The Future of SWTOR

See the future of The Old Republic™!

It has been no secret that SWTOR has had a major subscriber drop off following a very successful initial launch. Although SWTOR sold over two million copies, making it the largest MMORPG launch since World of Warcraft, the Bioware Austin team has struggled to keep players interested in the long term. Lack of end game content and limited innovation in traditional end game content has caused many “hardcore” players to either return to World of Warcraft or seek out alternative MMO’s in an increasingly crowded and competitive game market.

Bioware banked heavily on the story component of the leveling experience to distinguish SWTOR from its rivals. Granted The Old Republic offers arguably the most compelling story driven leveling experience of any MMORPG, this approach to content appeals to a very limited cross section of players who enjoy leveling multiple characters for the story element.

How SWTOR can improve and draw players back:

Going free to play certainly removes the entry barrier for new and return players. This move by Bioware is a bold way of enticing players to return to the Star Wars universe. In this respect Bioware has shown that they understand the direction in which the MMORPG market is moving and have made the right decision. I personally will be returning to SWTOR for casual play and to indulge my inner Star Wars nerd. That said our guild: Ruin Gaming (the largest in SWTOR at launch boasting over 2000 active members) will likely not make serious attempt to return to TOR until the promised addition of a comprehensive world pvp system is made.

We were initially promised twelve world pvp planets following launch, two were delivered.

Ilum and Tatooine offered an unfinished attempt to give players some form of a Realm versus Realm experience courtesy of the veteran Mythic development team (the creators of Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot). Ruin Gaming and other die hard world pvp and realm versus realm fans eagerly awaited Bioware/Mythic’s new offering to the genre. Unfortunately this promising addition to game play was untested at launch and suffered from glaring stability, performance and population imbalances issues from which Bioware never recovered. World pvp enthusiasts were ultimately given the cold shoulder as these zones were shut down and Bioware instead opted to pursue an instanced pvp focus.

SWTOR must rise to the challenges offered by its competitors:

  • More content!1!!!1
  • Content innovation, SWTOR needs to offer unique content.
  • Take a page from Star Wars Galaxies bring back player housing, guild housing and true community driven pvp and dynamic world events!
  • Attempt a new world pvp system (Guild Wars 2 does it better)
  • Overhaul the space combat system (Star Trek Online does it better) and ultimately *crosses fingers* space pvp. (Galaxies had it)
  • Improve the quality and quantity of instanced pve “raiding” (World of Warcraft still has more challenging and compelling content in this area)
  • Better communication with players.
I hope that some of these ideas will eventually make it into the live version of SWTOR. They are universally accepted areas of content in many other MMOS and would do a great deal to help make SWTOR a more complete and comprehensive experience that caters to a wider player base and helps to distinguish it from World of Warcraft with lightsabers.

SWTOR a new hope?

Bioware continues to have a strong opportunity to build upon the strongest asset they have in their arsenal: The Star Wars universe itself. Arguably the largest science fiction universe ever created there are limitless possibilities for growth and expansion for SWTOR. EA and Bioware must first hammer out a successful free to play business model that can capitalize on the merchandising powerhouse of the Star Wars universe (if you can’t sell Star Wars to children you may as well go back to business school).

Many people have written off SWTOR prematurely. They may underestimate the power and enduring devotion of many Star Wars fans. Despite the many failings with Star Wars Galaxies it remained popular and maintained a core following until it was shut down for the launch of SWTOR.

SWTOR has made many improvements to player versus player content, adding ranked warzones and additional warzones. Unfortunately there has yet to be a cross server ranked system employed. As a result the pool of players remains very limited and kills any chance of SWTOR pvp becoming a legitimate “e-sport”.

Bioware outlines their plans:

If you haven’t heard the news already, there are many exciting new developments coming up for Star Wars™: The Old Republic™, new Operations, new Warzones, new custom items, and new ways to play the game. Plus, Game Updates will be coming more frequently.


Announcing a Free-to-Play Option

I want to reach out today to share my thoughts on our recent announcement to expand our game to offer a Free-To-Play option this fall. I’d like to give you some insights into why we made this decision, how it benefits you and how enthusiastic our team is about this new direction.

Since launch, our team has spent a lot of time trying to find new ways to be able to bring the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ experience to as many potential players as possible. We quickly became aware that our subscription only model was a major barrier for a lot people who wanted to become part of The Old Republic universe. In fact, many players who have left the game said they would happily come back if they could play without the commitment of a monthly fee.

We feel that flexibility and choice in playing our game is important for all current and future players. For that reason, we began the exploration of expanding the game to include a Free-to-Play option.

Starting this Fall, there will be two ways to enjoy the game. First, you can continue as a subscriber, which gives you unlimited access to all game features and future Game Updates at no additional charge. Second, you have the option to play free to Level 50, with game play restrictions that limit game options and access to certain game content. Our goal is to ensure that our current players continue to receive the AAA content they are used to and enjoy the new rewards. To that end, I am proud to say that we have a lot of great new content coming your way, and that it will be coming more frequently. We have a great lineup in development including: a new Operation, Terror From Beyond, a new heroic mission series on the planet of Belsavis; a set of level 50 space combat missions for those looking for the ultimate challenge mode; introduction of a dangerous new Companion to accompany you; and for our PvP fans, a new warzone, Ancient Hypergate!

Starting today, you’ll be earning rewards as part of our new rewards program, making your current subscription more valuable than ever. Current and lapsed subscribers will earn 150 Cartel Coins for every paid month prior to today (July 31, 2012) and then 200 Cartel points from August 1st until the Free-to-Play option launches. For those who purchased the Collector’s Edition, we have an additional bonus reward of 1000 Cartel Coins for you. With Cartel Coins you can purchase convenience items, boosts, visually unique gear, collectibles, and more. The new Cartel Market gives you the option to add to your game play experience with items that fit your play style and allow you to customize your character.

Our team is extremely excited about this new plan. We are working hard and having a lot of fun preparing new content and items for the game. We believe that this is the right direction for our game – more choices, more options and more ways to customize your play experience to suit your play-style. We want to be able to keep our fans excited, engaged and having fun every time you login. We look forward to hearing your thoughts, suggestions and feedback.

Thanks for your support over the last seven months. We have the best fans in the business!

May the Force be With You.

Jeff Hickman, Executive Producer – Star Wars™: The Old Republic™