The Think Tank: What was the best MMO launch of all time?

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The Think Tank: What was the best MMO launch of all time?
Atlantis - Thomas Fawls
After any year of bad MMO launches -- so, you know, pretty much every year -- we pause for a moment of reflection and comparison. Was this launch really the worst ever? Or is it just the freshest?

We're going to turn that question on its head for today's Think Tank. I didn't ask our writers about the worst MMO launch ever; I asked them to name the best. Plus, everyone knows Anarchy Online was the worst. Everyone!

So which high-profile MMO launch was so great that future MMOs should be aspiring to match and exceed it?

Anatoli Ingram, Columnist
@ceruleangrey: I haven't seen enough firsthand to feel comfortable picking one, but I consider any MMO launch where I can play within the first 24 hours and my computer doesn't explode to be pretty good.

Brendan Drain, Columnist
@nyphur: I recall RIFT's launch being unusually smooth, the first launch I'd seen with no game-breaking bugs and barely any queues or server downtime. The developers also seemed pretty responsive, and the starter areas were polished and surprisingly bug-free. Runes of Magic's EU release went off generally without problems, and Guild Wars 2's launch was relatively tame considering how many people bought and pre-ordered it, suffering mainly trading post problems and overflow servers. But probably the most interesting smooth launch was Age of Conan, which released to positive reviews and relatively few problems only to burst into flames later when everyone got fed up and went back to World of Warcraft.

Bree Royce, Editor-in-Chief
@nbrianna: I usually don't ask questions in the Think Tank for which I don't already have an answer, but this one is actually hard. The launches that were smooth technically often crashed and burned for other reason (kitchen-sink patches, poor population management, etc.). The launches that were smooth design-wise always seemed to have technical clownshoes (inaccessible logins, endless queues, auction hall offline for weeks, etc.). And of course, it's easy to name a tiny game with a small playerbase and a clean launch; the more high-profile and relevant the game, the bigger the launch and the more opportunity for doom. But if I must choose, I choose RIFT. It wasn't perfect, but the queues were workable and the game more or less worked out of the box, which is more than I can say for most of the major launches I was foolish enough to pay to attend.

Jef Reahard, Managing Editor
@jefreahard: Lord of the Rings Online is probably the smoothest I've ever seen, given the fact that it was 2007 (when clownshoes launch disasters were expected of every MMO) and the fact that the IP guaranteed a huge crush of people from within the genre and without. There was no queuing and minimal downtime, and while I won't say the early game was bug-free, there were definitely fewer bugs than I expected and no game-breaking ones at all.

Justin Olivetti, Contributing Editor
@Sypster: I have very good memories of the RIFT launch back in the day, although time seems to erase mental accuracy of both the rough and glorious parts of releases. I also got into Star Wars: The Old Republic on launch day about 15 minutes before the server was supposed to go up, which gave me a very brief glimpse into a mostly empty MMO. Generally, if I can log in and participate in as many activities as I like on the first day, I'm happy with the launch.

Mike Foster, Contributing Editor
@MikedotFoster: This one's really hard. I feel as if I notice a launch only if I'm there when it happens (which is a thing I never do) or if it goes terribly enough to generate news coverage. We just don't hear many stories like, "MMO launch goes awesome, hooray for everyone!" I'd have to defer to the judgment of readers and other Massively staffers with more launch-day experiences.

MJ Guthrie, Contributing Editor
@MJ_Guthrie: I think I may have been there for some decent launches, but to be honest I really can't recall any to mind. I can remember some with queues so long I actually left the game for a spell (Aion), and I was actually a month late on a couple others (Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest II). I am sorry; I just can't remember ever seeing such a mythical creature as a good, smooth launch!

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the most caring of the carebears, so expect more than a little disagreement! Join Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and the team for a new edition right here every Thursday.
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