Rift officially launches today in North America for those who did not pre-order and get in on the head start last week.
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 MMO. Darren 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!