Fans of the new Star Wars: The Old Republic massive multi-player online (MMO) game have been angered by the actions of EA and Bioware after the companies announced that there would be no grace period between early access and gamers entering their retail copy code.
Initially both publisher and developer made it clear that "There will be a period after launch day in which those who have pre-ordered will be able to continue playing before entering their Game Code. More information on this will be made available closer to launch."
According to Reg Hardware, the customer service emails from Bioware also echo this fact: "It is common practice for MMOs to allow for a Grace Period, and Star Wars: The Old Republic will be no different in that respect. When the game is released, you will have a five day post-launch grace period to purchase a full copy of the game and redeem your Game Code if you wish to continue playing the game without interruption."
However, community manager for EA and Bioware, Stephen Reid has now countered these claims, saying that "There will be no ‘grace period' post launch in which those who are in Early Game Access will be able to continue to play the game."
"In order to continue playing past the Early Game Access period, you will need to enter a valid launch game code and payment method. Please read our FAQ for more information. We apologize for any previous messaging which may have led you to believe otherwise."
Fans are understandably annoyed by this. Many gamers that live in relatively remote regions know they won't get the game on launch day, so there will be a few days when they can't play. This might seem like a minor thing to some, but chances are that more than a few people bought the game knowing they would have an extended early access even if the game didn't arrive. It's disingenuous and that's what's got fans of the game riled up.
On top of that, a few days, or a week out of MMO gaming - near launch - can deprive gamers that like to get in there early from reaching the higher levels as fast as enemies or friends. There's a certain online prestige to be found by being one of the first to beat certain parts of a game, or to get the best equipment before everyone else. Without this early access grace period, people with crap postal services or that live in regions which are hard to get to could end up missing out.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is set to hit shelves in the UK on 15th December. You'll get 30 days of free access for the price tag, with additional subscription payments of £9 per month after that if you wish to keep playing.