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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…

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