Star Wars: The Old Republic’s non-global global launch announced

It’s well into the frenzy of New York Comic Con and the announcements from Bioware on Star Wars: The Old Republic are filtering out. One of the smaller ones is the ‘global launch’ date for SWTOR of the 20th December this year. For those new to the issue, the half of Europe having a formal launch (i.e. able to buy copies of the game in their country) were getting access to the game 2 days later than their USA counterparts.

Now, they’ll have access the same day – a positive sign one would think on Bioware’s readiness for the influx. Sure, they’re different servers anyway but the support services are still more likely to be pressured if ‘everyone’ starts access at the same time. So, a good sign.

All that said, if you live outside North America or the parts of Europe slated for the launch, you need to pre-order the game from an overseas retailer in order to be playing around the 20th December 2011. To be fair, that probably does make it a global launch, just not one we’re used to where you can lay your hands on a box on the day.

Oceanic release dates: no news is what news?

In the few weeks since the rumours surfaced of a delayed oceanic release for SWTOR, there’s been no shortage of debate, with some lengthy threads still discussing the issue on the official forums.

Unfortunately things are no clearer than when the issue arose and although I remain semi-confident the rumours may not translate into reality, that confidence has waned a little over the last fortnight. We’re still trying to get some more clarity so stay tuned.

In the meantime, here’s a story I’ve written for the ABC’s Technology site – there’s nothing exciting in it for the avid SWTOR follower but it’s a useful overview of the issue for a beginner.

Image courtesy of Dead Cow Girl.

SWTOR in Australia and NZ: delay rumours (updated)

As we’ve discussed quite a bit, the speculation on Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s release date continues to increase in intensity. In that respect it’s been a very interesting recent few days, all thanks to one tweet. It came from Good Game co-host Hex:

Within an hour or so of that the enquiries started coming in to TOROZ, asking if it was true. Hex did tweet two more pieces of info – the first in reponse to a thread on the SWTOR forums discussing her original tweet:

and then:

After the initial tweet, TOROZ contacted David Bass at Bioware to get some clarification, with David responding that Bioware don’t comment on rumours and that “launch regions” haven’t been announced yet. We’ve sought clarification on the launch regions aspect but haven’t received a response to that as yet (and given it’s the weekend it’s not fair to expect one either).

So what does this all mean? Not a lot that can be verified really. There’s really a number of combinations, and one of them will be likely be the reality:

Worst case: delayed oceanic release with lockdown on game purchases and server access

I just can’t see this happening as it would be an overt indication of contempt for oceanic players. It makes no business sense and would create a whole lot of bad feeling that’s not required. I’d be gobsmacked if this came to pass. The truly dedicated could potentially work around it by using a US credit card and a proxy service for playing, but it’d be a mighty pain on a day-to-day basis.

Next worst case: delayed oceanic release with ability to buy from the US

Although this to would garner (rightfully) some significant backlash, it would be partially offset by the ability to purchase online from the US. There’d be complaints around lag and it would still be seen as a bad start for the region, but at least there’d be some access.

Bearable case: short delay then full access

This would arise whereby Bioware, for infrastructure / load balancing issues announce a staggered release schedule with oceanic areas able to access the game a month or two after launch. There would still be plenty of frustration but it wouldn’t be the PR disaster the two worse options would create.

Rightful case: simultaneous worldwide launch

This is what most people have assumed would be the reality until it has been called into question over recent days. This approach provides a smoother start to proceedings and although the potential for lag issues / server queues are increased, even that can garner some good PR from the viewpoint that the game is popular. As much as I still hope this is the planned approach, the fact that launch regions are even being mentioned places some doubt on it.

Best case: Oceanic launches first

I had to put this in as an option even though I’d argue it’s as silly as the worst case option.

The Sum Up

I tend to take the view that the tweets that have caused the debate are at least partially misinformed. If an Electronic Arts PR rep from Australia is the source, then I tend to assume they’re not really in the know. If the information is correct and Bioware have been caught on the hop, it’s a fairly stark illumination of how the EA / Bioware relationship works.

I think a simultaneous release is still on the cards but I don’t think it’s guaranteed by any stretch. There’s been nothing to date to suggest Oceanic areas have been given a great deal of thought in context of the large European and US markets. It’s a flawed strategy though: World of Warcraft is partially where it is today through it’s support of a worldwide audience. Bioware is already behind the eight-ball in that with its PC-only approach. Geographic segregation would be a further retrograde step, but it’s not something set in stone. Three tweets do not a company policy make.

You can discuss it more in the comments here, on our forums or on the SWTOR forum thread (which has now been closed with no response from Bioware except to say there’s an Aussie Guild listing thread already – a furphy of a rationale IMO).

Over to you: are you angry, bemused or indifferent?

UPDATE: Jason Wood James Dominguez over at The Age has also made a mention of a potential delay:

The bad news is that the Australian release looks like it will be pushed back, but I’ll get more news from EA when they know more.

James also alludes to EA PR being the source of the information. It’s now just a matter of whether the EA PR contact is on the money. A big thanks to Cameron for the heads-up.

Oh me, oh my… At E3… Return…!

And you thought YOUR day was bad...?

We knew they were going to do something big this E3. They had to. After all the hype, after all the teasers, after all the releases of class information, both really cool CGI trailers… They had to come up with something. So what did they do? They gave us the intro cinematic for the game. It’s called ‘Return’.


Wait a sec… Whoa…

Isn’t that…? um… Kind of something that you do last or near the end of the game making cycle? You really nee dot have the game pretty much done before you make the cinematics, right? Or am I completely off base?  Now I am not saying, because they are not saying, when the game will be released. But from everything I have heard, read or seen, this game looks ready to go. There are probably logistical issues, maybe some polishing that they want to do. But the gameplay that they showed at the fan summit was incredible. Maybe they are going to give out release information during E3? The gameplay trailer that came out at the same time as ‘Return’ was to drool over. A release date? Maybe? Pretty please with Correllian black sugar on top?

Calm… Must remain calm…

Anyway… This trailer is just as incredible as the previous two. All three are chronological. Malgus shows up in this one, as do the Jedi and Trooper commander from the ‘Hope’ Trailer. We even hear her name, and it actually IS Satele Shan. I won’t ruin the rest of it it for people who haven’t seen it yet, listen for it:

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