It seems that EA are only selling a limited number of Star Wars: The Old Republic pre-orders in order to maintain quality of service Sorry, but like Gordon I don’t buy into that. The thing about pre-orders is that they are PRE-orders… i.e. they’ve got time to process the information on how many they’ve sold and put enough servers in place before the headstart. Setting a fixed limit now reeks of either a marketing ploy to build frenzy, or an absolutely incompetent infrastructure capacity management team – a judgement I feel reasonably able to make, seeing as my day job involves capacity planning and management for a real-time service.
Now, if EA had said “we’re taking pre-orders up to THIS date, three months before we go live, then shutting the shop to make sure we’ve got enough servers in place” then I might just go along with that – it’s fair to allow a lead time to procure hardware. I mean, if they were smart they’d be projecting ahead based on pre-orders so far and keep orders open so they can sign up as many customers as possible, but they could play it safe and set a cut-off. What we have here, though, HAS to be a marketing move seeing as live date is still off in the nebulous future. As a business plan it’s positively stupid. “Hey guys, we’re really popular – loads more people have turned up and want to be our customers?” “Oh yeah? Tell them to bugger off. We’ve chosen how many customers we want and that’s that – no more allowed.” Try running with THAT business plan on The Apprentice and see how far you get. Nope, this is yet another step in the hype management cycle. Artificial scarcity and a controversial limit to get everyone talking, but you can guarantee that EA will find some way to allow themselves to take your money sooner or later… and probably sooner than live date. After all, with this much marketing effort focused on a game the last thing you want to do is risk it on people being able to find out if the game is actually any good…
I’ve not been very active here recently, mainly because I’ve been A) very busy at work, B) very busy helping the missus with the new Tremaynelet, C) feeling guilty when I spend time writing on forums or blogs instead of getting on with my attempts at fiction writing and D) spending my limited blogging/writing/forum time on the Prime: Battle for Dominus forums despite the guilt 🙂 So I figured what I would do is grab some of the longer forum posts I made there, the ones which really ought to be blog entries anyway, and adapt them to fit in here with a little judicious editing.
First up, I let myself get drawn into a discussion about long-term interest in PvP and the time taken to hit high PvP ranks. And then, as you will see from the point where we pick up, I may have flown off onto a bit of a tangent with a great deal of vim and vigour…
…there’s a different culture in MMOs now from the one in DAoC’s heyday. Maximum level or PvP rank is no longer a distant goal and an achievement – it’s seen as an entitlement. If it takes years to hit max pvp rank, I guarantee there will be epic levels of whining about the grind needed to get to that rank from people who are completely missing the point, which is that you’re not SUPPOSED to reach maximum rank. Developers need to be aware that the “grind to max rank” crowd will play for rank points, and design their game accordingly – for example, there will be people trying to AFK-leech points or arrange objective-flipping, whatever yields most points with least effort, because these people don’t want PvP, they want PvP REWARDS. Attitudes like that are the weeds in the PvP garden, because they spread – people start to think that if that guy over there is doing it, I must be a mug for actually trying to win and getting the same rewards as him.
I’m sick of it. I’m tired of playing Alterac Valley and hearing my teammates yell “Let’s kill Balinda and lose fast!” because that yields more honor points per hour than actually making an effort to win. I’ve had enough of Whitefall Steppes matches where my team lie down and give up as soon as we’re 1-0 down, instead of realising that the first team to 3 wins so we can pull this back. I want the old days when we Hibbies might have been outnumbered, but that just meant we had to be smarter than the Albs and more dedicated than the Mids. I want the days when we took Bledmeer Faste and held it all night against wave after wave trying to recapture it – not because that was the optimum way to farm RPs, but because we could and it was a damned good fight. I want virtual Valhalla – I’m here to fight and rise and fight again because I bloody well enjoy a good (virtual) fight. I want to say to all of the gutless points chisellers – we’re here for battle, man up and fight or get the hell out of our way!
Who’s with me?!