Because God Forbid We Go A Week Without ControversyAugust 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.