When is the best time of year to release an MMORPG?
Major single player games all seem to come out for the Christmas buying spree; film releases seem to be timed to coincide with school holidays - but MMORPGs don’t seem to fall into any seasonal pattern at all.
The dates of this years big name releases are: The Saga of Ryzom - 16th June, The Matrix Online - 1 July, World of Warcraft - 30th August, Wish - 1st October. In between these we have: Ultima X: Odyssey, Guild Wars, Mutant Chronicles, Face of Mankind, Warhammer Online etc etc.
The only pattern I can see is publishers are avoiding releasing games on the same day - other than that the logic defeats me. I can see an argument for an Autumn release in the northern hemisphere as the nights start to draw in and a virtual sun becomes more appealing - but publishers don’t seem to be biting on this.
Then again are MMORPGs really released these days?
We go from small alpha to closed beta to open beta to – now start paying for it, by this time the basic community has formed the PR is out.
So perhaps the usual logic of consumer product release just does not apply. Timing is in fact based on a balance between gaining as much information as you can from trials (including the critical go / no-go decision) then getting the cash flowing in as quickly as possible.