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Rift Officially Launches Today, Though It Seems Like It Launched Last Week March 1, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs, Rift.
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Rift officially launches today in North America for those who did not pre-order and get in on the head start last week.

Not a dye nor a floor wax

The game launches officially this Friday in Europe, purportedly because North Americans like game/movie launches on Tuesdays and Europeans like them on Fridays.

(Of course Pokemon Black and White is launching in the North America this coming Sunday, so maybe nobody told Nintendo about this.)

How will the official launch affect the game?  Did anybody who wanted to play Rift not pre-order?  Is anybody going, “Hey, it is launch day, I should go grab a copy?”  I guess at least Trion Worlds thinks somebody else is coming to the party, since they are adding another 31 servers it seems.

And while we’re talking about servers, what happened with the head start?  Why did the servers fill up so fast and necessitate the near doubling of the server count?  I read that the North American server count went from 17 to 39.  While you never know how many people are going to buy boxes off the store shelves, I would have thought that pre-orders would have been a literal known quantity.  They had to hand out keys for each one.  And the capacity of a single server likewise seems as though it ought to be a knowable number.

I am sure the calculation isn’t as simple as “pre-orders/single server capacity=servers required for the head start.”  But I find it hard to believe that it was so complicated that the calculation was off by nearly 100%.  Trion has not shown themselves to be dumb so far, so perhaps this artificial scarcity was part of the plan.  Or perhaps it is an attempt to stave off any ill effects from a potential drop in players when the initial 30 days runs out.

Subscription MMOs that reach their peak user base after the initial 60 days are a pretty rare breed.  And that number dwindles significantly if we stick to games that have launched since WoW.  The trend is towards server merges rather than splits and additions.  What post WoW game besides Darkfall has added servers after the 60 day mark?  Not counting games that went free to play of course, since they ceased to be subscription MMOs.

We’ll see over the next few months how Rift does in that regard.

Anyway, most of those playing the game seem to be very happy, if you leave out the server queues.  Syp could barely wait for launch day to declare the game a success.  SynCaine has hailed Rift as the first 3rd generation MMODarren is extolling how public Rift raids make for a wondrous community feel.

GameBreaker.tv even got a correspondent into Trion’s offices for a pre-launch tour.

And even though I am not playing the game, preferring to venture into the past, it almost feels like I am there because so many people I follow on Twitter felt the need to enable the option that tweets all their in-game achievements.  Tipa seems to be the most prolific in that regard, though I might have stopped following a few people when it started raining achievements like “A Rift No More” almost constantly.

Click on that, there is a picture attached of the achievement moment.

This seems to me to be, perhaps, one of those “just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should” sort of features.  You can, by comparison, tell Facebook to stop showing you FarmVille message.  For Twitter though, everything is equally important. (Or unimportant.)

Overall though, Rift seems to be both good and a good thing.  As I said in my post about my beta experiences, there wasn’t anything there that I disliked.  I just didn’t find anything that differentiated the game from my other choices for me to feel like joining in on the launch.

Of course, my enthusiasm for jumping into EverQuest instead of Rift probably says much more about me than about either game.

Anyway, to those who are playing, and to team at Trion Worlds, enjoy a happy and fun launch!

Comments»

1. SynCaine - March 1, 2011

Trion has said that a lot of pre-orders came in ‘last minute’. I guess I could see that, but still, you know almost EXACTLY how many pre-orders you have right before you ‘go live’ on the head-starts. How difficult would it have been to have 50 servers ready to go, and if you end up only needing 30, just disable 20 from the list users see? If you can add them 3 hours after the launch, I’m pretty sure you could have had them right at 1pm.

Most servers are fine now, but since they only launched with one RP-PvP server, we are still seeing 1-2 hour queues nightly. A small and expected annoyance the first week of launch, but I can’t believe it’s not avoidable.

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2. Muiran - March 1, 2011

I know personally I didn’t pre-order until Wednesday, but I agree that it’s odd that they were off by that much. I’m also curious if there’s really going to be a significant population bump today, since I figure anyone who is interested in playing has started playing already.

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3. Shadow - March 1, 2011

“Or perhaps it is an attempt to stave off any ill effects from a potential drop in players when the initial 30 days runs out.”

More than anything, I think this was the reason. It’s better PR to have people complaining about not being able to play the game, than it is to have to close servers because people are no longer playing it. It also ensures that there are healthy server populations for people to play on. It’s a difficult situation to deal with at the start, but they are responding to the situation with measured responses. I think that’s a better way to go about it than throwing it all on the table at once.

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4. João Carlos - March 1, 2011

@ Muiran:
“I’m also curious if there’s really going to be a significant population bump today, since I figure anyone who is interested in playing has started playing already.”

We will see today. However, I continue to see queues at my server.

IMHO, if the new servers get full today, it is signal there are more people interested in playing rift that you suppose.

Or maybe a second possibility: the number of people interested in play Rift is going higher each day. If that second possibility proves true, can exist a good chance we will not see a significant player drop after one month play, because new players will continue to come. And maybe a future server merger is not so sure as some people think.

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5. Marchosias - March 1, 2011

I suspect there are quite a few people out there, like me, that were in a “wait and see” mode. I diddn’t start to really see a lot of feedback on the game until the “head start” really got going. So I didn’t pick up the game until Sunday and only got one day of “head start” under my belt. I really enjoyed it and have been proselytizing it on FB and will probably blog about it later this week. I’d expect quite a few new players this week as word “officially” gets out.

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6. scotth - March 1, 2011

Syp and Suncaine seemed pretty excited about Wahammer when it came out as well, so I am not sure that means anything to me. My Rift Beta experience was pretty similar to yours; Rift just seems like re-packaged WoW (the rogue I played with even used energy, combo points, and finishing moves) and I am not sure there is much draw there for me. My wife is playing Rift, but more as a break from WoW and the people in the game than anything.

I suspect Trion is sand bagging on the servers somewhat. The PR implications of having extra servers and closing them are a lot different than not having enough servers and adding them. Annoying some customers now probably seems like a good trade for doom and gloom.

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7. Syp - March 1, 2011

That lovable, excitable Syp… is he peeing his pants over another MMO? Silly bear.

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8. sente - March 1, 2011

It is better PR to say that they are adding a lot of servers and have queues than to get the server sizing just right.

There were many people Twitter/Raptr/Facebook/whatever achivement update feature in Champions Online when it released, but in the end a lot of people stopped it – at least to Twitter and such I think, but I think Raptr usage might be more common.

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9. Wilhelm2451 - March 1, 2011

@Sente – I am sure there is some formula for optimum server congestion at launch. I took that class on queuing theory 25 years ago, so I can’t even recall the math. And the PR aspect is a special aspect of the dynamic.

With Raptr I expect lots of gaming updates, while with Facebook you can hide the output from any app that annoys you. (The FarmVille feature.) But the rash of game messages on Twitter was a bit obnoxious… though I could tell who was playing when.

@Syp – You’d be a lot more lovable if you changed those pants.

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10. PeterD - March 1, 2011

The simplest explanation is that it’s a combination of all the ideas above. They purposely used the minmal number of servers they thought they could get away with and tons of people “pre-ordered” at the last second.

They’re not going to set up servers they don’t need because not only is it bad PR, it’s a waste ofc money. The average MMO gamer does not follow news like bloggers do, or get invested in games months before they release. I don’t doubt they had a massive spike in pre-orders last week, and there’s no reason to believe 3rd party sales are reported to the server team in a timely enough manner for them to forecast the need.

Trion might have supplied millions of keys to the various retailers, should they then have automatically had servers set up for millions of players?

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11. Rift Launch + Realm of the Fae « Hardcore Casual - March 1, 2011

[...] echo what TAGN said today (and to cross-link for maximum blog traffic whoring), Rift does officially launch today, even [...]

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12. Shadow - March 1, 2011

“You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants!”

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13. I can whore with the best of them « Shadow-war - March 1, 2011

[...] the “official” launch day for Rift. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone. Which means that I’m talking about it too, as I fall into the category of [...]

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14. pkudude99 - March 1, 2011

http://www.riftserverstatus.com

Live feed of the server statuses. 65 US servers right now and most are high pop as we enter EST prime time, but I don’t see any saying “full” yet.

And 20 are still “low” so there’s plenty of space to get in without a queue tonight it would appear.

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15. Wilhelm2451 - March 2, 2011

Trion locked out the head start servers so first day players have to look elsewhere.

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16. Mallika - March 2, 2011

I use Trion’s official page regarding Rift shard statuses: http://www.riftgame.com/en/status/index.php

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