The Press Release of August 6th
Well, the big day is here as this morning saw some major announcements hit the newswire. I’ll now go into some detail regarding the press release as well as make some other announcements regarding North America here. I’ll also give some color to the stuff that has been swirling around here lately:
1) Our launch date of September 18th is indeed official. Last week I had said that this week’s news wasn’t going to cover the release date but some things came together just a wee bit faster than we expected (and how surprising is that?). Plus, with the retailers announcing the date (though some did put in the wrong date), we felt that we owed it to the community to announce our release date a little earlier than planned. Coordinating all the partners, retailers, etc., is as usual, *interesting* so we made the decision to announce the date today. As always, that date is still dependent on the remainder of beta going well, but as of this morning we are still on track for the 18th. As to why it’s on a Thursday, in order to ensure a simultaneous launch in North America and Europe and Oceania, we determined that Thursday was the optimal day and date. Coordinating a simultaneous launch in North America and Europe alone is quite challenging and because we did not want our European customers to have to wait even a few days longer than those in North America, we chose Thursday as the best possible day of the week to launch. With a launch on the 18th, WAR’s development time will still rank as one of the shortest of any major North American and European MMORPGs to date. I am amazingly proud of our team’s effort and I hope, in about a month, you’ll agree that WAR is a great MMORPG.
2) As to the subscription pricing, this subject has been debated continually since we announced the development of WAR. We have been very upfront with the community about our willingness to charge more than what is the current “established” MMO subscription rate, just as we did when we launched DAoC. We have seen lots of polls, heard lots of comments and after much thought and discussion, we decided to keep prices on the same level with the competition. We know that the vast majority of the community will be happy with this decision so we’re happy to be able to do this for our players.
3) Regarding the pre-order, Collector’s Edition and the Standard Edition, I’m pleased to announce that we will be holding a special “Preview Weekend” in addition to the normal Open Beta. Those people who pre-ordered the CE will be given priority entrance into the PW. You will need to download the client (of course) from one of several download options, none of which will require any additional payment of any kind. Once the CE buyers have had their chance to register and download the client, we will allow our Closed Beta testers into the PW as well. We would like to have around 100K people load testing and playing the game so depending on how many CE purchasers sign up for this, we will invite other people into the PW as well.
4) Regarding the pre-order, Collector’s Edition and the Standard Edition, we are extending the Head Start for the pre-order CE (not the SE) buyers by at least an additional day as an added thank you for buying our CE. Just as with the PW, no additional fee will be required to play in our Head Start.
5) Regarding the pre-order, Collector’s Edition and the Standard Edition, we are pleased to announce that we will also be inviting our pre-order CE buyers into our Closed Beta test starting next week. There will still be some hardware spec requirements (but they are much lower than our current requirements) since we are still in Closed Beta but we expect that the vast majority of our PO CE buyers will meet the lowered requirements. We gotten a lot of feedback from the community on this point over the last few weeks asking for this and we are now going to make it happen.
6) Regarding the start of OB, we are still working out all the details and when we are 100% locked into a date, we will be happy to confirm it unequivocally. As the history of MMOs has shown, a bad OB can hurt both the long-term and the short-term the success of a game just as surely as a great OB can help the game succeed and we need to make sure that we are ready for OB on the day it begins.
7) Regarding the NDA lift, we hope to lift the NDA next week, one month before launch. I wish I could lift it right now but as I’ve said elsewhere, we need to take care of a three issues before the NDA is lifted. One has already been taken care of and I hope that by the end of next week, the other two will be taken care of as well. Once we lift the NDA I’ll go into more detail as to what the issues were and why I wanted to hold things up. The remaining two issues are not earth-shattering by any means but when I explain things, I hope you’ll understand why I wanted to wait another week.
So, that’s it for today’s announcements. We will have more over the remaining weeks before launch but I believe that all of these announcements are both great news for the community and well in keeping with our long-standing approach of talking with and getting feedback from the community. Whether it is the longer HS, the extra PW or the subscription pricing, we have shown that we are responsive to the needs/desires of our community and will act accordingly.
I hope that these announcements both fulfill my promise of major news this week as well as news that was going to make the entire community very happy. This message is chock full of more positive things that almost any I have been able to deliver about WAR since we signed the deal for Warhammer three years ago.
I also hope that these announcements, taken along with the previews that we have been receiving, show the community that WAR is both coming and coming along nicely.