Saw an article saying that “Though SWTOR had strong starting numbers, a lack of new content release has caused the MMO to lose hundreds of thousands of subscribers in a few months.”
While I supposed it can be summarized as “lack of new content”, I think the issue is a bit more than that. I think the problem is the existing content is ‘unfinished,’ it’s too easy to level up, and the contrast between leveling and end-game is too great. That’s the issue.
What’ do I mean by this? Here are my observations:
- Leveling is super easy. I am by no means a strong player in MMO’s, yet if I put my mind and time into it, I can get a new toon to level 50 in less than one month. I’ve seen people getting that done in less than 2 weeks. If you are in the right guild, or have the right buddies, I can see having this done in 1 week.
- Leveling experience ROCKS!!!! The stories, the continual conversations and progress with the companions, etc. It’s just awesome. Then BOOM! You hit level 50. After that dramatically cinematic declaring you’ve “made it”, life becomes SUPER BORING!!!!! You do the same thing all day long (the dailies, the same heroics, the same space combats, etc.). The contrast is way too big.
- Many of the stories feel unfinished. The most obvious example is Malavai Quinn’s betrayal. Will the Warrior ever get the proper closure to give him/her 100% confidence that he’s now in their camp? Just look at the number of internet discussions one can easily see how unsatisfying that storyline ended so far. Other examples:
- Kaylio – she’s never shown any change. No matter what path you take, discretion in your work and identity is key to your survival. Can you really be sure that she’s not going to betray you again?
- LS SW w. DS Jaesa – Jaesa runs around murdering LS Sith. Conflict, anyone? If she fully embraces the Sith way, it’s only matter of time she will turn against you. How will that work out? Inquiring mind wants to know.
- Xalek – for similar reason as DS Jaesa. He’s clearly a strong DS Sith candidate. I mean, he killed his competitor right in front of you to become your apprentice. What can be more ‘Sith’ than that? So any Sith Inquisitor should expect a showdown with Xalek.
- Emperor’s fate – need I say more?
Bottom-line, the story is clearly unfinished and meant to continue. If the story is better ‘wrapped up’ then players wouldn’t left feeling dangling.
So what this basically adds up to is the following:
- You can run through the game’s basic core content in less than a month.
- Your experience after one month is dramatically reduced
- You are left at a cliffhanger, not sure what the next step should be. Hoping each major patch will give you that ladder you need to move to the next step, only to be disappointed over and over.
See the problem?
I remember when I first started WoW, it took my first toon a good 5 months to get to level 80, and that’s with a LOT of help.
When I first started I already had friends and a brother-in-law who had been playing for years and had at least one level 80 toons. So they, my bro-in-law especially, geared me big time when I started playing. Then on my second day I met a level 80 Shaman who was just doing low level quests to get the 3000 quests achievement, and ended up helping me, by not only ran me through several instances, but also gave me 200 gold to start (yes, 200 gold is a LOT for a level 6 toon. :)).
A week later I was invited to the Shaman’s guild. Over the next couple of weeks I made friends with the founding members of the guild, as well as several other “Level 80’s” I met in game, and I got a lot of “runs” from them. I was constantly getting runs and helps with my quests, or freebies here and there. To a point my co-workers who also play WoW called me “the Paris Hilton of WoW”, in that I don’t earn my advancements. 😛
Yet, with all that help, it took me a good 5 months to grind my way to level 80. It was a monumental moment when I hit 80. My guild mates did a special “Trial of the Champions” run just to get me geared. It was epic.
With SWTOR, I get to level 50, mostly solo, in no time. I can easily solo many of the instances with the right companion. Then I hit 50, and then there’s nothing more to do. The journey, while entertaining, didn’t requirement much “investment.” There’s no quests that I had to really figure out how to address. There’s no building up to the final triumphant moment. It just..happened.
The game promises stories, yet the story is good but unfinished. So I sit around waiting for the next Chapter. I even ended up developing an interest for fan fictions just to get the story continue.
Problem is, I don’t see this fixed anytime soon. The cost of the game is expensive. With all the parallel stories among the different classes and associated companions, continuing the story is not cheap. I suspect Bioware/EA/Lucas was counting on SWTOR being such a while success that it will fund itself in no time.
Kinda think they didn’t think this one through.