On Path of Exile's Rough Ultimatum Launch and Streamer Favoritism

In a post on Reddit, Path of Exile lead developer Chris Smith addresses the problems with yesterday's launch of the new Ultimatum expansion for Path of Exile, Grinding Gears' free-to-play action/RPG. This includes an explanation of the now-solved technical problems that made it difficult if not impossible for most players to join the game, and what was done to work this out. Chris also addresses player outrage over how paid streamers were allowed to skip the logjammed queue to get on with their sponsored influencing, something he admits was "clearly a mistake." He states that this is not an attempt to reverse the course of players' unhappiness over how things went, it's just an effort to explain what happened, and how things will be handled differently in the future:
So while this was all going on, we managed to also commit a pretty big faux pas and enrage the entire community by allowing streamers to bypass that really slow queue we mentioned. The backstory is that we have recently been doing some proper paid influencer marketing, and that involves arranging for big streamers to showcase Path of Exile to their audiences, for money (they have #ad in their titles). 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. Most streamers did not ask for this, and should not be held to blame for what happened. We also allowed some other streamers who weren't involved in the campaign to skip the queue too so that they weren't on the back foot.

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. We tell people that Path of Exile league starts are a fair playing field for everyone, and we need to actually make sure that is the reality. We will not allow streamers to bypass the login queue in the future. We will instead make sure the queue works much better so that it's a fast process for everyone and is always a fair playing field. We will also plan future marketing campaigns with contingencies in mind to better handle this kind of situation in the future.

It's completely understandable that many players are unhappy with how today has gone on several fronts. 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. We're very unhappy with it too.