A big thing right now in the ‘sphere are the SWTOR queues. Even with their staggered launch, BioWare is being hit with some hefty queues. Yet, nothing is really new. Voodoo equations prognosticating things like server health, player retention, and herd leveling speed are part of the design, and they usually seem to say “queues now are better in the long run.” One trick I loved with Rift was joining the hour-long queue a little after 7. Taking the remainder of the hour to put the kids to bed, and once they were down, voila! the queue was just about done. It really helped to just walk away. Even sitting there and reading a book or watching TV while you queue in front of your computer will likely have an effect on your mental and physical well-being.
Because the ArenaNet Community Managers are now on vacation, let’s do a little logic exercise. First, we must assume! We must assume that Guild Wars 2 will have queues. We know they are going to have servers (“worlds“) more like current MMOs than the original Guild Wars, where players get to fight for their world in World vs. World PvP combat and fight evil in their world with other worldly citizens. It’s a safe assumption given almost every MMO’s launch.
I wonder thought if there will be a difference because of the business model. In SWTOR and every other subscription-based MMO, wasted time is wasted money. A player stuck watching a queue is paying to do so. Now we could senselessly break it down to say that “well, at $0.50 /day a player stuck in an hour queue is only wasting a couple cents.” Except it doesn’t work that way. Time is precious and fleeting, and not being able to access something that is paid for ruins the feeling that it is worthwhile to subscribe. If I value my time at $15/hour (to throw a number out there), then perhaps I can say the queue just wasted $15.02 of my life. It gets even slappier in the face when the queue is wasting so-called “free time.”
Big question time: Will it make much of a difference when the pressure of a subscription is gone? Guild Wars 2 has no subscription fees. There is no wasting of a bought-for time when standing obediently in a queue line. The only salty rub is that there is definitely a player-herd leveling wave. Like one big tsunami players rush to the end to join the end game. I hope that the majority realizes that with side-kicking based on area, this other pressing need isn’t as… pressing.
There is an interesting option ArenaNet could take. They could make “Fragment” servers with full intention of shutting them down once the launch rush is done. We know the marketplace is going to be game wide instead of based on a server economy. The “fragment” servers could have an expiration date and no World vs. World match-up. It would be an interesting decision. A subscription-based game would never choose this because no “community” is built on a transient server. Community equals retention, which is money, friend.