Um. Launch, that is.
Now that December 20th, 2011 has come and gone, I think for better or worse the thing that made the Star Wars: The Old Republic launch stick out for a lot of players is the interesting “staggered” early access approach they employed a week before the game’s official release. For many, their in-game adventures actually began up to seven days before the actual launch date.
Personally, I considered my time in early access as part of the whole “launch experience” package. And as I struggle to catch my breath here, covered with a metaphorical sheen of lusty sweat and smoking my metaphorical post-release cigarette, I gotta admit that yeah…overall it was pretty good for me. I do realize, however, that everyone’s answers may differ, depending on their own experiences through early access and server choice, etc. Also, if the massive outcry we saw on the game forums on the 13th is any indication, I suppose it also depends on how tolerant you are.
It was the first time I’ve ever participated in a launch that used a staggered early access strategy, so like many others I was quite curious as to how it would play out. In the end, it worked out well for me, mainly for a couple reasons: 1) I understood what was advertised, that early access would be granted on a “first-come-first-served” basis, determined in the order of when you entered your preorder code. 2) I preordered my game in the wee hours of July 21st, so I had the added benefit of knowing when exactly I was going to be let into the game.
That said, I don’t know if I can bring myself to sympathize with those who knowingly preordered SWTOR a mere week before release and still bitterly whined about expecting to get into day 1 of early access. But on the other hand, I did feel for those whose main complaint was not knowing when they were going to get in. BioWare wasn’t exactly communicative on that front and while I can sort of understand why, I imagine F5ing your inbox waiting for that coveted email not having a clue when it might arrive couldn’t have been much fun, especially if SWTOR’s been something you were looking forward to for a long time and all your friends seemed to be getting in left and right.
I agree early access might have rolled out shakily at first, but then I also remind myself we were initially only given five days, and the two extra days were gravy. In the end, I think most people must have gotten their five days or close to it anyway. My own brother-in-law didn’t even preorder until the night of the 16th and still managed to get into the game the next morning, so it couldn’t have been too bad.
As for the actual launch day, I did get a little worried yesterday morning when I logged in to find myself in line to get into my server. Number 300-and-something on a Tuesday morning. Holy crap. I dreaded coming home in the evening and seeing 5-hour long queues.
Surprisingly, it didn’t happen. Prime time and I got in without a queue. I have the population cap tweaks to thank, I imagine. Unfortunately, I’m aware that there are a few outlier servers (to my friends on The Harbinger, hang in there!)
So for me, I have to say it was a pretty smooth launch, just minus some points for mild communicative issues. More importantly, at least I’ve not encountered bad lag, client crashes or long unexpected downtimes (yet!)
What was your own SWTOR launch experience like? Good? Bad? Went off without a hitch? Complete fiasco?
And because in retrospect, I realize it’s understandable why some consumers would be reluctant to preorder a game months before its release without knowing anything about it — do you think SWTOR’s staggered early access approach for launch was a good idea? Would you be optimistic about it if future MMOs attempted the same?