Dec 092011
 

Game Codes, Editions, and Grace – Oh My!

 

Photo-Receptor Focus:  Early Access, Grace Periods, and Game Editions

by  Maer

Welcome to a Special Edition of My Two Credits.  In light of recent events, I want to discuss several topics that are closely related.  In my mind, at least.  The shock waves from community reaction to Bioware’s announcement of no grace period is easing somewhat.

Posted by Stephen Reid on 8/7/2011

There will be a period after launch day in which those who have pre-ordered will be able to continue playing before entering their Game Code. More information on this will be made available closer to launch.

More after the jump…

After months of being told we had time to enter our game codes, we discovered that we would not have that time after all.  Nope, no grace period, as we fondly call it.  That news was received with scathing responses from many gamers in the community.

For me, there are several issues closely related.  I usually order digital.  In fact, my first order was (and still is) a Digital Deluxe version of the game.  However, I later decided I wanted the music, authenticator, pet and CE vendor.  In short, I wanted all of the digital upgrades contained in the CE.  I couldn’t care less about the statue and the discs, but I wanted the rest of it.

OK, you may say, the authenticator is not digital.  And you’re correct.  It’s a physical item.  However, it would have been great to offer an app for those who prefer that method.  Download to my smart phone and I’m good to go.

So one problem would have been solved if the DDE had contained ALL of the digital items that the CE did.  If it had and the price was raised, I would have paid it and gladly.  Instead my “Deluxe” version fell a bit short.  So, on to the CE version I went.

Now, I had to look at things like who to buy from and in-store pickup or shipping?  Since it was August when I decided to switch, I really didn’t have much choice but to go with a shipped box.  I went with Amazon for reasons not important here.  I also went with next day shipping, even though I knew I had a grace period.  (Trusting nooblet that I am.)

So all is well in Maer’s world.  My CE is ordered.  I’m all ready to go.  My DDE sits patiently place-holding my spot in the pre-order queue.  Months drag by and I get to the week before Early Access.  I’ve made plans to play on the 15th, patiently waiting for my emailed time, so I can reschedule a doctor’s appointment if I need to.

Oh, did I mention I actually received my verification of pre-order code at 2:28 AM PST on July 21st?  Yep, I happened to wake up and saw the email and slammed that pre-order through as fast as my little fingers could type.

Anyway, I’ve researched, read and followed news as diligently as I can.  I’m as excited as a little kid in a candy store.  And all that patient waiting is rewarded with a lovely surprise from Bioware!  The news breaks: TWO DAYS EARLIER FOR EARLY ACCESS!  I almost missed the second part – oh yeah, and there is no grace period.

Wait…what?

Now, normally, this wouldn’t be much cause for concern.  I can most likely survive until I get my box.  Unfortunately, this is not a normal time of year.  It’s the freaking Christmas holidays!  That lovely time of year when things get delayed and we expect them to be delayed.  (Remember, I had gone with one day shipping and this is partly why.  I was later upgraded by Amazon to release date delivery.)

My other cause for concern is that I’m an officer in a very large guild.  If my game doesn’t get here with that magical game code, then I won’t be able to log in for launch day.  That means I won’t be able to do the things I’m supposed to do and that is going to be frustrating.  It will put unnecessary stress on the others to take up the slack.  More cause for frustration.  I can only hope that almost everyone will have pre-ordered, gotten in during Early Access and only a few will log in for the first time on the 20th.

I can also hope my “release date delivery” is real and I’ll only be unavailable to my guild for a few hours.  Unfortunately, I’m not good at that luck thing (well actually I’m awesome at the bad luck part).  Anyway, I’m not counting on my game arriving.  Of course, I’ll be thrilled if it works out and I’m hoping for the best.

Now, we get into the drama portion of this story.  The no-grace-period news is not something those who bought boxed versions want to hear.  Many have delivery issues and some may not get their games until after Christmas!  Bioware employees are put in the position of retracting their original statements.  Flames erupt everywhere from the SWTOR Forums to Twitter to Fansites demanding the grace period be put back.  Others cancel their CEs and switch to digital versions to avoid losing game time.  Those who hadn’t planned to pick up their editions until later, now make plans to go out in the cold to join those freezing in line at midnight releases.

Well, we’ve had some time to absorb this news.  I patiently wait for any updates.  I’m prepared to be out of the game for some unspecified amount of time, although I’m not happy about it and fervently hoping I’m due for some good luck.  I’m also hoping my super early pre-order time will get me access on the 13th, but even that has been called into doubt.

Let me be clear.  I think  Bioware has done an awesome job in so many ways.  However, some of these recent decisions are not their best.  In fact, some of the “reasons” sound more like justifications, rather than sound logic.

Their decision to not give people advance notice is also questionable.  I mean, come on.  There are a lot of adults who will be playing this game.  Adults with jobs and families and responsibilities.  Those folks would love to be able to plan their Early Access game time.  People who had tried to take days off were forced to rethink, reschedule or simply decide to forego their Early Access.

Change can be good.  I’m a fan of change.  But when it causes more grief than good, it’s not as welcome.  I’m appreciative of the two extra days.  The no grace period thing?  Not so much.  The not telling us ahead of time so we can actually plan our play time?  Nope, definitely not.

So to recap: making the DDE match the CE with all of the digital items (and raising the price) could have alleviated a lot of the current problems.  Not retracting the grace period would also have been appreciated and less stressful.  Allowing people the information they need to plan their game time would be good customer care.

Anyway, I’m waiting to see how it all ends up and my fingers and toes are crossed for resolutions that make the people who will pay for this game happy.

That’s my two credits.  What’s yours?

  11 Responses to “SPECIAL EDITION: My Two Credits”

  1. I feel a bit lucky being in Europe; our early access ends at 7 am in the morning, so I can get a good night’s sleep, get up, go to the store where I pre-ordered, come back home and continue playing!

    Also, I don’t think it is strange that there is no grace period after all. After a week of hopefully full-force running the servers, they could use a few hours to cool down or have regular maintenance. First content patch? perfect time to schedule it, when the rest of the freaking world is allowed to play as well!

    Remember, just because you got early access, that doesn’t entitle you to anything else! The game releases in 11 days, yet we get to play up to 7 days earlier? How many games give that that are not MMO’s anyway? ^_^

  2. Being In Europe is no protection from this. I’m in the UK. Because of GAME’s (the only people who were allowed to sell the Collectors Edition in the UK) bungling of the Preorder codes at the time, which would have meant I ended up many days behind everyone else in being able tor egister the code. I instead decided to order my CE from Amazon.com and have it priority shipped from the U.S.. this was in July.

    I knew once they announced the release date of Dec 20th it may be feasibly a couple of days late because of shipping and the time of year, but I also expected two things.
    1) Retailers would ship early in order to ensure it arrives for release date.. otherwise what is the point of PRIORITY shipping.

    and
    2) There would be a grace period from Bioware between the end of headstart and entering the retail code. Why? because the practice is fairly standard and should have been a no brainer… plus they’d said there would be a grace period both on the forums and on twitter. And as Stephen Reid has always said he wouldnt talk about anything until it was confirmed I had no reason to doubt them.

    Now suddenly a week before headstart we are ALL suddenly throw into the deep end with no water wings and expected to just float… as they pull the sfety line that is the grace period out of reach.

    Now the only hope I have of not being locked out for a week to two weeks at the end of headstart rests on Stephen Reids shoulds in trying to ensure the retailers get the get out so that it reaches people for release day and not after.. something he is still unable to provide any concrete confirmation of. In fact he point blank told me “no guaruntees”.

    Now I could be mad at Stephen but he is just the messenger at the end of the day and really he got left with egg on his face over this as someone changed something that was the case and effectively made him look a liar by doing so, so I imagine he is non to0 happy like us.

    But it has knocked my consumer confidence in them for sure because I now know I cannot rely on them to stick with what they say even when they say they will only say things once they are confirmed.

    As a consumer I feel we have been given the very short end of the stick on this issue because anyone with two brain cells to rub together could have seen a december 20th release would mean problems in people recieving physical copies in time for release where preorders are concerned. It is just adding insult to injury by taking grace period out of the equation.

  3. The no grace period is pretty surprising, and feels pretty rude. I’ve not played an MMO that didn’t have one.

  4. Very well worded Maer. I dont think I could sumed it up much better. I was extremely upset when I seen they changed the grace period information and that they were not going to give people advance notice when their early access starts. So many people have told me I should of just ordered digital version and I tell them well make the CE stuff available and I would have. Origin could of made more copies available for people to use EA device to order but they did not. So I am stuck ordering from a outside retailer.

    I guess only time will tell how all this will go down and in a few months some of this wont matter but still frustrating now.

  5. I hear from all over the forums and fansites that people will play “24/7” and that the are afraid of missing game time cause of delay shipping or other circumstances. That just doesn’t comply with your statement

    “Their decision to not give people advance notice is also questionable. I mean, come on. There are a lot of adults who will be playing this game. Adults with jobs and families and responsibilities.”

    How about we all just act like adults and wait until we get to play. Since I doubt that every adult with some kind of responsibilities will be able to play for extensively amount of time, and waiting a few hours or a day for you to play shouldn’t be that much of a stretch for everyone. Even I with no job at the moment have commitments and don’t have the time to play all the time, its just a game not something earth shattering.

    We knew about the no grace period from after the secound fansite summit, so its been known for quite a while more then a week.

  6. What youre all failing to realize is the last part of this statement from SR.

    • There will be a period after launch day in which those who have pre-ordered will be able to continue playing before entering their Game Code. (((More information on this will be made available closer to launch)))

    That last part basically says NO THIS ISNT A FINAL DECISION, SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

    I hardly feel bad that people are raging over not being able to play a game on release date(when it will be crowded the most) and have to actually spend time with their family this Holiday.

    It may be because i pre-ordered from Gamestop with no trouble, and get to pick it up with no trouble on the 20th =) Call me old fashioned?

  7. Thanks for the comments. I appreciate the different perspectives. At the end of the day, I’ll probably fare much better than those who will have to wait days or weeks for their boxes to arrive. Those are the ones I feel for. And no, I have no intention of playing 24/7. However, as a guild officer, I know I’m leaving things to others to take care of until I get back in and that’s a bit frustrating to me.

  8. Actually, since they are giving EU retailers the green light to get their physical editions to their customers earlier than the 20th, I can not fathom why they wouldn’t do it for their US customers.

    I don’t know the numbers, but I’m guessing there are far more US customers than there are EU customers… Why would you intentionally annoy your single largest customer base? This decision (to delete the Grace period) seems like a recipe for failure. A failure of the company to take care of it’s customers, ensuring a potential failure of their product.

    This is bad business.

  9. Good article Maer, nice read and really well thought out, lovely read

  10. I am hoping they will offer a grace period, as a matter of fact, I will be shocked if they do not. As always, great article Maer, I always looking forward to reading your column

  11. Great article Maer! You did a great job of conveying some worries that people have, including myself, and without becoming irrational. I am crossing my fingers that my CE copy arrives before I have to sit on the sidelines.

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