On the fifth day before Christmas, BioWare gave to me…

…a Wookiee in a pear tree!

So on a Saturday, of all days, BioWare finally announced the two big details everyone was waiting to hear: When and How Much?  The When is December 20th (or 22nd in EU), and the How Much is $15/month with discounts for multi-month orders.

Obviously, big, big news, although it’s certainly not going to satiate any SWTOR fan’s desire for more info (for instance, when does the early access start)?  Anyway, let’s break it down:

Launch Date

BioWare’s obviously concerned about pulling a World of Warcraft with its launch — i.e. having too many people try to jam through the door at the same time, servers crashing, people unable to log in.  A bad launch day is something players tend to remember and hold over a company’s head forever, so it’s pretty imperative that this not happen.

So we’re seeing a multi-stage rollout: first the early access folks with the pre-orders, then NA, then EU.  Within that, BioWare’s stated that it has no compunctions against throttling access during this period to ensure that those who do get in aren’t subject to a horrendous experience.

December 20th is an interesting pick for a launch date, I’ll admit.  I honestly thought it’d be a little before this, perhaps December 10th or so, but the 20th accomplishes a few important deeds.  First, it hits the targeted “Holiday 2011” mark.  Second, it gets the game out the doors before Christmas, although just barely (and I feel bad for the BioWare staff that will undoubtedly have to work through the holiday season to troubleshoot and monitor everything).  Third, it makes this the “must play” game of the season, particularly in the weeks afterward where there’s traditionally little else to compete for attention.  Finally, it gives BioWare as long as possible to polish up the game without crossing the Christmas barrier.

For many people, it’s better to have a date than to be left wondering, but now players have to cope with the reality that we have a three-month (minus a couple days) wait in front of us instead of the hope that, hey, it could come out on Halloween or something.  It’s a good chunk of the year to wait, but speaking as a player who deeply values a finished product over something rushed out the door early, I’m all for giving BioWare this time.  I just hope that they get more of the beta test weekends going and soon, so that the feedback can be incorporated into the launch product.

Subscription

I really thought we’d be seeing a little something different with the subscription cost — perhaps a higher per-month charge, or a strong emphasis on an in-game store, or whatever.  But no, it’s pretty standard: $15/month, $42/3 months, $78/6 months.  As always when studios offer this variety, it’s up to players to weigh the potential benefit of a few dollars saved versus locking into a longer time frame.

I am happy it’s not more than $15 a month, and I think it’s smart, because it puts SWTOR on war footing with WoW.  One thing to note is that we didn’t see anything in regards to either special pre-order pricing (I like what LOTRO and RIFT did with that) or lifetime subscriptions.  I wasn’t really expecting it, but still, it would have been nice to have more options.

10 thoughts on “On the fifth day before Christmas, BioWare gave to me…

  1. Rinvan September 24, 2011 / 12:27 pm

    I was pretty shocked to see the release date message in my email this morning. I don’t plan to play at launch but will check the game out after the first month or so.

  2. Bronte September 24, 2011 / 1:19 pm

    it’s been a while since I have participated in a major MMO’s launch. Think I should give in?

  3. Ayane September 24, 2011 / 3:07 pm

    @Rinvan Imagine how shocking it was sitting in the audience when they suddenly announced the release date. After having spent some 45 minutes talking about every game BioWare has made (and very little about TOR) Dr Ray and Greg suddenly were all “we came all this way, maybe we should give you something else” and they drop the release date on us. I was NOT expecting that.

    That said, I’ll be on vacation when the game launches (and doubt I’ll get much use out of my pre-order early access either). At least the launch chaos should hopefully have subsided when I do get a chance to play.

  4. Yeebo September 24, 2011 / 3:15 pm

    I will not be able to play much post launch. Hopefully early access will give me a week or so before I leave town for the holidays.

  5. Victor Stillwater September 24, 2011 / 7:52 pm

    Hey Syp,

    Any word on a Southeast Asian launch Date?

    I don’t think I’ll be moving to the United States any time soon. 😦

  6. Syp September 24, 2011 / 8:42 pm

    @ Bronte – Uh, sure!

    @ Victor – I haven’t heard anything. I know it isn’t region locked, per se, so you could play on a NA server if so desired.

  7. Victor Stillwater September 24, 2011 / 9:45 pm

    Hey Syp. 🙂

    Thanks for the reply. Getting a game copy of SWTOR will be tough given the circumstances.

    No worries. I can wait for that one, at least. Fallen Earth, Fallout: New Vegas and Skyrim should keep me occupied. 😀

  8. Buhallin September 25, 2011 / 1:35 am

    “That said, I’ll be on vacation when the game launches (and doubt I’ll get much use out of my pre-order early access either). ”

    I’m surprised Syp didn’t mention this in his “Reasons BioWare picked the date” list. It seems rather obvious to me that the date is intentionally chosen to drop the first few days when many people, no matter how much they may want to, won’t be able to devote a ton of time to the game. In effect, they’re letting the holiday help throttle their user load.

    That said, now I have to convince my wife not to go visit her parents for Christmas. A goal every year, to be sure, but one with extra bonus for success this year (and, since she’s waiting for the game too, extra chance for success 🙂

  9. hordemaster September 25, 2011 / 1:41 am

    This is very different than the release of Rift in March. That one drew in a lot of players, but nothing like what SWTOR is expecting to draw. Still, I’d have to get a new rig to get in on the action, and I am probably in the minority here and am more excited about Diablo3 and GW2 launching. Still, I may get in on it by early 2012.

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