It should come as little surprise that reports are coming in from a number of sources that the street date on World of Warcraft Cataclysm has been broken. The only problem is that despite being able to get their copies ahead of others, this does little good till Blizzard turns Cataclysm on.
Being able to actually switch a game on after the boxed copies have shipped to retailers (thus putting an end to retailers breaking street dates) looks to be a more common practice for developers and publishers going forward on high-profile releases in both the console and PC arena.
“It isn’t like we have not warned retailers not to sell products ahead of the street date, but with titles having to contact central servers over the Internet, we are given a very easy way to control the release of the title so that all customers gain access to it at the same time; which is really the only fair thing to do,” a source at a major publisher told us.
While some consumers will continue to attempt to gain early access to new releases and some retailers will continue to break street dates, it seems that the developers and publishers will be switching games on remotely at the desired announced time. Of course, with the increased popularity of digital distribution, you don’t have these types of problems, as publishers can easily prevent the product from being downloaded before it is scheduled to be released. We guess that is just another reason why publishers are so excited about digital distribution.