I’m wondering what Blizzard will release as a counter to Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic; it is still my belief that they aim to time their game releases around those of their major competitors in order to cause maximum disruption, and thus not allow said competition a free run at gaining a foothold on the subscriber mountain. Many companies have tried to climb that mountain, and always there has been Blizzard, a few feet above, putting the Boot of Marketing in their faces and firmly but relentlessly pushing until yet another pretender to the title of King of the Mountain falls. Some MMO companies are sensible enough to not climb too quickly and use safety ropes on the way up, and thus when they fall they remain swinging, albeit helplessly, at the lower levels. Many others have fallen to their doom.
With SW:TOR looking to be heading towards an ’11 release date, what wrench will Blizzard throw in to the machine? Will they reserve Cataclysm for the duty, announcing later this year a delay to the expansion in order to ‘further improve the content’? I think that’s entirely feasible given the much-vaunted scope of work that is being undertaken.
Or will they, towards the end of this year, drop the bombshell announcement of their new MMO to be put into beta next year?
I imagine it will be the former, but I do wonder just how seriously Blizzard are taking the competition from Bioware: should they choose to use Cataclysm as their wrench and find that SW:TOR crushes it effortlessly between the cogs and gears of its own intractable machine, Blizzard will have that much more difficult a time regaining a footing with their new MMO against the newly established King of the Mountain.
The recently rumoured details of Blizzard’s new MMO, be they truth or fiction, come to light now, after Blizzard have managed to keep things pretty much entirely under wraps up to this point. Could this be the very first trickles of water leaking through those gigantic bulging, straining walls that dam the potential flood of hype water sitting behind? Did Blizzard themselves make the hole; have they armed the charges at the base of the dam; do they stand poised, detonator in hand, ready to unleash hype hell?
I think 2010 will probably not be a great year for MMO releases, but as far as MMO hype is concerned it’s going to be biblical, and the company that has built the biggest ark will find itself perched on top of the subscriber mountain when the floods subside.