The beginning of the end for SWTOR?

by manylaughs on June 28, 2012

A lot of Star Wars fans are praying SWTOR can be saved.
All rights reserved: EA, BioWare, LucasArts

It’s hard times over at Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). According to the last quarterly report in May, they lost about 400,000 subscribers, and they’ve probably lost more since then. Now, the game has been forced to merge servers. BioWare has presented this as “character transfers”, but if you want to play with other people – kinda the point of an MMO – you have to transfer, so it’s really a merge however BioWare wants to spin it.

MMOs hate to merge servers, because they know they’ll lose players when they do. Server merges cause all sorts of consternation in an MMO’s player community. Some people won’t bother transferring and leave the game. Some people will lose their character names, because someone else on the destination server already has it. Some of them will get testy and leave. Some people will lose their legacy name – something BioWare sold as extra-special – because someone else on the destination server already has it. Some of them will get extra irritated by that and leave. Some people will just hate the new change, the new people, the new idiots in local chat, whatever. And they’ll leave, too.

A server merge is a change and most people hate change. They got all comfortable on their first server and BioWare basically told them to pack up and move. Unfortunately for BioWare, some of those people pack up and leave.

…a round of server merges usually signals the downward slide of an MMO.

Sure there will be many more people to play with on the new server, and that’s a good thing, but the negatives can add up fast. BioWare knows the server merges will cost them more subscriptions, so it’s not something they did lightly. They’re trying to hold on to the player base they have.

Will they? Ehhh, probably not. If MMO history is any gauge, a round of server merges usually signals the downward slide of an MMO.

SWTOR is a great game in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t look good for the game, right now. Prepare for a few more rounds of server merges – ahem, character transfers – as the game loses more players – which is likely to happen when Guild Wars 2 releases on August 28th. Then, the final decision for BioWare is whether to make SWTOR free-to-play or not.

Geez, the game is already free-to-play through level 15! What’s a few more levels?

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