Home > Star Wars: The Old Republic > “Lambasting the SW:TOR Launch Strategy” or “Losing to the Hype”

“Lambasting the SW:TOR Launch Strategy” or “Losing to the Hype”

Syp’s rundown earlier of the inevitable juxtapositions between the two MMOs prompted this post, as well as a GameInformer story from a few days ago about how EA plans on limiting the number of copies at launch to save on server load.

Let is first start with the GameInformer story from the 18th of August, reported from GamesCom: “…EA revealed that they will be purposely limiting the number of copies available at launch, both for retail and digital.” lolwut? This makes little to no sense to me. When World of Warcraft launched, I remember going to Pyramid Mall in the town of Ithaca, upstate New York on launch day to pick up a copy from BestBuy. The store was sold out, so I left dejected, thinking I will revert to City of Heroes until I can score a copy. Before I took the bus back up to campus, I realized that there was a Target in the same mall, and I decided to go check it out. Lo and behold, some 20 odd copies of WoW were still sitting, completely untouched, on the store shelves. I bought a copy, went home, installed, updated, and loaded into the world as a Tauren Hunter named Xanthus.

Launch day was hell for WoW. The problem wasn’t server crashes (at least not in my case). The problem were the server queues and the fact that newbie starter areas were so overwhelmed with new players that it would take 10 times the amount of time to complete a normal kill quest, even in a full five-man-party. Blizzard responded astutely and rapidly by deploying and doubling the servers in record time, and within the first few days, the situation normalized.

The problem I have with this setup from EA is the same thing that happened to the starting areas in WoW. I fear that at launch, with copies limited and rabid fans clambering over one another to get into the severs (to reserve names, if nothing else), will result in a fairly terrible launch day experience for the players. The smarter thing would be to a) not limit copies, and appropriately respond with servers ready to be deployed at the last minute if the incoming horde clogs all of the intergalactic internet tubes, and b) limit the number of players that an log into a server to the optimal server load. Limiting copies at the start seems like a poor business and strategic decision. Oddly enough, the developers believe that limiting copies will actually ensure the best launch experience. It makes some sense I suppose, but the larger strategy still seems suspect.

Syp says, “I can’t imagine the fever pitch that it’s going to reach by the end of the year”. End of the year? Try now! It would be a challenge to spend an hour in my reader without some blog, news website or hype machine blowing up with the latest and greatest from the BioWare camp regarding Star Wars: The Old Republic. I didn’t think I would invest in it. I didn’t think cared enough to because early adoption sucks 9 times out of 10, and it turns out to be a lot better if you go in a few months down the line when things are more streamlined and the major bugs have been squashed. But maybe I am not strong enough. Maybe I am just not strong enough…

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  1. August 22, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I agree, it seems like a really silly strategy for a launch. They want TOR to be successful yet they are going to limit the amount of people who can play on day one, doesn’t seem smart to me.

    • August 22, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      Look i can see the merit of limiting the copies to the server caps for optimal server populations. But what if all the copies are not sold. Or people flock to one server over the other? Or vice versa? The best they can do it flood the market, capitalize on the hype, and prepare all sorts of contingencies.

  2. August 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    And yet…we MMO’ers continue to forget the 6 month rule.

    EVERY MMO sucks at launch. Some have great launches, but not a one is bug free…not a one is fully content loaded….not a one since WoW has been able to repeat WoW’s success…

    Bioware will soon find they are in over their head…no matter how much money EA throws at them. And the MMO player will gripe and moan because “They should have known better”…

    Whatever. It is the players fault…

    Oh…you said “I didn’t think I would invest in it”

    I am still not going to, because everything screams “been there, done that”, and the game I play now is more than satisfying (and it is NOT WoW)

    • August 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      So wait, TOR screams been there done that but Rift doesn’t? I understand that you like Rift but you might want to take off the blinders now and again. Of course there is the possibility I misunderstood you. I also want to know how is Bioware in over their heads?

      It’s hard to take anything you say about MMO’s seriously because you tend to hate every MMO except the one you are currently playing.

  3. Higgs
    August 22, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    Rift’s launch was smoother than WoW.
    and pretty much bug free if you ask me

    I am looking forward to the chaotic first day of an MMO, hopefully EA wont lock me out…

  4. August 23, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Three/six month rule not withstanding, SWTOR does not seem like the type of game where you need to be worried about the population wave passing you by. Since the game is so story driven, you will likely get the same experience (or better, if you believe the rule) if you wait.

  5. Milamber
    August 23, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Obviously, this may just be a marketing ploy to make people clamor to buy this game quick before any potentially negative reviews pop up and dissuade people.

    On the other hand, Bioware spent a ton of cash on this game and maybe they don’t have the money at the moment to support as many servers. Blizzard had funds from three successful franchises to help out.

    Either way, I don’t care. The first couple days of any game are shit-shows whether it be bugs, crashing, stressing the servers, too many people, or most often all of the above. I’m excited for this game either way. I think they took enough pointers from WoW to make the base of it good and the rest of the new features will hopefully be awesome too (did you see that preview for Hutt Ball? Fuckin’ YES).

  6. August 23, 2011 at 4:21 am

    @Elementalist: What is it? TELL ME!!

    @Higgs: What are you a glutton for punishment?

  7. August 23, 2011 at 4:21 am

    @Anjin: I am sorry, but it is just difficult to take you seriously without bullet points. Seriously though, story is important, but if the game is fundamentally broken (or if the story sucks for that matter) then what? Remember Duke Nukem? I didn’t think Forever was a bad game, it was a DUKE game, but it could never live up to people’s expectations. This won’t either.

    @Milamber: Hutt Ball? You’re the kid who enacts Quidditch in real life too aren’t you? But yes, I can see how this can be an elaborate marketing ploy to ensure the initial 3 million or so units are sold out. 3 million units = 180 million USD in sales + monthly subscriptions worth 45 million a month rolling in from the next month. Considering the recent RIFT announcement that they hit 1 million active subscribers, I wouldn’t be surprised if SWTOR hits this mark a lot sooner.

  8. Milamber
    August 24, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I’ll admit it, I teared up during the last Harry Potter movie. And I MAY have a wand from the theme park in Orlando that my grandmother bought me. But that series was my life growing up. If I wanted to, I actually could join the Three Broomsticks club at PSU here and play Quidditch in real life…but even those kids are too nerdy for me.

  9. August 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    I never really care how a game launches. I was there day 1 for WoW and loved/hated it. It is exciting to be part of a new mass rush to play a game. It gives us something to complain about for a month or 2. Limiting the copies is a good thing in my opinion. Even if the game is so, so millions will play the first day just to get the Tee-shirt “TOR What a Bore!” or “TOR Give Me More” as they say in the bizz, “it’s all fun and games”

  10. August 24, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    @Milamber: There may be hope for you yet buddy! How is boxing going?

    @ScaryBooster: I like the T-shirt ideas. Head over to Snorg Tees and trademark those. With millions playing, you are set to make a killing!

  11. Milamber
    August 25, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Boxing is good as always. I’m treasurer this year so that should be fun. We are doing recruitment now and we got some cute biddys trying out so I may have to give them some private lessons…

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