Evaluating the response to Rift’s Event
The first ‘event’ in Rift, strategically placed around the end of the free month, has had some issues. Among them are lag, queues, and unexpected results from the event progressing too quickly. Stuff happens. What I don’t understand is why they or anyone would be surprised. They gave out a very large number of free trial weekends, which are also strategically placed right at the end of the free month. It’s no wonder that people could not log in and missed the event while sitting in a queue.
Queues look great at launch. By scaling back the number of people who can log in it appears as a resounding success when the servers don’t crash. When people have to start paying monthly fees after their free month, queues create the sense of enormous interest. It’s a known fact that people feel validated in their purchases or decisions when a large number of others appear to be doing the same. It’s why you want people showing up to your events even when you know they’re just bodies in the room — it makes those paying feel more comfortable.
A lot of people like to defend MMO’s as a business when companies make decisions. Well, as a business, I would fire the person responsible for giving out free trials during this weekend. That is, if it wasn’t intentional for the start. Queues also look good when they generate enormous buzz. All press is good press? Rift once again smothers the front page of sites like Massively (Perhaps because it’s paid for. I would know. I worked in the fan site business) which draws the eyes of potential buyers when they see that a game has massive amounts of people wanting to get in. Must be good, right?
Maybe it was intentional. Maybe it’s bad luck. Regardless, the queue situation probably doesn’t matter. Personally, I’m more concerned about the lag. That’s not something you do intentionally. I’ve always been bothered by how similar the game runs to Warhammer Online, and this helps to prove my point to those claiming there is nothing wrong with it. The talk about being able to have thousands of people together is nonsense, and this proves it. I’m also worried about their ability to run an event — something they have placed great emphasis upon with their game, engine, and server technology.
A direct quote about their special technology:
“The technology is flexible enough to handle the weight of the world without crashing and still be expandable for additional players or additional game features.”
When you make claims like that, you open yourself up to scrutiny.
After the dust settles it will be interesting to see how many people stayed after the month and event. Saying the game is dying is premature. I don’t agree with those nay-saying in that direction. Saying the game is addressing serious pitfalls of the industry and that the queues are any indication of success is also premature. I think what we have here is a standardized, albeit generic, game. If the community of MMO players supports this, then Rift will thrive beyond this event. If not, more ammunition will be given those opposing this direction for the industry. I’m eagerly awaiting the next month.