What’s wrong with SWTOR?

by manylaughs on June 7, 2012

EA, BioWare and LucasArts


Have you heard? Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is going free-to-play (F2P) for the first 15 levels.

Usually when an MMO goes F2p, even limited F2P, it’s not a good thing, and no matter how much of a positive spin EA and BioWare try to put on it, this reeks of desperation. There’s little doubt SWTOR is suffering: According to EA’s May quarterly report, SWTOR  lost more than 400,000 subscriptions and if you’ve been on SWTOR, recently, you know you can almost see the tumbleweeds blowing down the space station corridors.

When you look at it SWTOR is actually a really good MMO. There are lots of reasons for SWTOR to succeed: The fully-voiced storylines are innovative and interesting, appealing to every gamers’ need to play alts; the companions are smart, useful for crafting and great in combat – you actually find yourself bonding with them; there’s so much content it would keep most players busy for months; and the game is set in the Star Wars universe, just about everyone geek’s fave.

What’s not to like?

There must be something; in spite of all its strong points, the game is floundering and is quite possibly in danger. What went wrong? Probably 3 things:

1. The endgame is a gear grind.

They’re called gear grinds for a reason. After a while, the grind gets tiresome and players look for something else, i.e. they move on.

There’s a lot to do when you leveling, all sorts of stuff, but all those options dry up in the endgame. Crafting is mostly pointless. Your storyline is pretty much over. You can’t get cool armor, because most of the endgame armor is predetermined; depending on the type of class you’re playing, whether you raid or PvP, you are primarily locked into your gear choices. All your individuality goes out the door when you reach the endgame, because everyone pretty much ends up looking the same.

You can grind your legacy for some new skills, start some alts and do the same PvP warzones and raids over and over. That’s about it. Welcome to the grind.

2. No cross-server PvP and PvE

PvE and PvP is server specific. Are you leveling an alt and want to run a flashpoint – a SWTOR PvE instance? Awww, that’s too bad. You see almost everyone has left your server, so there’s no one to group with. If only you could group with some of the other players scattered across the dozens of SWTOR servers. If only.

But you can’t. You get tired of waiting, contributing to your dissatisfaction with the game and you move on.

BioWare did a lot of things right with SWTOR. No cross-server PvP and PvE is the one thing they did horribly wrong.

3. The competition is brutal

This has been a great year, so far, for gaming: Tera is a solid MMO with an innovative combat system; Diablo 3 sold over 6 million copies; and Guild Wars 2 still looms large on the horizon. In addition to that, World of Warcraft and Rift are rolling out expansions.

Bottom line: There are too many gaming options. As players tire of SWTOR and get distracted by the next shiny thing, they’re packing up and leaving.

The next update for SWTOR is suppose to address some of these concerns. Whether people will be back or not, is still to be seen.



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