Path of Exile’s patch delay stems from lessons learned launching opposite WoW Classic


Earlier this week, Grinding Gear Games told Path of Exile players that it was delaying the release of the 3.13 update and league to January, largely to get the heck out of the way of Cyberpunk 2077’s new launch date in December. You, uh, didn’t love that decision, apparently, so GGG’s Chris Wilson has penned another long letter to the players explaining the rationale.

In short, he says it boils down to the fact that Path of Exile’s leagues are at their very best and most fun at the very beginning of their launches – engagement spikes too, before it “gradually drifts down over the 13 weeks before it spikes up again for the next one.” Consequently, he says, GGG has designed the game’s business model and development and marketing around that launch cycle, and so far, the game hasn’t bumped into too many other major game launches with its releases. But when it has, it didn’t go great.

“[I]n late 2019, we released the Blight league less than two weeks after WoW Classic’s launch,” Wilson reminds fans. “This had a massively negative impact on player numbers, play hours, Twitch views and revenue. It was a bit of a disaster, and quite a big learning experience for us. The truth is, for a lot of players, if they miss the initial launch of a league, they’ll probably skip it or not take it anywhere near as seriously as if they managed to make good progress and get established in the early days or weeks. It’s vitally important to have a clean release. As a side note, this is why we also have a lot of implicit motivation to make sure our releases are as stable and bug-free as possible. Bad launches have very large ripple effects that could threaten our ability to sustain the game.”

While the team was OK with a three-week gap between Cyberpunk 2077, the one-day gap would be equally disastrous; GGG won’t be ready in time to launch earlier, and it can’t launch right smack on Christmas either, both because it’s Christmas and because in New Zealand it’s basically summer vacay for the staff.

“That leaves January 8 or January 15 as valid launch dates,” he concludes, noting again that GGG will be putting up events – and a much improved coat of polish on the patch – in the extra weeks.

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