMO. And if we get it right in terms of scalability, the response time, the first people that enter the product will be key influencers. We want those key influencers to have a great experience because that will help in a viral fashion to spin up demand.

Important thing to remeber about all this is that Eric Brown also said that:

We’re in beta testing mode. We’re expanding the scalability of the testing. It’s not about working to complete content. We feel very good about the content. That’s ready to go. It’s about tuning the game to make sure, for example, we can get the level of concurrent users per server cluster that we want. That the response time is what people would expect. So the factor, just to reiterate what we said last earnings call about timing, we expect to ship Star Wars by the end of this calendar year.

Stephen Reid, Senior community manager for The Old Republic also made some clarifications about above statements on the official forums. Here are the most important parts of what he had to say:

Indeed, we have not given a street date (AKA launch date) for The Old Republic. While some of you have suggested that we ‘promised’ a launch date announcement before that time, in fact what Eric Brown said was that a date could be announced in September or October.

It’s important to also note the word ‘possibly’ was used in Eric’s statement above. Just as he didn’t promise that you would get a release date announcement in September, he isn’t promising a release date before the next earnings call. It could happen, but it’s not a promise.

Despite what doom-sayers may try and tell you, we are still very much aiming to ship in the holiday 2011 window (AKA, before the end of the year). We’re pushing out a major new build, we’re getting in our external testers to look at it soon, and then we’ll re-start our Game Testing Weekends.

Are there risks? Yeah, that goes with game development. Do we think we’re getting much, much closer? Yes we do. And when we feel confident about an exact date, you’ll get one. Rest assured.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Release date shenanigans”

  1. Scary Worldson 21 Sep 2011 at 11:50 am

    A lot of conflicting information. They are beating around the bush. I could careless about a release date. I want to know why they refuse to tell the community what the pricing plan will be. It’s not that hard. They sure knew a $150 CE price. Why don’t they know how much they are going to charge a month?

  2. Daeldaon 21 Sep 2011 at 2:06 pm

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    I agree – I am much less concerned about a Release Date as I am about the Subscription Price(s) available to me. I’ve been saving up money based on my own assumptions…I just need to know how close those assumptions are to reality.

  3. Parkeron 21 Sep 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Hey guys!

    This is my first comment post here.

    I just dropped in to make a very important point that most people miss because they aren’t aware of the nature if the relationship between a company and its investors.

    I myself an am investor, and there’s a certain kind of language used in this kind of talk that that can mislead.

    The most important thing to understand is that is is a federal crime to lie to your investors. They would be sued. Eric Brown has to include the absolute worst case scenario in his statement, but that in no way means that’s what is going to happen. They have no choice but to cover their back when they talk to investors, which is exactly what this is – the guy is just doing his job.

    A lot of people also had a heart attack at the mention of the word ‘March’, but the March quarter includes January.

    What this means is there’s been no change from what they’ve been telling people for months now. When you take into account the beta stalls, this is actually good news in my opinion. The positive part of Eric’s statement is essentially saying ‘We’re now in the stress testing part of the development process’. This is the last stage before release, and will be happening right up until release (Beta Weekends).

    I can see the finish line from here!

  4. Vaxxlaon 21 Sep 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Hey guys, the Guild Alignment Phase has just kicked off:-

  5. Swtorcrafteron 21 Sep 2011 at 7:12 pm

    @scaryworlds I sure would like to know that as well, not sure why they are holding it so close to their chest? possibly to do with other competition that they dont want to reveal this info to just yet? not sure about that one.

    @Parker, hey welcome! Thank you for that insight I had no idea there were legal ramifications like that surrounding what they said like that.

    @vaxxla thanks for the tip we appreciate people helping us stay up on the news for sure 🙂