I see, well I'll make a more appropriate response then :)
While I'll admit that the retail store activity might have a propensity toward determining a release date for a normal game -- the release date of FFXIV? Will almost entirely depend on how the Beta goes. And the Beta, will depend on how the Alpha goes (as already stated in previous interviews).
Regular video games don't have public alphas and betas, only demos. Reason being is that they work all the details out in the "lab" before it ever hits the shelf.
A game like FFXIV requires the more public Beta testing options to go well before they can release the game to the public. If the game turns out to be buggy as **** in trials, if people uncover issues that the developers didn't even anticipate, they're going to take another quarter to fix the thing before they release it -- at least, we can only hope they will, rather than release a semi-completed product that will just anger everyone even further than a postponement will.
I understand and appreciate everyone's want to "predict" the release date based on x-factor or y-factor... fact is though, it's all just palm reading at the end of the day -- And psychics are frauds.
The game will be ready when it's ready. An EB release date really says nothing other than the fact that they are willing to take your money in anticipation of the game. And, as I stated, the game could be pre-ordered for a long time now if you walk into just about any EB games and ask to put five bucks down on it. Therefor, my original post is actually relevant.
I would say that the announcements from Square Enix about an impending Beta test are what caused EB to "officially" put the game up for pre-order. I think it is them who are using Square Enix as an indicator that there will be a forthcoming release at the end of the year, and therefor they are jumping on the bandwagon to get sales going. That, of course, is just a theory like any other of course! :) But it makes more sense than EB's official pre-order having any indication whatsoever toward a Q4 release date, when the release date for FFXIV will almost certainly depend on factors that have not yet come to pass.
Hope that's more detailed / relevant xD
Edit: For the record, I still believe in a Q4 release date, don't get me wrong. But only because SE has repeatedly said they were on track for one -- again, I recognize it's dependence on the Beta testing.
Edited, Mar 13th 2010 2:35pm by happybyday
FFXIV: Here's to the future ...