Friday, April 13, 2012

Bioware sees risk that people quit SWTOR at the level cap

Well, they didn't say that * explicitly*. But how do you explain this promotion, where players with a level capped character receive a free month of subscription, while those who played for exactly the same time and paid exactly the same money are declared being less valued customers because they didn't reach the level cap? Handing out free subscriptions always smack a bit of desperation, but this targeting of players with level capped characters must mean that Bioware sees a high risk of these players abandoning ship otherwise. And while I only have anecdotal evidence, I think that this must be based on lots of people actually leaving after having "played through" SWTOR.

This wouldn't be unexpected at all. The unique selling point of SWTOR is how it tells the story of your character while leveling up. That part of the game simply ceases to exist at the level cap, which makes the "endgame" of SWTOR even less attractive compared to the leveling game than in other MMORPGs. The whole Legacy system is basically Bioware saying "Don't go yet! Play an alt instead!". And even that solution has its limits. You can play SWTOR through only twice before starting to repeat quests, once on each side. With the planet sequence for each side being mostly linear, and most planet quests not being class-related, if you play either Empire or Republic twice, you are bound to do a lot of quests you already know.

If you sell a game on the strength of it's stories, you mustn't be surprised if people quit once the stories run out. But a promotion in which people who unsubscribe get 7 days subscription free, people who didn't unsubscribe but are at risk of doing so because they reached the level cap get 30 days subscription free, and everybody else gets absolutely nothing is rather stupid. Bioware is basically punishing their *really* loyal subscribers, those who played lots of alts instead of rushing through the game. Bad move, Bioware!

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