Monday, January 23, 2012

Doomcasting SWTOR

There has been a lot of talk about the news that some financial analyst downgraded EA stocks, believing that SWTOR wasn't doing so well. And judging by anecdotal evidence from the blogosphere, we went from hype to doom within one month from release.

Unlike some commenters here and elsewhere, I am not quite ready to declare Star Wars: The Old Republic a failure yet. As I said before, neither me nor my readers / commenters are representative of the average MMORPG player any more. Taking a non-representative sample of one, yourself, and extrapolating from that to a million or more players is not a scientifically viable method. That is not to say that bloggers don't have good insights into what could possibly be wrong with a game. But whether these perceived failings lead hundreds of thousands of players to unsubscribe is a lot less certain.

One reason why I would hate SWTOR to fail is that I dread what comes afterwards. There has been a sufficiently long string of failures, which combined with the natural decline of World of Warcraft might well lead to the general impression that MMORPGs were a fad which is dying. Which would mean no more big budget MMORPGs after the current batch in production is finished. MMORPGs could go the way of the dodo, or to take a better example, the way of the turn-based strategy game. Once in a while some small company will still release one, more out of love than out of profitability concerns. But in general the whole genre will be considered dead. So I would be very careful with wishing SWTOR dead, because you could get what you are wishing for and then some.

Unfortunately I don't have much to base hope for SWTOR on. The strong point of SWTOR is clearly the story-telling, and it appears that this strength is one with not much longevity. If you drew a curve of story-density versus time, you'd have to admit that it is declining. Most characters have the most fun and intense part of the story in their starting zones, and then its downhill from there, with progress getting ever slower. You need to grind more and more mobs between two major story elements. Plus, as I said in my previous post, SWTOR isn't a great game for grouping either. Thus I can well see myself becoming bored by soloing, and quitting because I can't find enough group content. Whether I am an unique snowflake or just one of hundreds of thousands of players who thinks that way is what will determine the future of SWTOR. And maybe of the MMORPG genre.

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