Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why new releases are always on Tuesday

Everyone gather around the campfire.  Your uncle Jester is going to tell you a story.

Sooner or later, the source of language and tradition always gets lost.  I'm still re-watching Babylon 5... now in season 5.(1)  In one of the mid-season episodes, Londo tells G'Kar a story about a palace guard who was set to guarding an empty courtyard, day after day.  Why was he guarding an empty courtyard?  Because two hundred years prior, one of the Emperor's daughters had ordered the palace guards to prevent anyone from stepping on the first flower that had bloomed in that place after a long winter.  The order was never withdrawn, orders hardened into habit, then into tradition, then into myth.  The palace guards had always guarded that courtyard, so they guarded that courtyard, long after the reason for doing so was lost.

EVE Online: Crucible is being released on Tuesday, 29 November 2011.

For the most part, new releases of music, software, DVDs -- purchasable media in general, really -- happens on Tuesdays.  Sure, every once in a while, you'll get a midnight Friday release or a release associated with a marquee date (11.11.11, anyone?).  But usually, new releases happen on Tuesdays.  Have you ever wondered why?  It's a reason that hardened into habit, and now is hardening into tradition.  But it turns out I know why, so I'll share the story with you to prevent it hardening to myth for a bit longer.  I swear to you that so far as I know, the following story is completely true.

Once upon a time, there was a little company called IBM.  In 1964, IBM released a computer system called the System/360, and for the next 15 years or so, mainframes based on System/360 were in the forefront of big-business mainframe computing.  One of the reasons the System/360 was so popular was because there was a wide range of software available for it, and new releases and updates for that software were extremely frequent.  Entirely new software products for the System/360 were also frequent.  At this time, IBM was retraining thousands of former typewriter repair people and secretaries as computer programmers, and those programmers were kept very, very busy.

IBM, with great fanfare, would always release these new software products on Mondays.

IBM's CEO during this period was a man named Thomas Watson, Jr.  Watson was a dedicated businessman and was extremely dedicated to IBM's key products, including the 360 and its software.  He liked to be in personal attendance at the announcement meetings for major new products.  Watson was also a pilot and a sailor.  He owned a series of sailboats during his life, and sailing was probably his favorite weekend hobby.  One weekend, he decided to extend a sailboating trip into Monday to take advantage of the fact that the lake he was sailing on would be less crowded.  Problem was, there was a major software release scheduled for that Monday.  Watson missed being in attendance at the announcement, and reportedly was unhappy about it.

Some overzealous IBMer decided that henceforth, all IBM product announcements would happen on Tuesdays to prevent this ever happening again.

IBM's mainframe market competitors, who were forever trying to overshadow IBM's product annoncements, followed suit.  They started announcing all of their products on Tuesdays, too.  When IBM released the first IBM PC in 1981, it was announced on a Tuesday and made available the following day.  Microsoft timed their announcement of MS-DOS to correspond with IBM's announcement.  Because of the close relationship at that time of IBM and Microsoft, future Microsoft announcements also corresponded to IBM's Tuesday announcements.  Microsoft's competitors started timing their announcements to try to overshadow Microsoft's announcements, also on Tuesdays.

I repeat: so far as I know, this story is completely true.  :-)

Repeat and expand over thirty years or so, and that's where we are today.  Media of all kinds are now released on Tuesdays, and the reason is a man named Tom Watson... and his sailboat.

(1) Maybe it's nostalgia and maybe it's because there hasn't been something quite as good on TV in a long, long time, but this time around, season 5 doesn't seem as bad to me as it has in the past.  Oh, it's still not up to par with the first four seasons, but it's still a hell of a lot better than much of what's on TV today.


  1. The story is not quite true (it may be a true story, but it doesn't relate to everything). Albums are released on Tuesdays because Billboard magazine is published on Wednesday. Movies are almost always released on Thursdays and Fridays (Thurs. releases are usually expressly for the purpose of inflating the opening weekend sales figures). I suspect the reason CCP does theirs on Tuesdays is that its the least populated day and provides 2 days to fix things before the weekenders log on.

  2. Yeah, this story doesn't apply to first-run movies, just purchasable media.

  3. Here in Britain it's Fridays. ;p

    Thus we get things a couple of days after everyone else, because the marketing types don't want their first week sales to only be counting half a week. :(

    Except for Skyward Sword, which we're getting early :D

  4. Normally, you would want as long a period during the work week to deal with the bugs with a release. Of course, folks also want as much of the week before the release for final QA/QC. So a Tuesday, giving Monday the panic day of last minute changes, and 3.5 or 4 days to get stuff fixed before the next weekend.

    As was discovered by CCP, when they released something this summer (or made a big change, I can't remember which) but on a Thursday, one day was not enough to try to fix problems before everyone disappeared for beer and fish sticks over the weekend.

  5. In the UK games are released (generally) on a Friday, with Films on another day and Music on yet another. I was told the reasoning behind this, originally, was to aid in stocking the shops, ie. staff could focus on one section a day. But then who knows :)

  6. I think CCP already released expansions on a Thursday but I'm pretty sure they released patches on Thursdays in the past and things went...bad!

    In software one of the reasons for Tuesdays releases is the fact that:

    Mondays are no good, you dont prepare things on friday to have to wait 3 days to realese it. Software leaks or people forget core things about release date if its 3 days later.

    Wednesdays: Middle of week? nahhh
    Fridays: you dont release a software and then keep people waiting all weekend to acquire them.

    Teusdays: You prepare the lauch on the day before. If stuff is needed to ship, you have 3 days and they will be available at most stores before end of week. And the biggest reason, if things go wrong and there are bugs, you have a couple of days to fix it and release a pacth.

    CCP stopped releasing patchs in other week days because of this. Many times they released a patch and then it had bugs and players had to wait all weekend for devs to come back, find the bug, fix it and release a patch! Instead of a fix 1-2 days later it was a week! Microsoft does exactly the same thing for the same reasons with their OS updates!

  7. I'd actually heard that Tuesdays were the slowest retail sales day so things got released on Tuesdays to bring more people into the stores.

  8. Actually, CCP has both a history of the Tuesday, as well as a history with patches (emergency and regular types alike) outside of Tuesdays.

    In the early years, they even did some on fridays. Needless to say, that rarely went well. In recent years they have had their issues with striking a balance for followup patches following deployments (particularly optional, emergency and late fix types) where the thursday and friday were not an exception (mostly though because of the patch train choo choo following deployments that did not go as smooth as they should have).

  9. Regardless of the story's truth, Tuesdays are probably optimal (there's that word again!) from the perspective of avoiding fallout from long weekends of partying/travel/Monday holidays. Then you still have two solid workdays before the psychological tendency to slack off again on Fridays in anticipation of the weekend. Not that anyone would be doing anything but working the weekend before a release, right? :P


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.