Let’s take Joe. Joe’s not a night shift worker used to staying awake at all hours, but he wants to get as much Guild Wars 2 in as he can. So he opens up a can of caustic energy soda and sits down at his PC right before midnight. At midnight sharp, the earliest time for the servers to have possibly been up according to ArenaNet’s previous announcement, he logs in with relish and delight. He picks a shard, makes a character and arrives in a world of lag. He tries to play as best he can figuring that things will smooth over, but he keeps getting stopped by lag freezing interrupted by disconnects. Every time he restarts the client to try again the wait is longer.
Finally, after an hour, Joe throws up his hands having gotten nowhere in the game. He goes to bed and wakes up at 9, eagerly grabbing some toast and sitting down at his PC again. But the login servers are down. He taps away for another hour, vainly trying to get in, but no luck. By this time Joe’s better half is up and about and they’ve things to do, so off he goes for errands.
Later today Joe will sit down again and try to play Guild Wars 2. What will happen? From Joe’s perspective the launch has been total shit and a whole day is on the verge of being wasted. He prebought the game more or less just for access to a three-day headstart, and from his perspective 100% of it has been wasted so far.
Nota bene: This wasn’t my experience; I got in, made two charcters, had some problems but they did even out. I played one character for roughly seven hours and got him to about level 10. But it’s not Ardwulf the night shift guy that will set the narrative, it’s Joe the conventional employee. When the narrative turns sour, the damage can be immense, especially for a game large dependent on box sales for its revenue.
Is it just Joe’s rotten luck that at the times he could play, the game was down or otherwise non-functional? Sure, but MMO service providers need to plan for players playing at different times; their games need to be up and running smoothly as close to “all the time” as they possibly can. Are some problems at launch inevitable? Again, sure (although you might get a different opinion from Trion,) but shit needs to get sorted out pretty quickly, and they need to stay sorted out, or Guild Wars 2 is likely to be another one of “that game with the bad launch” in the minds of many.