I made a few estimates based on earlier, major releases by Blizzard (or more specifically, the temporal differences between the announcement dates and the release dates of StarCraft, Diablo II, Warcraft III and World of Warcraft). The data collection and processing took longer than expected, but it was fun
StarCraft was announced on E3 in 1996, between May 16 and May 18 [1
]. Back then, it used the same engine as Warcraft II and looked rather jolly
. After complaints from fans, StarCraft (including its engine, graphics and sound effects) were recreated, and the end product was StarCraft 1.00, which was released on March 31, 1998 for Windows, across the world[3
This signifies that it took 682-684 days from the announcement of StarCraft to the release of the game. I have not been able to find any specific information about which day StarCraft was announced on the 1996 E3 event.
Subsequently, this game called Diablo II ended up on the market. Actually, it was first announced at the ECTS
between September 7 and September 9[4
], and was released on June 30, 2000[6
claims that the release date was June 29, 2000 for both the NA and EU versions of the game.
Based on the IGN data, we can extrapolate that the announcement-to-release period of Diablo II was 1023-1025 days, with a data inconsistency of three days, alike what was seen earlier for StarCraft.
For some reason, Blizzard then figured it was a good idea to announce Warcraft III, which I consider a malodorous bastard child of its progenitors; commonly a cause for self-subjection to animosity from nerds
, thus disallowing me to partake in further social endeavors with them (and consequently, anyone at all for that matter). Anyway, it originally debuted on the ETCS in 1999[7
] between September 5 and September 7 (great) in 1999. It was released on July 3, 2002 in the U.S., and two days later in Europe.[9
In other words, based on the IGN data for the U.S. version of the game, Warcraft III was released 1030-1032 days after it was announced.
You know what followed, don't you? Aside from the annoying expansion packs, that is. Indeed, ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE
and their uncle has played it at this point. Announced on September 2, 2001[11
] and released on November 22, 2004[12
], World of Warcraft was pretty good and stuff
If you have been paying close attention, you will have noticed that the announcement-to-release phases have grown longer for every project listed (in chronologic order) so far. At 1177 days, World of Warcraft follows this trend.
Then there's Diablo III. Announced on June 28, 2008[13
], fans have somehow managed to become acutely bereft prior to its release. So, when exactly will Diablo III be handed to the sheeple for plenty o'coin? It is very probable that no-one knows for certain, and it is certainly certain that Blizzard has not announced a release date yet. However, based on the given data, we may infer a probabilistic time frame for release date of Diablo III.
For instance, one of the simpler models involves calculation of the average announcement-to-release phases for the aforementioned projects:
(((682+684)/2 + (1023+1025)/2 + (1030+1032)/2 + 1177)/4) days = 978.75 days.
This is equivalent to 2 years, 8 months and 6 days ± 2 days, depending on whether or not leap years are involved, and what part of the year the project was started on. Based on the announcement date of Diablo III (June 28, 2008), we can deduce that Diablo III will be released between March 1, 2011 and March 5, 2011
Assuming the shortest development phase for any of the aforementioned projects (682 days), we can derive that this is equivalent to 1 year, 10 months and 13 days ± 2 days using similar rules to those found in the last paragraph. Using this model, Diablo III will be released between May 9, 2010 and May 13, 2010
. While optimistic, it defies the trend of continually lengthening development cycles of Blizzard's projects (which is seen amongst other game developers as well).
With the longest (and most recent) development cycle of any of the aforementioned, major Blizzard projects taken into account (1177 days for World of Warcraft, equivalent to 3 years, 2 months and 23 days ± 2 days), a possible release date between September 16, 2011 and September 20, 2011 is revealed
. This may be considered a reasonable estimate, but the model still appears too simplistic and static to be satisfactory.
To procure a higher degree of satisfaction, I decided to estimate the result of the progressively lengthening development cycles (using the four given two-dimensional data points) through linear regression and exponential regression. (Note that the usage of 4544 will correspond to the amount of days that have passed since the release of StarCraft on March 31, 1998, to today, October 24, 2008.)
Starcraft announcement: 0
(days since StarCraft announcement date (duh)); ((682 + 684) / 2 = 683 day announcement-release phase)
Diablo II announcement: 4544 - 4065 = 479
(days after the StarCraft announcement date); ((1023 + 1025) / 2 = 1024 day announcement-release phase (based on IGN data)
Warcraft III announcement: 4544 - 3337 = 1207
(days after the StarCraft announcement date); ((1030 + 1032) / 2 = 1031 day announcement-release phase)
World of Warcraft announcement: 4544 - 2609 = 1935
(days after the StarCraft announcement date); (1177 day announcement-release phase)
Linear regression analysis
y(t) = 0.2175755907t + 781.7896965
- y is the length of the development phase (in days).
- t is the amount of time since the release of StarCraft (in days).
By using the one-dimensional information (the announcement date) from the Diablo III data point, it can be concluded that Diablo III was announced 4426 (4544 - 118 = 4426) days after StarCraft announcement date. By utilizing this information in the first-degree polynominal function derived from linear regression analysis, we see that:
y(4426) = 0.2175755907*4426 + 781.7896965 = 1744.77926
If you're still with me, you may have figured out that a 1745-day development cycle (or 4 years, 9 months and 12 days ± 2 days) would potentially be a bad thing, as it implies that Diablo III may not be released until a period between April 6, 2013 and April 10, 2013
Exponential regression analysis
Governing the fact that 2491 days (6 years, 9 months and 28 days ± 2 days) passed between the World of Warcraft and Diablo III announcements, it may be argued that linear regression analysis is inadequate to compensate for the temporal gap and the few data points available. Exponential regression analysis ameliorates these salient gaps in part.
Using the aforementioned two-dimensional data points, we get:
y(t) = 800.7774894e^(2.135821658t*(10^-4))
By inserting the one-dimensional information (the announcement date) from the Diablo III data point into the exponential function, we see that:
y(4426) = 800.7774894e^(2.135821658*4426*(10^-4)) = 2060.89943
Thus, we can conclude, with one of the best regression analysis tools available, that Diablo III will likely be released 2061 days (5 years, 7 months and 24 days) after it was initially announced, between February 16, 2014 and February 20, 2014.
ENJOY THE WAIT!
Think about it. Most game development projects in the 70's involved individual game developers or smaller teams, whereas the amount of game developers per project has increased in quantity ever since. Most of the major game development studios currently have at least a hundred artists, programmers and game designers working on a single game to meet the deadlines. These trends are likely to continue, to keep up with the still-growing production times of increasingly complex projects.
As for those of you who think we can't predict the future, we most certainly can, on larger scales.
"One way to think about the patterns in information technology is to look at science, where we see other examples of remarkably predictable effects resulting from the interaction of inherently unpredictable phenomena. The laws of thermodynamics provide an example. The path of each molecule in a gas is modeled as a random walk. Yet the properties of the overall gas, made up of many chaotically interacting particles, is predictable to a high degree of precision. Technology evolution is, similarly, a chaotic system with remarkably predictable properties." - Raymond Kurzweil
Also, stop asking me how much longer you'll have to wait.