You could say that I am a veteran of MMO launches—and countless pre-launch beta test weekends (which, let's face it, are basically the same thing). And these days it's rare to hear of a big-name online game that doesn't have problems during launch.
When The Old Republic launched late last year, it was possible to log in but server queue times went as high as a day. Even worse was the launch of Diablo III (a game that's only part MMO) where players were unable to even access the single player content due to server problems.
So when I heard that Dragon Quest X was going to be an MMORPG—and on an MMORPG-absent system like the Wii no less—I was certain the launch would turn into a complete and utter train wreck. After all, if big-name experienced developers like Blizzard and Bioware are unable to pull off a smooth launch, what chance would there be for the game aiming to be the biggest MMO in Japanese history?
Yet, clearly Square Enix has learned much from its launches of Final Fantasy XI and XIV as this was by far the most hassle-free MMO launch I've ever experienced.
What's interesting about Dragon Quest X is that you don't even make an account and sign in at the start of the game. After the admittedly long install, you are dropped directly into the game's single player campaign where you will stay till about the two-and-a-half hour mark. Once the prologue is complete, you start the process to enter the online portion of the game.
This process is largely simple. Accept some licensing agreements, make/login to a Square Enix account, enter the product code from the game box for your free 20 days, and you're good to go.
As Kotaku readers who were watching our live stream may remember, the only problems I had getting online were of my own doing. (I hadn't logged into the Wii store in so long that I needed to accept the general online agreement again. …I also forgot the user name and password for my Square Enix account).
Even with those problems, it only took 15 minutes and I was in the online part of the game. Was it crowded? Sure. Was the Wii chugging hard to render all those people? Oh yeah. But in my time online so far, I've only disconnected once—and was back online within seconds. In an age where MMO launches are expected to go poorly, it was especially gratifying to have one go so well. So props to Nintendo and Square Enix on a job well done.
Dragon Quest X was released on August 2, 2012 for the Nintendo Wii in Japan. Stay tuned to Kotaku East for our import preview late next week.