By Rorie 29 Comments
I haven't played GTA Online.
I guess more generally I was thinking yesterday about the hoopla surrounding the server troubles that accompanied the launch of GTAO and how uninterested I was in their ramifications. I've been through numerous poor launches of online titles, including but not limited to World of Warcraft (all but unplayable for the first week of its release), Half-Life 2 (the first major test for Steam; it hung up on authentication for a large proportion of people trying to unlock it at midnight), and more recent launch day (or week) failures of Diablo III, SimCity, and FFXIV. As I've gotten older, though, these things just seem to be less and less worthy of comment from my end. My inability to play WoW when it came out was a matter of genuine distress; nowadays I just kind of shrug and assume that I'll be able to get into the game a week later.
It's difficult to say whether this sangfroid is a good thing or a bad thing. Generally speaking I don't find myself getting all that upset at anything anymore; if I find something annoying or frustrating I usually just ignore it or remove it from my life rather than give it more time than it's due or write angry forum posts about it, and I don't really buy anything unless I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it. Specifically, though, I generally assume that highly-anticipated games with an online requirement are going to be kinda busted for the first few days of their release. That doesn't reflect well on the competence of major publishers, who really should've learned from any of the dozens of teachable moments that have come down the pipe over the last decade, and maybe I should exercise my right as a consumer to loudly berate companies that fail at seemingly simple tasks, but I just have a hard time getting up in arms about things like launch-day server issues nowadays. It's easier to sit back and unwindulax than fret about this kind of stuff, or play some other game that's currently functioning rather than worry about the one that isn't. These things tend to work themselves out with time.
It is somewhat interesting to think about why this stuff keeps happening, though. I assume that most publishers have their spreadsheets about anticipated server loads over time and simply do some math like that of the narrator in Fight Club, something along the lines of: the server load on launch day will be twice as big as it ever will be in the future. We can EITHER spend twice as much money to ensure a smooth launch, and buy excess infrastructure that we won't wind up using OR we can launch with the infrastructure that we assume we'll need permanently and absorb whatever damage to our reputation that'll come from a less-than-functional launch. I assume that the math usually winds up going in favor of the latter option.
But maybe I'm completely off about all this stuff and it's simply really difficult to judge how many people are going to be using an online service the day it launches. Who knows?