A Closer Look at the World of Warplanes Launch Delay

With the launch previously less than a week away, the announcement to delay World of Warplanes raises a number of concerns.

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Depending
on which part of the world you reside in, style="font-style: italic;">World
of Warplanes was originally
scheduled to officially launch on September
25th
or September 26th
of this year. This was announced in a press statement
released barely over 30 days ago. With less than a week to go before
launch,
the company href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wowp/news/world-of-warplanes-release-pushed-back-to-november">has
now announced a new set of launch dates
- November 12th
and 13th
of this year. Launch delays are nothing new in the game
industry by any stretch of the imagination. style=""> 
Getting a delay announcement
so close to the expected launch date, however,
is virtually unheard of.  

There
had to be a number of factors that influenced the decision to delay
World of Warplanes this late in the development cycle. As someone that
was at
BioWare and ArenaNet during the launches of style="">Star
Wars: The Old Republic and style="">Guild Wars
2 respectively, I can clearly
imagine some of the conversations that took place before this decision
was met. If I had to bet on the most likely scenario,
I’d say that the
moment the launch date was announced, someone (or a group of someones)
did
everything they could to convince the higher-ups that the game
wasn’t going to
be ready. The powers that be took it under advisement and waited until
almost
the final hour to see if the team could pull off a miracle before
making the
decision to push the launch date.

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I
was with BioWare long enough to see SWTOR delayed a
couple of times. Each time, there was a company meeting in which we
were told
why and what it meant for the project as a whole. These meetings always
took
place at least two to three months before the expected date. For the
life of
me, I honestly can’t imagine announcing the delay of a game
days before it was
supposed to launch. It’s not just the delay that struck me as
odd though – it’s
the time they’ve pushed the launch to. 

As
I mentioned earlier, World of Warplanes is now set to
launch on November 12th
and 13th.
Unfortunately, there
are two other nearby dates that should ring a bell with anyone that
pays attention
to the game industry in general – November 15th
and November 22nd.
They may not mean much to Wargaming.net (the creators of World of Tanks
and
World of Warplanes), but to the rest of the world, they’re
the launch dates of
the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. PS – you can bet your bottom
dollar neither of
those companies will be announcing a delay. 

Attempting
to release a PC title just a few days before
the launch of the PS4 and barely a week earlier than the launch of the
Xbox One
seems like complete folly. It’s not because I think players
won’t be interested
in World of Warplanes in general, but they’re not going to
care about it that
month and that’s a problem. World of Warplanes is a title
that desperately
depends on one thing to make matches available for those that want to
hop in –
other players. A large pool of available players is going to be crucial
to the
game’s success in the first week of release and
that’s where I think Wargaming.net
is going to find themselves in a bind.

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Despite
it being a worthwhile total, World of Warplanes already
has a dangerously low player base on the U.S. open beta server cluster
every
day. So much so that finding players to compete in the highest tiers of
the
game are virtually impossible. I’ve only gotten into a Tier 9
match once and
that was after waiting 20 minutes for a match of only 2 on 2.
I’ve never had a
Tier X match pop. The first couple of tiers have lower wait times, but
they
still exist. For this game to be successful Wargaming.net is going to
need
enough players on the server to pop low tier matches instantly and
higher tier
matches in seconds, not minutes. This needs to happen on launch day,
not a
month down the road. Trying to convince that player base to use
anything beyond
the new game console they just purchased is going to be a tough sell.
In fact,
I think it’s a lost cause for the entire month of November. 

The
MechWarrior Online team took a lot of flak last week
for releasing MWO far before it was ready to launch. How far before it
was
ready? href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/mwo/mechwarrior-online-review">See
in
our review here. Perhaps the
World of Warplanes development team saw how
the MechWarrior Online launch went last week and realized that they
can’t
afford to deliver anything less than a stellar experience if they hope
to get the
players they need. If that’s the case, I would applaud
Wargaming.net for having
the courage to make that decision, but due to the timing, I just
can’t. 

By
pushing the launch to over a month from now, I’ll be
interested to see how Wargaming.net keeps their fans involved and
excited about
the new launch. There’s no question the hardcore crowd will
follow them to the
ends of the earth and will always be ready for launch. I’m
more concerned about
the casual observer that the company needs in order to grow their
population by
significant levels. Personally, I’m not sure they can. It was
a dangerous
gamble to delay the launch so late in the marketing cycle, especially
when
they’re pushing it to coincide with the launches of the PS4
and Xbox One. I
hope the gamble pays off for them because I’ve enjoyed the
game overall so far,
but I’ll be surprised if it does.

 


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