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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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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AGx-07_162

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.