Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 05, 2008
WAR is everywhere - except Europe

Today Mythic starts the second WAR preview weekend, which will be immediately followed by the start of the open beta on Sunday. But that is true only for the US. Europe didn't get any preview weekends, neither the first nor the second. And there is still doubt whether we will get an open beta: We did get pre-order codes with a "guaranteed" spot in the open beta, but up to now the website where you could enter that code was never up.

Think of it! Two days before the open beta and the account site where you have to enter your code to get into the beta isn't up yet and never was. The minute the site opens it will obviously be overrun by hundreds of thousands of players all trying to sign up at the same time, equivalent to a Denial of Service attack that will in all likelyhood shut down the site faster than it opened.

Given the fact that WAR over here costs $18.75 per month (Euro 12.99), I really can't understand why Europe gets so much worse service than the US. Are they actually trying to scare away their best paying customers?
Must say I was underwhelmed with my first preview weekend but maybe knowing my character would be wiped is a valid reason. It just seems alot like WOW to me. Went back to Vanguard and was amazed at how far it has come. (think you should revisit it and review it again.) Anyway got me thinking I might not even pick up my War preorder especially with the GU6 coming out for VSOH. Call me a VSOH fanboi I guess but I just cant understand how a game of that magnitude is so totally ignored. Must be system specs (not that most comps now won't play it) or the absolute horrific buggy start it had, surprised I went back myself but frankly I think it's the best MMORPG out there.
Sorry should have said best potential of any MMORPG, obviously VSOH doesn't hold a candle to WOW when it comes to polish.
I think it's because Mythic doesn't either think about or care much for their European 'so-called' partners.
Mark Jacobs just posted about this on the Warhammer Alliance message boards: link.


Okay, I guess it's time to either pour some oil on this fire or sand. I think it's sand but it's really not up to me, you decide.

1) I don't know why the EUAC isn't up yet, as you can imagine, that's not part of *my* daily job description. I'll check in the morning though.

2) Mythic and GOA speak just about every day on some level. We phone, email, etc. constantly. Anyone who says we are not in constant communication is not being honest. This doesn't mean that things get missed or messed up sometimes but we are always talking to each other.

3) No operation is perfect and, to GOA's credit, they are trying really hard to make this all happen. I'm not sure why some people think it is easy for two totally separate companies on different continents with different languages to coordinate something which has never been done before, launch an MMORPG simultaneously in North America, Europe and Oceania. Anyone who says this is easy is either lying or has never done this before. It is precisely because GOA wanted to launch simultaneously (in order to ensure that the European customer didn't feel left behind as in most other MMORPGS) that we are trying to do this for them. If they had said that it would be okay to launch 30 days later, some of the issues that have come up wouldn't have been issues since they would have had 30 extra days to make them happen. But it is because they wanted the European player to have the exact same launch date that things got more complicated. Look, if they/us truly mess up and make mistakes, they/us deserve criticism. However, this absolute nonsense, yes nonsense, about either Mythic not caring or GOA not caring is both wrong and unfair. We do care, they do care and we are all trying very hard to make this work. GOA has made a fantastic commitment to the European player in terms of what they are doing with customer service and support post-launch for the game and they are following through on it but there are a lot of moving parts and yes, sometimes those parts get lost and/or broken.

4) Some things are easier for Mythic to do than they are for GOA because we are the developer of the game. Everything is in place for us already (it needed to be) and it is easier for us to react more nimbly because we are the developer of the game. GOA has to react to what we do and given the time and language difference, sometimes that takes a little longer.

5) In terms of things like the Preview Weekend Plus, well, all I have to say is that our role is to get WAR in the best shape for launch and if that means we're going to put the game up for a couple extra days to beat on it, we're going to do it. If because of various issues it isn't running in Europe then what should I do, stop the testing? Folks, that would be foolish and it could affect the game's launch. These extra days are not so NA players can feel superior or to make the European player feel inferior but rather to beat the heck out of the game some more before Open Beta. As I posted several weeks back we are working on some major issues for the game (like pathing and NPC AI) and while we are testing them internally, nothing beats lots and lots of additional people and additional load on the system(s). I'm sorry if this means that European players can't get into an extra couple of days but my #1 priority is making sure WAR is ready for launch on the 18th of September. And if my only two choices are have a PW+ and anger some people or skip the PW+ and possibly have more problems in Open Beta, I'll choose to test some more and anger some people at the same time. BTW, GOA is right when they say that neither Mythic nor GOA promised this extra time to anybody.

6) Working with a developer like Mythic on a project like this is never easy. We have to make lots of decisions on the fly and sometimes these decisions have a tremendous impact on the game and on the community. However, I've never heard of any decision made by Mythic or GOA that was aimed at intentionally hurting the European fans, period.

I've always said that I'd rather have you mad at us now rather than mad at us at launch. So, be pissed if you must but we're doing what we need to do over the remaining time to make sure WAR has a great launch simultaneously in North America, Europe and Oceania in a few weeks.

So it's not just the EU customers who don't know why there is no accounts page, Mark Jacobs doesnt'know either, scary :(
I really hope GOA learned something from running Daoc in Europe in the last years... It so sucked that we had to wait two months for the newest patch.

Why can't Mythic go the Blizzard way and run all servers themself (I know except China)?
Mark Jakobs postet nearly all night long, good answers an great passion.
I think the issues are (only) with GOA at this point.
I never played DaoC but listened to loads of stories about GOA screwing up everything, from player-support to patch-translations. Since I myself have to deal with GOA I can confirm this: A sloppy European WAR-site with a flawed beta-registration, a ragged communication policy – I'm curious how the will blow the initial launch and the game support.

In this regard I cannot take Mark Jakobs seriously. Blabla will not solve any problems – the guys at Mythic have been warned about exactly these problems since the announced their repeated cooperation with GOA.
For me it is pretty simple, if GOA cannot get their act together i will pass on WAR, since playing on US servers isnt an option for me.

As for GOA's attitude: maybe it is a typical French laissez-faire thing. In my line of work i come accross these kind of companies. They seem to possess no sense of urgency whatsoever, and think the money will flow in no matter what. Well, guess what: it wont.

I always wonder how these businesses stay alive, maybe its because of government subsidies (read: burning taxpayers money) or something.

Marks remarks are a bit scary: It seems Mythic is generously giving GOA bonuspoints for just TRYING "real hard". Newsflash: in the real world trying does give you exactly diddly-squat, it's cold hard results that matter.

I guess we will have to wait and see. From an experienced ICT pov, i think GOA's handling of matters is lacking. As a potential customer it does not give me confidence that they are capable at all.

If GOA fumbles this it could mean Legendary Failure for Mythic, considering a major part of the business (higher price, plus more players - based on preorder numbers) is to made in the EU.
I think that MJ should get some sleep and stop pouring oil on the fire, and let GOA deal with it when ... it's actually daytime for them. (ie. now.)

Truth is, it's not a big deal. They still plan to start the open beta when they said that they would. People on forums are driving each other nuts for no special reason. Two days of a beta where you're going to lose your character at the end anyway is simply not such a big deal.

But what we all still want to know is whether GOA can pull it off this time. I hope they can. But I don't see much point slating them for something which isn't their fault (ie. Mythic deciding to change their plans at that last minute and not during EU working hours!)
When DAoC players warned me that the costumer service of GOA used to be shitty, I knew there would be trouble ahead. Just look at the European Warhammer site, it's poorly programmed, slow, out of date and often doesn't even load correctly.

I can guarantee you that European Warhammer costumers will get a way out of proportion amount of server outages, patch lateness, and all kinds of other problems, because GOA is just clueless.

It's really a shame that the choice of distributor will have a bigger impact on the success of WAR in Europe than anything about the game itself.
Hey there,
You've read what Mark has to say on the matter and some of you may have read some of the posts I made on the various fansites late last night. I don't think it's particularly worth going over the preview weekend issues again, Mark pretty much nailed it in his post and there's little point in me saying the same thing in different words.

I will however address two of the points Tobold brought up in his post.
Firstly, there is no doubt about whether Europeans will get an open beta. We announced this in the last newsletter and confirmed it yesterday in our news. The EU open beta has never been in any danger of being postponed, canceled or otherwise missed.

Secondly our website has already been dealing with traffic that makes the expected rush for signups pretty trivial. We get more visits per day that the total number of open beta keys in existence across the world. We have launched major timed events before and we have a lot of experience in making sure that key systems are able to handle the pressure. The account pages are coming, they have been tested thoroughly and we aren't concerned about the stability of the server.

Iain Compton
English Community Manager
WAR Europe
That one made my day. :) The English WAR Community Manager starts answering concerns on my blog. It clearly shows one of the disadvantages of not having an official message board: You end up having to post all over the internet to get your message across.

About the "to be released" account site being able to handle all the open beta key registrations at once, well, I'll believe it when I see it. I even promise to post again if it works. But seeing how even Blizzard's site crashed when people wanted to sign up for Blizzcon, I don't take anything for guaranteed.
Iain: I guess the flak GOA is getting now is a result of the experience some/many had with the company earlier. Add to that initial mistrust the impatience and flammability of a rabid internet community and you have a pretty harsh working environment...

It is good to see that GOA itself is totally confident they can deliver, on time and with the quality which is expected.

A lot of players (or at least a pretty vocal group) dont have that same confidence though. For them the seemingly laissez faire way of handling things creates the impression that nothing has changed. Basically you are asking a very disappointed customer to take your word that all will be fine from now on. For those described thats difficult to believe, considering earlier experience and with a lot of factors indicating otherwise.
It clearly shows one of the disadvantages of not having an official message board: You end up having to post all over the internet to get your message across.

They could make an announcement on as well. With an ETA or something. The worst thing is that we dont know when and what to expect.
Good luck to GOA - but with 2 days to go I am not sure this is giving us and themselves enough time to get the accounts for customers created.
I don't suggest in any way I know their accounts system....but I am sure its not something you can compare to website hits per day.
I work for a very large database company and systems like this don't always fail at the "front end" there are multiple layers in these systems....just because the web server can handle the hits doesn't mean the database can handle the amount of transactions it will be getting.

Personally I am really considering giving this one a miss (at least the Collectors Edition at £60/75 EUROS - which I have pre-ordered) as poor support / customer service can ruin the experience for me.

This is one of the problems that most MMO developers seems to forget - they are not selling a single player game they can just send out and be done with - they are selling 50% game and 50% a service.
Until they understand this the genre will not move forward as quick as it should.

Also Mark Jacobs comments suggest that customer service is far far down on his list of priorities (and for us EU customers he doesn't even want to deal with us himself - hence GOA involvement) which for an subscription based MMO should be one of the highest priorities.
Hm, interesting, Iain Compton postet here even before posting on the warhammeraliance message boards.

I guess you have to set your prorities, gratz Tobold! ;-)
I bought the CE preorder and I'm considering throwing 10euros to the trash.
My patience worths more than 10 euros.
If GOA/EA misses this opportunity to grab the burn out WoW players in Europe you will loose a lot of money.

If you guys have a great product and you can't sell it properly you are incompetent.

one more time kids:

An entity who purposes to do something to another entity and fails to do it is incompetent

An entity who receives paymento in advance in exchange for services/products and doesn't deliver all of them is fraudulent

If I paid I want it or my money back.
The bad reputation you will have if you don't deliver is something you can't take back so easily.

BTW: in Portugal the sellers information to the buying costumer is that the CE preorder doesn't guarantee a CE box on the release. Check that...
"in Portugal the sellers information to the buying costumer is that the CE pre order doesn't guarantee a CE box on the release. Check that..."

Yeah our wonderful countries' stores and EA Portugal itself are giving us the usual crappy service we're so used to.

To try to be sure I got a CE I've pre-purchased it from the Fnac Portugal website (where it shouldn't even be sold as far as I know), since the lack of organization here is so big that me, my boyfriend and four of our friends have bought the CE pre order we still don't know for sure that it guarantees what we were told it would. And we're being told by official sources (EA Portugal included, though they added they were contacting the mother company for details, but that was a few days ago and there's no new information) it won't.

Crappy service here in Portugal is usual, and when it comes to MMOs it's truly a legendary quest to get what we pay for. Especially regarding Collector's Editions.

The treatment our stores and the portuguese division of game publishers, like for instance EA Portugal is nothing short of ridiculous.
About the availability of CEs: there is a rumor that much more CE preorder kits have been sold then there are actual CE units available...(i would classify that as a Major eh Mess Up).

Now this can just be a rumor spread by the OMGOHNOES people, but the e-shop i got my CE preorder kit from promised me to contact me through e-mail as soon as i could actually confirm my order.

They have been totally silent sofar, and we are now 2 weeks from release.
I have 2 collector's editions preordered from Play and 2 from HMV.

If GoA don't start actually giving their customers information soon I'll be cancelling all four pre-orders. There's STILL no Account Centre with 48 hours to the Open Beta, and 9 days to the early start, apparently it's coming "This week", but that's been the case since Monday. Their lack of information and respect for their customers is stunning.
Maybe the problem is that Mythic is acting so typically American. Bigger, higher, faster, stronger. Always trying to give more to the customers than was promised. (Preview weekend 1 & 2, CE players into the CB etc.) Whereas, GOA is still towing the line and committed to deliver everything that was promised and nothing more.

I am not a European player and never had to deal with GOA but seeing how they seem completely unwilling or unable to go the extra mile for their customers (compared to Mythic) I am certainly glad that I don't have to deal with them. It seems more and more that the problems and complaints that people cited for the past year or so on the various forums about GOA do have some merit.
@Centuri Unfortunately I've dealt with GOA before, when I played Dark Age of Camelot, and having to wait for patches to come MONTHS after they were out in the US is forever imprinted on my brain as the crappiest service ever.

Right after Portuguese game stores and distributors, of course. ;)
You are going to sort it in the morning? Are all the peopel at Goa in denial or all living in a fuucking bubble like Failcom were? This is a fuucking joke, I forsee tons of problesm with the eu playerbase for Wrahmmer form you uselss bastards. Maybe everyoen thats plays warhammer in the EU will jump ship like they did with Daoc. Goa usless compnay.
Why dont you people just STFU and wait before you start blaming things? You all cry over something that didn't even happen, jesus, you are pathethic and useless...
Exactltly less then 48 hours until open beta and we still can't create accounts.

It didn't happen. As many already told, I doubt their site/system will sustain the hammering of thousands of people who will try to create their accounts and add keys.

But we'll see, I say...

Certainly this is not something you do the last minute, but who am I to judge, I know I wouldn't do it like that.

Thanks for taking the time to post here. It is appreciated that you make this effort. I hope you're right about the server being able to cope, but if I were managing the project, I wouldn't take the risk. What do you have to lose by opening it a few days early? That way, if something unexpected goes wrong (and if often does with new systems, even when you think you've thought of everything), you've got time to fix it.

I'd love to see the risk register for this launch:

Risk: Beta key entry system fails on first day.

Probability: Unknown.

Impact: Our most loyal customers are annoyed and may cancel and pass on the bad news to those they influence.

Proposed mitigation: none.
Lol, Sven :) Apt summary.
The account pages are coming, they have been tested thoroughly and we aren't concerned about the stability of the server.

Iain Compton
English Community Manager
WAR Europe

Well the posted time on warhammer eu for opening account registration have passed, and they still dont work :(
i can start to make my new account but when it comes to entering the code on the page u make you nickname and password on, the pic with the code dont show up...i have installed flash n everything, still dont show and so i cant enter it and can not progress to enter my beta codes
You called it.. grats for that.
11.01 Monday evening.

EU users no nearer getting on.

Today GOA gave me a page to validate my beta code,
GOA said we would only have to wait two hours for the confirmation and then only another hour for the account to actually become live.

Six hours later still waiting on the email to confirm my account is active.
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