Age of Conan Delayed

Age of Conan Delayed

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Norwegian developer Funcom announced today that the upcoming fantasy MMOG Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures will be delayed until March of 2008.

According to Funcom representatives, feedback from the game's beta testing led to the decision. The company says the new release date will give them time to "focus on honing, polishing and improving the heralded qualities of the game."

"We naturally regret that we have to push back Age of Conan," said Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. "However, after careful consideration, and analysis of recent beta feedback, we believe the release date is in the best interest of the gamers, our company and our owners."

Gaute Godager, Age of Conan producer and director, said the company is "honored" by the reception the game has received in its prerelease state, but added, "We still see that we need to polish some aspects of the game even further, especially when it comes to the entry barriers." He said the added time will allow Funcom to make the game "even more unique and powerful."

Described by developers as an "online action role-playing game," Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is based on Robert E. Howard's 1930s fantasy character Conan the Cimmerian, better known as Conan the Barbarian. In development since 2003, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures commenced internal beta testing in the summer of 2006, followed by a public testing program that began in April 2007. The game has suffered from delays in the past; prior to this announcement, the game was slated for release on October 30, 2007, which itself had been pushed back from March 25, 2007.

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This definitely represents the right move. Funcom learned a painful lesson when it launched Anarchy Online prematurely; I'm relieved to see them not replicate the same mistake.

(Full disclosure: I worked as a consultant for Funcom after their Anarchy Online launch to help them understand what had gone wrong and how to fix it.)

A righter move, although it may not take into account the realities of the industry, would be to simply hold off on the release dates until you actually know when it's going to be released. People bitch about "it'll be done when it's done," but I think it's far preferable to the ongoing disappointment of repeated delays.

It might not have been a bad decision development-wise, but the news wasn't exactly well received on the stock market. I guess the chart over last week's price development speaks for itself:
http://www.oslobors.no/ob/aksje_kursutvikling?languageID=1&p_instrid=ticker.ose.FUNCOM&p_period=1W&menu2show=1.1.2.1.

There have been some pretty loud complaints on the AoC-forum as well regarding the combat-system. Many felt (after having read a statement from Gaute, one of the developers) that it amounted to no more than the standard button-mashing you see in other MMORPGs.

What? A new MMOG that fails to innovate? Surely you jest.

I'm glad they're delaying it, since we've seen firsthand what a polished game can do for a company, and how important that has become with increasingly demanding and quality-aware people. I'll just do the usual reference to WoW, point much of a success it is to try to do everything right instead of pushing something that's not done yet, and how important it is to not listen to the people that won't be playing the game - only making money from the sale.

 

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