- The day before yesterday the Ultimatum expansion for Path of Exile debuted on PC;
- The launch was overshadowed by numerous technical glitches and huge queues on servers;
- Fan frustration was compounded by the fact that streamers didn't have to wait to get into the game.
On Friday, as announced, a new league launched in the PC edition of Path of Exile - Ultimatum. It was supposed to introduce many unique challenges and changes to make the gameplay more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the launch of the expansion did not go as the developers from Grinding Gear Games would have wished. Up to 50,000 players waited in line for the servers, and were nevertheless unable to get into the game. And even if someone got lucky after 2-3 hours of waiting, he or she could be thrown out of the game by a connection error and - of course - sent to the end of the queue.
However, this problem did not affect the streamers. They received special treatment from GGG, which further angered common gamers who waited in the line. Some of them seem to understand the marketing role played by streams of popular players on YouTube or Twitch, but others are not so forgiving. Both have given vent to their opinions in this thread on Reddit. Here are some examples:
"People are tired of streamers getting "early access" or "priority" just because they are on Twitch."
"Sucks for the average player, but from a business perspective why wouldn’t you prioritise the streamers? Free advertisement, high profile members of the community... it’s just a smart decision."
"Don't feel bad for GGG. A lot of this is just problems of their own making. Their management makes the decisions that have ground POE's quality and stability into dust.
This time they knew that launch was going to be a shitshow, but instead of dedicating the time to clean it up, they create a system to let streamers get in quicker."
The developers at Grinding Gear Games clearly recognize the gravity of the situation, especially since this isn't the first failed launch of a new Path of Exileleague. In one of the communiqués they tried to reassure the fans, explaining what caused such long queues (in the end it turned out that the cause was human error, because the migration of players' characters was not performed beforehand), and promising that the situation will not be repeated in the future. The creators also referred to the confusion with the streamers:
"(...) we managed to also commit a pretty big faux pas and enrage the entire community by allowing streamers to bypass that really slow queue we mentioned. The backstory is that we have recently been doing some proper paid influencer marketing, and that involves arranging for big streamers to showcase Path of Exile to their audiences, for money (they have #ad in their titles). We had arranged to pay for two hours of streaming, and we ran right into a login queue that would take two hours to clear. This was about as close as you could get to literally setting a big pile of money on fire. So we made the hasty decision to allow those streamers to bypass the queue. Most streamers did not ask for this, and should not be held to blame for what happened. We also allowed some other streamers who weren't involved in the campaign to skip the queue too so that they weren't on the back foot.
The decision to allow any streamers to bypass the queue was clearly a mistake. Instead of offering viewers something to watch while they waited, it offended all of our players who were eager to get into the game and weren't able to (...). It's completely understandable that many players were unhappy about this. (...) We will not allow streamers to bypass the login queue in the future. We will instead make sure the queue works much better so that it's a fast process for everyone and is always a fair playing field."
GGG's assurances would certainly warm the hearts of fans, were it not for the fact that despite more than 24 hours having passed since the release of Path of Exile: Ultimatum servers are still causing problems and the game's performance is far from satisafactory. Suffice it to say that numerous delays (so-called lags) have contributed to the death of many players. The latter assure on Reddit that they will not play the new PoE League, and urge others to follow their example or at least forgo microtransactions, not giving the developers the opportunity to make money.
Interestingly, in all this commotion, the record of 157,103 simultaneous players on Steam, which was set three months ago, was only narrowly missed . Whereas in the last 24 hours there were 155,293 users playing at the same time. As I write these words, there are 102,873 players playing PoE (position number 6 on Valve's platform). On April 21, Path of Exile: Ultimatum will also hit PS4, PS5, XONE and XSX|S.