On the 24th February RIFT began its ‘head start’ event. With 1 million Trion registered accounts, it was always highly likely as a result of a popular and successful open beta that RIFT was going to experience large numbers of players flooding onto the servers come head start. And sure enough, queue times to enter certain servers were and still are staggering…
My personal queue time was in excess of 8 hours (although I’ve heard reports of 20+) and considering the servers only opened at 6:00pm in the UK, having attempted to join immediately, I didn’t really want to wait until 2 o’clock in the morning to play. Four days later however and I have only managed to play for an hour. My queue times, as I want to play with my guild, have been so long that it hasn’t actually left me any time free to play the game once I have actually logged in. It’s a ridiculous scenario that leaves those who do work little option when returning home but to wait it out, while a significant number are resorting to scripts to prevent their characters ‘AFKing’ or logging out when not playing, which only makes the matter worse. That’s not to say that all servers have queues, they don’t, but many of us had no way of knowing it would get this bad. To make matters worse, Trion provide no server transfer facility resulting in my guild being split across 3 servers.
Its been an interesting experience reading the official RIFT forums and the reaction of the current player base. It must be said that the RIFT community forums leaves a lot to be desired at the best of times, but the blind faith and instant dismissal of justified criticism against those who dare to speak out against the server queue times is astonishing. Contrary to what the community may argue, it is not acceptable for a developer to so poorly judge server capacity and player intake. It would be basic maths to calculate the number of units sold (whether physically or digitally) combined with the number of servers available within European and American regions. This would then give a reasonable estimate of the expected participants of the head start event and how many are expected upon each server.
Some servers are inevitably more popular than others with Whitefall becoming the player versus player server destination of choice, resulting in coma inducing wait times. What is even more concerning however is that the game does not officially launch until the 4th March, suggesting the queue times are about to get a whole lot worse.
The purpose of a head start event should be twofold; to create an early spread of player levels between the head start and launch day window in order to reduce the number of players in starter zones and to test server stability and player intake. As it currently stands within the MMOG industry, this falls by the wayside in order to create a marketing campaign to secure units sold. As a result and having experienced countless MMOG launches, 90% of those intending to play the game purchase a head start copy anyway; completely undermining the entire purpose a head start.
In RIFT’s circumstance, I can honestly say I have never encountered queues like it, suggesting Trion have completely misjudged server capacity and limits. For all those defending RIFT with the predictable “moan more”, “it’s launch day, they are all like this” or “choose a different server” really need to stop and think. After your free month has experienced you will be paying a monthly fee for a product you are unable to play (unless you’re one of many resorting to scripts). Were you to wait an average of 4 hours a day in order to play the game, you would be losing 5 days play time a month, which I doubt Trion will reimburse on your subscription.
If you purchased a television from your local electrical retailer only to find you had to wait 4 hours before you could turn it on you wouldn’t be pleased and I don’t believe the sales clerk saying “It’s a new model- it’ll probably be alright after a few months” would be a sufficient enough excuse. You would be asking for a refund: so why should MMOGs be the exception?
It takes countless months to build a solid reputation within the MMOG industry and only minutes to burn it down. Trion are currently playing with matches.
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