Against advice, my own advice, that is, I downloaded and installed the SWTOR game. I knew it to be a poor WoW rip-off with a Star Wars theme, because I played it for about a month when it first came out, but when you’re a fan of the Star Wars universe, you tend to try to overlook the bad (and there’s a lot of bad in that franchise to begin with). You try to justify horrible mis-steps like Jar Jar Binks and suspend disbelief long enough to try to get to the nugget of the story… which is great, by the way, if you don’t know Star Wars. Also, there are no god-damned pandas in it. So far. Anyway.
I was going to write a blog post about the SWTOR experience, gameplay and the similarity to WoW. I was going to praise the storylines and environments, and belittle the rudimentary space battles. (I mean this is the same franchise that gave us X-Wing and TIE Fighter, hands down the best space combat simulations ever. I expected more.) The whole experience reeks of déjà vu with precious little innovation. This game is for avid fans of Star Wars only, and the game doesn’t really stand up otherwise.
However, after this morning’s shenanigans I want to talk about the end of that experiment. In fact I’m ready to sell the whole development team to Jabba the Hut for a few pounds of Desh.
I installed and played SWTOR casually for a week, and this morning, I was going to spend a few hours on it and have some fun… even seriously considering subscribing again, but SWTOR had other ideas for how I should spend my morning.
I logged in to be denied access because my email address isn’t validated. Same e-mail address they’ve been spamming for a year, BTW. Since the last time I was a subscriber, in fact. Error 16. Ok, fine.
There’s a link to click. I click on the link, it opens the browser, it shows me my profile, complete with the email address. IT’S ALREADY THERE.
OK. So I save the profile, go back to the game… no joy.
I get back out, I replace the email address, resave… Back to the game… nothing.
Oh, wait. There’s a “More info” link. I click it, an in-game window opens. It says “Updating.”
I wait… 1 minute. 2 minutes. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. I have breakfast. 20 minutes. OK. this window’s not getting me anywhere.
Back to the help. Search for error 16. There’s no error 16 in the knowledge base. I search for email validation, there are 15 results. NONE OF THEM ABOUT EMAIL VALIDATION. Nice search engine, losers.
Back to the website. I search “email validation”. I finally get a page “How do I verify my email address?”
There’s a link to validate the address. Huzzah! I fill out the simple form, press the button. “An error has occured”. WHYYYYYYYYY!?!?!?!?!
I go back to the game and try to open a trouble ticket, only I can’t because I’m not in the game play area. By this time I’m pretty pissed off.
I go back to the website and submit a request and now I’m waiting, possibly in vain, for someone to do something about it. Probably Monday.
By the way, this email address has been validated for over a year.
So LucasArts. Bioware, SWTOR people… you suck at process management. If this is the customer experience playing SWTOR, I think I’m starting to warm up to the damn pandas…
UPDATE: 8 hours later I received a response from SWTOR. Keeping in character, it was signed by a droid. (apparently a lazy one that didn’t get around to answering my urgent plight until the evening…)
I was supposed to pretend that I forgot my password, ask for a reset email, which will at the same time confirm my email address. It may have been simpler to put that information in the knowledge base along with a link to the forgotten password page.
In software development, as in game development, as in marketing operations, nothing will screw up your efforts faster than poor data management. In most places, the database is overlooked until it becomes a problem, rather than be central to development. Sometimes it may be a problem of “too many cooks” with data responsibility residing with many developers, none of whom are experience database administrators.
Why did I have to revalidate my email when I responded to an email telling me to resubscribe in the first place? Why did the guys in charge of the database not talk to the team responsible for customer reactivation? I’d like to know.
No matter, though. The game is uninstalled, making room for the next attempt to find decent coding and customer experience. I’ll keep you updated as my search progresses.
UPDATE: Because my search for a game to play has yielded no result as of yet, I decided to give this another try. In the end I had to call the tech support line, where I waited on hold for 50 minutes, and was on the phone with them for another 10. I had to give them another email address to put in the system, and now, at last, I can play again.
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