Lately there have been a lot of rumors, hearsay, “I heard from a guy ordering coffee next to me at Starbucks” type of thing about Star Wars: The Old Republic being delayed until the fall (September or October, depending on who you’re listening to). While the sources for this are flimsy at best, it does feel about right. When you’ve seen enough big-name MMOs build up to launch, you get a sense of the pattern and steps that have to be taken to get there. We simply haven’t seen a ramp up into any sort of beta (other than quiet, behind-the-scenes testing), no pre-orders, no CE info, and plenty of major features have yet to be explained. Spring 2011 is nice to think of, but unless BioWare’s holding back for a massive sprint across the finish line, it’s probably not going to happen.
So what if it is this fall? What then? Well, for starters, it’s going to bring out the DOOM! crowd. As you well know, one of my big pet peeves is people who denounce a game they’ve never played for any great length of time that has yet to hit launch. We may like to speculate, but there’s a very silly line that gets crossed when people start asserting their opinions as God-given facts handed to them from the future that the rest of us are unable to see.
So yeah, expect lots of that.
For the rest of us who were anticipating the game, this would represent a big reshuffling of the year. I still have high hopes for MMOs in 2011 as a whole, but gamers should probably realize that they’re in for more of a wait than they’d hoped after the long drought of 2010. GW2 may or may not even appear this year (I’m betting… not), The Secret World is definitely far off, and if TOR is moved to the fall, then that leaves spring wide open for RIFT and a couple of smaller titles. Great for RIFT, but not so great if you wanted a whole slew of new MMO choices right off the bat.
And while I am certainly looking forward to TOR, I’m very much okay with the move to the fall for three reasons:
- I want a lot of time to explore RIFT and enjoy some of the single-player games coming out this spring (like Dragon Age 2). TOR releasing this spring would be like an overload.
- It shows that EA BioWare is really trying to get it right and is unwilling to push it out the door just to make the financial report (or, on the flip side of the cynical coin, the company could be realizing that TOR is in no shape to be released now and needs a LOT more work). People are already looking at TOR as the litmus test for big-budget MMOs — whether it succeeds or fails financially will have a huge impact on the genre for a long while to come.
- If we’ve waited this long already, a half-year or so is nothing.
If this is the case, then I hope they let the cat out of the bag soon so that gamer anticipation can be moved to the backburner for a while. I’m already starting to see a lot of anticipation fatigue on this (not to mention other titles as well) because it’s been such a long, such a very slow build up to launch. There’s only so much you can sustain that excitement before needing to step away for a while. Break the news to us, give us the summer to cool down and BioWare to work hard, and then let’s start up this hype train in the fall. I’d be okay with that.