Friday, August 24, 2012

Expansion Launch Timelines

This week, Turbine somewhat unexpectedly delayed LOTRO's expansion, set to go live in about two weeks, back into mid-October. 

I haven't been in the beta, but Spinks made a round-up and it sounds like the expansion was in pretty good shape other than the mounted combat system.  It's certainly possible that this is part of the problem - mounted combat is reportedly a substantial chunk of the expansion, and some of Blizzard's experiences with vehicle/dragon combat in the Wrath era suggests that players do not love being forced into something that changes their playstyle.  Some of LOTRO's game systems already have a bad reputation for being grindy, and I could see some concern if this one was also buggy to boot.

That said, the more I think about it, the more I'm wondering that the real problem is the release date calendar.  Turbine claimed the September 5th date back on June 5th, but on June 28th Guild Wars 2 declared that it would "launch" (early access aside) a mere week earlier, on August 28th.  Blizzard responded by placing WoW's expansion on September 25th, and later added to the scuffle by putting patch 5.0 with talent changes and other system updates on August 28th. 

Turbine isn't new to this game, and they're not afraid to launch against competition - the Moria expansion launched the week after Wrath of the Lich King.  (Then again, Turbine has never placed another product in physical stores since that day.)  That said, I'm wondering if they just didn't like their odds of seeing their expansion drowned out by most of the known MMO world descending on either WoW or GW2.  They'll still be up against Rift with its un-announced expansion launch and possibly some other tidbits (perhaps the end of the year EQ2 expansion, or SWTOR's relaunch), but I like their odds better in October than right here and now. 

3 comments:

Derrill Guilbert said...

Let me just say this. "Change of playstyle" was never the problem, for me at least.

Obviating my character's progression for a gimmick we never used again was the problem. If the skills we learned in Occulus were useable in the Malygos fight, that would have been different. Blizzard has all these ideas and sometimes they just splatter them all over dailys and raiding and dungeons without thinking how they could have tied things together better.

Derrill Guilbert said...

And to clarify, character progression is the reason I still play WoW. I could use a break from Blizzard, but it would mean starting over with a level 1 character in a totally different system. I like the feeling that my hard work on this character has taken me somewhere, even if just in THIS game.

Yeebo said...

I have heard reports from the beta that the expansion is currently has bugs. It would be nice to think that Turbine pushed the release back to polish the expansion.

However, your theory seems more likely to me. September/ late August are dense with patches/ expansions/ launches. Why go up against all that?