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The Coast is Toast and Other Disaster Stories

September 18, 2008

(anyone remember that famous tagline to the very blah Tommy Lee Jones film Volcano? just me? okay.)

It has to be something big to tear me away from prime time evening scenario RvR play, but in the midst of launch fever (for more cowbell), bad has clashed with good, and only Batman can sort them out.

Disclaimer: for the most part, I think launch has gone reasonably well, particularly considering the numbers and factors involved. I’ve had little problems with queues, had all my codes entered and validated, and enjoyed 85% of the time I wanted to play (the other 15% is due to either server downtime or my internet cutting out last night). Mythic gets praise where it’s due, but there’s some issues that have popped up that can’t be overlooked:

1. EA Screws Up Shipping Orders.

Considering that, y’know, EA is the publisher and all, you think that buying from their online store would’ve offered you the most secure, unfettered access to your purchase possible. But I guess not. Customers who ordered digital downloads aren’t getting the keys necessary, and some folks aren’t getting their products for days or even weeks from now. One EA Store customer posted this form letter they received:

Thank you for purchasing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector’s Edition through the EA Store. Due to issues with our inventory management system, you received an email alert about a possible delay in shipping the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector’s Edition. We have since resolved the issue and orders are now being processed for shipment to the majority of our preorder customers. A small percentage of our customers have been affected by the delay. If you fall within that group, you will receive a second notice to explain how we intend to compensate you and give you access to the game until your Collector’s Edition arrives. We apologize for the inconvenience.

2. Best Buy Puts Pre-Ordered CE Boxes On Store Shelves.

I’ve read this story and it was also verified by a friend of mine, who told me they went to Best Buy to pick up their pre-order, only to discover that the store had put them on the shelves instead of holding them. How many copies did the store have? 6. Happily, they got their pre-orders, but they had a long talk with the manager and found out that the store hadn’t received the special instructions to hold pre-orders before the 18th.

3. Gamestop Sells Warhammer Early.

Most game stores get their shipments in on Tuesday, so I suppose you can’t blame Gamestop too much for jumping the gun and selling WAR a day early. I got my copy on Wednesday, so no complaints from me. But this did put immediate pressure on Mythic to allow customers to enter in their codes — which Mythic had firmly stated was only to be after 12:01 AM on Sept 18. Apparently they relented a bit, because I was able to enter my code in on the evening of the 17th.

4. Mythic Announces That Your Retail Code Must Be Entered In By 7:00 AM Friday the 19th, or Your Access To WAR Will Be Put On Hold.

You can read the Herald announcement here. Two things pop out at me from this announcement: one, that it will deny access to thousands of pre-orders or beta testers who haven’t yet entered their codes a mere day after launch, and two, that they’re going ahead with this even though many EA Store customers haven’t received their codes yet. Mythic tries to downplay this with a humorous slant:

Think of it as a good time to stand up, have a stretch, and go out to greet that bright, giant, hot thing in the sky. Don’t forget your shades!

This does seem to go against what Mythic previously posted in their Pre-Order FAQ on 3/26/08:

While we encourage you to get your WAR product key as soon as possible, we will provide a reasonable grace period for players to get a hold of their copies and have uninterrupted service following the Live Game Head Start.

Puzzlement, anger and sputtering has washed over forums and community fansites — mostly because Mythic previously stated that there would be a substantial grace period (Update: a link to a screenshot with a Sept 22nd grace date put forth by Mythic) to enter the codes, and now they’ve backed down from that. What gives?

Mark Jacobs posted a lengthy response to this and some of the other issues, which you can read here, but here are the salient points:

  • Mythic claims retailers gave out “thousands” of CE/SE pre-order codes to people who did not pay for them or actually pre-order anything (nevermind pick up a box copy). Mythic doesn’t want “thousands and thousands” of people playing for free for weeks.
  • He claims that the number of people affected by the shortened grace period (of one day) is small.
  • They’re not doing this to be greedy or gain more money.

I have to say, with all respect, that Mythic is wrong in this situation, and is blindly deluding themselves that everyone but a “small” percentage of customers will have received their ordered copies by Friday at 7:00 AM to guarantee uninterrupted service. This is a game rollout on a massive scale, and like it or not, the world’s not perfect. The post office delays packages or loses them, customers are sometimes unavailable to get to their mail, and stores do drop the ball. Not to mention those who can’t get their boxes due to Hurricane Ike. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but unless that “small” percentage is infinitesimal, Mythic’s going to be hearing from some very grumpy customers.

This all comes off that Mythic is far more concerned about non-customers playing the game for free — like a trial version! — than paying customers getting in on time. It really does. Mythic’s footed the bill for server time of non-paying customers for months and months now — wouldn’t the risk of a non-playing customer using the game for a week be worth it to show goodwill to real customers who can’t get in and need the peace of mind that a grace period offers? One day isn’t a grace period, it’s a hard deadline. And it seems to go against just how well Mythic’s been handling customer purchase situations in the past.

One of my guildies has the theory that this is a preemptive move on Mythic’s part to deny the influx of gold sellers, who are actually spamming chat and whisper channels on day one (I’ve heard of two reports so far).

Oh, and this apparently only applies to North America — Europe will go forward as normal.

Update: Robert Mull posts on the delay — apparently, Amazon is working “as fast as they can” to get the orders out.

5. Lengthy Server Downtime On Launch Day Plus One.

Perhaps not as great of an issue as these others, but it is eyebrow-raising that Mythic’s taking all the servers offline for a good chunk of Friday — you know, the day after launch, when hundreds of thousands of players will continue to be trying to access the game for the first time.

As I said before, I think this was a really good launch day for WAR — but rocky and discomforting to several players as well. Let’s hope Mythic can sort some of these issues out and make for a smooth ride next week.

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43 comments

  1. Mythic has just destroyed this great launch day.

    “They’re not doing this to be greedy or gain more money.”

    It’s impossible to believe this one second. So what are they doing it for? The good of the game? The good of the players? I have a lot of respect for Mark Jacobs, but his post on the vn boards is horrible and makes things worst.

    Sorry Mythic, but WAR launch day will always be remembered for this epic epic fail.


  2. Great Post


  3. – Bestbuy generally does not respect in-store CE pre-orders, no matter what an individual employee may tell you. This is good news if you didn’t pre-order in time, but bad news in any other situation.

    – The flipside to the grace period debate (IIRC, the Alliance said that GOA will provide an entire week, go figure) is that people smart enough to sit on their unopened retail box until the end of the grace period get an extra week over people who did the right thing and entered their codes on launch day. Now personally, I don’t see why ALL MMORPG’s shouldn’t tack on an extra day to the not-quite-free “free” month, since there will ALWAYS be downtime on day 1, but once you’re talking about a free week for all your customers at over $3/head, that starts to be a fair chunk of change.

    A cynic might also argue that Mythic is afraid that people will decide to return their unopened boxes at the end of the first week, given the opportunity to try the game for the intervening week. One hopes Mythic has more faith in their product than that, but I suppose every sale counts.


  4. yeah…super
    so I just checked the tracking and it says delivered, signed by DONAHUE….

    I don’t know who Donahue is, so I don’t have the box I don’t know who has the box.

    Perfect. UPS let someone else sign for it and I may be completely screwed.


  5. And then there’s people like me who will be away from their PCs until Sunday and will apply their keys then to get a full month’s free play instead of losing three days because of a wedding.


  6. Well considering that when you pre-ordered from Best Buy they give you a “Collector’s Edition Pre-Order” box with all the codes in it, they had better darn well be honoring the CE pre-orders. If the hubby and I hadn’t gotten our CEs tonight, pissed would’ve been an understatement.

    We won’t be pre-ordering from them again anyway after this. Their employees and manager were completely clueless. We’ll stick with real game stores for Collectors Editions from this point forward.


  7. A number of Australian copies of the game install with a broken version of the patcher and no war.exe. It’s possible to download a working patcher which fixes it, but only if you know where to look for it.

    http://files.filefront.com/warpatchexe/;11292885;/fileinfo.html


  8. Glad to see you covering this Syp. Most of the other fan sites don’t seem to be touching this topic.

    Everything you say is true. Not only has Mythic screwed up, but all their retail parnters have screwed up and most of all, EA has screwed up.

    This entire launch, while the game is fun if you can get past the queue to play, outside of the game, it’s been a disaster.

    Pre-orders need to be done away with. They don’t work. Pre-order codes don’t work. And if they are going to do Collector’s Editions, they need to cut out all the retail partners who mess up (Best Buy, Amazon, EB Games, Game Stop) and only allow CE ordering directly from the distributor and limit it one per credit card number.

    Then EA wouldn’t of been short, because they wouldn’t have shipped copies any where else but to customers. No one would have ordered six copies so they can eBay them, while others go without. And store employees from corrupt companies like GameStop couldn’t go screwing over customers any more.

    Cut all this crap out. Cut out the pre-order codes. Cut out the CE to other retailers other than main distributor. If all CE pre-orders were done through EA, and they had a better store in place and better customer service, then maybe all of this mess could have been avoided.

    What a huge clusterf**k this launch has been. Same old EA.


  9. Is there a free trial of WAR available? If not, is that something that won’t likely occur for another year or so? I’ve no idea what’s typical for MMORPGs; I’ve only just recently begun playing WoW and DDO and Powder Project due to the free trials (and PP is free).

    Maybe with all the screwups they can offer some free weeks to those who’ve ordered the game early…


  10. I have to totally agree with this post, but I actually would have been a little harsher. EA and Mythic have made some huge launch mistakes the last few weeks, and it keeps getting uglier. I love the game, but they are hurting their chance of bringing in new players with all these blunders, and bad word of mouth that is spreading like wildfire about their botched launch.

    Btw, the way the Best Buy situation worked was there was a news feed letting all stores know that the Collectors Edition needs to be held back, and customer must provide the correct SKU on their receipt to be able to purchase the CE. This was posted on the 17th. It was already too late, but also as well another problem was the Employee News system was down for maintenance for the last few days, so this information could not get to employees anyway until today.

    Whether Best Buy made the mistake of not providing this news earlier to the Media team, or Mythic was late letting the company know. I would blame both in this situation.


  11. I have to have my code in by 7:00 Friday, eh? Well, I hope this isn’t true. I am an unfortunate EA Store CE preorder (I would’ve thought the publisher could handle a preorder).

    Funny as it sounds – my wife is out of town and I had a few extra days off so I’m off tomorrow… well, I guess I’ll get cleaning done as I don’t suppose UPS will be dropping off my game at 7:00 a.m. Actually, EA’s site says it’s still processing my order from April 1………

    -Argal (Phoenix Throne)


  12. Yeah we have 1-2 weeks grace period and my sister is having to make use of it as the CE is so damn big and she works fulltime, so can only pick the game up on saturday.

    Also we had distribution problems particularly in Sweden and Holland, and have guildmates who won’t get their retail box till 25th.

    Not sure why the US is going a different way, it surprises me, and I hope they relent.


  13. I would be mad about the grace period if I were in the US. I am European. My CE was delivered when I was at work. It was taken to the local post office that isn’t open on at weekends. I’ll probably have to take a couple of hours off work to pick it up but would have been really annoyed if I couldn’t have continued to play in that time.


  14. kind of irritating that i pre-ordered from amazon, since we didn’t have gamestops or eb games in my area. I live in oregon, need to enter my key to keep playing and my package is still en-route in colorado.


  15. I think I must’ve got somebody’s best buy CE. I saw it and bought it right away. There were about 5 others on the shelves too. I didn’t actually think about someone losing theirs.


  16. Mythic clearly, flatly and explicitly stated that pre-order customers had until 9am EDT on Monday, September 22 to enter their retail codes.

    This turned out to be a lie, with the deadline being brought forward more than three days, with less than 24 hours notice.

    Many, MANY loyal customers are being shafted by this move, and they have every right to be furious.


  17. *pictures Jay harrassing all his neighbours, banging on doors and scaring little children… threatening to burn down apartment blocks like a Witch Hunter, for there is a liar inside, holding his game hostage*

    Bring out the ones you call Donahue!!! They are agents of Chaos and must be cleansed by fire…. if Donahue is not delivered to me within five minutes, then you shall all be cleansed by fire….

    FOX NEWS BREAKING STORY

    🙂 Tee Hee


  18. FWIW, I just played after 7:00 a.m. without a code entered. No problems.

    Should have my copy from Amazon today when I get home from work, anyway.


  19. I must have the best Best Buy around. For both the WOW BC, AoC and WAR pre-orders I walked into my local Best Buy the afternoon of release, walked up to customer service and they presented me my CE pre-order box from behind the counter. I had absolutely no issues. For all the pre-orders I had a box with codes securely inside. No need to wait for an email. No need to chase down a Game Stop manager. I’m very happy with Bust Buy’s handling of the pre-orders. I’ll be continuing to take my pre-order business to Best Buy.

    K, now that my little rant of fanboism is over… I’m surprised with all the shipping snaffus that they are only giving a one day grace period. And the answer of “get up and stretch” is amazingly condescending. I’m a programmer by trade and if something I had written didn’t work I would never tell my customer to go to take a walk. Professional suicide. Mythic’s answer smells of arrogance. Makes me start wondering what attitudes from Mythic we have to look forward to in the future.


  20. This customer is even grumpier after having read your post. I checked my Amazon account again and it is shipping today. At the earliest, I will have it Monday. I will be very upset if I lose the weekend of playtime as it’s when I have the most free time.
    Big mistake Mythic, horrible service Amazon.


  21. Here is what I get when trying to register my key:

    There was an error processing your request

    Wheeee


  22. I can confirm that as at now (8:46am EST) my account is definitely disabled. Well, enjoy your game, I won’t be doing business with EA-Mythic now or ever again.


  23. Update: my order has shipped ans should arrive on the 22nd. Hmm, having the 22nd as a grace period would have been nice.

    I checked this morning and my account is disabled.

    As for the note about EA Store sending an email about extending the grace period…I never received one.

    Argal (Phoenix Throne)


  24. Iz got a gold-sella tyin to talk to me las night.


  25. I am one of those affected by the EA Store, and my account isn’t working, nor have I been contacted with any way to get my account active for this weekend while waiting for the game to arrive, eventually.

    Mythic lied, once again.


  26. I received my email from EAstore explaining that I was one of the few who would receive his CE late; to compensate me, the email said:

    – Headstart-key will work for longer (how much longer, it didn’t say).
    – Free digital Prima guide/atlas to the game. I hate these things, but it’s ironic that the night after I experience my first lair I now have a map to many, many lairs on my computer.

    So, no harm, no foul. I just wish – again – that they would have been more up front with all of this when it started happening. I can only hope people who pre-ordered through other sites get similar treatement?


  27. A headstart is a gift. Mythic didn’t have to do a headstart at all. If they didn’t you (customer) would have got your preorder days or weeks after launch and never even been mad at Mythic but mad at Amazon, Gamestop ect… Headstart was a gift for free. If you had SE and it is not shipped or charged to you cancel your order and go to store and pick one up.

    I have lived in the UK as an American and it took weeks to get games and backorders but I never blamed the company for why I couldn’t go to a store and preorder it or pick it up launch day. Just look at the link from WHA. Somebody knew the CEs were sold out but because they were on the shelf and Bestbuy messed up he took someone elses preorder and if he had the cash would have taken all 10 and screwed 10 people. Just because “you” are honest enough to not use your headstart of 1to 2 weeks while you wait for your preorder, the dishonest guy will have their box sitting next to them while they cheat Mythic out of their hard earned money. The small amount of dishonest ruin it for all just like the small amount that really don’t have their game. As a buisness you have to play the numbers or you go bankrupt. I am in the minority, I agree with Mythic.

    Note: I went to Bestbuy on the 17th and got my CE and warned them they need to put the CEs behind the counter and they did. I did not buy someone elses CE. Shame on that person. And that is basicly why at 7am you can’t play anymore. (dishonesty of others)


  28. […] Amazon, me again! YOU can haZ ShIpmEnt! Posted on September 19, 2008 by H00LiGAN Thanks to Syp, I am now aware that Mythic will disable access to accounts that have not entered their retail code […]


  29. I went with my gut and ordered from the EA store figuring that any mistake they made would be covered by Mythic. Got this email today so my suspicions were correct!

    ~

    Thank you for purchasing Warhammer Online: Age of ReckoningCollector’s Edition through the EA Store.

    There is a delay inshipping your order due to an issue with our inventory managementsystem. We will be sending it to you as soon as we are able. We understand that this is a significant inconvenience, and we wouldlike to provide you the following items while you wait for yourproduct:

    Extension of your Head Start time – we want to ensure that you areable to continue to play the game until we are able to ship theWarhammer Online: Age of Reckoning Collector’s Edition to you.

    A free Warhammer Age of Reckoning Prima Games eGuide* (a $18.74 value)

    The Prima guide has all the strategies, insights, and tips you needto leave a path of destruction in your wake. In-depth charactersections will help you determine which character is best for you. Thisguide includes 336 pages packed with strategy, class info, and maps.

    A free Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning Prima Games Atlas*(a $14.99 value)

    Maps of every area: Every zone, every instance, every RvR area, andevery keep is represented, with map-specific strategy and tips.

    Please click on this link to add both the eGuide and Atlas to thecart:… (snipped)


  30. Just a quick note to anyone who is getting screwed by the EA store debacle:

    If you call EA customer support and vent your frustration on them, it is very possible to get an extended grace period, or so a guildy of mine was told when he called to verbally pummel them last night.


  31. The headstart is a marketing tool and also a launch tool. Can you even imagine the server mess we would have had if everyone logged in yesterday for the first time?
    That being said, I don’t usually blame the game company at all, but then I don’t usually have a problem because they usually account for the shipping delays better.


  32. Free guides, extended time. Crap I’d take a a little frustration for free swag any day.


  33. I’ve ordered my SE from EA, but I haven’t received an e-mail. I’ve sent 3 e-mails to EA, but no answer.


  34. well I’m screwed if this is all true.. Cant play till it comes in the mail. Thanks Mythic. Love ya.


  35. don’t have time to call them, will just wait


  36. “So, after a lot of conversations I’m happy to announce that over the next few hours we are going to extend the grace period for all customers of Amazon, GoGamer and the EA Store till the 22nd of September.”

    http://herald.warhammeronline.com/warherald/NewsArticle.war?id=306

    It will be interesting to see if EA Store actually ships my order to Canada by Monday… Somehow, I’m not feeling too confident.


  37. Hope everyone’s seen the announcement that now you can go until Monday…A bit of a relief to me and that at least makes more sense.


  38. according to Darren and others, this grace period has been changed till Monday


  39. This is not right. I ordered my game and you pull that crap of deactivating accounts. My game isn’t getting here til Monday but you deactivated my account. Then you have the nerve to have press release where you say your extending it for these people and baiclly screw you if your not in that group. Then you have the gual to talk about fair and trying to do right by the community, if u were to do right by the community I would not have to be writing this letter. So, what of all the people who did standard shipping because on your website previously said the Beta/headstart people would have at least a week to get their game in, because of shipping. It is one of the reasons I ordered the game ahead of time. Then you turn around and completly lie to me. You know I play Warcraft and be sure this will be all over the game this weekend since I guess that is what I will be playing. Then on top of that your support line sucks and you arn’t even staffed to handle problems on a release weekend. But then again perhaps your weekend would have gone better had you lived true to your word and extended the courtesy of a little time to your “community.” Once again that turns out to be utter BS you just write but dont care a bit about living up to.


  40. […] night was the first real chance I had to play Warhammer Online, and given the whole CD-key debacle, it may be one of the last chances I get until EA Store ships me my bloody […]


  41. How is the game, i’m considering buying it but not really sure yet.


  42. I recived the game on friday. I have had all kinds of problems registering and getting onto the site to play. It is now 21:30 on a saturday night and I have still to play this game! All e-mails sent appear to be of an automated nature and are of no use whatsoever.

    I have been so wound up over this whole debacle that about an hour ago I sent an e-mail of complaint about GOA (the server providers) to Mythic.

    I have told them that if my situation with them is not resolved by midday on monday I will be taking the software back to the shop and lo0gging back onto World of Warcraft. I am fed up!


  43. […] lame September 20, 2008 On Friday, I was perusing the usual blogs and found a particularly unpleseant article.  According to Mr. Syp, I was not going to be able to play WAR until my stupid box was in my […]



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