If an MMO developer, let’s say ArenaNet, gets its game, let’s say Guild Wars 2, up and running on the announced release date is that a successful launch? If it accommodates all or almost all the gamers who are trying to play, it would seem that’s all it needs to do, right? That’s pretty much a successful launch, isn’t it?
What if you have trouble logging in? What if you reach a point in the game, but can’t progress anymore and you don’t know why? What if you can’t figure out how to do something basic in the game? Is it something you’re doing or is it a bug? What if it takes support days to respond to your problems?
All these problems and many more marred the launch of Guild Wars 2. It’s expected that a new MMO will have problems handling new-player loads. It’s understandable there will be bugs that weren’t encountered in the beta. It’s completely understandable support might take a while to respond to problems. It’s not understandable that you don’t have some basic tools in place to handle the problems that arise from the launch of any MMO.
Yes, they got the game up and running. Kudos for that. That’s the most important part of a MMO launch, but the lack of community support, bugs and a few other issues made the Guild Wars 2 launch a near-fail. Here are 5 reasons why:
How hard is it to throw up a website with a public forum for your new MMO community? How long would it have taken ArenaNet to add a forum feature to their website? Something many bloggers and website creators can do in, oh — about a day.
A forum isn’t just a place for players to come and bitch about the game – it’s a place where they can share information. Bugs and problems other people were having would’ve been in one central location for all to see. Developers and support staff could’ve weighed in and kept the community informed. Instead players were left to scrounge the web for help, search through ArenaNet’s Facebook page, Twitter feeds and reddit logs, all of which had different kinds of information. Hope you found what you were looking for.
The forums finally came online, this week, more than a week after the launch. ArenaNet had years to create their fabulous, new MMO, Guild Wars 2. It would’ve been nice if they had spent a day or two getting their website forums online.
An overloaded support staff
If you submitted a support ticket, if you had trouble getting into the game, you probably had to wait a few days for a response. ArenaNet did post in various places how you should submit and format your support tickets so they could prioritize their responses. Hope you read that. If you didn’t, you might have waited days for a response and when you got one it was probably a long form letter reply. The form letter didn’t address your problem specifically, of course, but it did try to provide solutions to the most common problems players encountered.
The ArenaNet support staff, understandably, was overloaded. Geez, there was something like a million pre-orders. Of course they were overloaded.
If only you had a Guild Wars 2 forum you could go to. Other players might have been able to help you. Gamers are really nice that way. Unfortunately… well, you already know – there were no forums.
Progress stopping bugs
Were you one of the unfortunates who couldn’t progress your storyline? Did you take to some other forum only to have some players tell you they had no problem with the quest? Did you then go back to the quest and bang your head, repeatedly, against the wall?
Players who progressed their storyline to a certain point encountered a rather irritating bug where their quests didn’t update, leaving them wondering if they did something wrong. Their doubts were further compounded when they took to various non-GW2 forums for help and others told them the same quest had worked for them. As it turned out, there were bugs with several storyline quests; they just didn’t occur for all players. ArenaNet was nice enough to confirm this a day before they rolled out the bug fix for them.
Once, again, if only there was a public forum… Oh, wait. Now, there is.
The Black Lion Trading Company was almost always down
The GW2 auction house seems to finally be online, now. Hopefully to stay. But it was down almost continuously since the game launched. Being able to buy and sell loot and mats is sort of an essential element of any MMO. Players in GW2, for more than a week, didn’t have an auction house and, compounding the issue, the game doesn’t have a trade channel.
This one probably falls under the money-ruins-everything column. Gems are almost money: You buy them with real life cash, but you can’t trade them back in for cash. It appears they’re a one way purchase. That’s a good thing, but if the auction house could be exploited that would be cash out of ArenaNet’s coffers. It’s not totally clear, but ArenaNet seems to have been keeping it offline until they were confident players weren’t exploiting the auction house or they were closing down already existing exploits.
It was hard to find answers to some basic questions
How do you use the Mystic Forge? How the heck do you use a Mystic Coin? How do you get to PvP? How do you get to World-versus-World? Where are the crafting stations?
Most players have figured all this out by now, but in the beginning it was all a big mystery. There’s a growing, but sketchy, online wiki, now. But, once again, a community forum would’ve been soooooo helpful.
Did ArenaNet adequately prepare themselves to support their new community of Guild Wars 2 players? You just have to say, no. While none of these problems was likely to turn players away from a game they enjoy, they contributed to a sense that ArenaNet wasn’t quite ready for prime time and that’s why the Guild Wars 2 launch was a near-fail.
Author’s note: Since there were no official forums, most of the information for this article was gathered from visiting various forums around the web and browsing through the official GW2 feeds.