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.
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