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Harry Potter, Helm's Deep, and Early Game Access

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
Harry Potter, Helm's Deep, and Early Game Access

Drengsta's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:32 AM | #101
Fine points. And I agree. I am still happy knowing I will be in sooner since the early access was extended two more days though.

larryeabel's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:41 AM | #102
everyone forward this post link to twitter/facebook force them to read this.

Poedime's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:41 AM | #103
great post OP

magiccreative's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:45 AM | #104
great toughts, +1 from me

magiccreative's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:49 AM | #105
forgot to rate, doing now

_Twigge_'s Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:51 AM | #106
Nice post OP. I'm one of the few who thing that rolling early access is a good idea for a smooth launch. Yeah, some people are ahead and have "an advantage" according to other pre-orders, but ALL of us pre-orders have the advantage of those that did NOT pre-order for early game access. Anyway, on to my point! While I'm ok with the rolling access, the lack of information about who is getting in and when is pretty frustrating. And while I also understand that information like that is generally kept internal, it's not too much to ask to get an estimation of when our accounts will be flagged for play. In the dev tracker, there is a post that says they'll be inviting more on Wednesday than they did on Tuesday, so they do know how many they are inviting... is it too much to ask for an estimation so that we are a bit more in the loop?

Hey everyone.

We absolutely understand you want to get in and play the game early. It's one of the reasons we expanded our Early Game Access from a maximum of five days to a maximum of seven days. However, there are a couple of important points to realize about today's opening salvo of invites, and the procedure in general for Early Game Access and launch.

First, Early Game Access and launch is not supposed to be a stress test. In our previous Beta Testing Weekends we got up to very large concurrent number of players and brought invites into the game at a very high rate. That was done to stress test every aspect of our systems and servers, and essentially to see if they broke. In some cases, they did, but that helped us improve for launch.

For us, launch isn't just about stuffing our servers with as many people as possible. As anyone who's been through a large MMO launch can tell you, that experience can be painful. Our aim with this launch was to ramp things up gradually, to spread our player population out amongst a variety of servers, to maintain all server types, and to keep queuing to a minimum (although we expect that to happen as we head towards December 20th). So far, all that has been successful for us on Day One.

The second thing to realize is scale. We invited more people to play Star Wars: The Old Republic today than many other MMO launches manage in their entire head-start process. As I mentioned earlier today, when we opened pre-orders we had a huge spike in numbers - far more than most MMOs capture at launch. That was the initial rush. After that, our pre-orders settled down.

What this means is that tomorrow, you'll effectively start to see the pre-order timeline expand. You'll see people who have pre-ordered later than July getting invites. The day after that, more people will be invited. We're actually planning to invite more tomorrow than today, and invite the same number again on Thursday - at which point we'll be into the original 'five days of Early Game Access'.

Last thing. Why aren't we continuing to send waves over time? Two main reasons - one, because we need to see that the servers are maintaining stability over time; adding a lot of players in a short period (in other words, stress testing) can cause stability issues.

Two, our plan is to continue to add servers - but carefully, and in response to demand. We need to monitor that demand and roll out servers accordingly. A long-term recipe for MMO failure is to add a lot of servers early on, and then when population decreases, have to close those servers and merge them together.

Our aim is for Star Wars: The Old Republic to be around for a long time to come. Today's just the first step in that - an early step, too - and we'll be running smoothly, with a stable population, before too long.

MatchpointServe's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 12:55 AM | #107
Quote: Originally Posted by CBGB View Post
Early Game Access at Barnes & Noble

Two hours before release of the last Harry Potter book, I looked through the locked doors of Barnes & Noble at the crowd outside. There were three or four hundred people already. We expected 150.

One of them bumped against the door, pressed by the mob behind him. A fellow employee looked at me and asked, 'Did you see Lord of the Rings?'

'Yeah,' I said.

'Remember when the orcs arrive at Helm's Deep?'

'Yeah,' I sighed.

He went back to his register. We had five. Management decided to open two.

The doors opened a few minutes later and the orcs massed around the registers to purchase red raffle-style tickets to be used to get their books at midnight. The lines were slow and people streamed into the store, past our one manager on duty, who stood on a chair.

I brought out the first box of books. People stared. Our manager called out numbers, which no one could hear, and the crowd moved in. Miraculously, they did not grab or push, but I handed out books to any outstretched hand without regard to purchase order. Other employees did the same at two other stations, but we had to pause to get each new box. By the time we locked up, it was after 3am.

The next day, I talked with an employee at another Barnes & Noble, 40 minutes away. They had six registers open - they converted the cafe into a distribution point - and had organized their lines before the doors opened, so everyone knew which of the six places to go for their books They hired a magician for entertainment and had black plastic glasses for kids. They had more customers than we did, and they were done in an hour.

  • 1) The experience of getting a product matters as much as the product itself.
Big events are a chance to gain a lot of customer goodwill. Or lose it.
  • 2) Communication goes a long way.
Waiting is easier when you know what to expect.
  • 3) Invest in your best customers.
The other store had more employees for the shift, but they finished faster and processed fewer complaints (they did have one, from a guy who wanted the cafe to be open). They even got a nice spot on the local news - good PR, lots of satisfied customers

Launch and Early Game Access at Bioware
It's a little late to worry about lesson 1). My heart goes out the product managers for SWTOR (my wife was a product manager for Sierra/Vivendi), but there's nothing so inherently challenging about launch that can't be a time to gain goodwill from players. Rely on lessons 2 and 3.

Lesson 2: communicate, even about delays. That doesn't mean Tweeting/Posting that you just sent more invites, since that doesn't help anyone know when to take off time from work or arrange to meet a friend in-game.
Announce the days for the next blocks of early game access. We'll wait, without wondering how much more we have to wait.

And how about Lesson 3, treating your customers well? That one is as simple as ever: reinstate the grace period.
While it's no grand tragedy to wait out a week, those waiting for physical delivery of the game, including all Collector's Edition players, naturally want to play with others they know who can.
The problem is so easy to avoid. Don't require game codes until Dec 30th.

Show your customers you respect not only their purchases but their time. We're not orcs - tell us exactly when we can play, and we'll be there.

Very well written. While I have not been very vocal about early access, I must say I would at least be less antsy if I knew I would get the game, say, Thursday. Even if I knew I would get it one day before, at least I would know ahead of time. The worst part of this whole early access thing is that I have no idea when I'll be able to play.
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yamaya's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 01:02 AM | #108
+100 for OP, really nice post!

XxBattlePopexX's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 01:14 AM | #109
First off, great post because you were respectful and I think that's a refreshing change from most posters who approached this topic

I think its important to note. however, that you're comparing two similar but very distinct things. Book releases are similar to the game in the fact that they are both commodities that have high anticipation; but the similarities end there.

You're not talking about the game release, you're talking about a build up to release. There is a difference, as one product is released and the other is not quite available yet, but a select few will be allowed a sneak peek. You also don't need to worry about books breaking down on you if too many people try to read them.

Again, I like the politeness of the post; but apples and oranges.
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Keideki's Avatar

12.14.2011 , 01:21 AM | #110
This is really well thought out and well worded. Too bad its as effective as a fart in the wind.
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