Time and time again developers release MMOs that simply aren’t ready for launch. Whether it be server issues, game glitches, or account-related problems, customers are left wondering why they play online RPGs as they rush to hop into the latest virtual world and begin leveling.
While more often than not MMO launches are a nightmare, some are much worse than others. Below we’ve listed the 5 worst MMO launches ever.
5. Vanguard: Saga of Heroes – January 30th, 2007
While all poor MMO launches are the result of a lack of preparation, no game was less ready for launch than Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Considered a bug-fest, its lack of polish proved extremely frustrating for players who were looking for a getaway from the mighty World of Warcraft. Issues ranged from the inconvenient to downright show-stopping. Many players were left with no option but to reroll their character after experiencing questline-ending bugs. It was also very poorly optimized leaving computers gasping for breath and players experiencing low framerates, stutter, and the consequent splitting headache.
The game was so ridden with bugs that its development team, both before and after the acquisition by Sony Online Entertainment, would spend years cleaning poor code. You know there was something very wrong when major bugs present at release are nowhere to be seen in patch notes until two-years later.
But at least you could play reliably unlike our next four choices.
4. Star Wars Galaxies – June 26th, 2003
Star Wars Galaxies was supposed to be the next big MMO, and perhaps even the one to kick EverQuest off its high horse. While SWG had a lot of popularity heading toward release, Sony Online Entertainment was ill-prepared for launch-day.
The server infrastructure was in a constant state of flux as thousands of Star Wars and MMO fans alike tried to squeeze into its virtual world. For many the game was completely unplayable for the first few days as SOE pushed through several patches to try and remedy the issues. Many players were unable to register their copy of the game since the account servers were overwhelmed by the 350,000+ people who wanted nothing more than to live in the world of Star Wars.
Some were so discouraged that they left never to return, while those who put up with its nightmarish first week were met with a game that was missing content that had been promised.
Lesson learned. Would Blizzard Entertainment take the advice of SWG when it released its first MMO a year later?
3. World of Warcraft – November 23rd, 2004
Despite its record-breaking success, World of Warcraft looked like more of a travesty at launch. Servers were down for extended periods of time making the game a very painful addiction for many. Game demand caused queues exceeding the three hour mark on the most popular servers. Lag was a huge problem that caused players to lose connection to the server resulting in death and a return to the horrific server queues.
Players around at launch are quick to remember the loot bug that would render their character useless for minutes at a time for weeks following launch. Sliding around on one knee was hilarious until they realized it would make the game unplayable.
At least it had a proper queue system unlike our next pick.
2. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – August 26th, 2013
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was a re-launch of one of Square Enix’s most tragic disasters: the 49% Metacritic Final Fantasy XIV. You’d think they’d be as prepared as possible to make the experience welcoming. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
While Closed Beta was smooth sailing, the game experienced turmoil the moment it opened its doors for Open Beta—where player progress would no longer be wiped. Most prominent of its many errors was error code 3102 which would completely lock a player out of being able to play until Early Access would begin a week later.
While Open Beta was a mess, the game’s launch was even worse. Servers were immediately filled and rendered unable to accept new players, dividing friends onto different servers. The game’s instance servers were overwhelmed and crashed within minutes of being brought up making it impossible for players to complete critical quests during Early Access. The lack of a proper queue system forced players to repeatedly log in until they were fortunate enough to make it into the game, many times requiring hours of effort.
It’s one thing to not be able to play with friends, or having character progress halted, but spending hours on launch weekend spamming log in attempts made FFXIV: A Realm Reborn a poor MMO launch of massive proportions.
The only thing that could be worse is a game with account issues, which is something our number 1 pick is very familiar with
1. Anarchy Online – June 27th, 2001
When Funcom released Anarchy Online in 2001 it was a cataclysmic disaster for everyone involved. Many players were unable to log in for hours on end, while those who could experienced one of the game’s plethora of issues. Severe lag made zoning and interaction a hurdle, and once players finally got to spend a few moments in the game the server would crash. All for what? A buggy and sub-par game.
As if playability wasn’t enough of an issue, billing errors resulted in many customers being billed twice for their subscription. Others who purchased the game weren’t even able to create an account or register the code that came with their copy.
What makes Anarchy Online the iconic ‘bad MMO launch’ is just how long it went without resolve. Players who stuck around through thick and thin had to deal with major problems for upward of two weeks. While Funcom placed blame on game demand being beyond expectation, that soon wouldn’t be a problem as customers looked elsewhere for entertainment.