The looming MMO war of 2014

BILL-MURRAY-STRIPESIn terms of releases, 2013 was pretty sedate, perhaps lulling us into a calm state while overlooking the looming launch war that is shaping up for next year.  It’s pretty incredible that we now know two major launch dates this far out: Elder Scrolls Online in April and Destiny in September.

ESO’s launch date is of more interest, simply because it’s the first of the big titles that has committed to a launch date.  Whether it’s going to be good or not, it’s certain to draw a lot of attention and at least initial sales, not to mention huge amounts of press.  But Zenimax locking down that date offers its competitors an advantage of maneuvering to a more advantageous calendar position.

Granted that the expansion is coming along fast enough, I could totally see Blizzard dropping a Warlords of Draenor bomb just before ESO to rob that launch of some of its thunder.  Blizzard is notorious for doing this, of course, but it’s entirely possible that WoD just won’t be ready and might angle more to a fall release when folks disillusioned with the new games will be ready to return to Mother Warcraft’s comforting embrace.

The bigger question, I think, is WildStar.  Now, I wouldn’t want to pit WildStar against ESO at all.  I think they’re a little too different, catering to different crowds, and WildStar doesn’t have the IP clout or multi-platform promise that ESO does.  But if WildStar is to release this spring, what’s the smartest thing that Carbine could do considering ESO’s launch date?

Getting out first might get a jump on ESO, but I could see players conflicted between the two deciding to put WildStar on hold when April rolls around.  I’d actually advise a late May release for WildStar, as much as that pains me to say.  Give ESO time to get out, to let the new MMO smell wear off, and then swing into the scene as the newest kid on the block for the bulk of the typically release-light summer.

These three titles aren’t the only ones we’ll be seeing in 2014, for sure.  EverQuest Next Landmark isn’t even in the same category as these others, but it will be making a splash for its unique nature and those who will play it because it’s the closest thing they can get to EverQuest Next.  The rest of the pack probably won’t have the clout to be huge breakouts, but anything is possible.

Maybe everything will be spread out evenly and nothing will directly compete with anything else for launch attention.  But I think the scene is shaping up for at least one head-to-head smackdown.

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5 thoughts on “The looming MMO war of 2014

  1. Interesting stuff…How do new roll outs effect live games? The user login data for MMO being so closely guarded how can you tell? Word on the street…the tangible and noticeable lack of people online and ingame?

    Any predictions on deaths next year? MMO’s popping any clogs?

  2. “Blizzard is notorious for doing this, of course…”

    Indeed, because Blizzard has a reputation as a quick and nimble company which ships things rapidly and can turn launch schedules on a dime just to step on some competitor.

    Seriously, games launch and patches drop on Tuesdays, there are only 52 in the year, some of which are blacked out because of adjacent holidays, which means there are only so many launch windows in a given year. Overlap happens. The Blizzard behemoth will drop where it drops and there is no pattern of Blizz deliberately dropping on other companies ship dates. Don’t stand where you think it will hit.

    Besides which, if you think Blizz is going to be able to ship WoD anywhere close to the current planned TESO launch date (which I bet will slip), you must think Blizz has changed dramatically as a company. Looking back at the milestones they hit around things like beta and pre-launch patches for past expansions, they are not anywhere close. They look to be on the same trajectory as MoP for a release date.

  3. Is there any good reason why everything happens on a Tuesday in the US? It’s not a day anyone would ever pick to launch anything in the UK. We’d generally go for either Monday or Friday.

  4. @Bhagpuss – Tuesday is the first day of the week that isn’t likely to be blacked out because of a holiday or such. Most holidays tend to be turned into a Monday thing to make a three day weekend. So mail is being delivered, FedEx and UPS are out as normal, bank and stores are open, and you staff is generally at work. You launch on Tuesday and then have the rest of the week to fix crap. If you launch on Friday, you are pretty much dammed to a weekend at the office.

    So Tuesday became the launch day for a lot of things. Music, DVDs, video games, Microsoft patches, and so on. It seems to work well enough and doesn’t impinge on the weekend.

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