Friday, 25 April 2008

BOOK 13, NOT...

As every LOTRO player in the world not actually in hibernation knows by now, Book 13 has been released in the USA in time for the game's first anniversary - but not in Europe. The results on the Codemasters forum have been explosive: by just before midnight (server time) on Thursday, the day on which most people expected the patch to be released, a thread on the subject had attracted a record 27,387 views as well as 425 responses - also an absolute record. More than a few people were pretty clearly upset.

At 7.30 pm, Satine came up with Codemasters' excuse: "... we will not be getting Book 13 tomorrow. And no, it's not because the localisation isn't done! We haven't yet received the "Release candidate" for testing therefore at the very earliest we'll get Book 13 onto the live servers will be late next week some time, but if we find anything wrong with it during testing, it'll be later still... Up until now we've prided ourselves in getting almost every update to you just one or two days after the US however on this occasion we haven't been able to do so".

Responses in the forum tended to divide between those calling down divine retribution on Codemasters and/or Turbine for not delivering at the (implied) time, and those who pointed out that there may even be advantages to showing a bit of patience; as "hitchhiker 54" remarked, "Think of it this way... The US get the patches first. They have since beta, which may seem unfair.... BUT (and this is my favorite bit) the US players find all those little bugs that get past test server! By the time we see the patch Turbine are already working on any issues. So... before another 'it's not fair' post goes up, please consider. Would you rather we did final beta test or have a couple of million Americans do it for us?"

Others were devastated, and didn't care who was to blame: "This really, really, really, really sucks!! I just have holiday, and hoped we'd get book 13 during my holiday, but it seems not...". By and large, however Turbine came in for heavy flack for treating Europe as as second-rate market, while for their part Codemasters got a fair bit of stick for, if nothing else, failing to keep their customers informed. "Buttercup", for instance, commented that "It looks like the blame is being placed firmly in Turbine's court for ignoring their European base in order to please the US market. Unsurprising, of course, but disappointed (in Turbine .. ) Nothing Codemasters can do with all the best will in the world if they aren't supported by Turbine...".

A PR disaster? Well, yes and no. On the one hand, memories are notoriously short, and if Book 13 fulfills expectations when it finally reaches these shores, all or or nearly all will be forgiven. And on the other, there is surely something in the sight of thousands of frustrated consumers screaming for their product which must make the hearts of profit-oriented business executives go pit-a-pat.


Thoms said...

I play on a EU server and don't mind getting the patches later than US. As you mentioned it usually means we get a more polished version og the content :)

Acutally I'm more upset by the lack of 1 year anniversary events.

Kairos said...

Well, it seem to be an iron law of nature that all software is buggy as hell when first released; most sensible people will wait at least six months before adopting a new version of their operating system, for example. So yes, on balance I'm perfectly happy for the Americans to be the first to discover that, say, the Book 13 patch also wipes out their entire in-game bank balance. But it would be nice if Codemasters were better at keeping us informed, too.