Clocked

Not even Bezos bucks are enough to keep ‘New World’ servers intact

Amazon’s release of New World is teeming with the usual MMO launch issues and wait times, but there’s a few hidden problems too.

The official release of Amazon’s New World hit Steam yesterday. Hype was up, people were hankering to log in for either the first time, or simply again after giving the game’s Alpha and Beta tests a whirl previously. But just because New World is backed by Bezos bucks, it doesn’t seem to make it immune to the usual hiccups – as we’ve seen already in the blame it was given for killing expensive graphics cards.

Players first encountered ridiculous waiting times and queues that went from hundreds, to thousands, to sometimes the tens of thousands. Individual server capacity was capped at 2,000 players and with 233 global servers, 466,000 players were able to play at the same time. Many have turned to watching streamers on Twitch because of their inability to play for themselves.

new world launch times global map
Image: New World / Amazon Games

Despite owning plenty of the current cloud market, Amazon’s servers are beyond capacity, with its all-time peak of logged players at 707,230 as of six hours ago. That knocks Valheim’s peak of 502,387 players out of the park, bumping it straight up to the most played game of 2021 on Steam. On its first day.

If we still want to talk numbers, Valheim’s Twitch viewership also peaked at just around 23,000. Meanwhile, New World boasts 985,000. That’s just under forty-three times the viewers – and it’s probably because nobody can actually play.

Not to mention, Twitch is now a subsidiary of Amazon, meaning the company has leveraged New World to the top of the platform through a huge, integrated marketing campaign.

Speaking of Twitch, 66 content creators took part in the Battle for New World during the Closed Beta from July 20th to August 2nd. Every member of the winning team received 100 copies of the game to give away to their community, and special Twitch Drops were included for members of the “victorious crew” that included weapon skins.

At least with those exclusive giveaways on Twitch, while queues are racking up to the tens of thousands, you get something out of the game. Even if you can’t play it.

Laughter is the best medicine though, as seen in the slew of screenshotted waiting times and meme-y reviews on Steam. Although those have left the game with a rating of ‘Mixed’ and only a ratio of 45% positive reviews from just under 16,000 posters.

Updates from the development team have of course come through Twitter, Discord, and the game’s official website. They apologise for the wait times and promise that they’re “working hard… to help address these issues”. Currently, they’ve managed to get additional worlds running on the NA East and NA West servers, and Australian ones as of 11:30am AEST on September 29th.

Amazon do note that their “sole focus right now is to get everyone logging in” so that they can start enjoying the game. A huge plus in their favour is the offer of a free server transfer for the next two weeks, which sounds more than reasonable, all things considered.

Future plans for the MMO were laid out by its Studio Director, Rich Lawrence, on the 23rd of September on New World’s website too. The developers “view this launch as a beginning, not a completion” and have plans to update the game with new combat weapon styles, new areas, activities, game modes, quests and more.

He acknowledges that “we can’t please everybody” and that “sometimes, we’re going to make mistakes”, but it’ll be the game’s community that points those out. I’d say so far, they’re at least aware of the biggest, glaring one and already trying to fix it. No biggie.

But as nice as that all sounds, New World’s development hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, it’s had quite the rocky time just getting to this point of finally being released after delays. Bloomberg reported on some of the studio’s earlier issues, mostly stemming from of Amazon Game Studios’ Vice President, Michael Frazzini.

Said issues included his inexperience with creating video games, ignoring the advice of his more learned team, the racist implications of New World’s initial conceptualisation, and claims of sexism experienced by female employees in the workplace.

Apparently, the game was originally sending players off to “colonise a mythical land and murder inhabitants who [bore] a striking resemblance to Native Americans”. After Amazon hired a tribal consultant, that premise was thankfully scrapped.

The article goes on to point out that requests were made for “10,000 people to play in a single game session… as a lofty target” by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos himself. That ambition doesn’t seem to have quite paid off. But what has is the Twitch advertising.

Serving as a “free marketing vehicle for Amazon games”, Twitch viewers are offered exclusive items like the Twitch Drops and free game copies previously mentioned.

And yeah, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, (because who doesn’t love free stuff?) it does make selling subscriptions to Amazon Prime a whole lot easier. It’s a smart company move, but at the very least, it’s something to keep in mind when watching the endless New World streams while you wait to log into the game yourself.