Where Have All the Jedi Gone?
Star Wars: The Old Republic was supposed to be a fantastic…nay, amazing MMO that captured the hearts of Star Wars junkies and newcomers alike; a game that appealed to the casual and hardcore MMO player. It was even rumored to be the World of Warcraft killer that WoW haters have been waiting for. (People actually played WoW and hated it?)
Unfortunately, as people hit the level cap and became bored with the war zones, numbers began to drop. The server I chose to play on was once filled with people. Now, I’m lucky to find at most eight people on one planet. On a Saturday afternoon, when MMOs are usually their busiest, only two or three servers are listed as ‘heavy’ while the rest remain ‘light’.
SWTOR recently came out with update 1.2 that upgraded the legacy system and allowed players to customize their dashboard. It was an update that should have brought a lot of people back to the galaxy far far away. Bioware even offered returning players a month of free play.
Yet, numbers still haven’t seemed to grow. Where has everyone gone? I have two theories:
Players got bored/ hit the level cap
SWTOR is a story driven game. When you hit level 50, your story is essentially done. Aside from a few bonus missions, from that point on, you can
replay flashpoints and battle in war zones. However, soon enough, you will find yourself feeling bored. There really isn’t anything that will
motivate you to keep building on your caped out character. While the new legacy system is pretty cool, it’s still not enough to keep someone’s attention for a long period of time.
You can choose to create a new character, but all the side quests are still exactly the same. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if they didn’t outnumber
the amount of quests in the main story line. If you choose to only play the main story, you won’t level up properly.
Solution: Come out with an expansion pack that extends the level cap. The goal should be to keep a player interested after they’ve done everything there is to do. SWTOR is no doubt a really fun MMO. It’s just a matter of keeping that level of fun beyond story mode.
Players went back to another MMO/ moved on to something new
It’s not a mystery where most players went. With the release of the highly anticipated Diablo III, A lot of MMOs probably lost gamers to Blizzard. The real question is: how long before they come back? The answer to that is probably disappointing. Diablo III will undoubtedly hold gamer’s attention for a very long time. When it comes to making addicting MMOs, Blizzard knows best.
It’s also not farfetched to assume that many gamers went back to other MMOs that came out with expansion packs like WoW, or even EVE Online.
Solution: Update 1.2 was really good for SWTOR. It gave players more customization options and more equipment to choose from. Unfortunately, it’s still not enough. Stop trying to sell us on the legacy mode and give gamers more of what they want. If gamers are going to come back to SWTOR, they are going to need big incentive, and a family tree isn’t the answer. There should be an update 1.3 in the works that offers even more equipment and weapons. The story needs a facelift with new flashpoints, new space battles, and new war zones.
For now, I’m keeping my hopes high. I still enjoy creating new characters with classes I haven’t tried yet. The legacy system can be fun if you spend some time with it. Though, overall, I am sad to see the North America player numbers so low. But, I have faith that Bioware is working on a solution to this. The force is strong with them. And so I keep playing.
What do you think SWTOR needs to do to keep players happy? Have you given up on the game or are you still holding out?