[Update: The team has also just posted an address to those who are not yet part of the early access pre-launch. We've included the contents of the message behind the break. Thanks to Onyx for the tip!]
Star Wars: The Old Republic is finally here, and the Force is with Massively! We've prepared a Hutt-sized feast of class introductions, gameplay guides, lore roundups, and hands-on previews to help you navigate the launch period and beyond. And don't forget our weekly SWTOR column, the Hyperspace Beacon!
We absolutely understand you want to get in and play the game early. It's one of the reasons we expanded our Early Game Access from a maximum of five days to a maximum of seven days. However, there are a couple of important points to realize about today's opening salvo of invites, and the procedure in general for Early Game Access and launch.
First, Early Game Access and launch is not supposed to be a stress test. In our previous Beta Testing Weekends we got up to very large concurrent number of players and brought invites into the game at a very high rate. That was done to stress test every aspect of our systems and servers, and essentially to see if they broke. In some cases, they did, but that helped us improve for launch.
For us, launch isn't just about stuffing our servers with as many people as possible. As anyone who's been through a large MMO launch can tell you, that experience can be painful. Our aim with this launch was to ramp things up gradually, to spread our player population out amongst a variety of servers, to maintain all server types, and to keep queuing to a minimum (although we expect that to happen as we head towards December 20th). So far, all that has been successful for us on Day One.
The second thing to realize is scale. We invited more people to play Star Wars: The Old Republic today than many other MMO launches manage in their entire head-start process. As I mentioned earlier today, when we opened pre-orders we had a huge spike in numbers - far more than most MMOs capture at launch. That was the initial rush. After that, our pre-orders settled down.
What this means is that tomorrow, you'll effectively start to see the pre-order timeline expand. You'll see people who have pre-ordered later than July getting invites. The day after that, more people will be invited. We're actually planning to invite more tomorrow than today, and invite the same number again on Thursday - at which point we'll be into the original 'five days of Early Game Access'.
Last thing. Why aren't we continuing to send waves over time? Two main reasons - one, because we need to see that the servers are maintaining stability over time; adding a lot of players in a short period (in other words, stress testing) can cause stability issues.
Two, our plan is to continue to add servers - but carefully, and in response to demand. We need to monitor that demand and roll out servers accordingly. A long-term recipe for MMO failure is to add a lot of servers early on, and then when population decreases, have to close those servers and merge them together.
Our aim is for Star Wars: The Old Republic to be around for a long time to come. Today's just the first step in that - an early step, too - and we'll be running smoothly, with a stable population, before too long. - Stephen Reid, Senior Online Community Manager for SWTOR