Consequences for GOA

[[Just to note: We’re in open beta and the game itself is very fun, and the servers are stable. Destruction was full on all EN servers last night so GOA opened another one. But the troubled Open Beta from GOA and destructive arguments between MJ and CMs have toasted a lot of my enthusiasm. So read this in that vein.]]

As I write, we’re supposedly three (3) days into the Open Beta phase and still the authentication on the EU Site has not been switched back on since it crashed and burned so painfully on Sunday. Although they’ve sorted out some workaround that is letting more people into the beta, it’s not at all clear whether this applies to the majority. And we don’t know if it’s really just a workaround or whether they’ve fixed up something robust enough to hold up to the Headstart which was due next week.

Not only that but communications from the team has been patchy at best. They have been improving, but I’m not hearing anything that greatly improves my confidence. What’s worse, Mythic decided to have a public spat with them on blogs and bboards (via MJ criticising both the company and a CM by name). This gives me even less confidence in any of them. Seriously, what the hell kind of company decides to air its grievances on a public bboard? This is the 21st century, we do have cellphones. And … you know … the internet?

So right now, I think the game is basically fine. My old closed beta review still stands, and I’ll post an update to it at the end of the week. But I have little confidence in either GOA or Mythic to deliver a service in Europe. I have no confidence that the Headstart will go ahead smoothly; if it does I will be surprised. I worry about how they’ll handle a launch. I don’t want to be concerned about that, but when you buy an MMO you are purchasing goods plus services. They both need to be up to scratch.

Like Tobold, we do intend to play on EU servers still. I know that me and Arbitrary have experienced playing with mostly US players on MUSHes and the timezone thing was a nightmare. Everything interesting happened at 3am our time. If enough of a critical mass of EU players ‘take over’ a US server then they could overcome that but otherwise, forget ever seeing a city siege at a reasonable time in the evening. The numbers just won’t be there. Also, we have friends we want to play with. In guild, we’ve been polling people to see what they think and we’re all pretty much unanimous that we want to stick with GOA, for now at least.

But there are consequences to the disastrous open beta here.

  1. Most people will wait until the end of the first month before buying a subscription. That’s a very real loss of immediate cash for GOA.
  2. This is going to be the first news story a lot of new/prospective players get about the game. The news sites are already picking up on it. Apparently a GOA spokesman told videogaming247 that the registration issue would be completely fixed for launch.
  3. A lot of the early adopters will snag a US account instead. This won’t apply to the majority of EU players, but if the reviews all say “great game, but play it on a US server if you can” then expect this to grow.
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8 Responses

  1. Still very much going with European site. Hoping things improve. But completely agree about the wholly inappropriate comments on Mark Jacobs site. Just make the whole thing (and this is Mythic probably more than GOA) seem unprofessional at best. Yes, something went wrong but things go wrong – I think where the real failing is/was, isn’t in the systems – they can be fixed, but in the communication – trying to find things out from different sources, nothing being said for hours, not knowing where to get the information from and then, sorry, having personal criticism on a blog that really should have stayed behind closed doors. Very undignified in my opinion.

  2. I’m trying to hold myself in until the release to really sit back and think about all the kerfuffle. I’m hoping it stays that way.

  3. I think their management and project management seriously screwed up. More things went wrong than can just be put down to bad luck.

    But they screwed up on communications as well. And the aftermath had not been handled brilliantly. Yet.

  4. Well, I finally got an email from GOA, 35 hours after registering.

    It seems like my password doesn’t tie up. But given they’ve disabled the password recovery system as well as the ability to make a new account, there seems little I can do.

    I’m not so much disappointed in this specific predicament, more the fact that the overall situation seems like one of minimal planning / testing and no backup planning. Not what I’d hope for on th verge of the most interesting mmo launch over the last few years.

    Anyhow, enough QQ from me 🙂

  5. GOA’s biggest mistake in my opinion was failing to manage expectations, and indeed, foolishly building them by claiming that everything would go smoothly. If they’d clearly stated right back when the CEs first went on sale that, yes, a CE granted open beta access, but due to its ‘stress test’ nature, they wouldn’t be able to guarantee any particular level of service for it, and then if they’d stuck with this message up until last Sunday, this issue would not have had any legs.

    Whatever people’s expectations were for this open beta, and however much GOA is to blame for raising those expectations, there is no getting around the ‘beta’ part. It is simply unreasonable to expect launch quality service at a beta stage.

    I will start judging GOA’s ability to actually run WAR in Europe the moment the head start is meant to begin. If they manage to pull off a reasonably smooth head start and launch, then I expect this whole mess will fade from people’s minds pretty quickly.

    If the head start and launch are anywhere near as bad as the open beta has been, then yes, it could well do considerable damage to WAR’s success in Europe.

  6. unwise: I think our default expectations were that we’d get the same service as the US. (Those who had dealt with GOA before may have had different expectations.)

    But I would love for them to prove me wrong, and I’d like to give them a chance to do it.

  7. I’ve never believed we’d get the same level of service, unless Mythic are prepared to delay rolling things out in the US until EU issues have been resolved, and I really can’t see that happening.

    However, let’s wait until the beta phase is actually over before judging GOA on their level of service. GOA screwed up, certainly, but this is exactly the kind of thing that these mass beta events are designed to pick up on, and it is the post-launch service we will be paying money for, after all.

    Trust me, if the head start goes as badly as the open beta, I’ll be at the front of the angry mob with my pitch fork sharpened.

  8. for me, the key is information/communication. I think a lot of some of the anger can be diffused by talking regularly and honestly. I do that at work most days!

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