Earlier this week, EA CFO Eric Brown discussed The Old Republic’s
release date during an investor call, confirming that there will be a slight
chance that the game could slip into the March quarter. This, obviously, set
the internet ablaze, with some assuming that Brown’s words were a preamble to
an inevitable delay.
But today, that all changed. Blizzard announced that it will delay Diablo III until 2012 in order to polish its PC-exclusive
hack-and-slash. While this is bad news for Blizzard and hardcore Diablo fans,
it’s absolutely stellar news for BioWare and The Old Republic – the
highly-anticipated MMO now has the holiday season to itself, and we’ve a
feeling BioWare is going to take full advantage of this sudden lead.
Yes, there are still other games coming out in the holiday
season, but no others flew so close to The Old Republic’s fanbase. Despite
being different games in different genres, both definitely share a target audience.
Diablo III’s biggest fans were those who dumped hundreds of hours into Diablo
II, but many of those gamers became World of Warcraft players when Blizzard
released its MMO. Similarities in the franchises and loyalty to the company
brought them in and now, years later, those WoW players have become MMO
players, constantly looking for the next big thing to jump onto (before,
usually, returning to World of Warcraft). Considering The Old Republic is the
absolute definition of “the next big thing” when it comes to MMORPGs, it
The games share more than a fanbase, though. Both games are
PC-exclusive, online-focused RPGs that ask for a hefty commitment from players.
While gamers might have been able to find an excuse to buy both games, finding
time to play both would have been another matter entirely. Odds are, if they
had gone toe-to-toe, Diablo III would likely come out on top. EA and BioWare
know this – it’s possibly why they didn’t announce a release date at their last
BioWare understands the power of nostalgia and fandom –
that’s why it’s making a Star Wars game. But in this case, the nostalgia would
have worked in Diablo’s favor, not Star Wars’. This, mixed with the lack of a
monthly fee, would have likely lead to lackluster post-launch numbers for The
Old Republic. But if The Old Republic has time to hook players – and really
hook them good – it has a better chance of competing when Diablo III finally
does come out.
As long as Eric Brown was being honest in saying that there
was a “slight chance” of a delay, it means that there was a “large chance” of
the game coming out in 2011, and if there was every any chance that The Old
Republic was going to be released in 2011, that release is probably secure now.
Well, at least we hope.
Sep 23, 2011