The Daily Grind: How long before an MMO or expansion launch do you want to know about it?

I admit to being worried about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion release as the year wore on and we’d still heard nothing. While I tried to reassure myself that the devs were just holding onto as much as they could so as not to spoil the whole season, I also kept reflecting on the long period between Heart of Thorns’ announcement and launch — the better part of a year. Whereas with Path of Fire, we’re getting barely two months. Is that too short? Which one will turn out to be better for revenue?

That’s a question Gamasutra asked earlier this month too; game devs polled offered a number of factors that weigh into when release dates are announced, ranging from “when it’s done” and when it’s “shippable with only reasonable regrets” to when there’s “a big press opportunity” (like a convention) or “what other games are already set to release.”

Let’s poll the MMO audience: How long before an MMO or expansion launch do you want to know about it? What’s the “sweet spot” time frame for announcing an MMO release date?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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38 Comments on "The Daily Grind: How long before an MMO or expansion launch do you want to know about it?"

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Malcolm Swoboda

1 day to 1 week hotfix, 1 month minor patch, 3 months major patch, 6 months expansion (or rather, if its releasing for winter holidays, tell us in summer), 1 year game, 2 years AAA game. If only for personal planning sake. Maybe next month I have extra work to do, or vacations, or busier social life? Give some warning.

EDIT: I am understanding of really major games announcing an expansion a year before release, as can be the case with Blizzcon. But that’a the very maximum, and if it takes 1.5+ years for it to release, that’s a failure.

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Ben Stone

I think 3 months is the sweet spot for hype. That way enough info gets out there, and builds up player interest, but you aren’t getting info dragged out for so long you lose interest.

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Kayweg

A month or 2 would do it for me just fine.
If it’s a game/expansion which interests me, there’d be plenty of time to get into the details, and there’d be plenty of details to get into considering it’s that close to release.
Following the development of a game/expansion over month’ and years can easily cause fatigue, and by the time release is announced the potential excitement and novelty effect have worn off and you just find yourself thinking “ah, right, thatone”.

Alfredo Garcia
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Alfredo Garcia

672 hours, precisely.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

It depends on the nature of the expansion. I used to be hyped as hell but learned through the years that many expansions (i.e. Wow type expansions) ultimately just ended up destroying the very game I enjoyed.

So if the expansion reworks the entire game: I dread it and don’t want to hear about it … ever.

If the expansions simply expands the world I play in with few changes other than quality of life and balance then I wish to hear it through direct developer feedback as soon as possible because it makes it appear they are listening and in sync with the player base.

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Chris Brown-DeMoreno

1-3 months at most. When it’s announced, provide the full details on what’s new/changing. That gives players time to stock up on materials or currency or whatever else they might need to take advantage of new recipes/etc. Anything more than that feels unnecessary to me.

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Jeremy Barnes

The day it launches

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McGuffn

We’re at the point where games are announced or kickstarted so early that by the time they launch I think “Is that still a thing?”

Then there are the games that you forget and desperately want to remember because they looked decent. A couple years ago I saw a trailer for a space game, and the captain is telling the alien “I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum…” and I’d really like to find it again.

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Sally Bowls

I think 6 months, perhaps a bit sooner. I think HoT was too long, PoF too short. And of course it needs to be tempered by the expansion itself: like open betas and press previews, the less confident you are in the expac, the shorter you probably want to make it.

IMO, it needs to be announced before you seed it to external, unpaid testers.

We procrastinators appreciate a considerable time to wrap up an expansion and the last month or two prior to launch for at least reading about beta and doing the prelaunch events . And you need time to make an informed decision about what your [first] main class and main professions will be and be ready.

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mysecretid

Six months, at most, for me.

Hearing about something a year or more in advance of release typically means that I end up feeling “hyped to death” by the time the game or expansion does drop.

Too long of a hype period before release actually has the opposite effect on me, most of the time. I end up getting sick of all the promises and the waiting and turn my attention elsewhere.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

I like 2 months at most. Anything more than that and I start to lose interest. Not just hype but actual interest. Then when it finally launches I generally just sit it out for a while until I can work up that lost interest again. 2 months just enough time for me to have that initial hype and interest without losing it.

The example I’ll use is Warframe’s The War Within. They hyped that damn thing for like 11 months. Then when it finally released I had no more interest left in me. I didn’t even get around to playing through it until 2 weeks after it launched. I didn’t enjoy it all that much either. Not because it was bad, but because I was already exhausted from the constant hype and delays. Meh.

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A Dad Supreme

” How long before an MMO or expansion launch do you want to know about it?”
================
Long enough to be able to put in a vacation or personal day instead of burning a sick day for the launch is my guess.

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Utakata

6 months or more. Gives me time to tie up the looses ends before the expansion hits…especially if it comes with significant class mechanic changes and an increased level cap.

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Reht

As someone who has typically beta tested expansions, particularly raid content, i prefer to know about them at least 6 months out so there is enough time to provide feedback. If it’s something i don’t plan on testing, about a month’s minimum notice is ideal for me: allows me plenty of time to put in a leave request if i want.

capt_north
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capt_north

I wouldn’t announce a new game more than a year out, but I also wouldn’t be shy about pushing it back if it needs work, production schedules be damned. A good solid launch is infinitely more important than hitting any arbitrary launch target.

Expansions, meh, depends on the size and scope.

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Michael18

In case of LOTRO’s Mordor it was too short. Felt as if they were treating the expansion like a big patch.

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life_isnt_just_dank_memes

I am all about a month or two. It gives companies enough time to show off what’s in their game.

As someone who has been the conductor of the hype train for the GW francise and also someone who has been hyper-critical of them in the past, I think they handled this announcement really well. This is how I wish the HoT announcement had been. They didn’t try to oversell it and they made an ex-pac that has stuff that people have been wanting in GW2 for years.

All they have to do now is make a secret portal in the desert to Cantha for Bree.

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Xzaf

I personally don’t care. I know how to manage my own expectations no matter the time frame. However, portions of various communities cannot, so I feel the developer should help them as best as they can. This means announcing closer to the actual release than further away. That way, anything they mention is more accurate of the final product, cutting out the noise that would have occurred more so if it were delayed or features were dropped in that longer time frame.

As a lurker to different communities, it’s frustrating to go to a forum and just see lots of threads about the same topic(s) or hear the same comments wind up in unrelated threads. If they could minimize the butthurt of their community, it would be a much more enjoyable reading experience for me. Now, I do enjoy the initial drama of it all, but if it drags on too long, it just becomes dull. I’ll leave for a bit and check back occasionally or when the fine people at MOP report on changes to the game.

I like what GW2 did with this announcement. They minimized the “where’s more content” and left little room for dropped features or delays. I feel those are the major things that have gotten boring to read in other communities, so now other topics can be made that have a bit more substance than complaining about those types of things.

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Fervor Bliss

Just do not tell us things you do not know how to make or How long it will take when you are too stupid to know.
Timing does not matter much to me.

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SeedEve

I’m definitely for three months between reveal and going live.

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Iridescence

It’s probably inevitable especially for more niche games to have to get the hype train rolling years in advance of the game actually launching. I kind of miss going into a game not knowing anything about it and discovering it as I play but that’s simply not the era we live in anymore and of course it does bring the advantage that bad games can simply be avoided (for devs this means you better have your game perfect at launch because you’re unlikely to get many other chances).

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Arktouros

I like POF’s announcement schedule, same with Bethesda who does the same thing with their games announcing them a few months before they come out. I don’t like long hype cycles and bullshittery talking stuff up. All that does is make a lot of people attached to concept ideas that just end up changed by the time we actually put our hands on it a few months later.

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Zen Dadaist

I like the reveal announcements and teasers to come a few weeks before they start to open it up for beta testing on a test server. This is assuming they have budgeted adequate time for beta testing and aren’t planning to rush it to release within a week.

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Alex Malone

As I don’t hand over any money before a game is ready to launch (i.e. I don’t do kickstarter), I’m happy to hear about an MMO as far in advance as the devs want to tell me. As I have no financial stake, I’m happy to hear news well in advance. That said, I only want to hear about a release date 3 months before actual release. Any longer than that and chances of the date being missed increases, but if they’re announcing launch within 3 months, you know that the game is pretty much done.

With expansions, at most 3 months after that last content release. Chances are I’ll have already completed most of the game, and probably the latest content release too, so I want to get inspired about whats on the horizon. If too long goes between content announcements, my motivation drops off.

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Dystopiq

When the code base and and the systems are all functioning as they should and now it’s a matter of testing content

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

after a series of overly long kickstarter hype machines wearing thin on enthusiasm hope and good will i think really about six months of hype machine marketting bullshit is about right.

tho they can announce earlier, as many games do, no need to kick in the marketting machine until six months or less to get the ball rolling imo.

which wrt to gw2 was one of the longest and most over the top hype cycles prior to launch as it was. which by the time it came out i was already tired of being assaulted by fanboys trying to sell the game as the next big cure to cancer and bringing world peace and by haters as going to bomb spectacularly.

which for me and many others the game kind of ate itself after launch due to known quantities.

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squidgod2000

About a month before (legit) beta testing starts, which should be no more than six months before release.

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DeviateFish

Approximately 24 hours.

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Duane Does not check email

80% coded and least number of bugs to go

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Tobasco da Gama

There’s an old saying in software engineering that’s often called the “90/90 rule”:

The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.

threeknee
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threeknee

I would like to make a distinction between knowing about an expansion and being hyped about it, it’s not the same level of engagement. Hype is a pretty high intensity thing and prolonged hype absolutely will cause fatigue, at least for me. I’d say keep it under 6 months. On the other hand we knew GW2 has an expansion in development for almost two years, but that’s fine because it wasn’t demanding huge amounts of attention.

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Suikoden

I agree. That is an important point. I’m fine with being aware 9 months in advance that there are plans for an expansion launch. However, if they start the hype that far in advance I think you definitely see a lot of fatigue from the community. I think the hype should start 6-8 weeks prior to launch. I also don’t think they should start the hype until they have an actual launch date. But again, I’m fine with know there is an expansion on the way long before the hype, as long as they keep it low key. In fact I prefer to know if they have something like that in development , I just don’t require the details until there is an official launch date.

Polyanna
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Polyanna

Anything inside a year from release is fine, as long as the first official announcement comes with a firm launch window for a season or quarter of the following year. If a company reliably can deliver on its release schedules, then announcing 8 or 10 months ahead of time is fine. This is for the first official splash with a theme, name or tagline, and a hint about the setting and broad contours of features.

Waiting until less than six months out to give any official word feels like a developer is just being stingy with information, because we all know that they know everything that we want to know long before that. More than a year and any hype generated will be negated by news fatigue while we wait to hear more, and it just seems like they’re trying to score free points from talking about stuff that they have no idea when they can actually deliver.

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BalsBigBrother

I can’t really give a hard and fast it must be this number of months as it varies from game to game and my levels if interest is said game. The GW2 announcement feels about right to me for my own interest in it as a game.

I do feel anything more that perhaps 6 months in advance is too long for me personally and feel I would lose interest or drift away not matter how excited I was initially.

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Sorenthaz

Definitely not a year+ before like what Blizzard has been notorious for lately. Ideally a few months before because that gets it out there, lots of info can steadily flood in, and you don’t have to wait too long with bated breath.

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Matthäus Wey

I’d go with 2-3 months so it’s enough time to prepare and not to much time to get bored meanwhile.

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Oleg Chebeneev

3-5 months after expansion Id like to hear about the next one. At least a trailer and features list.
As for MMO. I want to hear about it when developers can show real gameplay

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CthulhuDawg

I’ve grown rather fond of and accustomed to knowing that every fall I will get an EQ and an EQ2 expansion.

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