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23 October 2011 2 Comments

SWTOR’s Down Under Launch?

Aussies, Kiwis and others in the MMO backwater known as the Oceanic zone have long been bemoaning BioWare’s decision to exclude us from the December SWTOR launch, but I’m wondering if things might not be about to change. Engage Optimism Mode!

Fact 1: The Euro launch of SWTOR was originally scheduled for the 22nd of December, and has recently been moved up to the 20th, now scheduled to launch at the same time as North America.

This demonstrates that they’re still willing to make adjustments to their launch schedule; it’s not set in stone.

Fact 2: On October 11th BioWare sent out invites for a beta weekend to testers from North America, Australia and New Zealand “to inform decisions about the launch of the game in Oceanic regions”.

This demonstrates that they’re currently actively engaged in testing the game’s performance quality for Oceanic gamers on North American servers.

The Republic, Aus style!Fact 3: There is already a contingent of Australian and New Zealand gamers who have preordered the game from American and European retailers with the intention of playing at American launch on North American servers (mostly in the US Pacific time zone). BioWare are aware of this, and have confirmed that they’re okay with it.

My hypothesis – and this is optimism mode firmly engaged here – is that they were testing to see whether we Oceanic types could play on North American servers with acceptable connection quality and latency, or whether we’d need our own physically-local servers. Given that they could have used eager Oceanic players who’d pre-ordered from Amazon as their guinea pigs, post launch, and instead went to the effort of spending valuable testing time on us, that suggests it has some bearing on the launch.

So, I’m wondering if, perhaps, they were deciding between a delayed Oceanic launch with our own local servers, vs rolling us into the “Worldwide” December 20th date but expecting us to play on North American servers. Depending on the conclusions they drew from the beta, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an announcement within the next few weeks about Australia & New Zealand being added to the list of countries launching the game on December 20th. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I expect it, exactly, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it happens.

I’ve already pre-ordered from Amazon, so whatever happens, I’ll be playing this year. Whether that’s on North American servers or Australian ones is another matter, though I’m expecting the former. As someone who’s not terribly invested in uber-competitive PvP, this doesn’t really bother me – in fact, the biggest downside of North American servers, for me, has been the server maintenance, restarts, and general downtime during our peak play times. And this is certainly annoying, and probably will continue to be so in SWTOR – but I’ve put up with it for eight years now, in game after game; I can tolerate it for a few more years yet if I have to.

How about you? Think I’m way off base with my hypothesis? Desperately keen for a physically local server? Am I hopelessly out of touch? I’m interested to hear what you think.

(Also, apologies for posting this at a weird time; I was going to wait, but I’d hate to get scooped before going on the record with my theory!)


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