The decision to delay Path of Exile‘s next expansion update because of the launch of CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 hasn’t gone over well in all corners of the internet. I voiced some skepticism about it myself in the news post, and Magicman devoted an entire video to it. We’re apparently not the only ones to voice express disapproval, and the rancor has grown strong enough that Grinding Gear Games’ Chris Wilson felt compelled to explain his reasoning behind the decision in greater detail.
The decision was a lesson learned from the launch of the Blight League, which came out less than two weeks after the release World of Warcraft Classic. That had a “massively negative impact” on everything related to the league, Wilson said, including revenue. That was “a bit of a disaster,” as players who miss the launch of a league tend to skip it entirely or not play it as intensely if they do eventually get into it. (You can confirm some of this yourself by looking at the Steam player numbers for PoE in September 2019, when the league launched, and seeing how the positive bump was much lower than for other launches.)
The planned three-week gap between Cyberpunk 2077’s launch and the launch of Path of Exile 3.13 wasn’t ideal for the team, but Wilson thought it was as good as could be managed. When Cyberpunk’s release date shifted so as to be right on top of 3.13, Wilson made the difficult decision to move the launch date of the expansion. As he put it:
“But the commercial reality is that if we kept our original release date, we would be fucked. We believe we’d lose at least half our players, almost all of our streamers, a chunk of our developers, and we honestly wouldn’t blame them.”
Other options — releasing the expansion earlier (would result in crunch or a bad product) or later (would conflict with holiday break) — weren’t seen as feasible, so 3.13 is now on target for a launch probably on Jan. 15. That’s probably the best choice they could have made, given the circumstances.