If you’ve been around the MMO industry long enough, you know that MMO launches rarely go smoothly for everyone. Some of them even crash and burn in such spectacular ways that veterans are still invoking their names a decade later. This week, I polled a few of the Massively staffers about the launch of the Elder Scrolls Online. How did it fare compared to some of the trainwrecks in MMO history?
@nbrianna: The launch seemed pretty average to me. It’s certainly wise nowadays to stretch a launch over an early access period and then a hard launch simply to spread out the population, and ZeniMax nailed that part. Yeah, there was a big chunk of downtime during the early access. Yeah, there are quest bugs. Yeah, billing seems to be a mess. But it was no Anarchy Online, and ZeniMax credited players appropriately for the offline time (and didn’t have to, for example, stop accepting subs for months at a time to save face). Not superb, not terrible — just average. For a game this popular and a studio so new to the MMO genre, I’ll take it.
@jefreahard: I would call it a good launch, and the fact that people are complaining about it shows how far MMO launches have come (or how few launch MMOs those people played/remember). I’ve run across a fair number of broken quests and one bugged four-man dungeon, but given the sheer amount of PvE content and the scale of the game, I can’t reasonably hold that against the devs. I also can’t complain about login queues or lag problems because there weren’t any. The unannounced 12-hour downtime during last week’s early access was a little annoying, but it pales in comparison to the downtimes I sat through for Anarchy Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and dozens of other games. I’d probably rank ESO number three behind Lord of the Rings Online and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on my personal list of the most painless AAA MMO launches.
@Shaddoe: Given the number of quests and voiced NPCs that ZeniMax had to deal with in ESO, I think the studio did a tremendous job. Of course, there were bugs and lag, but when it comes to the quality of launch and given the number of people in a given zone, I believe ESO had the smoothest launch that I’ve seen. PvP was smoother than Guild Wars 2, and highly populated areas were certainly better than Star Wars: The Old Republic. The only game I’ve played that might have had a better launch was RIFT.
The problem with ESO’s launch came in the form of the promises made by its creators. Game DirectorMatt Firor promised a polished and lag-free launch, but ESO was neither lag-free nor completely polished. Maybe he was talking about the console launch in June after the PC users have smoothed out all the bugs for him.
@MJ_Guthrie: Honestly, the early access was better than launch for me. I didn’t really run into many problems at all then, but since then I’ve had days when I’m completely unable to log in. Why? The launcher is telling me I am not authorized to log in to the account on my computer (the one I have always played on), and then it took forever for CS to send the email with the blasted code to “authorize” my pc. I preferred the launch queues of past game launches to this! Other than that issue, my launch has been pretty smooth.