Posts Tagged ‘Preorder’

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So…Was It Good For You Too?

December 21, 2011

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?

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The Way Of The Preorder

September 22, 2011

Let me just say I have nothing against Gamestop; as a retail store they’ve always treated me fairly and the employees at my local branches are always friendly and chipper. Yet I don’t find myself shopping there often, only because as a cheap ass gamer chick I always seem to find better deals offered elsewhere.

So, when I preordered Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Towns for the 3DS at Gamestop, my friend asked me why, and I got all embarrassed and made him promise not to laugh at me if I told him the reason:

This damn thing.

I don’t normally allow myself to be baited by physical, tangible bonus items because God knows there’s already a big box full of my video game memorabilia collecting dust somewhere. But frivolous and mundane as it is, there’s just something about this stupid, infernal Alpaca Plushie. Its beady black stare compels me.

It also made me realize something about myself — I’ve never really gotten into this whole business of preordering stuff. I average at about one game preorder a year, if even that.

But I see a lot of gamers do it all the time, and I just wonder why do you do it? I used to think it was kinda pointless, because I only buy special editions like once in a blue moon, and I know that even if I wanted something bad enough I’d just show up at the store bright and early on the day of release and pick it up then anyway, preorder be damned.

Okay, so clearly there are exceptions. Suffice to say the areas of game marketing and publicity are ever evolving, but at least for me, these are still the only three reasons why I would ever preorder games nowadays:

  • Money credit or bonus. I don’t think anyone can argue with a sale or a good deal, which is why if I do preorder I always go with Amazon because they seem to be throwing those $10 and $20 credit offers like candy.
  • MMOs. Sometimes it’s for early beta access, but more often it’s for the in-game items. This only makes sense to me because MMOs are multiplayer games where pixelated goodies can actually be displayed and appreciated by an audience other than myself. On the other hand, I don’t usually go out of my way to preorder single-player games for their in-game exclusives. Be it character skins or special weapons, it’s just not as much fun when you can’t show off your swag.
  • Stuffed domesticated camelids.
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In The Fall My Fancies Turn…

September 15, 2011

It’s that time of the year again, when the old MMO fatigue settles in and I climb back on that Xbox360 wagon to start lusting for the myriad of AAA single-player games coming out in the fall.

In fact, it’s already started. I don’t think I’ve touched an MMO in the last two weeks thanks to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is one of those games you tell yourself you’ll just play for a couple hours but then hey why not just another mission and I’ll be done but oh first I should clear out this area and do all the side missions and before you know it the whole day is gone.

When it comes to finishing single-player games, I’m also a bit on the slow side. Yes, I sometimes feel the need to draw out the experience and savor every moment when it comes to SP games, but it’s also mostly because I — *groan* — have to share. I realize in my household things are a bit unconventional in that I’m the one who does all the game buying (plus I love hunting for game deals), and it never fails — I pop in a game, my husband sees me playing and “steals” it. Please tell me this is a common issue for a lot of people, right?

It means that given this fall’s game release schedule, I’m going to be buried under an avalanche. Until Star Wars: The Old Republic, don’t be surprised to see single-player and Xbox games dominate my time  — Gears of War 3, Arkham City and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim already on my must-have list, Dead Island, Modern Warfare 3 and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations on the will-get-when-there’s-a-sale list, not to mention a whole other bunch on the wait-and-see list.

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To CE Or Not To CE

July 21, 2011

Pre-orders for Star Wars: The Old Republic started today. So, based on my anticipation for the game you might assume I’d automatically go for the boxed Collector’s Edition, but no no no that’s not the case. Different people have different reasons for wanting to buy CEs, but while I enjoy little exclusives and goodies as much as the next gamer, when it comes to CEs or other special edition purchases, personally I like to decide not with my heart but with my economically-minded head. And I have to say that currently, it is still unsure.

Pretty as CEs are, I wouldn’t say I’m easily dazzled by the quantity-limited nature or the little trinkets. Instead, more often than not I think about what I’d like to get out of it versus what’s offered. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for soundtracks and artbooks for pretty much any game, and I’ve passed on many a CE in the past because it was missing either one or the other. But believe you me, even if those items weren’t bundled I would have been getting those separately anyway, so then it comes down to a matter of value.

Take World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, for example. The only reason I bought the CE was because, yep, it included the OST and an artbook. And say what you will, but based on that, I think it’s a good deal. My thought process to rationalize my purchase, because even if I were to buy my must-haves separately:

The base game: $40
Soundtrack: $10 (on iTunes, but lets say $15 because it’s a physical copy)
Art book: Retail list price $25.
Standing in line in the cold with a whole bunch of other WoW nerds at the midnight release party: Priceless, ha!

At $80 for the entire thing, it was a no-brainer, even accounting for the other junk I don’t really give a crap about. A mouse pad’s just a mouse pad even if it’s got Deathwing on it, I don’t play the card game, and I didn’t end up watching the exclusive DVD and probably never will, but that’s all gravy. In my mind I’ve already broken even.

The SWTOR CE gives me pause, however. For a game like that, I really can’t believe there’s no artbook. Even though the soundtrack’s definitely a plus, that makes the CE probably a no-go for me. If you like certain little extras, that’s cool, but for myself, I can take it or leave it. I can’t say I’m too crazy about the journal of Master Gnost-Dural nor the galaxy map nor the Malgus statue. Actually, even if there was an artbook, I don’t know if I would have gone for it, because of course, they’re asking for $150.

Yes, I’m pretty psyched about SWTOR, but that just means I really want to play the game. That’s the most important part, and sometimes I think we can get blinded by the extras and lose perspective of that. Sure, the idea of the CE retail box is appealing and it’s oh so pretty, but do I really want to pay $150 for it when I’m like “blah” about more than half its contents? Even factoring the $60 for the base game and $15-$20 value for the must-have game soundtrack (very likely to be sold separately later too, methinks) does the other stuff really make up for the difference, considering all of it will no doubt end up sitting in a box somewhere collecting dust?

So last night at 3am I ended up pre-ordering the Digital Deluxe edition from Origin. At $80, I think I can live with paying the extra 20 bucks for digital items I can use in-game, at least.

Edit: Oh, FFS… Not 10 seconds after I wrote this up, my husband informs me he had ordered his copy of the boxed Collector’s Edition from Amazon. Guess this household will be blessed with a Gentle Giant Darth Malgus after all.

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Rift: Taking Comfort In The Familiar

January 5, 2011

I’ve been contemplating my decision to pre-order Rift all day. No, I’m not changing my mind on the purchase, I simply am in the habit of holding conversations with myself in my head. And no, I don’t think that’s strange, do you? No, I don’t, absolutely not.

Basically, this question surfaced in my mind: “Why are you still pre-ordering Rift, if your impressions of it were so average?

Well, leaving aside that this is still beta, and I have no doubt we’ll see improvements, my answer to myself was, “Is it really so odd that I enjoyed an ‘average’ game?” I don’t think so. Maybe Rift won’t bring anything terribly new to the table, but I don’t think that had any bearing on my level of enjoyment. If I were to place a high priority on stuff like that, well, then I don’t think I’d be so hooked on games like Hexic and Bejeweled.

To be honest, the word “average” might not even have crossed my mind if I hadn’t been sucked into the all the discussions or watched the “epic” beta launch trailer on Massively right before I played. They overdid it a little, in my opinion, but I’m partially to blame too. Normally, I’d take measures to keep my excitement in check and brace myself for anything that can happen, but unfortunately my Rift beta key was a last minute surprise, and I wasn’t prepared. Experiencing the beta on the heels of such an onslaught of anticipatory buzz and emotion probably affected my first impressions. As they say, beware the hype machine. And that goes for both players and developers.

The crux of it, though, is that an MMO doesn’t necessarily have to blow me away with its originality to still offer me a good time. Those things aren’t mutually exclusive, and that’s how I viewed Rift.

Sure, a little novelty now and then would be nice, and I’m still waiting for the day when a truly “revolutionary” MMO will be developed, and when it comes you can be sure I’d be cheering for joy with the rest of the masses. But until then, right now, today, at this very moment, I am just so sick of upcoming MMOs all claiming to be  “innovative”, “advanced”, “bold”, “cutting-edge”, and “next-generation” etc. etc. etc. Hey guys! I just want to have a good time!  To be honest, a claim boasting “We’re mostly going to stick with the fun things that work!” would be perfectly fine with me. But then I suppose that would make for a pretty crappy trailer tagline.

Oh my, I think that was a rant. Was that rant? I don’t know, but you’re doing that thing again.

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Dear March 2011, I Need More Free Time

January 4, 2011

In the last two days, I’ve made three game pre-orders, all releasing in March 2011.

March 1, 2011: Rift

“We’re  not in Azeroth anymore.” Ha! If there ever was a statement that made me laugh and groan at the same time, that was it.

I had a good time in beta, despite not being completely blown away, but the best part about MMOs is playing with others and quite a few people I know will be adventuring in Telara this Spring, which will likely make playing on the live servers a different and much more enjoyable experience.

March 8, 2011: Dragon Age 2

I’m a big fan of the Dragon Age series. Despite playing Dragon Age: Origins on the Xbox360, my DA2 preorder is for the PC version (I hope I won’t regret my decision) because 1) I prefer playing on a computer if I can, and 2) all new story and protagonist = no reason to port over my DA:O playthrough. I’m aware there will be links to the first game, but I’m thinking if there’s no sweet, sweet Alistair if I can’t continue my human noble’s story, then what the hell’s the point?

Hopefully I’ll get my fill of Rift in before DA2 comes out, but if my obsession with the first game is any indication, it won’t take me more than a few days to finish.

March 22, 2011: The Sims Medieval

One of the changes in The Sims Medieval is a shift in focus towards the “happiness” of your Kingdom versus simply the little lives of your individual Sims. I’m most intrigued by the Quest system.

Really, it’s quite sad how much I’m looking forward to this, but I love The Sims franchise. My husband already makes fun of me whenever I play Sims 3, and when Medieval comes out, something tells me I’ll have to put up with his infernal Monty Python jokes too.

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Exclusives, Exclusives, Exclusives

June 16, 2010

Exclusives! It seems to be the way of things these days, game companies and retailers offering bonuses up the wazoo to the point I can’t even keep the number of special items straight anymore.

Obviously, I started thinking about this topic in light of Cryptic’s decision to put Star Trek Online pre-order bonus items in their C-Store. Even though my own STO account is lying dormant right now, it’s hard not to follow news about the game because one can almost always be certain copious amounts of drama will follow anything that happens. Anyway, pre-ordering customers and lifetime subscribers who have spent money to collect these “exclusive” items were understandably upset.

I can empathize. In an ideal world, exclusives should be exclusive, not something made available to everyone mere months after launch. But the thing is, we don’t live in an ideal world where all MMOs are successful like World of Warcraft, a game that for all intents and purposes have still kept their exclusives exclusive. It’s a sad truth that most MMOs will never see millions of subscribers and none will last forever. With so many games flooding the market right now, it’s becoming necessary to expect pitfalls within a game’s life cycle and the ensuing money-sinks.

To stay sane, I have to believe in general that companies aren’t out to deliberately screw over their customers. I do actually believe they want to honor their promises and have their exclusives remain just that…but they’re also in the business to make money. And sadly, sometimes it’s not pure greed but just the need to stay afloat. I don’t know for sure if STO is in this rocky boat, but obviously, most companies will have the foresight to work in a paragraph or two in their Terms of Service, usually along the lines of “We reserve the right to change or limit order quantity, price and availability of any product or service without notice” or something to that effect.

In the end, it’s because of this that we as consumers can rage and complain all we want, but there’s not much else we can do about it, infuriating as it is. I wouldn’t say the corporation gets to walk away unscathed either though. Make your customers upset and fall back on legal-speak one too many times, and people will start to lose confidence in your products and services, which is a very damaging thing to a company in the long run.

I’ve learned something from this. Admittedly, I’m easily dazzled by the promises of exclusives and special bonuses myself…*recalls my Age of Conan puma pet obsession*. I’d have it all if I could. Needless to say, I was pretty miffed that the only STO pre-order bonus available to me in Canada was the Constitution Class Cruser offered by Gamestop/EB Games, but in hindsight, maybe this was a good thing because it did spare me the decision and save me money. Now that these pre-order items can be bought piecemeal in the C-Store, a Liberated Borg officer or a Mirror Universe costume can be mine if I want them, just four and a half months after I bought the game.

Yeah, maybe Cryptic made these “exclusives” available way too soon (I did notice still no playable Borg though…smart move), but despite the grumblings, a lot of players were able to benefit from this. This is a good thing for people who missed out on the opportunity to get these items, and for the folks like me who weren’t even offered the choice.

Still, this whole situation just serves to remind me the importance of making a purchase decision based on the game itself, and not the bonus items. In a world of ToS agreements and markets where MMOs rise and fall, going forward I’ll certainly be more grounded and guarded when faced with the offer of exclusives. I’ve noticed that it has become a lot easier to get swept up in the advertising hype these days, now that more and more retailers are offering special pre-order, collector’s edition, or time-limited items and this trend doesn’t seem like it’s going to die down anytime soon.