A few posts back, I quipped that I was looking forward to picking up the LOTRO expansion... six months after it launches so that the devs would have time to finish it. I was only half joking - LOTRO is a good game today, but the mid-late game needed substantial patching work over several months after it went live. Well, as Relmstein notes today, developers aren't entirely stupid - they've realized that reviewers have to publish their opinions based on less than half of the game, so they make darned sure that 95% of the polish goes into the FIRST half of the game.
Take this review of Age of Conan published by Ars Technica, a tech news/reviews blog that I otherwise have a lot of respect for. It's very clear that the reviewer wrote it just before hitting the end of the good content. In fact, he only made it 25 levels into the 80 level game, barely 5 levels out of the game's tutorial zone. If he'd stuck with it longer before publishing, he might have encountered the issues that caused one pair of prominent bloggers to quit the game. Meanwhile, Tobold notes that a post-retail patch just literally DOUBLED his framerate. It's a disgrace that their code at launch was so bad at launch that they could double the frame rate in a patch a week later, and it might well have cost Funcom some customers who might otherwise have stuck around.
Sadly, the verdict appears to be that the best time to buy a game is six months down the road, once they're actually out of beta.
I'm getting married this weekend, graduating next week, and then I'm going to be out of the country for two weeks. I've got a notepad full of post topics for the next chance I get, and I'm sure I'll be adding to it on my trip, but I apologize in advance that PVD is going to be a bit sparse until late June.