Guild Wars 2 Launches: Two Failures And One Success

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I’ve written at length about the features and advances in Guild Wars 2 from my time in their last beta weekend. But now the game has properly launched and, as you might expect, Guild Wars 2 is experiencing the traditional spate of MMO launch week difficulties. That means problems grouping up with friends, a non-functional in-game store and a lot of banned users. The good news is one of these isn’t actually a problem at all.

With all the eager players jumping in at launch, Guild Wars 2 quickly found itself with overstuffed servers during peak hours. Rather than resorting to queue systems that keep you out of the game, however, Guild Wars 2 quickly and elegantly throws you into a temporary overflow server when areas get too crowded so you can keep playing without interruption.

At least, it ought to be quick and elegant. Players attempting to play with friends quickly found that the overflow system often resulted in their party getting separated and that most of the tools to team up again weren’t working correctly. ArenaNet is working out these issues, and my guess is that most of the bugs come from servers being so full that even the overflow servers are filled, which means that as populations even out the problem should naturally go away on its own. For now however, it makes group play with friends more annoying than it needs to be.

ArenaNet has also been having trouble with the Guild Wars 2 auction house, and there's real ETA on when it will be fully functional. However, with players still in the initial leveling phase there isn’t a whole lot of valuable loot to sell on the auction house yet. Thus, the main result of the trading post outage is chat channels filled with players looking to sell their relatively worthless low-level items.

One last common complaint about launch week points to a game with a healthy future ahead of it. ArenaNet has been banning users for offensive character names, and while their forums are filled with users complaining that there’s nothing offensive about their racist or sexist character names, the move shows a commitment to stamping out players who make the game less fun for everyone else.

Launch week is hardly ever indicative of the long-term success of an MMO. Blizzard botched the first few weeks of the World of Warcraft launch so badly there were several articles predicting the game would never be a success after their early mistakes. What’s interesting in the first few days of Guild Wars 2 isn’t so much how things are breaking, but what’s broken and what ArenaNet is doing to fix it.

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