Why Release Needs to Happen in Summer 2017
When will Crowfall release? That seems to be the question of the year. Right now, Crowfall is currently enjoying the highest Rating/Hype level of any yet-to-be-released game on MMORPG.com's game list with a score of 8.52. And yes, that's higher than Star Citizen.
But the truth is, we don't know when this game will launch. We're not even really sure which year Crowfall will launch at this point, but it's never too early to start making wild guesses, right?
Right now, I'd say we're in a bit of an MMO lull. The most highly anticipated games launching this year are mostly single-player (Mad Max, Fallout 4) or expansions to existing games (Elder Scrolls Online: Imperial City, Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns), with World of Warcraft's recently announced Legion expansion the big one for next year. Of course, it would be financial suicide to launch a new MMO right during a new WoW expansion, but probably a pretty good idea to set that launch six to nine months afterward to pick up those coming out of the honeymoon stage.
I know it's not possible, but right now, at this very moment, would probably be the absolute best time to launch Crowfall. Second to that, though, is right around summer of 2017. I know that seems like a long time from now (hint: it is), but the timing after WoW: Legion is crucial.
My best guess lands Legion's launch right around October or November of 2016, so by May or June of 2017, MMO players will be ready for something new. I'm certainly not saying that all WoW players will play Crowfall, or vice versa, but WoW's expansion schedule does have a sucking black hole effect on other game communities during each expansion's launch.
The only other real competition that Crowfall has for release attention is Star Citizen, and I believe that's supposed to come out sometime in the year 3050, making it a modern-day MMO at that point. I kid! But seriously, I don't think we'll see the meat of Star Citizen until later in 2017 or even 2018. The first module release may come out in the next year, but the genre is so drastically different than Crowfall's that I don't think there will be much conflict.
Some may say that a summer launch is a mistake, citing the fact that more people may be outside enjoying the weather rather than sitting inside at a computer or game console. But at the same time, global climates vary and that time between May and August means different things to different people.
The short window just before the major winter holiday season has always been a popular time for game launches, but I think that mostly applies to the mainstream games that your Aunt Hilda would grab off the shelf at Walmart. Crowfall will most likely appeal to those people who will either download it at launch or pre-order some kind of special collector's edition months before launch. Point of purchase will play a minimal part of Crowfall's launch sales.
But what will play an enormous role in Crowfall's launch exposure is convention season. If the game can be shown off at the summer gaming events like E3, Gamescom, PAX, etc, it will do well. Those who pay attention to the output from these conventions will be the audience that an advanced game like Crowfall will absolutely need.
If ArtCraft wants to wait until that final big convention (PAX Prime) has time to show off the game before launch, then we're looking at a September of 2017 release. September is traditionally a very popular time for new games to launch, which I'm sure has been proven by some statistician somewhere. But that can also work againt the game if the market is too oversaturated -- even by games you wouldn't think are comparable competitors to Crowfall.
But I am going to say that any time after September of 2017 would just be too late and that window of interest would be gone. That's still a long time away from now, so who knows what could happen between now and then, but I'm going to make my (often horribly incorrect) prediction that we will see Crowfall release sometime between June and September of 2017. What's your pick?