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New MMORPG.com writer Mathew Reuther pens this look back at the Age of Conan launch from his perspective.
Each new year sees a few high profile MMORPG releases. These game launches are something each early adopter of a new MMO eagerly anticipates yet dreads at the same time. The veterans of the massive online gaming battlefield can tell you some real horror stories. As new games come to market and eager gamers await the opening of the game servers, one of the most oft-repeated tales is that of Anarchy Online's 2001 launch.
The story of this launch is probably one of the most chilling MMO tales floating around the net, as when the game released it was nearly impossible for customers to actually play. The ambition of the game's creators to have one large world where every gamer who wanted to play would be able to interact with every other player was unheard of at the time. Even today only one game (EVE Online) has successfully achieved this goal in a large scale title. This ambition came at a high price as the in-game avatars actually generated so much stress on the game engine that a matter of walking fifty meters in the game world became an arduous journey that could take fifteen minutes or more. Though the game developers (Funcom, a minor development house based in Norway of all places) were quick to begin addressing the issues, the damage done by the initial problems is incalculable. Even post-fix efforts to woo customers back with offers of free playtime were not a resounding success. Though Anarchy Online remains profitable (albeit with an alternate revenue scheme) today, it is likely a shadow of what it could have become had the launch not been an abysmal failure.
Read the whole editorial here.