Are these relevant points to discuss? Yes, they really are, especially in the wake of two prominent illustrations of what can be done with testing phases and NDAs. So let's talk about the NDA, the lack of a release date, and how those elements might tie into one another. Especially as we're coming off of a weekend when more people got to try out the game, it's important to talk about when the gates and the lines of communication will be opened.
From a press perspective, it's sometimes hard to remember that there is an NDA in place. Look through our WildStar category and you'll see that we've done a lot of streaming for this game. Seriously, if you want to know how the game plays, there is plenty of opportunity to do so. So why is there even an NDA in place for players?
Simply put, because most companies don't do partial lifts for players. With press, you can lift the NDA from levels 1-35 with one or two exceptions and expect us to listen. I've only see one company try to do a "you can talk about these things from the test and only these" lift, and even that went neatly out the window in short order. WildStar is perfectly comfortable showing off a lot of lower-level stuff, but not the apex right now.
Is that a problem? Not so much, seeing as we don't currently have a release date. When we do, that's when the clock starts ticking.
I can't remember who said it, but it was stated that the space between your NDA drop and release is a good barometer of how confident a company is in its product. It makes sense; if you keep the NDA up until two months before release, odds are that you're hoping people will have pre-purchased and already committed to the game by the time they can hear advice not to. If you drop the NDA before you're even into beta testing, you're pretty confident that the people who are going to like your game will like it already.
In other words, WildStar's persistent NDA makes sense only so long as the game isn't meant to be out for a little while, which raises the question of just when the game does intend to be out. We already know that spring isn't going to happen at this point, or at least that it shouldn't.
Why not? Well, at best, that would mean launching in May. That's a bad month to launch for two reasons. The first is that it would mean the game, at best, had a full NDA drop lasting two months. That's really short. Sure, press outlets have had a lot to say about the game, but that's not the same as having a full drop for players in general, and I don't think Carbine would be so short-sighted.
Second, though, it misses that beautiful three-month mark with The Elder Scrolls Online.
I've said before and will say again that the big goal of WildStar is to be the best version of WildStar it can be. This isn't about that. This is about simple migration. Three months out from a game's launch is when people will start to head off, and there's a certain portion of players who are always going to jump in at launch and leave three months out. It's so predictable that you could set your watch by it, if your watch were somehow designed to measure people leaving MMOs in three-month increments.
July, however, is a more appealing prospect for both of those reasons. It gives more space for testers to freely discuss the game, it neatly lines up with that three-month marker, and it's traditionally a bit of a dead time for game launches. It's also probably going to be before Warlords of Draenor launches, which is a gaping maw that no reasonable MMO would like to launch into the teeth of.
It also might help alleviate the game's current sense of pre-launch fatigue. The longer you hear about a game without being able to pre-order it or buy it or even talk about it, the more you start to get tired of seeing anything related to it. It's true of anything; if you hear about how great an album will be for two years before it's finally released, it's an uphill battle for the release version to match what you were told to expect.
Getting a release date soon, though, would do a lot to address that. And let's face it, the game has been in development for long enough to earn our "most anticipated" award on two separate years. At the moment, WildStar feels like it's getting closer to release and producing more neat stuff while at the same point not getting much closer to just saying that you can play it at some point during this decade.
I think it's going to be soon. I'd also say it needs to be soon. Interest is not self-sustaining, and pretty soon it's going to be time to just go forward and accept that yes, we can play the game now. Speaking from my own perspective, I've had a lot of fun with it, and I'm hoping other people do too.
Feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time I'm going to be playing things by ear, but I'm hopeful you'll still enjoy it.
Here's how it is: The world of Nexus can be a dangerous place for a tourist or a resident. If you're going to venture into WildStar, you want to be prepared. That's why Eliot Lefebvre brings you a shiny new installment of The Nexus Telegraph every week, giving you a good idea of what to expect from both the people and the environment. Keep your eyes peeled, and we'll get you where you need to go