style="width: 225px; height: 271px;">
style="font-style: italic;">DC Universe Online
is a gorgeous and action-infused- if rather linear- game
experience, and I want to see it succeed, professionally and
personally. style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
is promising if for no other reason than the MMORPG category needs a
horse in the console race. It’s simply the best contender for
a true console MMORPG (no matter how hard SOE wants to dodge the MMO
moniker) that we’ve ever seen. Period.
That’s why today’s announcement of a January 11th
release date has me rending my tightly fitted supervillain garments.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to play the live game yesterday,
and when it came down the line in November that the release date would
be pushed, I understood why but was nonetheless disappointed. SOE
Austin needed time for polish, and we’d rather see any game
company give their product every reasonable chance to succeed.
But we’re less than three weeks from go-time, and we
haven’t yet seen any kind of open beta or stress test for the
game. It won’t happen over the holidays, which leaves SOE a
little more than a week to scale up their game and figure out load
issues. Three to four weeks is a more typical timeframe, and even then
we’ve seen some launch day disasters from more than a few
top-tier online games. Here’s hoping that the SOE folks take
some chase-away on New Year’s Eve, because this game
can’t afford any holiday hangovers.
On the consumer side, January is typically a month of reckoning. Travel
and gift-giving take their toll, and style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
should arrive just as we start getting our Christmas credit card bills.
Even Blizzard, who could have commanded any release date they wished
expansions, waited till we had a paycheck or two in our pocket before
Crusade in late January 2007.
Other Q1 MMORPG launches include style="font-style: italic;">Star Trek Online
(February 2009), style="font-style: italic;">Vanguard
(January 30, 2007), style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons &
Dragons Online (Feb. 28th,
2006), and Final
Fantasy XI (March 23rd, 20)
but none have braved the early January no man’s land.
In retail-land, early January is a time for counting money and taking
inventory, and I imagine GameStop and other forces majore in the gaming
industry are no exception. If the fact that we’re three weeks
and counting until release date isn’t evidence enough that
SOE is fully fixated on digital distributors and e-tailers, an early
January release date is. From what little I know of retail,
where companies are drawing up planograms and pasting together
pre-order promotions six months in advance, there’s just no
kind of time for a retail ramp-up.
But why January 11th? What’s the rush? The TTH staff has
tossed around theories on IM for much of the afternoon, from the
Japanese fiscal year (Sony wants a full quarter of earnings) to
catching the style="font-style: italic;">Cataclysm
burnouts (problem is, there aren’t many – most of
the level capped folks grew frustrated with endgame glitches and,
instead of quitting, rolled a new alt or two to experience the revamped
classes and level-up game) to dodging other MMO launch dates (the only
ones with a set release date, at printing, are style="font-style: italic;">Test Drive Unlimited 2
– February 8th, 2011 – and the style="font-style: italic;">EverQuest 2: Destiny of
Velious expansion –
What are your thoughts as to why SOE is so suddenly in a hurry to
Universe Online on a rather
difficult launch date? Share it in the Ten Ton Hammer href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=520">forums.
In the meantime, we’ll cross our fingers that January 11th
lives up to the promise of the game. And, let’s face facts:
even if DCUO
launched tomorrow, blowing our coverage schedule completely to hell
(instead of just mostly to hell), I’d be playing.
In fact, I’d love nothing more than for my next style="font-style: italic;">DCUO
editorial to confess how wrong I was and congratulate SOE on their
brilliant launch timing.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our DC Universe Online Game Page.