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Because God Forbid We Go A Week Without Controversy

August 1, 2008

My mom always told me, all sage-like, to “pick my battles”. I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase from someone or said it to others. It’s a good maxim — unless you’re the grumpiest man or woman in the world, there’s simply not enough time to fight everything, buck the system about everything, and rail against The Man. You’ll just end up living a frustrated, miserable life, and the same goes for your MMO career.

As we delve into the choppy weeks that precede and follow release, I’m not surprised to be seeing more and more battles being waged in the hearts and forums of Warhammer Online fans. Some of it is valid — not much, but some. Most of it is anxious, hysterical noise that needs to be stepped on, hard, until it squeaks no longer.

I say all this because we’re looking at another battle du jour: the pre-order controversy. Let’s try to bring you up to speed on the whole mess, look at Mythic’s (via Mark Jacobs) response, and see if this is an issue we need to be fighting on or letting go.

The basic story is that word is coming out (via Gamestop, of all places) that standard-issue WAR pre-orders — NOT just the Collector’s Edition pre-orders — are getting many of the same perks that the CE pre-orders are. People, like myself, who delved out $80 on the assumption that they were getting this stuff exclusively, have popped out of the woodwork to express complaints (most notably on the VN Boards and WHA Forums). Are CE pre-orders getting worked over here? Let’s not forget that many people are still very, very touchy over Mythic’s pulling of the 4 classes and capital cities, which some perceive as being underhanded and duplicitous. Is it happening again?

Let’s break it down, with commentary:

  • The issue: Normal WAR pre-orders include the perk of being guaranteed an open beta (OB) spot. Some CE people protest that this was a CE exclusive, or at least, not including the standard edition pre-orders.
  • Mythic’s response: “Nowhere in the CE Pre-order program does it say that *only* CE Pre-orders will get the HS and the OB.” Mark thought the wording was clear, but considering the response, they should’ve made it clearer. To make it even more confusing, North America SE pre-orders will be invited into the OB, but Europe’s SE pre-orders will not.
  • My thoughts: As has been pointed out over and over, the official WAR site mentioned the OB and HS as being linked to the CE, but never until recently linked to the SE — thus, giving lots and lots of people the impression of exclusivity. I never assumed the OB was CE only, and I don’t care as much about SE people getting into it, but it definitely was not clear.
  • The issue: Normal WAR pre-orders include the perk of being accepted into the head start (HS) program — something almost universally assumed to be a CE exclusive, far more so than the OB spot.
  • Mythic’s response: “Nowhere in the CE Pre-order program does it say that *only* CE Pre-orders will get the HS and the OB.” Again, Mark thinks that the wording was clear on this, but apologizes if there was confusion.
  • My thoughts: This is where I have my biggest beef with the situation. One of the major perks of the CE pre-order, for me, was the guarantee of a head start before the huge swell of other players got there. It’ll give me more time to reserve my names and get out of the starting area before having to compete with thousands of others. That the SE pre-orders will get the same treatment (even if at a reduced number of days) as the CE pretty much negates the special nature of this perk. I thought I’d only be logging on with 59,999 other people for those first few days; how high will that number be now? Like others have said, Mythic might not have promised this exclusively to the CE, but they sure as heck implied it with every single press release and mention of the CE. Sure, I can take them at their word that it wasn’t an intentional ploy to push more product, but it still feels sneaky and robs me of some of the joy I was looking forward to in getting the big box.
  • The issue: What perks, exactly, will CE pre-orders have over standard edition pre-orders? Much confusion on this topic.
  • Mythic’s response: The CE pre-order and the SE pre-order will have two different Head Start periods (presumably, the CE one will be longer). Mark also alluded to a special “surprise” that they’re planning for CE pre-orders to be announced soon as well. CE pre-orders still come with many exclusives: miniature, art book, special items, quests, character heads, and the graphic novel.
  • My thoughts: I’m cautiously optimistic. Even if I knew back in March what I do now, I would’ve still pre-ordered for the heads, items and special quests. The possible secret bonus is tantalizing. I’m betting that it’s Paul Barnett’s commentary track that he mentioned a while back.
  • The issue: Mythic should apologize for this and make it right.
  • Mythic’s response: Mark apologized for the confusion, but not over the decisions that were made in this regard. There will be no additional compensation or whatever players feel is necessary to right the wrong here.
  • My thoughts: Mythic is definitely to blame for miscommunication, whether it be innocent or intentional. They should have come out with full disclosure on all these facts this past spring — as I recall, many people were asking for them, particularly in regards to the SE pre-order. But they apologized for the right thing, the confusion and lack of clear communication, and I’m okay with letting it rest there.
  • The issue: People who have pre-ordered the CE feel lied to, or at least misled in order to get their extra dollars.
  • Mythic’s response: Cancel the CE pre-order and pre-order the SE — nothing is stopping you.
  • My thoughts: This is true, and as long as stores honor it, I guess there’s no way to lose if you feel like you only need the SE now.
  • The issue: Players, in heated response, are directing anger and insults at Mark Jacobs.
  • Mythic’s response: Mark’s not one to take insults or accusations lying down, and has pushed back on this hard, complaining that the community has gone “too far” in their attacks/response.
  • My thoughts: There’s never a call for either players or devs to get downright mean and personal with remarks. Mark has pushed up against the line in his contact with the playerbase several times to the point where it made me uncomfortable as to whether or not he had crossed it, but there’s no doubt that players have definitely lacked restraint in attacking him and the company directly. I think Mark is discovering (rediscovering?) something a lot of us have known for years: that a company’s willingness to communicate only gives players with chips on their shoulders a target to snap at. It’s a shame, but that’s how it’s been for years now. Mark and Mythic need to get even thicker skin at this point, and the community needs to approach these situations with common courtesy, at the very least.

So, kiddos, where does that leave us? Is this a battle worth fighting? I say… no. Ultimately, it boils down to two features — guaranteed open beta spot and the head start program — that will be an obsolete issue once we hit launch. CE pre-orders still have enough exclusive goodies to boast about, with perhaps more on the way.

People are definitely very edgy lately, mostly because July was a cascade of negative news for WAR: the cut features, Punkbuster’s addition, no real new news out of E3, WoW’s copycat features (yeah, I’m sticking by my guns on this one), quotes from EA higher ups, and now the CE mess. Good news at this point will be welcome, and release even more so.

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21 comments

  1. Just a heads up, I had an issue with an online pre-order from a store awhile back. I cancelled well in advance, but never received a notification that it was successful. On release of the game, I ended up going with the purchase and download option from their publisher.

    Guess what showed up almost a month after release? Yeah, a month later on a pre-order. The game did. So if you’ve ordered it online through one of the many stores (GameStop, ebGames, Best Buy, what ever) and you cancel it through their site, make sure you get a notification and if you don’t get one in a couple of days, call them and cancel it.


  2. I don’t the the problems people can have with OB for all pre-order buyers. OB is no state of free gaming experience. It’s beta! More people in it means only that there are more people for stress tests and more likely people finding bugs. I am one of those who felt that it would be CE only, but it’s ok i think. I really don’t get it why people would buy the CE just for OB-access.

    HS is more critical. It seems that it now will be a staged HS..it lessens the “exclusive” feeling you should have buying a CE. But at launch day this is already gone.

    I can understand why Mark is reacting in such a way as launch gets nearer. Pressure builds up and with all the hype there comes complaint about stuff where the info from Mythic is unclear (because it’s matter that may change or that they want present in some special way). And those complaints are not always expressed in a constructive way (mildy spoken ;)). Some people seem to forget that it’s just a game and they should relax a bit.


  3. I have a kind of issue with all the people on the forums now, holding their heads and shouting that they have been cheated/it was confusing wording/paying for less/conspiracy etc. It was stated when the CE was released that it included a “guaranteed” spot in OB. Anyone with standard reading comprehension understand that that mean there probably will be other ways to get into the OB. Just because a buyer misunderstand or don’t comprehend the information provided doesn’t mean that Mythic has made a error – it’s the readers fault.

    Now the HS offering I can maybe understand, I definitely thought it was a CE offer only. But that was just my assumption, I didn’t read anywhere that I was – so I don’t blame Mythic for it… much.

    I read a post on WHA that said something on the lines of “I feel cheated of features that was promised to me in CE. Stuff in it now has less value… But you can give me a CB invite all is forgiving”. Isn’t that a bit of what is going on? Suddenly stuff is worth “less” in your minds, and you are fishing for compensation?

    Also (this is getting long), isn’t the codes sent out as part of the preorder somewhat like “opening” the box? There is no way to know if you have copied the code, which is probably why people have trouble cancelling preorders.

    / Regis – taking the Other View of discussion since he don’t have a CE preorder


  4. Doooooooooom! I’m not really sure what the big deal is. Beta guarantees and early play have been part of the regular editions of at least 3 other MMO games I can think of. WAR going that route would’ve been extremely unusual plus considering you can’t even FIND the CE now? Why punish people who still want to pre-order?


  5. No, of course it isn’t worth getting worked up over. OB? Big deal. I don’t see any difference between randomly inviting people to join the CE Preorders in beta or inviting SE preorders into beta.
    One wonders if 60 thousand people will be enough to populate all the servers they have ready to go? A staged HS doesn’t bother me either.
    I’m certainly not canceling my CE edition. I want all the other stuff that comes with it. Some people just need something to whine about I guess.


  6. “Mark and Mythic need to get even thicker skin at this point, and the community needs to approach these situations with common courtesy, at the very least.”

    If they think its bad now wait till the NDA drops. I just know there are people out there itching to crucify WAR for everything Mythic holds dear.

    Maybe that should be a subject for the next Chaos Cast.


  7. The entire thing left me with a slight bad taste in their mouth. Part of the problem is the EXTREME lack of information coming out about both the open beta start/end dates as well as the head start dates.

    If Mythic had simply come out and said OB is 4 weeks and the first 2 will be CE players and then after that we will open it up to other groups including pre-order players of the SE it woudl have gone over so much better. If MBJ had stated that the head start will be 5 days long for the CE and 2 days for the SE pre-orders people wouldn’t have felt so lied too. Hopefully this info is in the newsletter.

    I agree with you though. Had I known all of this six months ago I would have still pre-ordered the CE.

    Mythic certainly could have acted more responsible and taken the high road as they certainly didn’t step in and correct the misconception amongst the community at large.


  8. Two things here.

    First, it seems to me that, technically, EA and/or Mythic (or whatever their name is now) is correct. Yes, it may have been a little misleading, but they never said that purchasers of the regular edition cannot get into the open beta and head start.

    Second, although EA/Mythic try to act like gamers and fan boys and seem to be huge fans of the game, let’s face it – this is a company(s) out to make as much money as they can. No different than the vast majority of other companies. Bottom line is that they are in business to make money. Don’t let their enthusiasm fool you.

    I have not pre-ordered either version of the game. I certainly have no intention to order the CE now.

    But on the bright side, you people who ordered the CE for an extra thirty bucks get a little figurine, right?


  9. I ordered the CE because I missed the WoW CE, and two years from now I don’t want to lose an internet MMORPG e-peen argument about WAR because some dude has the WAR-Diablo-non-combat-pet-equivalent and I don’t.

    I’m just kidding.

    Or am I?

    sigh.


  10. I just look forward to my 7-day long head start (CE pre-order) as opposed to the 3-day head start for non-CEs. Well, at least I *hope* that it will be 7 vs 3 and not 4 vs 3.

    Truthfully, the head start will be nice, but even if they were the same, I would not complain. There are other items in the CE pre-order/box that makes the difference for me.


  11. I’m still happy with the CE. I like all the non-in-game goodies, and the in-game stuff is a perk. From what I’ve read, the CE head-start will still be enough to reserve names and get out of the newbie zone (or at least far enough along to be on a different quest set) before SE people show up.


  12. I want to care, I want to feel your pain. All I can think though, if it bothers you that much…cancel your pre-order.

    I mean really. CE folks are fighting with Mythic, like 2 soccer moms brawling for the last Tickle-me-Elmo at Christmas. It’s embarassing more than anything.


  13. Well this is a mess. I could care about open beta, the figurine, and the book. So this does devalue the CE in my mind a little bit.

    My fear right now is that the HS will be a download, a bit torrent style like the current beta, and it will take two days to download, like the current beta, and the whole HS will be a waste.

    I paid for an exclusive head start primarily when I bought the CE. Oh well, this launch could be stellar but the bad blood and the community negativity thats being stirred up could make the launch crap.


  14. I don’t necessarily feel lied to. I do think that the whole thing could have been handled better. Gamestop leaked info that probably should have waited until Mythic made their “official” announcements. That, combined with the delayed newsletter and the seeming lack of info from Mythic just caused folks to make assumptions and jump to conclusions.

    And we all know what happens when you assume. 😉

    At any rate, perhaps Mythic should try being a little faster in putting out information for the masses in order to head off the retailer leaks. I’m still happy that I have my CE pre-orders though, and have no intention of cancelling. 🙂


  15. All I can see are people whining because they aren’t getting what they want /right now/, and have to actually *gasp* play with other people.

    The only thing you can call Mythic on is leaving room for people to hear exactly what they wanted to hear, rather than what the words actually mean. Even so, it’s not Mythic’s fault that people wanted to hear “You get something other people never will” so badly that they ignored what Mythic actually said, namely “You are guaranteed to get this thing.” Or maybe it is their fault, for making a game people want to play so badly.

    To blame someone else for something that is your own fault is wrong, though hardly unusual.

    It’s also very telling that “miniature, art book, special items, quests, character heads, and the graphic novel” mysteriously vanish from the CE in all these complaints, and that somehow the only difference between SE and CE is getting to play the game a little earlier, which has now been “stolen” from them.

    And I’m one of those people who ordered the CE, and this “terrible news” doesn’t bother me at all. If anything, I think it’s a great idea that allows Mythic to spread the registration rush out over several days, probably leading to increased stability on the servers.


  16. singlemalt, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Paul and his cronies like to put on the aren’t-they-cool WAR jeans and slather on the ever-so-dry Brit humor and the fanboys eat it up like so much slop. But if one were to watch his speech from one of the recent conferences he’s spoken at, (It was in Korea. I forget the name.) one would notice that his stated and primary reason for getting into the MMORPG/online thing was because He Wanted Money.

    Now I have no reason to dislike someone for wanting money. But I cannot understand why people think that he is some sort of uber-in-touch Gamer Dude who Really Wants Us To Be Happy For Happiness’ Sake.

    The other issue is that This Issue doesn’t really exist on the EA radar. Why? Because the total number of people bummed out about this CE “Problem” compared to the total number of people who don’t spend their days on internet forums whinging about the CE “Problem” is tiny. Really, really, really tiny. When you consider how many of the Forum Dwellers are actually going to DO something as a result of this CE “Problem” is even smaller than the already small….

    Well, you get the point. EA doesn’t care. Mythic’s cult of personality salesmen don’t care. Most fanboys don’t care. Even if they do they’re not going to do anything about it. EA wins. The end.


  17. I’m not fighting this battle, mainly because I can’t!

    When the class and city cuts were announced, I was going to show my anger by canceling my CE pre-order from EA Store but strangely, they have a no-cancellation policy. There’s customer service for you, especially given these two situations! 😛

    As for the miscommunication, it’s a classic case of:

    We’ll release only so much information so that there is substantial wiggle room for us to create hype and then pull the carpet out from under you without you actually being able to point to any physical evidence to support your frustration.

    Companies do this all the time. Mythic isn’t your friend people… they are out to get your money first and foremost. That’s not a bad thing either. It’s the relationship all businesses have with their customers.


  18. I’m so glad the dunces(yes, I called them that, and they mostly deserve it) at WHA are getting their panties in a bunch about this. People are putting so much on these stupid intangibles. I promise you that a year after release I will have probably forgotten about most my open beta experience, and the head start program will seem of little matter. I will on the other hand, sure as hell enjoy the Graphic novel(Seriously, a 128 page graphic novel is sweet as hell guys!) and the art book, and will probably blow too many hours painting the minature. Those who preordered the CE to play the game earlier made a poor decision imo.

    That being said, I can see how people are hugely upset by being “mislead” somehow. It is not that hard to cancel your CE.


  19. First off I have been playing these things enough that I never pre-order. Let alone get a collector’s edition, the last time that I did pre-order a CE was for Ultima Online. I normally let the game sit for a couple weeks before I bother picking up my box. This allows all the riff raff to spread out a bit and the initial launch issues which plague mmo’s to get ironed out.

    Secondly, well I had a long winded post, and I decided to change it. If you buy a CE only to play a game early, well… you are a moron… sorry to be blunt like that. If you don’t like the changes, CANCEL your pre-order and get a normal edition. Simple.


  20. I know a lot of the WAR followers atm tend to be diehard fans, and I am one of those that ordered the CE. One of the things I like about Mythic’s decision is that now I don’t feel as if I payed extra cash for an advantage in a game, and a pretty big advantage at that (being OB to get to know the game, figure things out, HS to get names and level with smaller crowd in starting areas.) I’d rather things be on an even balance during launch and this decision nudges things in that direction. That being said, I wish that Mythic had been clearer, because no matter how clear they said they were, they failed to stamp the facts down.


  21. I pre-ordered the CE, and I agree with everything you said Syp. I think if they’d communicated this more clearly (and sooner) it would have been a non issue.

    The original pre-order announcement should have said, “Pre-ordering allows you to take part in Open Beta and the Head Start Program. Collector’s Edition pre-orders receive bonus heads, items, quests, titles, and an extended Head Start Program.”

    I think a lot of people are either latching onto “something” to complain about to vent their frustrations over all the bad/non-news we got this month, or are taking the possible obfuscation to be an omen of things to come.

    Me, I know that when I read “guaranteed spot in Open Beta” I took it to mean that the SE did not guarantee a spot in Open Beta, but I bought the CE for the heads and items and quests and such and just viewed OB and HS as gravy.



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