“A bad call? These people are unsubscribing, Turbine! Don’t you have any idea what you have done here? I ‘m gonna make sure they nail you right to the wall for this, you’re not gonna sleaze your way out of this one. Right to the wall.”
I mean, what else do you call springing an announcement of a one-month delay a WEEK before a major content patch/game overhaul is due to go live?
But that’s exactly what Turbine’s done today — they’re delaying the release of DDO:EU (aka “free to play DDO”, aka “Module 9”) from next week until September 9th. They cite the following as the reason for the delay:
“While we are very pleased with the performance of the game and are excited about the response from the players, we are committed to delivering a high-quality experience. We feel that more time is needed to deliver on this commitment.”
In other words, “something is very much broken in the lands of DDO”, whether it be the store or the new high-level content, and Turbine considers the fallout from a one-month delay to be a better alternative than releasing it next week and suffering a potentially greater fallout from angry players dealing with broken content.
Still, other than the clever 9/9/09 date, this is a PR failure for Turbine, and a pretty dumb move all around. Andrew over at Teeth & Claws notes that the nerd rage for this is already insanely high, and that’s putting it lightly. Current subscribers have had their patience tested and stretched to the near-breaking point by the better-part-of-a-year wait since the last content patch, and all you have to do is utter the words “mod 9” on the forums to see wound-lickers emerge in great hordes.
Even more than that, the timing of this announcement couldn’t be worse. First of all, you don’t pump up the hype for a major relaunch of a game and then pull the plug on it — albeit temporarily — a mere week before it was supposed to go live. A delay announcement a month ago, sure, that’s understandable. But a week before? Seriously?
Plus, you have to consider that in one fell swoop, Turbine’s thrown away one of the biggest thing DDO:EU’s launch had going for it: it was the only major MMO release slated for August. It would’ve had a whole month to bring people on board and for the media to spill fountains’ worth of ink over talking about it. Now they’re going to put it smack in the middle of September, right when both Champions Online and Aion releases. Guess which of the three games is going to get squeezed out of the big press announcements when that happens?
Personally, I’m a little cheesed. I was going to unsubscribe as of August 14th and continue playing as a F2P title, but now I have to consider ponying up for another month. I was also really looking forward to the new systems, content and the store, which by all accounts from the beta, are really well-done.
Again, this just might not have been avoidable on Turbine’s behalf, but it ranks up there with Mythic’s “Oh we’re going to yank four capital cities and four classes from the release that’s coming in a month-and-a-half” announcement as a textbook way of shooting yourself in the foot when you should be sprinting.
Update: Turbine community rep Patience released a bit more info on the why’s of this delay: “I just wanted to step in and address the issue of the announcement coming only a few days before launch.
Until we were confident in our new date, we didn’t say anything, and we’re really sorry if that gave the impression that we were hiding something – but it was preferable to having a few days of panic with an unknown date. Stay tuned for news on how we’ll try to make this up to you!”