MW3 And The Broken Release Date

Release dates are important.  They’re important to the publisher, developer, marketing, PR and – of course – the public.  With a game like Modern Warfare 3, which will have millions invested in just making sure people know when it’s coming out, let alone its development, a level playing field is absolutely crucial.

Of course, not everyone plays by the rules, and whilst most major high street retailers are sticking to the date set in stone during the summer, tomorrow’s launch has already been spoiled by early copies being sold to hungry punters with cash to spare.  In fact, it’s possible to find tweets suggesting that here in the UK people were already playing it on Saturday.

And, locally at least, it’s further possible to tie those sales down to small number of specific outlets.

[drop2]The hugely amicable Jon Brady, of Sarcastic Gamer, set out at lunchtime today to see if the various stores (including both indie and major high street nationals) would speak on the record about how and why the public was able to get a copy of the game before its general release.

We’ll not name the specifics stores, suffice to say that one was seemingly happy enough to sell Jon a copy of the game until he mentioned that he was doing an article on the subject.  “I asked if they would sell me one,” he told me, “and they immediately asked which format I’d prefer it for.”

“I spent a few minutes watching people line up – a good ten or so people down the length of the store at any one time – to buy the game. ”

Things changed when he said he was doing a report, though.  “I was asked who I was representing, and I explained I was writing a story about the Modern Warfare 3 release and broken street dates. One member of staff simply said there was nothing to say to me, but another was at first open to questions, before saying I’d need to ‘speak to the boss’.”

“Another member of staff hung around at the side of the till, saying there was nothing to comment on before the manager appeared from the back of the store to also tell me there was nothing to say,” continued Jon. “The first member of staff then told me ‘we’ve been here for 19 years, we’re independent and it’s what we do. We have nothing to say on this.'”

Independent, for the record, doesn’t mean you can break legally binding release dates, although it seems it’s not worth reporting those that do anymore.

The consensus that it’s ‘just one store’ (a response from distributors on the subject, according to Jon’s article) doesn’t really hold much weight – the theory is that once one shop has broken the release date, others can follow, and back when I had plenty of disposable income I’d frequent such indies and take advantage of their early selling.  In fact, it’s why I used to shop online with ShopTo years back as they made their name in the formative period by sometimes shipping games a couple of days early.

In the case of Modern Warfare 3, though, there’s a presumed reluctance to mess with the likes of Activision, who are currently hosting a lavish launch bash down in That London, with our Tuffcub in joyful attendance.  They’re as big a publisher as you can get these days, and we’d imagine relationships with them are worth keeping.

But here’s the rub: what choice do the indies really have?  They’re repeatedly shunned with regards to pre-order editions (if they’re not HMV or GAME chances are they won’t be getting any special treatment) and they simply don’t have the buying power to sell cheap or even offer the crazy trade-in prices that the supermarkets and retailers do for titles like this.

And if you can charge a little more to get a few early sales without really upsetting anyone too much, is there really such a problem?

Of course, with the game having leaked onto the web last week and many of our readers already sampling Infinity Ward’s latest via retail copies, apparently we’re at the back of queue for actually speaking about this year’s big winter blockbuster (although I think Peter’s currently queueing for a midnight launch) but by all accounts it’s turned out to be a cracker, wherever you buy it from.

Just do us a favour: don’t stay up too late.

If any retailers, indie or otherwise, would like to comment on the record, please get in touch.  For further reading on this specific topic, please check the article on Sarcastic Gamer.

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35 Comments

  1. I don’t ‘get’ midnight launches.
    If you pre-order it, it’ll still be there in the morning.
    Just how many people pull an all-nighter with college/ school/ work the next day? I suppose you could play an hour or two if you live close to the store, but is it worth it?
    I suppose if they have some sort of freebies giveaway or a promo price, it’d be good.

    Anyway, onto my main question:
    What difference does a store (or a few stores) breaking the release date make anyway? Surely it’s just a chance to get word of mouth and build anticipation, no?
    The wider public will still get their game, it’s not like it’s being delayed or anything…

    • Well, for a a game like MW3 which has a large MP component, breaking street date means customers could have a negative online experience if they try to use the game before the servers are ready.

      For SP only games I suppose it doesn’t make as much of a difference but a release is timed to maximise the game’s impact. A lot goes into working out the best time to release a game. A shop breaking a street date pisses all over the publisher’s hard work to make the game as successful as possible.

    • ahh.. reminds me of the day halo 3 came out and i didnt pre order it.
      rumours were rife that there was a shortage of these.
      i went to town at 8am banging on the door to game screaming to the guy in the shop have you got any spare copies of halo 3..
      much to my relief there was a wall full of them..
      looked like a right twat dressed as masterchief with my warthog parked outside.
      back to topic..tesco got my bf3 to me early.how come mwf3 isnt here..gutted
      spose i could go out at midnight dressed as soap.

    • Difference is if I preorder it, it will cost me £20 more

  2. I have someone on my friends list who bought it at the Aussie midnight launch and by the time I woke this morning had finished the Singleplayer……

  3. I don’t get midnight launches either. I could understand it more for a game like U3 where you want to see what happens in the story but the COD story is always utter hollywood-style predictable shite so what difference does 8 hours make

    • Personally I’m not a great fan of shooters but surely if you can understand it for a game like U3 then surely you can understand that some people will want to do it for a COD game.
      Different people like different gammes.

    • “so what difference does 8 hours make”

      With CoD, its the difference between completion, and not.

  4. I got to some midnight launches but really depends on the game and the offer. Nit going out tonight.

  5. Can’t be bothered with a midnight launch, but I suppose if I were to meet all my friends, and we were all to get it, it might be a fun social event.

    • That sounds like the only logical reason IMO

      • It’s the reason I went to midnight launches for Halo 3 and Gears 2. Me and about 5 friends all went and had the next day off work/college and so pulled intended to pull an all nighter.

        Problem was, we went to the pub to pass time til midnight. I ended up quite pissed and thus managed about 4 games on Gears 2 and ended up in a drunken slumber on my couch!

        Nowadays, I can’t be arsed with em (midnight launches). There is no game that’s coming out that I would book time off work to play day one. Dunno if thats me losing my gaming mojo or just me growing up though :P

  6. I really don’t see why shops can’t just sell things when they want to. If the developers are worried about people getting an unfair advantage online, just turn off multiplayer until the release date!

    • I don’t think devs can turn off servers- what about reviews?

      • I’m sure there would be a way… We can send robots to Mars. :)

      • I hadn’t thought about reviews, but there probably wouldn’t be enough people online to properly test the multiplayer component anyway.

        Having said that, I expect the developers wouldn’t want reviews to be based off what the multiplayer is really like on launch day, seeing as there are usually massive problems, so you have a good point.

    • Easily the best thing I have seen to combat this, was when the Dark Souls developers released ultra-powerful black phantoms into the games of people who were playing the game early.

      Genius.

  7. In regards to midnight launches, your options are…

    Go to the midnight launch and stand in the freezing cold, in the middle of the night, looking like a complete twat getting laughed at by all the chavs out in town at that time.

    Or….

    Pre-order from ShopTo.net at 2 or 3 quid cheaper than instore and have the game delivered by free 1st class to your door AT LEAST 1 day BEFORE the release day.

    LOL I know which option I’d choose ;)

    • The chavs are in the queue with us. In fact I had a good laugh with them

      • Oh, yeah. If it’s a call of duty or halo midnight launch, then all the chavs will be the first in line.

      • haters gonna hate.

  8. Midnight launches are pointless last year alot my friends pre ordered Black Ops ad went to the midnight launch knowing that with it being pre ordered it’l be there in the morning and 90% of my friends had work the next morning and didn’t play it til then! i suppose if your unemployed or are off work it may be worthwhile but if not then it’s pointless to me! does anyone know how good 24Studio are at delivering Pre Orders?

  9. The last time i went to a midnight launch was when the PS3 was released……..can’t see me going to any more midnight launches though.

  10. Midnight launches FTW!
    Midnight launches are fun, IMO, its more about bragging rights then getting a game early. Its like waiting in line for tickets to see your favorite band. Its about sharing a moment in gaming history with people who feel as passionate about gaming as yourself. Sure, there’s lots of things about midnight launches that could be considered silly. I remember my MW2 midnight launch, waiting in line for hours in 10 degree temp, just to get the game home to find out the MP needed a patch and was un-playable. But the next day when the local paper ran an article on the MW2 midnight launch… I was able to smile and say, “yea, I was there”. For a brief moment you forget about the amount of people in line, the time, the temperature, work, school… and realise something you’ve waited years for, something you’ve watched since conception is right around the corner, literally. IMO every hardcore gamer needs at least 1 midnight launch under their belt in order to wear the hardcore tag.

    • Couldn’t agree more about the fun bit. You meet some really good people all interested in the same experience. Ive got 3/4 midnight launches under my belt and all have been good fun. It’s surprising how standing in the cold waiting for 12 to strike breeds a collective camaraderie amongst the queue.

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