I really wasn’t going to do a third Star Wars: The Old Republic post in as many days — I’ve got a lot to talk about with other games, really — but if you haven’t heard already, BioWare sprang a lot of big news yesterday that necessitates some discussion. In summary:
- The Early Access for SWTOR has been moved from the 15th to the 13th
- BioWare’s not going to inform players that they’re in the early access until the day of
- The client is available to be downloaded now
- BioWare confirmed there’s no grace period following early access
- EU’s getting their retail copies of SWTOR on the 15th, NA on the 20th
Now, to be honest, I don’t know whether to be frustrated with BioWare, pleased with them, or shrug and realize that in the large scheme of things, this will be old news quickly. But as I said to a friend last night, this has to be the most convoluted head start program/implementation I’ve ever seen for an MMO (and my friend agreed). Players are notoriously thin on patience and very tense around launch, and surprises like this aren’t often well received — even though, on the surface, it looks as though it’s to our benefit. I mean, seven days of pre-launch play (potentially) instead of just five? How can one complain?
I’m not going to really complain about it, but I do want to point out that it does have a few downsides. Many die-hard MMO players have already arranged next week around the 15th in the hopes that they’d get in on the first day, but now that’s been moved around and thrown schedules into disarray. Personally, I had next week all planned out with my to do list, which is now shot to Alderaan and back because of this last-minute reshuffling.
And it’s incredibly hard to plan to be available on a certain day if you really don’t know whether or not you’ll be in on that day. What if you take Tuesday off but aren’t in until Wednesday or Thursday? It’s a small thing, but we all know that these “small things” are important to players. BioWare’s making it very, very difficult to plan out an already busy holiday season week.
I’m also not a fan of how the company is doing this “rolling out” early access with telling people the day of if they’re in it. It may be just peaches on their end, but every other MMO head start I’ve ever seen has given us a date and time well in advance and (usually) stuck to it. Maybe we’ll all be in before we know it next week, but maybe some folks really will be left sitting on their hands in frustration while their friends are in the game, snapping up names, and pulling ahead in the initial rush of leveling. Tell me that there won’t be hurt feelings with a straight face. I dare ya.
But as I said, it’s hard to complain when a company is giving you more of something good, so I’ll cut it out there. Some folks are going to get extra days of play, and that’s terrific. I have been mulling over what’s going on behind the scenes because of all of this, and have come up with a few theories:
- BioWare’s simply ready for launch and wanted to provide a pleasant surprise off the bat
- Because BioWare’s rolling out early access access, it’s giving itself two more days in which to do it so that it has more flexibility and fans who’ve preordered later on will have more than one or two days of playtime
- The EU retail copies on the 15th makes me think that there might be some connection with the longer early access, like BioWare’s trying to overlap the two (especially since there’s no grace period). Maybe NA will be seeing earlier-than-expected copies as well after all?
- BioWare took a look at its beta and pre-order numbers and realized that it’s going to get snowballed if it didn’t adjust its schedule
Pick one or more of the above, or make up your own theory. I feel bad for SWG players who will now see their game shut down well after early access for SWTOR begins, practically guaranteeing that nobody will be paying attention.
Anyway, I’ve got work to do and fewer days in which to do it. /Syp out!