Apr 20, 2011

Posted by in Officially Speaking | 22 Comments

Officially Speaking: The Science Of Release Date Speculation

Welcome to Officially Speaking, a weekly column focused on the most hotly debated  topics ever to grace the official Star Wars: The Old Republic forums. Do you have something to add? Feel like it gets lost in the shuffle over there? Join in the extended discussion right here on Ask A Jedi.


In the realm of consistently debated, reposted, and ever-expanding threads on the official Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ forums, few come close to achieving the notoriety and sometimes surprising ingenuity of the “Release Window Speculation” topic, which in its current iteration boasts close to 300,000 views. Much of the current zeitgeist seems to center on the frustration of the legions of hopeful beta testers and future players, who had been waiting on the former “Spring 2011” release window until its adjustment earlier this year to a more general “when it’s ready/2011” response from developers.

While much of the conversation tends to devolve into pettiness and bickering, some of the more ingenious posters follow specific criteria and clues to inform their projected release dates; one poster even went so far as to chart out the release date of every major MMO, cross-referencing that data with Bioware’s release dates of former titles to conclude the most likely outcome, all done in an Excel spreadsheet. Unfortunately that particular thread has been buried beyond my powers to retrieve it, but to give a sense of what these more hardcore speculators focus on, let’s take a look at a post by zewi [edited for general readability]:

“There are 264 days before the end of the year. Here on the forums we believe the projected date is sometime in September so we will pick the last day in September, which is 172 days away. Now the projected date the developers see the game being release from today is X, which we don’t know. We don’t know the number of errors and changes needed to be made either, so we will use 100000 because it’s a nice round number. Testers will be estimated at 1000. So the equation is quite simple:

172/X * 100000/1000

—————– =unkown

264

100000/1000=100

We need to get x by itself:

172/X * 100 = 0

-172 to both sides

X * 100 = 172

Divide by 100 to both sides:

172/100

X = 1.72

So now the equation looks like this:

264/1.72=153 days from today: September 13, 2011.”

While this kind of precise calculation of arbitrarily chosen figures goes right over my head, there are a few reliable tidbits of information one can glean from more official sources. With these, I will present my own arguments for what I believe to be a fairly reliable and precise release date window (Disclaimer: this is all, of course, speculation – for entertainment purposes only!)

To begin, we must look at the state of the game. From the last few Friday Updates (regarding Advanced Classes and…um…wall polish), it appears BioWare has entered the polishing and refinement phase of development. This generally means that nearly all the various assets and features of the game are currently included, and only testing feedback and tweaking remain. From the vast amount of gameplay footage gathered from PAX East 2011, the game certainly looks polished enough to enter open beta.

Second, a number of game magazines and various gaming outlets (Best Buy, Game Stop, etc.) often list the game as coming out from September onward. While vendors often have only placeholder dates, with no more information behind them than you or I have, the most recent issue of PC Gamer (whose journalists recently attended the UK press event) contains a header at the beginning of their TOR feature stating an “Autumn 2011” release.

Third, and most importantly, we must acknowledge that BioWare possesses a highly specific plan for how to market and sell The Old Republic™. As the most expensive and expansive title produced by BioWare (and possibly by anyone, ever), the marketing department most likely knows exactly when to hit their internal benchmarks for information release, trailers, etc. Corresponding with other Star Wars releases would provide an easy boost in viewership and sales for all products involved, and it is from this angle I believe we can ascertain the most exacting release information possible. These include the following:

  1. Amazon.com listed a book called The Art and Making of Star Wars:The Old Republic for release on November 1, 2011, and then mysteriously retracted the listing as soon as game release speculation became apparent online. [http://www.askajedi.com/2011/04/11/making-of-book-in-the-works/]
  2. As many fans already know, the Blu-ray box sets of the complete Star Wars saga are being released later this year. What you may not know, however, is that the release date changed from September 27th to September 16th, 2011. Again, no official reason was cited. [http://www.theforce.net/latestnews/story/star_wars_bluray_release_date_confirmed_137377.asp]
  3. While several tie-in novels have already released, a third TOR novel has been confirmed. Written by Drew Karpyshyn, the novel will be released October 15th, 2011. As the content deals with the continued story of Darth Malgus, this most likely means it will present his actions after the events of the game, as his pre-game adventures (beginning with the sacking of the Jedi Temple) were covered in Deceived. [http://www.swtorstrategies.com/2011/03/next-tor-novel-by-drew-karpyshyns-to.html]
  4. As stated by EA CFO Eric Brown during Lazard Capital Markets’ Technology and Media Conference, the game will most likely not release in Q1 of the 2012 fiscal year (in other words, not before July 1st). [http://www.askajedi.com/2011/03/15/star-wars™-the-old-republic™-due-after-july-1st-2011/]

Given these hints, I believe The Old Republic™ will release in the mid to latter part of September, 2011. The opportunity to market the Blu-ray saga editions along with the game strikes me as too effective an opportunity to miss. It’s easy to imagine walking into your local Best Buy to see a giant cardboard stand near the front with both the box sets and the game in one neat place. Along with the books, and the recent announcement of their upcoming E3 attendance (as if anyone was surprised), I think BioWare’s, EA’s, and Lucas Arts’ respective marketing departments know exactly how to pace the rest of the year for an extremely successful TOR launch.

What do you guys think? Is there any discernible science to this? Or do we just buckle in and cruise toward the end of the year with our eyes closed? We want to hear your thoughts!

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  1. I think there is definitely some stock to be put in this post. I’ve always been spouting that it’s likely to be a September release anyway, so I hope I am right! :D

  2. When I heared about the blu-ray release change, I felt like shocked: THAT’S IT! :)

    Ok, no, I didn’t, but my guess since that time is still this very nice Friday, on the 16th of September. :)

  3. I agree a September release seems like the most likely, I think that would be a bad release month though because of all the other hotly anticipated games scheduled for release during that month(Rage,Gears3, and Resistance3). I know most of these are a different genre of games altogether but I’m assuming most of us being gamers will want to play them. The only other time after September that seems plasuable is October because I’m pretty sure ME3 will be shooting for a November release.

  4. Anyone else see the flaws in the math? If you subtract 172 from a division problem–which in actual mathematics isn’t an acceptable move–you subtract 172 from 0. Yet, they have the right of the equal sign being equal to +172. That doesn’t make sense to me…If you do something to one side, you have to do it to another.

    The point I am making is the equation he has set up cannot be solved because if you multiply anything by 0, you get 0 and the only way to isolate X when the equation is 172/X is to multiply to get rid of 172. So, I dub this theory false.

    However, on a separate note, I agree that it’s coming this fall…Just not the math. :)

    • Very fair point Jacob :) Good thing it wasn’t my math I suppose ;)

    • That is exactly what I was thinking.
      1. How did they come up with this equation?
      2. I’m guessing they didn’t pass 8th grade algebra… or they were being sarcastic.

      • He might have been sarcastic, but I couldn’t tell from the OP. If he contacts me I’ll certainly update the article saying the equation was facetious :)

  5. I understand were you are coming with this.But for me i think Tor will be out before then.Remember that almost all star wars movies had release in may if i am not to wrong?And i know that TOR is attending E3 but Reid has stated that they could attend video conventions after Release too.So i am waiting to se if i am right.=)But do think SWTOR will be out before Sept anyways.=)Sorry for my bad english.;)

  6. Good article, enjoyed reading it. Although the math thing I don’t really buy. I think a lot of people are figuring September at this point with or without a math equation. Hence the old theory of: “You can make numbers mean whatever you want it to mean.”

    But still an interesting read and theory, nonetheless.

    • Lethality says:

      Hehe, yes this was definitely a “for entertainment purposes only” kind of piece.

      At some point, someone’s speculation will be right!

  7. I wonder if that guy with the Excel sheets can predict when he’ll get laid next.

    But seriously, I was thinking the same thing about them releasing everything along side each other (the book, TOR, the movies). It’s just good business to hit fans in the face with everything right before the holidays. I would assume that they would announce some sort of pre-order program at e3, and maybe all of those who pre-order will get in open beta before it’s eventual release.

    • “I wonder if that guy with the Excel sheets can predict when he’ll get laid next.”

      Never underestimate the sex appeal of a nerd ;p

  8. Nighthaunter says:

    No-one would release an MMO during summer and it’s definitely missed spring. I don’t even think it’s speculation to say that it will be out between September and December it’s just obvious.

    All the people who think otherwise need to look at the facts, their European office isn’t even in a permanent build, they are still staffing up and no servers are in place, that won’t happen in a month or two.

    Also if you have played the game you’ll realise that it still needs a good few months of polish and that’s just from what I saw at the UK event.

    I want to play the game now but I would rather wait and get a finished game. The summer is always the quickest part of the year anyway so I’ll look forward to playing in Autumn.

  9. Darth Janus says:

    Hey Rashiva,

    I believe the thread with accumulated release dates and the Excel chart referenced in your article was mine! Here is the link to the closed thread: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=280734

    I did have a bit of free time late one night, but as for joerazz’s earlier comments: my Magic 8 Ball says “Outlook Good” :)

    • I’m incredibly thrilled that you actually saw this Janus, yours is indeed the thread I referred to :) Sorry I couldn’t find it!

      And way to stick it to joerazz lol, us gamers know how to roll with the ladies ;p

  10. I think you are spot on with your guess. The book however. How do you know it will depict what happened after TOR? There’s been a lot of timeline jumping the the to comics and books. It might just be stuff leading up to the game or happening at the same time. I don’t think they would release a book with content happening after the game so close to the game release. When most people haven’t even reached the end of their class story.

    • “I don’t think they would release a book with content happening after the game so close to the game release. When most people haven’t even reached the end of their class story.”

      This was definitely something I thought of while writing the article, but thought they would release the book with a month to beat the game, so no worries. With the recent Friday Update though, that part of my theory is debunked. I still think it stands that the book will be released after the game, since it’s not dealing with the content of the game directly, but events 300 years earlier with Revan.

  11. 1. How do you know that the date listed on the The Art Book was not a place-holder? Besides the general forum consensus is that this will be released with the Collectors Edition and then put on sale a few months later.
    2. No offense, but when the movies release has absolutely nothing to do with the game. Besides why would you market too products side by side like that? Who really in the SWTOR community is going to watch the movies instead of play the actual game.
    3. How do you know the contents of the book? I heard it had to do with Revan. Besides you are disregarding that the Deceived book is the one that is supposed to be close to launch. Also who is going to go and buy a book when the game is first out. Would it not make much more sense to have the game be out for at least 3-4 months before they read it.
    4. Yes, he does say the game comes out probably after July 1st. Why does that have to be September to you. July and August also fit this statement.

    You completely disregarded the comic that is coming in July that is supposed to directly connect to events in-game. Stephen Reid also personally said on his twitter that the Autumn 2011 in Pc Gamer is pure speculation. I really thought that a major fansite would know by now that the only person who is aware of the Release date is Bioware and EA themselves.

    I truly believe that if MCV had said the game was coming out in August you would have wrote the game is coming out in August. MCV cites EA Louse as a credible source and we know just how credible he is.

    I am so tired of hearing that people believe the game is coming out in September and completely ignoring July and August. Those two months exist people, and they are much more likely to be the launch window then September.

    Thanks :)

    • Nighthaunter says:

      Just no, see above for reasoning.

    • Hey Cardinal,

      While I appreciate you trying to point out some flaws with my argument, I think you missed some major points here. I’ll address each one of yours in turn:

      1. If the date on the Art book was a placeholder I doubt it would’ve been so specific, or put online at all. Or, for that matter, taken offline at all. What would be the point of taking it down if they didn’t want the date out there in the first place? Just so we could get a couple week “teaser” of a placeholder date?

      2. …umm, have you ever seen marketing campaigns run before? More often than not, if given the opportunity, companies will market similar products simultaneously to boost sales and public interest for both. And I know a lot of people will watch the movies when they at least take a break from the game.

      3. I addressed the first point in another reply, but as for reading books while TOR comes out…some of us will still do so lol.

      4. It doesn’t “have” to be September, but that’s why I put together an entire article to show specific evidence that points to that conclusion :) Also, the vast majority of MMO releases that come out are Fall releases. Please refer to Darth Janus’ thread for evidence of this: http://www.swtor.com/community/showthread.php?t=280734

      While you do have a valid point that I ignored the comic tie-in, I did so deliberately because I couldn’t find the “official” release date anywhere, so I wasn’t satisfied using it as a source.

      As to Reid debunking the “Autumn 2011” thing, of course I saw that as well. However, since it is Bioware’s job to debunk anything and everything related to release date speculation, I’ll give some credence to a major gaming publication putting at least something out there. And, of course, the rest of my evidence points to Autumn as well.

      “I really thought that a major fansite would know by now that the only person who is aware of the Release date is Bioware and EA themselves.”
      …um..this: “Disclaimer: this is all, of course, speculation – for entertainment purposes only!)”
      Furthermore, as I think I evidence by my specific points, there are certainly reasons to believe a September release date over, say, a July 1st one.

      “I truly believe that if MCV had said the game was coming out in August you would have wrote the game is coming out in August. MCV cites EA Louse as a credible source and we know just how credible he is.”
      …which is why I didn’t quote the MCV article ;p

      “Those two months exist people, and they are much more likely to be the launch window then September.”
      …well, although this comment is further debunked by everything I wrote already, what evidence do you have to even suggest this? I might also mention the following:
      1. Bioware is STILL in the hiring process for overseas’ positions for the game. Hiring processes take time.
      2. Servers are STILL not set up for overseas play (as seen by the many accounts of lag connecting to US servers during the UK community event). Server set up takes time.
      3. Open Beta still has not begun. Bioware has previously stated that they will allow about 1.5 months for this period before launch. Since we can most likely predict that open beta will not start before their appearance at E3 in June this year, I would wager a guess that the soonest it would start would be late June/early July. So, while it’s possible this could mean an August release, I think the other evidence already stated points it closer to September.

      Finally, what are you arguing for dude? Clearly everyone here is a HUGE fan of this game and wants it to come out tomorrow. So, with all of that said, I hope you’re right. I really, really want it out by August ;)

      • Wow. Let me be honest Rashiva, when I posted my reply I did not read over it because I was running late for work. It sounds much more judgmental and angry then I would have liked. For that I am sorry.

        I do have a few things to ask you about though:

        How long do you think the hiring process will take for the Galaway Offices. Yes I know right now they are not in a permanent building and they are still hiring Community Managers but why could they not hire until May and train in June. Be ready to work in July/ August. Most forum members see no point in them sitting around. I just thought these jobs were posted at least in early March. Do companies really hire for three months before anyone starts work? What do the people do that got hired in the first month do?

        2. I honestly have no idea how long it takes to set up European servers. If someone tried hard could it be done in a week, a month?

        3. When we received the update on Friday about the new book about Revan it definitely seems like it will show up after the game is released which is good. The identity of the Emperor and Revan’s fate revealed is one of the two great secrets of this game. Also, in one of the Q and A’s at Pax East they alluded to the fact that we will figure out who he is first in game and not a moment sooner. If the game is supposed to come out on October 15th why did they just say “later this year”?

        Regardless, I honestly believe that no matter if I am right or you are in the end we are both winners. If the game comes out in September then we get Open Beta in August because they alluded in 2009 that if they did a open beta it would be one month before, or four weeks.

        I have speculated on the Release Date so many times my head has probably lost 15% of it’s brain cells. Every time I get my hopes up just to be crushed later on.

        We are finally in 2011, and every single month I see go by without the game is a month too long for me :). It seems like we make it to the goal and then it gets pushed back and then back again.

        See what waiting for a game this long does to a man, IT MAKES HIM TRULY INSANE! . . . . . .

        I love Ask a Jedi and I am sincerely sorry for my “angry” post.

        And with that I am now going to go play KOTOR 1 that I just bought of Steam for ten dollars. I probably will not get very far though. For some reason, I just hate Taris.

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