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Is Headstart the Same as Launch?

That might seem like a basic question but I’ve honestly been wondering what our expectation is. When you buy-in for a pre-order on a new game, securing an extra week of “headstart” time, does that mean you should expect the full launch candidate product or a restricted preview-based version?

The Case of the Missing Content

I ask this because of the recent debate over FFXIV’s missing content. Perhaps they’re the minority, but there’s a selection of players upset with the game version we’re currently playing. Before launch, Hiromichi Tanaka – head honcho – repeatedly told us in interviews that beta was only a small portion of the whole game… something like 20%. The problem is, they never defined what that other 80% actually was. Story content? Quests? Zones? Out of those three options, there seems to be more story available, but I think people expected more. While I’m happy with the game, I’d still like to know what other four fifths of the game was added.

I’m writing this during my daily planning period at a local school (substitutes really don’t have much to plan), so I’m not able to check now that it’s officially “launched.” Did they open up anything else? MMOV Patron and Hydaelyn Cast host Vagabond Sam raised a couple of good points supporting the addition of more quest content today. I personally don’t miss the linearity of the traditional quest – you really don’t need them with guild leves – but I hope he’s right to satisfy the people that DO miss it. I think it would certainly remove a lot of the boring people have complained about.

Back to the Question…

But, all of that aside, let’s just assume they opened more up. I don’t know that I like that. It creates a clear divide between headstart and normal service. I’ve heard other players echo that too. That just seems really foreign to me, because I’ve always felt a headstart meant early access to the full game. If it’s not, how is it different than just paying for the beta version?

And if they didn’t add more, well, that just makes me wonder where the other 40, 60, 80% is.

If there is a clear definition between headstart and normal service, I wonder if Blizzard could get away with headstarting Cataclysm without any of the quests.

In the End…

it’s about communication. If they’d been clear about what we were getting and were going to get, there would never have been a question. Instead, you have people who spent $75 on a box expecting to get something bigger and better than beta. They feel lied to and cheated. They may be jumping the gun, but I empathize with them.

Let me be clear when I say that I like the game as it is. For me, it’s been well worth the money. Still, it would be nice to see communication stepped up so players aren’t left in the dark so much. FFXI vets have assured me that it’s “just SE’s way” and maybe that’s so. Perhaps that’s really the best lesson SE could have learned in the last 10 years: players expect more, not only from their games but from their developers. Everyone benefits when devs choose to open up, even if the occasional foot gets stuck in the mouth.

2 comments

1 ping

  1. We Fly Spitfires

    Headstarts should be access to the full game. Period. I think if a company tries to sell it otherwise then they effectively decieving the players. I mean, if one bought a PS3 game 2 days early, would they expect not to be able to play the entire game?

    1. Chris

      Thank you, that’s exactly how I feel. As it turns out, FFXIV didn’t add anything at all for the standard edition launch, so we did get the “full game.” Word has it those extra quests are still coming, we just don’t know when. The question just made me wonder since more than a few players were drawing some line between headstart and launch. That just didn’t make sense to me.

  1. /AFK — Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid! edition « Bio Break

    […] Headstarts != launches in Game By Night’s eyes. […]

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