SWTOR’s Scarcity

Oh noes! Better hurry.

SWTOR pre-orders have been the top subject for everyone lately.  It started with the $150 CE price point and now it has transitioned into a discussion about scarcity and limiting launch numbers.  Graev jumped right onto the CE pre-order wagon and he does not regret it.  I still have not pre-ordered any version and I’m sitting back here watching this whole event unfold with an almost indifferent feeling.  It has nothing to do with my excitement or anticipation of the game, though.  SWTOR is the next MMO coming out, as far as I know, that I’m going to play.  There’s no question in that statement.  I -am- going to play SWTOR.

I’m not going to pay the $150 for a CE.  I don’t think it’s worth it.  Personal preference.  I’ll eventually get a standard edition.

I’m not going to rush into pre-ordering anything right now, though, because I don’t believe the “we have limited numbers” propaganda. I went to the EA store today to check out standard edition pre-orders and they gave me some warning about not being guaranteed anything because numbers are limited and it’s first come first serve.  You’re not fooling me.  I know there is no limitation on the number of digital copies.  It is, as Admiral Ackbar would say, a trap.

Bioware is dedicated to providing the best experience possible to their players.  Awesome tagline and an even more awesome line to use when justifying the reason for a scarcity.  What they’re playing on is the idea that selling too many copies of SWTOR would make the launch less enjoyable and they’re playing on MMO vets knowing and spreading the word about how launch days are always so crowded.  Launch day for any MMO is a glorious and horrific event.  It lags.  It sometimes crashes.  It sometimes even involves waiting in a line to play.  Rift’s launch, as a recent example, shows what happens when your server tech is not up to the challenge.  Servers fill, more servers open, all servers lag, eventually they’ll close, and the whole thing truly is less enjoyable.  Trion got away with the “we didn’t expect the success!”

That excuse won’t fly for Bioware because they’ve already used it to their advantage.  Launch day will still lag and or be a queue fest and no one will have been denied access  or turned away because there is no way EA would turn away a customers begging to give them money.  What Bioware needs to do in order to turn this all around in their favor is blow people away by having a more stable infrastructure in place to handle the obvious masses on their way.  SWTOR will be the biggest MMO launch in recent history, maybe even in all MMO history, because of the names involved.  EA wants this to happen.  EA is pushing for this to happen.  They won’t be accomplishing that by limiting sales or having inadequate server technology.  That is why I am not worried or in a rush.   It’s almost like they’re getting too big to fail.  Comforting.

  • I did the digital deluxe first but I cancelled it.. Went to gamestop today and pre ordered the standard and they gave me a code for early access, apparently there doing how early you get in early access by how early you put in the code O.o

  • While usually i agree with you but Keen you’re missing a pretty crucial bit of info that Bartillo mentioned. The main propaganda about delivering a certain experience and that’s why theres limited numbers was mainly directed at countries outside the US and is why they’ll do a staggered launch in that regard, meaning slowly but surely launch in each country outside the US. Participating in pre ordering, and doing it asap assures you a spot in the “headstart” and the earlier you do so the earlier you get in, this way they can have a gradual increase of population numbers and can rectify problems with server stability far more efficiently.

  • I just realized that the digital download edition is $3.00 more expensive than getting a boxed game shipped to you from Origin, what a joke…

    Are there any other dl sites that aren’t including the extra ripoff fee?

  • Note that the $3.00 in tax is added on when I input Louisiana into the state field…

  • Check that, the extra $3 is added once again when you type in the shipping address for the box.

    If there was an editing function I would delete all of the above posts, so please feel free to do so on your end Keen…

  • If anyone here was able to purchase darkfall they should be pro’s at getting early copies.

    This is also just good marketing, but really honest though.

  • I can see a strategy to limit launch day problems by allowing pre-order customer to starts at least one week ahead of time.. not the usual 2-3 days like recent MMOs launch.

    Of course friends that preorder won’t get to play at same levels…but pre-order should get more priviledge than just color stone.. They’ll have the number to prepare hardwares for. This will also help them spread out populations and have time to fix issues and lags.

  • I’m with you Keen: I can see the long, dark arm of EA at work here and I actually fell pangs of sadness each time I think about this game because it could and should have been the greatest MMO ever.

    As it stands there’s just too much subterfuge, overcharging and poor treatment of large parts of the world. I’m lucky enough that I am European so could get access in the first tranche but in solidarity with entire continents they excluded I feel like boycotting it right there.

    I have absolutely no doubts that it will be the biggest MMO Launch ever and actually don’t care if there’s no queues or lag because I don’t even want to be there and get caught up in the early hype and “WoW Killer” discussions. I will sit back a week or so and see how it pans out.

    I smell a (Womp) Rat and my Shields are up.

  • I hate when companies create artificial scarcity on infinite goods. Yes, the CE is limited, but there is no reason to limit pre-orders or any other digital goods, as they are infinite. If they can’t handle the amount of players for pre-launch, then they are really in trouble come launch time.

  • Same as you here – I won’t fall for the “limited number” crap argument. And $150 for a video game, no, definitely NOT.

    “Bioware is dedicated to providing the best experience possible to their players.”
    Electronic Arts is dedicated to get as most as possible out of Bioware’s players wallets.

    The danger for SW:TOR is definitely not Bioware, it’s EA. As usual… (EA, destroyer of Ultima Online and its sequels).

  • Yah I havent pre ordered either im pretty sure im gonna play it but im not excited at all. Which is really sad that I have been burnt so much that my attitude has come to this point.

  • I can legally tell you that I just spent a month in the testing program.

    I did pre-order.

  • @Ocelot well good to hear from an insider that it’s worth playing (I’ve heard otherwise from other testers) but can I ask which version you ordered?

    Were you sufficiently enamoured to buy the CE or did you plump for a more reasonably priced version?

  • They might be putting limits on the digital copies as part of a strategy to manage the launch zerg. It has the additional benefit of creating scarcity, which will make people get emotionally involved in getting the game.

    The problem with putting in enough hardware to handle the launch zerg is that it’s dead weight after a month; a massive waste of time and money to install capital that will never pay off. As a business proposition it’s better to have a choppy launch (within limits) than spend the money needed to have so much overcapacity.

  • Well EA keeps saying they want 2 mill subscribers minimum.. Kinda scared if they don’t get that will the game be cancelled? They have to pay those 900 voice actors somehow.. They have to stay on board for content updates.

  • When I preordered last Thursday, which I thought was day one, the $150 version was already sold out. So I got the special version of the digital purchase.

    Are they available again?

  • @Bartillo:

    No they didn’t. They’ve said that The Old Republic would be insanely profitable at a mere 500,000, but that they can see the game attaining 2 million.

  • The CE is sold out at the origin store I believe but you can perhaps find some at various other places.

    Anyway most games these days use a limited launch. We got some mmo games here in europe that are not yet launched in the states and ofc the other way around also. Hopefully by basically limiting the amount of server population there will not be the 11 hour queue I had for Rift the first few days 😉

  • The way Bioware has set up their guild system will allow for a smooth launch. Games in the past never had such a system.

    Bioware knows who you are because after you purchased the game you registered the game with them on the SWTOR site. Your name is also already connected to your guild on the SWTOR site. On launch day everyone in the guild will be on the same server.

    Republic and Empire guilds will then be placed on servers in an effort to have a somewhat equal number on both sides. The remaining spots on a server will be filled in by guildless individuals.

    So releax and enjoy the launch.

  • @Thomas: You think Bioware is the one choosing what server people go on? Never, ever, going to happen.

    The website guild thing ultimately a semi-useful gimmick. Nothing more.

    Every MMO launched in recent history has had an account system to track peoples pre-orders.

    Maybe I’m being trolled. That info is just absurd, though.

  • @Keen bioware has said the first char everyone makes will be automatically placed on the same server and automatically placed in the guild they are in on the website currently.

  • That is then, without a shadow of a doubt, the most asinine idea I have ever heard of in MMORPG history.

    Guilds get placed automatically? People have no choice? I’m shocked this hasn’t made enormous headlines if it’s true.

    There has to be a disconnect somewhere. The phrasing or the interpretation has to be off. Why create a guild then? Simply don’t sign up for this guild system and choose your own server. See how that unravels the entire process?

    Even after reading that FAQ, I believe the proper interpretation is that guilds are simply pre-made to reserve names. You can transfer your pre-made guild into the game most likely by having the guild leader log in and activate it.

    Avoid the guild system. Avoid the ridiculous placement system. That’s my plan.

  • Yes guilds gets places automatically after the choices you make as a guild so that if you want to be on a pvp server etc. All that you can find if you create a guild on the swtor site.

    It should allow for far better server balance than previous mmo launches. As for not being able to chose I am sure you can still go to whatever server you feel like and create whatever guild you want but the automatic system where you can already create your guild will be balanced by bioware as to what server they are assigned to.

  • I think the system will help the PvP guilds the most. For one there will be some balance on the PvP servers with almost an equal number of Republic and Empire players. It sure is better then trying to get balance by chance.

  • @Keen

    Can you outline why you think this sort of placement is horrifying? I suppose a person might want a particular server name, but beyond that, what consideration would one have?

  • I did pre ordered the “extended” digital version. The thing is, I’m not authorized to say why !

    I think I can safely say that you can play this game entirely solo, but if you have a group of friends, you will find the amount of group play at low level (1 to 49) much much more important than the one in WoW. And if you don’t know what CC is and that AoE breaks CC, you will learn it the hard way.

    Now the NDA is there for a reason: even now the game is still evolving according to testers feedbacks.

    I’m walking on thin ice here, so I won’t elaborate and I hope you’ll respect my commitments…

  • Reminds me of those infomercials “next 10 callers get an additional 50% off!” yeah right.

    I do enjoy on one hand hearing they are limiting amounts of Pre-orders, and then on the other hand reading (on joystiq this morning) that they have broken Pre-order sales records.

    Sounds scarce 🙂

  • I do think that this is more than a sales tactic, although it still is a very effective one nonetheless. There could be something to the purposeful scarcity issue. I would guess that in their minds they do not anticipate limiting sales in the North American market, but do reserve the option to postpone sales if projected server numbers were anticipated do reach a limit that would severely tax their systems and make launch month be remembered as ramshackle effort; and in this light who can blame them? How many times have we all sat back in astonishment during launch week facepalming in frustration exclaiming “How is it that experienced devs keep falling into the same pitfalls game launch after game launch!” Perhaps they have learned that valor can be found in restraint?

    I believe we already have tangible evidence that this philosophy is currently in place; the restriction on Australian sales seems to support this; after all if revenue was their sole concern, they wouldn’t be actively trying to restrict an entire continent’s worth of sales, while knowingly incurring their wrath for making them feel like 2nd class customers.

    It harkens back to Adam’s prophetic warning to Eve upon seeing her for the first time, “Stand back I don’t know how big this thing is going to get!”…

  • Ugh….I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much “Fight the man!” jabber-jaw nonsense since the last time I read the World of Warcraft general forums.

    The CE comes with more stuff than I’ve seen on *any* CE for any game before. Yeah, some have had “bigger” items like helmets and such but not as much niftiness crammed into one box. And really…..has *any* game CE ever offered an exclusive store that will be updated with new items as the game continues?

    Early entry is there to help create a smoother launch. As it was stated above, over-gearing for a launch, simply to handle the mass amount of players on launch day puts the company in the hole a LOT of money on machines that will not be used for years. And when they do need to use them, they will be old, warrantees expired, and possibly physical damage issues that can pop up from simply storing hardware for that long. Accidents do happen, even expensive ones.

    Globally staggering the launch….all I can say is wow at the outrage. Really? No one can understand the costs of creating and then maintaining servers in various parts of the world? If you don’t, there will be latency issues. Then the complaint will be that Bioware doesn’t care about these countries enough to fix their latency. This game has already cost more than *any other mmo in history* without those servers. At least allow them to regain some of that capital before demanding their heads on a pike. They’ev stated that the countries will not be IP blocked sooo…buy a copy and play with the latency. No one’s stopping you. Enjoy! There are at least 11 people in my guild that are doing just that. Many from Australia, which is a HUGE market to miss at launch. But they gotta do what they gotta do.

    The guild program allows you to choose adversaries and allies. It will then balance servers as much as possible, keeping the alliances and such a leading factor. Supposedly (though I simply haven’t looked for an official post), once they choose a server for you, you still have the option of dropping your allies/adversaries and dropping your guild on a different server. OMG! Does that mean Bioware’s mysterious master plan of gamer-choice domination goes down the drain?!?!?

    Bah, get over the conspiracy mumbo jumbo. They’re trying to help the community by ensuring server load and faction balancing from day one. Sounds threatening to my digital well-being….no doubt…
    /equip tinfoil_hat