When it began AO was quite literally unplayable for many. I remember having problems getting the game to run at all, problems logging in and incredible, unplayable lag. The first couple of weeks I spent far more time reading the forums than playing. Funcom suspended the subscription for several months and I don't believe I ever did subscribe even though in the end I played for quite a while.
Horizons managed to be playable after a fashion. It ran and people could log in at least. Unfortunately there didn't seem to be much to do when you got there. Huge tracts of land were virtually empty. The city, on the other hand, lagged so badly it was barely possible to get through the gates. I didn't manage the free month in that one.
Then there was Vanguard, commonly thought to be the buggiest, if not the worst, launch ever. Vanguard was the MMO I most wanted to play since I first played Everquest and I'd prepared for it. I'd been in the beta for several months (in fact I was in the betas for all the games mentioned above, so I really have no-one to blame but myself for going ahead and buying them) and found it utterly unplayable at first so I'd taken the extreme step of buying a new PC chosen specifically to run that one game.
|I'm coming! Don't close those doors!|
tolerably well from day one. Of course we still had the vast bug army to contend with but for us, as launches go, Vanguard wasn't all that bad. We played for a year and a half and both of us have been back plenty of times since.
Keen thinks the FFXIV:ARR is the worst launch since WoW. I can't really comment on that because not only did I not play WoW at launch, I didn't even follow it's progress at the time. It's only in later years that I've picked up on the notion that WoW wasn't a screaming success out of the gate. I was too busy plodding through EQ2, which launched just before WoW with a dull thud entirely appropriate to the thuddingly dull game it was until Scott Hartsman arrived on his white charger to save it the following summer.
So I've seen a few bad launches and every bad launch is different. FFXIV is probably having the best kind of bad launch there is, at least from the perspective of the company behind it. It isn't buggy or laggy or unfinished or broken. It's just way, way more popular than anyone expected. Or Square were woefully unprepared for the interest it's received. Either way, there are more people trying to play the game right now than there are servers to play it on. A lot more.
The servers have been up and down all through the ironically named "Early Access" and as I write, they're down again. Yesterday a list was posted of NA/EU servers that have been closed to new characters for an indefinite period. I haven't committed the names of every FFXIV server to memory but it looks suspiciously like all of them.
Square have announced they are adding capacity to their Data Centers and making changes to permit higher concurrency. Good news, if not much consolation to friends and guilds currently scattered over servers or even regions.
|Three tickets for "Goblin" please. No, three.
The long-nosed one in the hat's not with us.
Yoshi P, the "hardcore gamer" super-bouncy, pro-active Producer Square entrusted with rebuilding the brand was his usual upbeat self in the Launch Day producer's letter. And well he might be. In the letter he states openly that Square expect FFXIV to run for ten years at a minimum. If the game does well any bad publicity received from problems at launch will evaporate like summer mist, a mere footnote in the history of a successful, long-lasting game.
Look at the list of horrible, failed launches above. All of those games are still running (Horizons changed its name to Istaria but its still there. They sent me a "What's changed since you last logged in" email only this week). The one Keen compared FFXIV's launch to is WoW, for heaven's sake! A diabolical launch didn't put them out of business, did it? There are worse problems for a company to have than too many customers wanting to buy what it's selling, that's for sure.
|Cait! I've told you before, no busking the queue!|
It's not as though Square don't know how many boxes they shipped and how many digital downloads they sold, though, is it? Surely preparing for the best-case scenario where they sold all the boxes right away and might even need to throttle back digital sales for a while should have been in the plan somewhere?
Even if it wasn't, wouldn't a straightforward queuing system be more acceptable to everyone? I remember being six-hundred and some in the queue to get onto Faeblight and watching it tick down for an hour and a half before I got in back at Rift's launch. That would be so much better than being barred completely from joining friends or having to close and restart the client over and over and over again in the hope I caught the server when someone had logged out.
Enough. It's just gone 11.00am and that's when the servers are supposed to come back up. I have my two characters made on Goblin (the only two I'll be having for the foreseeable future - it's new characters that are barred, not just new players) and mid-day, mid-week isn't busy, if yesterday was anything to go by. Come teatime, though, if I disconnect I won't be getting back on and it'll be back to GW2.
It's not ideal, but then what MMO launch ever was?