I don't just blog about EVE Online, but I usually confine that content to my Tuesday column. But with the news coming out of Blizzard and leaking out of Carbine over the past few days, the release schedule for the major games published by MMORPG companies is almost final for 2014.
First up is Hearthstone. While not an MMORPG, the game is published by Activision/Blizzard and based on Blizzard's Warcraft universe. I think Blizzard surprised everyone by ending the beta and announcing the live release of the game yesterday. I think Blizzard needs the game to do well to keep people's interest in Azeroth alive, considering some of the other news that came out over the past few days.
Next is EverQuest Next Landmark moving from closed alpha to closed beta no later than 31 March. At that point players can join the unlimited closed beta for $19.95 USD. I really think that the game can pick up some popularity even though SOE will promise bugs at first, as they plan on the closed beta serving as a true beta. I'm following the game and I might even try the game out even though I'm pretty terrible at the artistic thing.
Zenimax Online plans on releasing Elder Scrolls Online a few days later on 4 April, although early access will also fall on 31 March. Unlike Hearthstone and Landmark, Zenimax plans on charging a subscription as well as a box price. With the Elder Scrolls IP, expect the game to make a big splash in the market, although some of those numbers on the PC are guaranteed to disappear as soon as the console version is released.
The next game scheduled to launch is Wildstar. That in itself isn't too surprising. What is surprising is that we may actually have a date. Apparently Gamerzines released the information before the embargo was due to lift. MMORPG reports that pre-orders go on sale on 19 March, with early access starting on 31 May and the actual launch on 3 June. Carbine has leaked information like a sieve about Wildstar throughout the game's development, but at least they can't take the blame for this release.
I have to admit I'm intrigued by Wildstar. The first time I saw a video of the game it reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon. I'm hoping Wildstar will combine that mix of entertaining for the kids while having witty, amusing content for adults like the cartoons had when I was growing up. The fact that the game has a PLEX-like item in C.R.E.D.D. just adds to the attraction.
The end of the summer promises to release the blockbuster game of the year, Destiny. Due out on 6 September, Bungie is marketing the game as an action, role-playing first-person shooter. As not only a FPS but a console exclusive I don't plan on playing the game, but the game will probably have a huge impact (i.e. fewer players) on other games in the genre.
Finally, what about the other blockbuster due out in 2014, the Warlords of Draenor expansion for World of Warcraft? Some WoW players started, to use the technical term, to freak out when word leaked out that the expansion was due out "on or before 12/20/2014". That's a worst case as Blizzard plans a fall release and 20 December is the last day of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. If Blizzard times their launch compared to Destiny similarly to what they did compared to Guild Wars 2, I would expect WoD to launch in the first half of October. I should add that seems optimistic, so flame away. As Blizzard stated at BlizzCon that WoW would see no new PvE content like raids or dungeons after Patch 5.4, that is an awfully long time to go without new content in the game. The Blizzard front office must really think a raise in the level cap to 100 and free level 90 characters will really serve as a strong incentive to come back to Azeroth. In the meantime, expect WoW to hemorrhage accounts throughout the summer.
That's the schedule of major releases so far. I don't know when Landmark will go into open beta/live launch or when Trion will release the highly anticipated Korean sandbox game ArcheAge to the English-speaking market. That game may not even release in 2014. A rather eventful year and hopefully one with a lot to write and podcast about. I probably won't do that much of the writing, but I do enjoy watching the coverage put out by others.