In the end, the company wanted the extra exposure that a big retail launch provides. "When you're at the store with all of the events, you actually have people who've dropped [their subscriptions] come back." And being in the stores doesn't just drive return players, it drives new players as well. "The midnight events and all of the functions help people come back who've stopped playing, but also guys who've wanted to try it will be attracted to the event and become new-found players."
A few weeks after launch, says Brochier, Vivendi did enable digital distribution quietly. But even for a game so tied to the online experience, he adds that "retail is a very important critical part. There's also a significant percentage of players who just play through pre-paid cards, and that's retail, that's a retail model. So you've got to find the balance."