Seems that we have really short memories regarding major software releases.
Remember what Microsoft did with Windows Millenium? They didn't really have their next operating system debugged and ready to go when they said they would, so they rushed to market with Win Me. Was it an abortion? Was it a raping of the computing public? Would it ever have happened in a perfect world? Was it really nothing but a way for the Microsoft development and marketing managers involved to cover their tails and avoid getting fired out of hand and for cause? Personally, I was amazed that Billy the Gates let it happen, but I guess he was afraid of losing market share - snicker, snicker, snort! If you need more evidence, where are the next versions of certain major games (which will go unnamed to protect the guilty) that were announced to be out on the street during 2003? Maybe during 2004.
Now, why is software often published later than first announced? Here are some possibilities:
-- Software publishing, particularly with games, is extremely competitive. All of the publishing houses are grasping for every dribble of market share they can get, and early announcing is viewed as a marketing ploy to whet the buyers' appetites. It's "keep 'em hanging with their tongues and wallets out". The typical company knows very well that pigs will need to fly upside down and backwards for the announced release date to be met!
-- The code for a major game is awesomely complex and is written by many coders, concurrently. This complexity and multi-coding leads to bugginess. A game can't be released until the bug level is deemed by the marketing wonks to be at least marginally tolerable by the buying public. Some wonks are better than others at determining where the breakpoints are.
-- Turnover in software publishing is no doubt high, and there's a limited number of *competent* coders available. Will the archetypical coder (painfully young, somewhat weird, maybe not too emotionally stable, strange personal habits, etc.) be likely to stay with a company for any great length of time? Only if the rewards are high. This results in breaks in continuity and high development costs, and does nothing but extend the length of time it takes to bring a major game to market.
Development costs for major games are high - software publishers make major investments in new games. Their business plans are based on internal company thinking, and sometimes with not much outside input. That's probably because business plans are usually rigid and can't be significantly changed without high impact on the company. Said another way, lots of complaining by the buying public won't make a bit of difference. Unless, of course, it's major and smells so bad that it may take down the company. Recall the recent Intuit TurboTax copy-protection debacle?
In my opinion, Ubi and Cyan have done a masterful job of keeping us all salivating and at the same time keeping their development costs down. You've no doubt noted that there was Uru on-line beta testing by a large population of potential buyers before release of the game.... That was slick. As is the Prologue post-release beta testing. What a neat way to release a half-finished game without overmuch irate screaming by customers!
With all of that in mind, it might be best if everyone is patient and keeps a lid on the strenuous *****ing and moaning. It won't do you any good. Uru on-line will be "released" when Ubi and Cyan in their ultimate wisdom decide that it's time to do so.
Oh, and try to avoid unloading on the tech support folks. They're there to help you (really!) and can't do anything about company policy. You growl at them, expect some of the same in return.
[This message was edited by Heimdall G on Tue June 08 2004 at 09:38 AM.]