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The Old Republic subscriptions stable; logins in decline

Subscriptions for Star Wars: The Old Republic may be holding steady, but user logins have fallen and BioWare is trying "anything and everything" to increase engagement.

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Lighter server populations--especially during peak hours--have led some to believe that Star Wars: The Old Republic is shedding subscribers only four months after launch. Not so, says developer BioWare. Subscription numbers are steady, it claims, but the developer does concede that the game has seen a dip in logins. To that end, the BioWare is up for trying "anything and everything" to increase user engagement.

BioWare's Daniel Erickson recently told PC Gamer that steps are being taken--including slight alterations to the development plan--that are meant to keep players visiting that galaxy far, far away. He said that concurrent user slippage accounts for the increase in servers with "light" populations during peak hours. That aside, "Nothing is off the table when it comes to making sure our communities are strong and active on each server," he said. Things like a robust "group finder" and other "quality of life" features are in the works.

Though content is forecast well in advance--due in no small part to the fully-voiced dialog--Erikson says that the SWTOR development team is getting better at adjusting plans on the fly to accommodate other things that will help keep folks playing in-between major updates. "We're getting spryer all the time," he said. "Usually it's a question of priority and since we have separate teams working on different initiatives we can usually change priorities for a particular game update fairly easily."

With the Rakghoul plague update drawing to a close yesterday, BioWare realizes that Star Wars: The Old Republic needs new content to entice players to revisit the game regularly. A number of incentives like free weekends and friend invites are well and good, but don't really address the issue of new things to do. To that end, "Interesting replayable content is the top of the list of design prototypes going on over here," Erikson said.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 24, 2012 12:00 PM

    Jeff Mattas posted a new article, The Old Republic subscriptions stable; logins in decline.

    Subscriptions for Star Wars: The Old Republic may be holding steady, but user logins have fallen and BioWare is trying "anything and everything" to increase engagement.

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      April 24, 2012 12:06 PM

      It's always kind of depressing to see this happen to an MMO.

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        April 24, 2012 12:13 PM

        Honestly they made it too easy to blow through content at the start.

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          April 24, 2012 12:17 PM

          Kind of highlights the very tricky balance that everquest-based MMOs have, which is containing enough grind to keep you busy but not so much you get bored.

          This is gonna sound crazy but I miss the early days of Ultima Online when it was about exploring and having adventures and seeing what wild things you'd find, rather than pushing through linear content as quickly as possible. I kind of doubt we'll ever see a return to that time, but it was nice while it lasted.

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            April 24, 2012 12:21 PM

            They made it so fast that after a while I just ended up skipping shit.

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            April 24, 2012 12:58 PM

            I think GW2 is the closest I might get to some decent exploration.

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      April 24, 2012 12:08 PM

      2 months till free to play, stay on target, stay on target.

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        April 24, 2012 12:11 PM

        Pull up, pull up, the subscriptions are still active!!

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          April 24, 2012 12:11 PM

          Free Weekend? IT'S A TRAP!

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            April 24, 2012 12:14 PM

            Join me Luke, if we both subscribe now we can rule the Galaxy as father and son!

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              April 24, 2012 1:21 PM

              Meesa Jar Jar Binks! Meesa manager atsa Ea's A's!

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                April 24, 2012 4:23 PM

                Many developers died to bring us this information.

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        April 24, 2012 12:11 PM

        It'll be longer than that.

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          April 24, 2012 12:12 PM

          C C C Combo breaker.

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          April 24, 2012 1:55 PM

          You want this, don't you?

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            April 24, 2012 2:29 PM

            I would have preferred SWTOR to be more successful, but I think Bioware has repeatedly dropped the ball since release.

            Between the never ending string of busted patches and design decisions that seem to be straight out of the mouths of the loudest groups on their forums, I just don't have any interest in the game any more.

            f2p or no, unless my guild magically revives itself before my time runs out, I'm done.

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              April 24, 2012 3:53 PM

              The hate is swelling in you now.

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      April 24, 2012 12:13 PM

      Glad I ignored the hype and didn't buy/preorder. I thought a bioware MMO would be awesome, too, but it seemed like the shack hype died down pretty quickly.

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        April 24, 2012 12:15 PM

        Honestly, it was an entertaining game to level through, and really was a decent KotOR3.

        You shouldn't be glad you avoided it just because the hype didn't last six months. Very, very few games make it that long. Like... almost none.

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        April 24, 2012 12:24 PM

        It's a very good mmo with high production values and the most compelling quests to date. It's worth playing almost as a single player endeavor, like a Kotor 3 experience. Whether you decide to stick around for the endgame as found in other mmos is completely optional. But the leveling experience is worth a playthrough if you're a Star Wars fan or just looking for an rpg.

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        April 24, 2012 12:24 PM

        It's an awesome game, best class story progressions I've ever seen in any MMO. End game is hit or miss, getting a group/raid "find a group" feature would help tremendously.

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          April 24, 2012 12:45 PM

          Unless you have a strong guild, yeah, that's gonna be essential.

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        April 24, 2012 3:59 PM

        I didn't pre-order because it looked exactly like WoW with lightsabers.

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        April 24, 2012 4:43 PM

        [deleted]

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      April 24, 2012 12:20 PM

      [deleted]

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        April 24, 2012 2:03 PM

        I will play the crap out of it while I wait for all my Kickstarter games.

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      April 24, 2012 12:27 PM

      I think BioWare is victim to group think.

      The writing is on the wall for this game, and they should have anticipated this months ago. They're only *starting* to make slight alterations to their development plan? That spells trouble to me.

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        April 24, 2012 12:46 PM

        being fully voice-acted is going to cause delays. It's not like fixing typos in quest descriptions.

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        April 24, 2012 12:55 PM

        It wouldn't surprise me if they expected this - too much of the 1.2 release was more tweaks that should have been pre-launch. I think maybe EA just used launch as a cash injection and they'll "re-launch" again in maybe four more months.

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      April 24, 2012 12:28 PM

      I'll be doing another 6 month sub! Still playing at least an hour and up to 4 hours a day 5-7 days a week. Raiding twice a week, grinding War Hero gear. My guild just cleared EC Normal last night, going into HM this week after we farm EV ane KP for loots.

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      April 24, 2012 12:39 PM

      Any chance they will re release it as a SP game based off the MMO that has been tweaked?

      From what I gather if SWTOR had RVR ripped out of WAR it would of been the perfect MMO, shame the PVE was epic.

      I guess the good news is the next game will be a SP so that is something to look forward to.

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      April 24, 2012 12:48 PM

      yea i'm still playing too. working on my 3rd toon to 50. i already have two 50s on empire side, i aim to do two 50s on republic side and then call it quits.

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      April 24, 2012 12:51 PM

      Any EU guys playing yet? Ive started a couple of Empire chars on Hydians Way.

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      April 24, 2012 12:53 PM

      Seems like most people thought they got their money's worth.

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      April 24, 2012 12:56 PM

      An MMO in 2012 should HAVE to ship with a group finder. So stupid that that didn't get shipped with this.

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        April 24, 2012 12:58 PM

        Group finder & server transfers, at least. Not just being able to flag yourself as LFG in the /who window.

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          April 24, 2012 4:36 PM

          It's crazy that so many small free-to-play games have great grouping systems (cross-server, filtered lists, etc)

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            April 24, 2012 4:51 PM

            It just amazes me, are the devs forgetting what MMO means? Doesn't marketing know by now that there should be a very high percentage of their customer base that want to play with friends and other players with ease? The /who days are over, and it's embarrassing that this wasn't implemented in the game from day one.

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        April 24, 2012 1:17 PM

        Yea I quit because finding end game stuff was way too hard (hell even finding it mid game was too hard) but I can't go back now I've just been turned off. Having it from the start and I'd likely still be subscribing.

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        April 24, 2012 1:22 PM

        [deleted]

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        April 24, 2012 1:33 PM

        The worst thing about this is that it was identified as a MAJOR flaw while the game was still in beta. I think it was one of, if not the biggest complaint. They should have implemented a fix right then and there before launching.

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          April 24, 2012 1:39 PM

          I think they've said it's on the list for a 1.3 or 1.4 release.

          ... which puts it 3-6 months out.

          Also it was single-server only. They weren't interested in a cross server pve utility -- something about maintaining server communities.

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            April 24, 2012 2:10 PM

            hooooooly crap. I wonder if we'll get a full expose on the decision making and people behind this game.

            it's a frickin companion manager game right now. they should have had so much more community ENABLING features. yet they just tapped out, and saying doing nothing is preserving the community... well, it's eroding, so they are wrong. now I wonder if bioware is gonna have a disney/john carter moment and have folks step down or get fired from their involvement...

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              April 24, 2012 2:23 PM

              They seem to be taking design cues straight from their forums. Everything that was said at the guild summit a month or so back was exactly what their forum monsters wanted to hear.

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                April 24, 2012 4:54 PM

                I'm still flabbergasted at the way they've "implemented" combat logs. It's just astonishing that an MMO developer could be so clueless as to how MMO's work.

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                  April 24, 2012 4:56 PM

                  They wanted to restrict the amount of information other people had about your character/ability. Like, that's exactly what they said.

                  Game's straight-up revenge of the bads that you /kick'd from WoW.

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                    April 24, 2012 5:00 PM

                    I get that reasoning ... I just don't understand why a developer would think that was a good thing.

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                      April 24, 2012 7:40 PM

                      ... because they're taking design cues from who yells the loudest on their forums. :(

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        April 24, 2012 4:15 PM

        One of the major reasons I quit.

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        April 24, 2012 4:49 PM

        I actually liked that grouping wasn't automated but I'm very much in the minority on that.

        Groups created in-game (via the player not some random cue) feel far more organic, players actually communicate with one another, and it's considerably easier to get quality players (not that it's guaranteed).

        Auto-cue's create extremely impersonal groups with excessively selfish motivations. Players needing everything they can and leaving after they get (or don't get) the loot they want. It also forces the developer to create content for the absolute lowest common denominator in terms of ability thus making the content downright boring for anyone with even the slightest skill or experience (see WoW, Cataclysm releases with a lot of really easy heroic 5-mans ... everyone uses Dungeon Finder, bitches and moans because they have trouble finishing these ridiculously easy instances and Blizzard is forced to nerf them).

        Again, I realize I'm in the minority here, but that is how I feel on the topic.

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          April 24, 2012 4:55 PM

          Try playing on a server that peaks at ~30 people in the main hub. You'll be whispering people or spamming in general for hours trying to get a group together, and it'll still fall apart on the second pull.

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            April 24, 2012 5:00 PM

            You won't see me arguing against server transfers!

            Honestly though, even a matchmaking system wouldn't make up for the fact that (at least as of when I stopped playing) the 5 mans weren't tuned at all and the gear progression was ambiguous at best.

            It was really hard to justify doing the 5 mans when the gear was pretty shitty compared to normal raids which were considerably easier (hell in some cases the hardmode raids were easier than some of the hardmode 5-men content). The daily rewards were too slow (and again confusing). Meanwhile PVP gear was way easier to obtain (and apparently it's even EASIER now) and more than good enough to carry a character into Nightmare raids without a second thought.

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      April 24, 2012 1:25 PM

      Didn't they give everyone a free month just before the first wave of subscriptions would have run out?

      So yeah of course subscriptions wont be down, they have extended them all for free.

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        April 24, 2012 2:23 PM

        The free time gets applied on the 25th or something, so no, they haven't just quite yet. And it's not "everyone."

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      April 24, 2012 1:26 PM

      oh this was a good reminder to cancel my sub

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      April 24, 2012 1:27 PM

      it was fun for a week. then i got over having a lightsaber.

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      April 24, 2012 1:39 PM

      I dunno, I'm still really enjoying it. I've done some endgame raiding, hardmode flashpoints, and have recently gotten into pvp. I think its a great MMO

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      April 24, 2012 1:59 PM

      So people are paying for but not playing the game? If that's true, then shouldn't we expect a precipitous decline in subscription numbers in the months aehad?

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        April 24, 2012 2:07 PM

        I think that's why they're trying to get people engaged before they cancel their sub.

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        April 24, 2012 2:49 PM

        I would be one of these people. I'm trying to support them, but I can't get myself to log in. But I think i'm personally done with MMO's for a while.

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          April 24, 2012 3:26 PM

          MMO's are evil! Whenever I play one, my backlog just grows!

          Seriously, I stopped playing to work on my backlog of games, but I am still shoveling out money for at least two MMO's.

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        April 24, 2012 4:03 PM

        Don't you get a free month of play time when you buy the game. If So buy the game play through the single player and never pay a sub and you got your single player. If you play a lot you can play multiple classes in a month. Most people pay 60 $ for a single player game they beat in the first week and never touch again.

        If you like it keep subbing if you don't you still got your moneys worth.

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        April 24, 2012 7:44 PM

        The ShackNews article is actually misreporting, the quote is "BioWare claim that subscriber numbers haven’t dropped, but concurrent users at peak times have."

        Much different than "but the developer does concede that the game has seen a dip in logins." which could imply what you stated. The actual quote, however, does not.

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      April 24, 2012 3:56 PM

      I can't believe "yet another generic MMO" wasn't a smashing success just like WoW.

      No one could have possibly seen this coming.

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        April 24, 2012 7:38 PM

        Because 1.7 million subs isn't a smashing success? Not sure how many you expected then, that's significantly higher than other MMOs that were released in the West.

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      April 24, 2012 3:59 PM

      annnnnnnd.... I just cancelled. I liked it well enough, but I remembered why I dont play MMOs. I just dont have enough time with a job & family to make it worth the subscription. If they would offer a reduce plan where I could buy a day or two at a time, I'd be interested (say like $3 for a weekend or something?)

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        April 24, 2012 4:10 PM

        Similar to my situation. I don't have time for the gear grind at end game. I think many people like me quit WoW because we didn't have time fore that end game. But TOR offers a very similar gear treadmill.

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          April 24, 2012 4:41 PM

          Actually WoW is an awful lot better about it now while ToR's end game grind was considerably worse than WoW has been since Burning Crusade (in my opinion).

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      April 24, 2012 4:05 PM

      *opens bag of chips, kicks feet up*

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      April 24, 2012 4:06 PM

      Shrug. Still playing it, still having fun.

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      April 24, 2012 4:56 PM

      yeah the shack's rekindled interest in WoT has stopped my SWTOR play.

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        April 24, 2012 5:02 PM

        This is my problem too. I'd love to play SWTOR more since I was really enjoying the stories but between Tribes: Ascend, World of Tanks and LOTRO, I really don't have the time for another MMO. :-(

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        April 24, 2012 5:03 PM

        GOOD! As it should be...

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      April 24, 2012 5:31 PM

      I haven't touched it in over a month, but have been too lazy to cancel my subscription. I really want to finish it out to level 50 at least before I bail, but with D3 on the horizon I just don't see how...

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      April 25, 2012 11:02 AM

      If you would have told me 3 months ago that I would be cancelling my SWTOR subscription to resubscribe to FFXIV, I'd have called you crazy. But look where we are now, FFXIV has been massively changed for the better and SWTOR just feels stale. I think the thing that made me quit SWTOR was all of the horrible decision making and slow feature implementation.

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