Regionally locked out of SWTOR? Maybe not

Well it’s as close to ‘official’ as we’re likely to get over the weekend. Darth Hater posed a question to Stephen Reid at the San Diego Comic Con, on the pre-order shenanigans in the 50+% of the world not included. The question and answer:

Darth Hater: We know that publishers have a variety of problems when trying to launch a game overseas that range from regional politics, ratings boards, server infrastructure, localization, distribution, and more. Why did you choose not to launch in certain regions?

Stephen Reid: The answer is “none of the above.” We didn’t make that decision because of ratings board issues, localization or whatever else. What it ultimately comes down to is simple, but it is kind of a difficult concept to grasp: it is about quality of service. We know the level of demand for Star Wars: The Old Republic is pretty much unprecedented in MMO history. We know realistically the number of players we can deal with on launch day and the launch period. We made the difficult decision to say the player experience is paramount. We don’t want them to have a bad experience on launch day. And that led inevitably to certain decisions and one of them was reducing the number of territories we go into at launch.

The process of putting a boxed product in any territory is difficult. The process of deciding whether or not we want to put regional services into an area is also difficult. So it is a combination of a lot of different factors, but ultimately it comes down to the two competing factors: one is demand for the game, and two is what we can supply at that level of service we really want to give. And this is the result. We understand many people want to play the game from all around the world, and we’re absolutely going to get to as many territories as we can over time, but we’re not ready to commit to a specific time frame on that yet.

There’s certainly no hint of a change of tack in regards to the issue, which isn’t a great surprise. Over on Twitter, Reid has also made a mention of the concern that credit cards from regions not able to pre-order locally would be blocked if they chose to pay a subscription that way after securing a copy of the game from overseas:

So to sum up: you can still try buying from an overseas retailer and it seems you’ll be able to play the game if you’re happy to pay your subs via PayPal or you are willing to wait on the above information.

As we discussed in detail on the podcast last night, it just seems really strange that these issues weren’t foreseen before the pre-order launch. We also discussed the fact that it’s understandable that Bioware want to create a good experience via a staggered release. Using geography as the filter is the cause of the majority of issues. A random allocation may have just worked a little better…

Over to you: do you feel there’s more certainty around the issue or not?

Comments

  1. PurpleCliff says:

    It’s the first time this approach has ever been done. I’ve seen it with many F2P games, such as League of Legends. They had ‘soft launches’, where they didn’t advertise until well after launch – so that the playerbase grew slowly.

    It’s a bit of an oxymoron to do this for the most anticipated MMO in history, though.

    That said, I’d be fine with it if they could acknowledge:
    – Purchasing the game from overseas WILL work (honestly I think they should also encourage this, so that we don’t feel like we’re trying to cheat the system)
    – A more specific date that the game will be available in other countries, rather than just ‘soon’

    I’m well aware that (myself included) everyone freaks out about how important it is to play on launch day, and then 6 months down the line it won’t matter at all. Once the game flows into it’s normal cycle, no one will really care if you played on day one.

  2. Iranicus says:

    I think we will be able to sub, and we will be able to play if we get a copy imported, I have pre ordered a CE and i will do what ever it takes to play, Good luck to you all!!

  3. Kekovian says:

    Disgusted at the treatment we’ve gotten so far.
    Limit launch sales? Sure… but dont limit it by region.
    It makes me feel like we are being used as the ‘backup subscription monies’ when the 1 month MMO jumpers from the US/WestEU leave SWTOR for their next game. We will then be called in to fill the hole.

    But what concerns me even more than being innitially blocked from pre-order (even though I have now got the CE from amazon hopefully) is the complete silence from the devs/CM.

    Georg has posted a couple replies to group sizes but other than that… nothing since Stephen Reid locked a bunch of threads and made his non-informative official thread on it.

    It does not look good for this game to have such major problems swept under the carpet.

  4. EternityDre says:

    Oceanic players, if you have purchased the game from overseas I’ve started a thread in the forums to act as a staging area so we can coordinate players and designate a Oceanic server come early access. Please join and introduce yourselves if keen.

  5. I’m an aussie and SWTOR advocate. Id like to list my opinion on this matter again.

    Concerning communication, I can understand that people felt hard-done-by after ordering and getting hopes up then being in limbo as we were told the game we just purchased may have delayed availability, (I personally preordered CE within hours of news).

    However, I think it is preliminary to make assessments about whether or not this will actually occur. For instance, another quote contrary to the one above is:

    “On region locking: right now things are unchanged, anyone can play #SWTOR from anywhere in the world on any server, but latency may affect.” (4 hours ago).

    What has become obvious is that Stephen Reid is often having his strings pulled and there is a vast range of decision makers in the company trying to work out what to do. Being too angry at Stephen is basically shooting the messenger here. I’m assuming he doesnt take great pleasure in shattering nerd dreams.

    In summary, all we can do is wait and see. Consider this from another angle, business profitability / viability, if they COULD it would be in their best interest to let everybody have it right away to make max money and NOT isolate their fans, they WANT to, but they cant due to hardware issues and needing to run a test pilot on less numbers.

    So really, telling swtor you hate them isnt going to change the fact. If we consider the likely course of action, it will be to continue only ‘official’ launch in the states, and let the people who preordered play so as to not piss them off.

    THe only reason they WONT do this is if they CANT and whinging wont chagne that. This being said, there is nothing wrong with making a polite post about your opinion / desire to play the game as somebody who already purchased it, so they can guage public reaction. Lets not make Aussies look like whingers though in the process :))

    Regading payment, this is not really going to be a problem if there isnt IP blocking there will be methods to pay, if nothing else through gateway merchants eg paypal.

    Cheers

    Jeremy

  6. Cuppajoe says:

    This issue will get slightly more resolved once region locking is cleared up. However, the entire process has been a giant debacle that has been improperly managed by Bioware through poor customer relations.

  7. As you said, using regional lockouts was an extremely awkward way of achieving their goal. All they really needed to do differently would be to allow anyone, regardless of location, use Origin to purchase the game digitally. No local retail distribution or support is fine, and could easily have been provided as a warning prior to purchase.

    It still seems bizarre that they chose to exclude Australia and New Zealand, who’ve traditionally been part of the US region in MMOs. My biggest beef with this is that so many communities have grown up in MMOs that are mixed, with players from the US and our part of the world. This split effectively breaks up those communities that were hoping to migrate to SWTOR.

    It seems like a massive misstep on BioWare’s (or EA’s) part. Ah, well, very unlikely to be changed at this point.

  8. Well, with the confirmation from SR that, at the moment, there are no plans for IP blocking, I’m more confident know that I’ll be playing at launch with my pre-ordered copy from Amazon. For them to flip and introduce IP blocking now would mean that Bioware would be purposely going out of their way to lock us out and would be going out of their way to antagonise us. I’d like to think that this won’t happen.

    As to foreseeing these problems before the pre-order launch, given they would have known about the region blocking since at least E3, and more likely far earlier, I see two scenarios:
    (a) they did foresee the problems, and specifically waited until now to let us know in the hope that our outcry would be drowned out in all the noise of pre-order and comic-con (which to a point I believe has been achieved)
    (b) they didn’t realise and/or care about how the non-release regions would react to the news.

    Honestly, I don’t know which of the above scenarios is true, but neither is good and speaks of how poor a regard Bioware holds for secondary markets.

    And from the way Bioware are talking, I don’t think that ABC journalist from good game was far off the mark when she said probably another E3 before they release here. It seems pretty obvious to me that they haven’t even considered how or when they’ll launch in areas like Australia, and I also think from the comments that hopes of locally hosted servers is yet another pipedream.

  9. It’s a shame that “We don’t want them to have a bad experience on launch day.” is not possible, seeing as most of the Red Zone wont be able to play the game at all on launch day and thus having a pretty crap launch day experience.

    I’m still not impressed by the lack of interest that seems to be conveyed in these messages of Stephen Reid’s regarding pursuing releasing the game in ‘some’ parts of the Red Zone. To me it just comes across as him/Bioware/EA not really caring one way or the other about the release there.

    I remember when SOE/LA decided to go ahead and announce/release the NGE in SWG back in late 2005. They handled that about as bad as I thought it to be possible to handle a situation like that. I’m very disappointed that Bioware/EA have shown me that you can do worse 🙁

    To Stephen Reid’s credit (Bioware/EA itself can still go shove it where the sun don’t shine) he is actually pursing the issue of whether or not Red Zone purchasers will be able to play the game.

  10. I was prepared for a buggy launch and a great deal of patience for them… but now I don’t know if I can forgive such an insult. I’ll wait and see what happens.

  11. For me the worst part isn’t even the possibility of being delayed.

    Sure it bothers me, and I do voice my concerns about the fairness of the system.. but for me, the worst part are the American replies to those concerns. I don’t expect them to even care about the problem but they argue against our concerns saying it is a fair system.

    It probably wouldn’t bother me so much if it happened rarely, but Americans have always radiated a sense of self importance like the world revolves around them. Seeing it in reply to an issue that doesn’t even concern them just drives me insane.

    • codemonkey says:

      So.. you’re not concerned about a video game getting delayed, you’re concerned about the fact people in another country don’t care you’re not getting a video game the same time as them?

  12. I guess I should switch my location if I want to play this September as well…

  13. JUST ANOTHER CASE OF EA F*^&*((NG UP A GAME. WHY OH WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO BE PART OF EA, THEY ARE A DISGRACE WHNE IT COMES TO CUSTOMER CARE AND HAVE BEEN FOR YEARS NOW. I FULLY INTEND TO BRING CLASS ACTION AGAINST EA/BIOWARE SHOULD MY IMPORTED COLLECTORS EDITION NOT BE ABLE TO CONENCT TO A US SERVER COME LAUNCH DAY FOR THE PURE REASON UNDER US LAW I WONT HAVE RECIEVED GOODS THAT I HAVE PAYED FOR AND EA WOULD FAIL TO PROVIDE THE SERVICE I PAY FOR. BIOWARE IVE LOVED YOUR GAMES FOR YEARS BUT THE MOVE TO EA IS THE WORST THING YOU COULD POSSIBLY DONE. FEARS OF SoE ARE CREEPING BACK.

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