How BioWare Can Stop SWTOR's Bleeding
ByDate: 05-10-2012 Views:
Star Wars: The Old Republic launched with more hype than any MMORPG in recent memory. The surging popularity of the genre, combined with the overall familiarity and love of the Star Wars brand, worked to provide a level of visibility and anticipation that most game developers and publishers would envy. However, things haven't been all sunshine and roses for SWTOR since its launch.
The game did surge to around 1.7 million players, but recent numbers indicate that it lost over 400,000 of them last month. Current tallies put SWTOR's population at just 1.3 million—not too shabby when compared with other MMOs, but still a far cry from what EA and BioWare had been hoping for. 1.3 million players, assuming the game can hold for the next few months, doesn’t give EA investors much hope that the $200 million budget of SWTOR was worth the gamble.
But all is not lost. Star Wars: The Old Republic is still a very young game with a passionate fan base, and there’s plenty of room for improvement. If BioWare can solve a few player problems and bring a touch of innovation to SWTOR, they may be able to stop the subscriber hemorrhaging and perhaps even bring a few new players onboard.
Here are some ideas:
Take a Second Look at PVP
PVP in SWTOR is good and functional, but by no means great. The lack of diminishing returns on crowd-control abilities is surprising, as most MMO developers seem to have realized that players don’t particularly enjoy losing control of their characters for extended periods of time. Additionally, there’s no big motivator for players to group up with one another outside of matchmaking, which leads to a lot of frustrating War Zone pugs. A group-based reward system and a few PVP tweaks could go a long way towards keeping people in the game. Also—where’s the world PVP? World PVP keeps things interesting and unpredictable, while War Zones quickly become stale and boring.
Give Players some Personality
I play EVE Online quite a bit, and one of my favorite things about the game is the little space in which players can write their own background story. With the concept of Legacy being so important to SWTOR and the game being, by all counts, a role-playing game, it would be nice to provide players with a method for further developing their character. Really, any utility that makes it easy to role-play would be well received by the community, with very little in the way of opposition. Very few MMOs are focusing on role-playing nowadays; SWTOR could potentially grab a strong niche of followers by catering to RP fanatics.