As SWTOR picks up momentum for its free-to-play conversion, we’ve been treated to a new state of the game post by Executive Producer Jeff Hickman. You can read it here if you haven’t already. As my time this week is limited, here are just four quick thoughts about it off the top of my head:
1. Introducing yourself with a picture of your tattoos is not as cool as you think it is.
If you’re going to show a picture of you, including your face would be nice. The whole tattoo-resume thing ranges from laughable to been-there-done-that.
2. Jeff Hickman? When did this happen?
Actually it happened well over a year ago, and I should know since I wrote the story on it. But I guess I forgot, and from comments I’ve read, it seems like a lot of people forgot that WAR’s old head honcho is now in a key position on SWTOR. At least it makes for easy snide comments for those looking to do so.
3. BioWare’s really sticking to the “subscriptions made people leave in droves” line — and I don’t fully buy that.
Of course, I don’t have access to any of BioWare’s feedback or research, but this seems to be an awfully convenient statement to be flinging about. Convenient in that it places the blame for subscriber loss on the business model and not the product or ongoing service. I still think that sub-only games can succeed and thrive if done right and if they offer a superior service, and if saddling the game with subscriptions was going to tank it, then BioWare either had to be completely oblivious to any pre-launch feedback and research or EA strongarmed them into it. Again, I don’t think that’s the case.
What I believe is that SWTOR is a solid MMO with plenty of strengths and plenty of flaws, but at the end of the day it couldn’t justify its subscription fee with a superior product or a superior service. Hickman kind of hints at stumbling in the service department with slow updates, but the rest is BioWare’s PR spin trying to take the pressure off from players pushing for a quality increase in the product and/or service.
4. Addressing the departing team member situation was surprising and gutsy. I liked it.
If BioWare is keeping its head in the sand over the whole “subscriptions was our main downfall” line, at least it’s not trying to ignore or obfuscate the fact that the studio’s suffered a lot of personnel losses from the very top on down. Hickman gets points for at least acknowledging this, as well as making an interesting observation (that some members left because they weren’t fans of the F2P adaptation). He might lose one or two of those points for trying to spin all of this as a positive thing, but I’m giving him a pass on this because so many other studios wouldn’t even touch this subject in public. On the whole, MMO companies are loathe to have team member layoffs or departures noticed and reported on, because it just doesn’t look good. But Hickman addresses it and says the team is still dedicated and working hard, and that’s actually comforting to hear.
5. The things I wanted to hear, such as the continuation of class storylines and how BioWare is going to handle pushing those stories forward, weren’t mentioned.
But hey! Oceanic server populations, am I right fellas?