Is It Wrong To Expect A Smooth MMO Launch
If you’ve been browsing any MMO related media outlets this past week you’re probably aware of the situation involving Square Enix’ launch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The game has been met with positive praise from players and critics following an extended period of development after the failure of Final Fantasy XIV over 3 years ago. Fans have praised Square Enix for the huge amount of changes made to the game and despite a few expected launch issues, it’s a great experience all round. However, there are still issues logging into the game. Which poses my question for today; is it wrong to expect a smooth MMO launch?
I do consider myself as a seasoned MMO gamer so I feel I’ve experienced my fair share of MMORPG launches. I was around for World of Warcraft’s launch, and I’m stilling MMO gaming today as I witness the launch of popular titles such as Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Guild Wars 2 actually had a remarkably smooth launch day. Obviously a few small teething issue remained from the beta periods but technically it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a new MMO game. That appears to have paid off in style as ArenaNet announced that Guild Wars 2 was the fastest selling MMO in the Western hemisphere. I wouldn’t credit that purely to the fact the game had a smooth a launch, but you cannot debate that it helped as word of mouth would undoubtedly have been mostly positive during the launch window.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn however does not have that same quality of launch to aid its sales. Regardless the game has still surpassed all expectations, breaking the world record for the most concurrent connections in an MMO game. So smooth launch, great sales; dodgy launch, great sales. The games offer different features and mechanics, both had a different launch, both are considered a success thus far.
But why do we, as MMO gamers, ever expect a launch to go smoothly? Personally I think it’s down to the spoiled consumer. In today’s economical client everybody and their brother is doing their very best to offer a service better than their competitors. Whether you’re applying for a bank account or buying a packet of chicken nuggets at the super market. We’re flooded with choice every single time we spend a dime. When our choices don’t pan out, we move on and invest in something else. That packet of chicken nuggets didn’t impress, so the next time you visit you try a different brand.
The same sort of approach can be applied to MMO games, albeit a bit loosely. I realize I’m clutching at straws but stick with me. As a Final Fantasy fan I boot up Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, fully expecting to experience the game on launch day after shelling out $60 to buy the darn thing. Only to find I couldn’t access the servers and I was left with little choice than to express my opinion to the world in rant form on various internet outlets. I expected a perfect a launch, because I wanted one. Other MMO competitors have hardly managed to pull of a smooth launch, but I expect every evolution of any kind of product to offer better, in every way.
It is for these reasons alone that I feel encourage the typical gamer to expect a smooth launch, but it’s not not possible. Do you expect to be able to fly to work tomorrow? Do you expect to win the lottery every single time you buy a ticket? No, you don’t. Expecting the impossible is an oxymoron if I’ve ever seen one. But yet we still expect it each and every time we hear of a new MMO in the works.
So, is it wrong to expect a smooth MMORPG launch? Yes it is. Even the very best analysts cannot predict everything. Square Enix released a crappy product 3 years ago and a revamped version of that product last week. Who expected it to sell well? Who expected it to break world records? It’s just unfair to expect a company, regardless of size or experience, to predict such lofty goals in a very volatile industry. I’m delighted that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has attracted so much positive attention, and I’m even more delighted that this is the case following a bad launch. Credit to Square Enix where it’s due, they’re doing it right.