Friday, 16 December 2011

Grace Period

Originally The Old Republic's Early Game Access would end on the 19th and if you hadn't redeemed your product key (as opposed to your pre-order key) by then you wouldn't be able to play on the 20th (at least until you redeemed your product key). This was unusual because most MMOs with an early access program give players a few days into launch where they can play even without their product key registered (known as a "grace period"). This is to give stores a chance to ship the product to players. So people were understandably somewhat upset when The Old Republic decided not to have one.

Luckily though they've changed their minds and The Old Republic now offers two days of grace. Here is the official news:

Hello everyone,

While we've worked closely with our retailers in the launch territories to ensure copies of Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ are available from our launch date of December 20th, we understand that for those who’ve pre-ordered there is a concern about getting your copy on time. We’ve heard you want a 'grace period' where you can continue to play without having to enter a final product registration code (AKA 'game code').

We've been listening, and after doing another deep review of our platform infrastructure we're taking action. Today, we're announcing a two day grace period for Star Wars: The Old Republic customers.

This means that everyone who pre-ordered and is in the Early Game Access program has two days beyond December 20th in which to enter their product registration code, which will be found inside the physical Standard and Collector's Editions of the game; for digital editions of the game from, the registration code will have been emailed to you after December 16th. After December 22nd 12:01AM EST, you will be required to have a valid payment method and a product registration code registered to your account to continue to play. We strongly recommend that you register your product code as soon as you are able to do so (rather than waiting until the last minute) to ensure a seamless entry into the game, a smooth experience on the account website and to collect any special gifts and items you may be entitled to based on the version of the game you purchased.

We understand that for some, your copy of the game may still arrive after December 21st. Unfortunately we cannot extend the grace period any further. We suggest you contact your retailer to discuss shipping options, if this is a concern.

You may be wondering if your 30 days of game time will be affected by the grace period. The answer is no. If you redeem your product registration code during the grace period, and add a valid payment method to your account, you will begin your billing cycle from then, and you will be entitled to 30 days of game time. If you redeem your product registration code before December 20th, your billing cycle will begin on December 20th at 12:01AM EST (the official launch date and time of the game).

We know this has been an issue for some of you, and we apologize for the concerns. We're looking forward to welcoming all of you to the official launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic!

It's good news for those who want to play on the 20th and fear that their code might arrive a day or two late. For me it's not much of a concern either way since I'm leaving on vacation starting the 20th anyway and won't be registering my product code until I get back home a few weeks later.

While I'm at it, let me also post a press release, the official Early Access start news and news on maintenance windows during launch after the break.

Let's start with the most interesting one; maintenance windows:

Hello everyone, we wanted to inform you of a couple of upcoming scheduled maintenance windows.

Generally speaking we are aiming to limit our scheduled maintenance period to once a week, on Tuesdays. We are aiming for this weekly maintenance period to take place in an off-peak time for both North American and European players. We are also aiming to inform players of the precise duration of any weekly maintenance period at least 24 hours before the maintenance begins.

The upcoming maintenance windows (detailed below) are exceptions, and are needed to prepare ourselves for our official launch on December 20th.

Maintenance Window #1:

Date: Early hours of Friday, December 16th (CST)


All game servers and will be offline during this period. This maintenance is expected to take no more than two hours, but could be extended.

Maintenance Window #2:

Date: Evening of December 19th (CST)


All game servers and will be offline during this period. This maintenance is expected to complete before 11PM CST, and will mark the end of Early Game Access for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™.

Maintenance Window #3:

Date: Early hours of December 22nd (CST)


All game servers and will be offline during this period. This maintenance is expected to take no more than three hours, but could be extended.

Thanks for your patience as we maintain service for Star Wars: The Old Republic.

As I'm writing this post the website is back up again, but the servers are still down (so the estimated two hours is already more than three for the servers). Bit unfortunate that they're having maintenance on the first day of my vacation, but ah well. At least it gave me a chance to convert a bunch of Fraps videos (I've been going a bit recording-happy and recorded every Imperial Agent class quest dialog) to a much smaller format (bringing files down from multiple Gigabytes to a few dozen megabytes). That's got to be worth something too.

BioWare also made a post announcing that Early Game Access Has Begun. Not really news in itself, but includes a bunch of other details such as the Physical Security Key, Pre-Paid Game Time Codes, the Digital Upgrade Pack (so much for my Digital Deluxe edition being special... now come and do the same for the Collector's Edition bonuses), and the New Player Guide. Of course, the section titled "Role-Playing" has absolutely nothing to do with what I understand by the term (and seems more about BioWare's story and combat tactics). Anyway, here's the bit on the security key:

Secure your Old Republic Account

Increase the security of your account with The Old Republic Security Key! Available as a physical or mobile security key, this optional security key takes only a few minutes to set up and gives your account an additional layer of Two-Factor authentication, providing much greater protection against unauthorized access even if your computer becomes compromised. Plus, as an added bonus for picking it up you will have access to a special in-game vendor who will offer you exclusive gear and items.

The Physical Security Key is currently available for sale in North America for $6.50 via, and will be available in Europe soon for £8.99/€12.99 at A mobile security key app will be available for free download soon so stay tuned for more details!

Already have a security key? Set it up now!

Lastly, and probably least interestingly, BioWare also posted the official press release for the approaching launch. Here's the starting bit:


All Systems Go for Launch on December 20 with Early Game Access Program* Beginning December 13 for those who Pre-Ordered

Austin, Texas – December 7, 2011 – After successfully concluding one of the largest-ever Beta tests for an MMO, BioWare™, a Label of Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: ERTS), is now making final preparations for one of the biggest entertainment launches of the year as Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ reaches stores on December 20, 2011 in North America and on December 15th in Europe. BioWare also revealed today that Early Game Access for players who pre-order the game will begin on December 13, 2011 at 6:00 AM CST, giving some players as much as a seven-day head start to their personal Star Wars™ saga. To participate in the Early Game Access program, customers must pre-order any version of Star Wars: The Old Republic and redeem their code** at before the official launch of the game. Pre-orders are still available in limited supplies at most participating retailers and via

Now, bring the damn servers back online so I can continue advancing imperial interests throughout the galaxy!

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