A couple of days ago, Star Wars: The Old Republic, a new MMORPG game based on George Lucas' creative genius, opened up for pre-orders. The game has been highly anticipated by the gaming community, myself included. Although I don't normally pre-order games, regardless of hype, I decided to pre-order this one. Here's why:
I have been following this game for a long time, intrigued by the company's ability to keep you on pins and needles waiting to find out that next little morsel of unknown information about the game or its release date. After reading an interview of one of the employee's of BioWare, he mentioned that they have been working and reworking the release-plan of the game. That struck me as odd, considering the release-plan for other MMO's has just been, "Release it with a huge box-office sale, hope you have enough servers based on rough calculations, and hope the software holds up to the masses." I didn't put too much thought into what was said in that interview, because I assumed it was just talk, and they would follow the same pattern of other shaky MMO releases. I was wrong.
When the pre-order was announced, I went on over to their website to check out the pre-order info (mostly hoping for a release date announcement). As I was reading through the pre-order puffery, I noticed an unusual sentence: "The order in which you redeem your Pre-order Code is the order in which you will gain Early Game Access before the game’s official release." (Bolded for emphasis, reference: http://www.swtor.com/preorder) This set my wheels in motion! I immediately pre-ordered because just the thought of being able to play before the masses was enough to tip the scale of pre-order indifference. As I was pre-ordering I noticed an interesting "feature". The pre-order was queued! If you didn't get in "soon enough", you could actually not be able to pre-order in the "first round" if certain (un-mentioned) limits were exceeded.
At this point, I started to see the genius of their plan. They are actually doing a tiered release program! This way, they can release it in its post-beta phase to a limited amount of its most dedicated players. After the initial round, they can view the effects of the increased usage, adjust the servers, adjust the software, and recalculate for the next release tier. Brilliant! This way, the eager players get what they want: SWTOR sooner, and BioWare gets what they want: A smooth, successful release.
I could be wrong. I've just been speculating... After re-reading the "sooner you buy, sooner you play" text, I thought that they might just schedule each person's entry into the game in a constant flow, still allowing them to adjust/correct along the way. But what about the pre-order queue? I pre-ordered the digital copy and was given my code immediately, so it might only apply for the special editions that have a limited supply. Either way, I get to play the game before the release, and I'll bet my first in-game credit that the release will be smooth. Some would disagree about the release quality, but I don't think "IT'S A TRAP!".
Many Bothans died to bring us this information...