Boxed Early Access

This post from the Final Fantasy XIV forums was brought to my attention recently. In it, Community Rep Grekumah states that SE would like to find a way to allow people that buys the boxed version of Heavensward (HW) to play the game before the package actually arrives. One of the drawbacks of buying this way is that you depend on the box with the code/key to be in your hands before you can enjoy the new content. Unless the package is scheduled to arrive hours before the actual launch, these players will have to wait hours – if not days – to jump into the new expansion.

Lets get something out of the way first: yes, people can wait. Beginning your journey into Isghard a few hours or days later isn’t going to be the end of the world. Patience should be applied – – – but for some people MMOs are their go-to game and want to continue the journey as soon as possible. Don’t take my word for it: remember what tends to happen during most online games’ launches? Congestion, crashes, queues. People want to be the first in line to explore new content. With that out of the way, let’s think: how could SE allow physical edition buyers to enjoy the game in time?

Note: this is a problem inherent to people who order the physical box. Online upgrading is easy, but not everyone is able/willing to do so, for X or Y reason.

Send keys/activations early: With some magical mechanism to validate purchases or codes given at pre-order time, SE could give out keys or automatically “upgrade” accounts to HW. This of course would mean that, for example, stores could register pre-orderers‘ (is that even a word?) emails so they could be sent the keys provided by SE once payment has been done/confirmed (full payment would be a requisite). They could do this process a few days or weeks ahead of launch so people have time to get their codes into Mogstation.

Ship boxes early: Let’s face it, online game boxes are pretty much decoration. Almost everything inside is mostly memorabilia for collectors. The key itself is the most important item, for even the install data in the disc is easily replaceable with a launcher that could be unlocked with the key, if SE doesn’t patch HW content earlier for all players, like World of Warcraft does. So why not ship the boxes ahead of time? If, using a random date, HW is scheduled to launch on June 17, why not prepare and send the boxes early June? It’s not like any extra content won’t be applied through a day-1 patch anyways.

Allow a grace period: How about making the first days of HW service free for players? Constans subscribers, regular players, or even anyone with an account created before [insert random date before the actual launch], to prevent congestion. Maybe even pre-register for this grace period and limit to players that will have an active sub at HW’s launch? That would give people time to pick up or receive their box and do the final and definitive upgrade once they register their key, without missing the wonders of an expansion launch?

Make HW’s upgrade free: THIS IS NOT GONNA HAPPEN but I thought it would be fun to think how many of you flipped a table while reading the sentence *wink*.

So! It’s not as impossible as I originally thought it would be. There are probably problems I haven’t even considered – but hey, there’s a reason I’m not making thousands working for SE’s think-tank. But it would be cool if they could pull this off. Has any other MMO done something like this with a paid expansion?

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Me? Probably digital. The CE looks incredibly sexy, but it’s way too big and heavy to ship it here. And I’m not THAT interested in the dragon figurine. The items (dat Cecil helmet) are nice. At this point in time, and after just buying the PS3/4 version last night (it’s on sale!), I’m more concerned to know if the HW upgrade will be system specific or global.

Edit: Fellow Twitter user @Kaslo25 mentioned that Final Fantasy XI did sell boxes earlier than launch date. Perhaps they’ll do the same for HW!

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