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Occam's Razor and the UAE Release

Have you heard of Occam's Razor?

I first learned of it in the movie Contact from 1997. Occam's razor is the principle that, of two explanations that account for all the facts, the simpler one is more likely to be correct. In other words, given a competing explanation for a set of circumstances, the explanation that requires the least amounts of ‘leaps of faith’ is probably the accurate one. In my line of work, that principle has served me enormously well.

"Walking Occam's Razor" by Dead Air is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Then we come to 2100hrs 21 March 2021 UTC.

I set an alarm this morning to be awake and sufficiently caffeinated for the (local time) 8am UAE opening.

I watched the count down, I set my purchase tiles up ready to press buy.

3, 2, 1, Go……..


Please wait an hour.

I again watched the count down, I set my purchase tiles up ready to press buy.

3, 2, 1, Go……..


Please wait 30 minutes.

I again watched the count down, I set my purchase tiles up ready to press buy.

3, 2, 1, Go……..

I got my 30 tiles in UAE so I accomplished my goal.

There were a few winners, but many losers. In those few hours, Discord and Facebook went berserk with complaints from disgruntled players by the hundreds. Apologies from Shane only seemed to make it worse.

Now that I've read the apologies and the explanations I want to give kudos to the developers for sticking their head up to be counted at this time. But, there is one explanation that seems to be overlooked in all of this.

On one side, we have a team of well regarded, high achieving and skilled developers. Developing and watching this game for many, many months. They encouraged and drove the hype for the UAE opening. They use a global powerhouse of web servers (AWS I'm told) that probably handles larger traffic on black Friday online sales. The developers have asked us to take a number of leaps of faith and believe what they have explained. That it was unexpected, that they weren’t ready, that the server couldn’t handle it. They want us to believe that everything was so out of left field that nobody could have even foreseen the UAE failure this morning.

And over and above all that, the smoke and mirror show to point to the future with new releases, new processes, easter eggs, etc, etc.

Or, I propose an alternate theory. The UAE failures were deliberate. A calculated attempt by the developers to slow the purchase down, throttle the price jumps, keep auto-buy bots out of the market as best they could and maintain some sort of control over the buying behavior of the players.

So my two arguments are that the development team are fully out of their depth across a wide range of their core business practices, or they employed an ugly but necessary strategy to maintain some sort of control over the entire episode.

In a week or less, the UAE opening will be a bad memory, a bitter taste in the mouths of most players as we look forward to the rest of the game (I'm a long term planning holder). If I employ Occam's razor, what we saw today was a legitimate, albeit ugly, business decision.

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