New Zealand studio Grinding Gear Games has officially announced the Open Beta phase for their upcoming free-to-play hack and slash Path of Exile, revealing that the next phase of the game will be pushed back to January 2013. Initially set for a December 2012 release, Lead Game Designer and Producer Chris has taken to the official forums
(thanks Drummo) to outline that such a date is still achievable, however "decided that it’s too dangerous to launch the Open Beta over the Christmas period and Southern Hemisphere summer holidays when many of our staff will be away."
Our development team have worked incredibly hard year-round and this will be their first break in a long time. For most of them, this is the only time they get to travel to see their families or not have to worry about the constant challenges we throw at them at work. Grinding Gear Games is not going to ask them to cancel their holidays. Instead, they’ll come back well-rested and just as eager as you to launch Open Beta.
The other advantage of the extra time is that Jonathan, Erik and I will do extra polishing and testing before the influx of Open Beta players. Between now and January, our Alpha testers will push the 0.10.0 patch to its limits. Their feedback is critical to making sure that the new content is ready for public consumption.
While some players may find it annoying that development has been delayed slightly, it is still good news for those eagerly awaiting a chance to try out the Open Beta, as it will mean more staff on hand for any problems that do arise in the transition.
The new date, January 24th 2013, will officially open the beta to all who desire and will also coincide with the final character wipe and deployment of patch 0.10.0 (including Act Three). You can read Chris's full statement over at the official forums
including a "what to do while waiting" explanation.