That is necessarily true. they have been released a beta build for people to play and test various aspects of the game. At this stage unless they're really thrilled with their release build, or just plain bored, they will not be worrying much about updating the open beta build outside of keeping it up and running.
The packaged version had to go gold several weeks ago. About the time they released the part about the packaging for the CE being manufactured - you can figure that the actual RTM_gold version of the game was pressed either right before or right after that. You have to remember they have to coordinate production of the boxes, manuals, DVD's, books, RSA Security Tokens, etc. Then all of that has to make it through the supply chain, around the globe. From manufacturer to major distributors to minor distributors to individual stores.
I would direct you to the Sept 7th Beta Update notes on the ZAM splash page. They would not really have a reason to be fixing the things listed in these updates if we were not looking at what I am sure is much farther along than what is pressed on the DVD that will be released on the 22nd. I imagine that during the period between Sept 19 and Sept 22, the "beta client" build will be modified to remove the words "beta client" and it will basically "update" over the version on the DVD.
I wish I could be more optimistic, but corporations are motivated by one thing
The corporate mantra is biggest return on investment for smallest amount of work, with the 80/20 rule in full effect (Can we get 80% of what we want for 20% of the resources that it would take to get 100%?)
They would not be wasting resources continuing to update non-critical issues in the beta if this were not the latest build of the game. It is being patched daily. Per the Sept 7th Patch, bone ring stat's are not mission critical for patching in the beta. Anyone who thinks that come release day, a different "experience" will be available is choosing to ignore how things work in the real world.
The only thing that I am totally boggled by, is why they even hosted an open beta with the game in the condition it is. The only thing I can even remotely believe is the server issues they were experiencing were so severe that if they did not ramp up for a month, the game simply would have fallen apart around launch, so they just let it go knowing that it was going to hurt overall sales, significantly.
They have already committed to milestones and delivery dates at least 1 to 2 years in advance if their enterprise project management is anything like Corporate America. The ROI has already been baked into the financial plan for 2010/2011 so regardless of game status, all systems are go.
At some point they made the decision to release the game in a broken state, which led to their decision to push the PS3 version out. They are using the PC audience to finance the final stage of initial development, so that hopefully, the console users, who are clearly their target audience, will have a better experience.
It is sad. Edited, Sep 12th 2010 11:51pm by elm33