Guild Wars 2 is finally here! Or wait, wasn’t it already here three days ago? And…okay, hold on a second, didn’t it somehow launch just yesterday, too?
The answer is: a little from columns A, B and C. It’s all so confusing, but in a good way, because it means ArenaNet had a launch for you, and you, and you too. And it also means the developer is already able to share metrics like sales-so-far and “peak concurrent users,” a fancy online gaming term for the most people playing online simultaneously.
Technically, Guild Wars 2 launched last Friday at midnight for players who’d pre-purchased the game as part of a “3-day Headstart” phase. It also managed to do a few things MMOs never do, like arrive exactly on time without disastrous game-collapsing bugs.
Then it launched a second time on Monday as part of a “1-day Headstart” deal for players who pre-ordered the game, which…yeah, I don’t understand the difference there either. As a three-day early guy, I just heard about the one-day option for the first time yesterday while jogging to a Guild Wars 2 podcast.
In any case, publisher NCsoft is sharing preliminary numbers for all you MMO comparison wonks: Over one million players paid to play the game ($60 standard, $150 collector’s, and it’s free-to-play thereafter) during the three-day early start. And that’s not counting the one-day preorders or, obviously, whatever sales the game enjoys today as it officially launches.
So that’s sales, but how many people are actually playing this thing? During the headstart phase, NCsoft says demand for the game topped 400,000 simultaneous online players, calling it a “record-breaking” figure for an MMO pre-launch. Outside of pre-launch, a game like World of Warcraft has seen peak concurrent users of over 800,000 and my understanding is that top PCU figures for an MMO are around one million unless we start pulling in crazy-big China-based stuff like Zheng Tu Online or Fantasy Westward Journey.
Still — and don’t get too excited here, given what happened to Star Wars: The Old Republic – 400,000 out of the chute is pretty darned impressive.
I caught up with ArenaNet president and co-founder Mike O’Brien last night to talk about how the launch is going, what his company’s doing to fix launch issues (two-word preview: “not sleeping”) and what he’s personally prepared to do if too many people come onboard. We’ll have that interview for you tomorrow.
Show of hands: Who’s been playing during the pre-launch phase? Who waited to pick the game up until today?