Path of Exile lead developer Chris Wilson has apologized to players after a marketing campaign for the title's Ultimatum expansion backfired.
Wilson explained Path of Exile developer Grinding Gear Games had decided to spread the word about Ultimatum by "doing some proper paid influencer marketing." That meant paying for notable streamers to showcase Path of Exile on their channels to help generate interest in the expansion.
Although that in itself is a pretty standard marketing move these days, Grinding Gear managed to rub fans the wrong way when it made the snap decision to give those streamers priority in the login queue when server issues threatened to derail Ultimatum's launch.
In a lengthy post on Reddit, Wilson said the studio had endured a "rough" launch day after encountering technical realm stability issues that meant "it'd take at least two hours to get everyone into the game."
While the studio was working to solve the issue, it chose to allow some steamers to bypass that sluggish login queue to avoid torpedoing its own marketing campaign. In hindsight, Wilson conceded the decision was "clearly a mistake," and one that rightly left some members of the Path of Exile community feeling like second-class citizens.
"We managed to commit a pretty big faux pas and enrage the entire community by allowing streamers to bypass that really slow queue we mentioned," explained Wilson. "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.
"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, while instead having to watch others enjoy that freedom. It's completely understandable that many players were unhappy about this."
Wilson reassured fans that the studio would learn from its mistake and not allow steamers to skip login queues in the future. It also pledged to ensure the queue works more efficiently to mantain a fair playing field, and added it "will plan future marketing campaigns with contingencies in mind to better handle this kind of situation."
"It's completely understandable that many players are unhappy with how today has gone on several fronts," finished Wilson. "This post has no intention of trying to convince you to be happy with these outcomes. We simply want to provide you some insight about what happened, why it happened and what we're doing about it in the future. "