The Old Republic Forum Follies

By Shamus
on Jan 20, 2012
Filed under:
Video Games

splash_tor.jpg

So the story over the past few days is that today is the one-month point for Star Wars: The Old Republic. If people decide they don’t want to pay another $15 for another month, then they need to unsubscribe right away. Except, according to Joystiq, the “unsubscribe” button vanished from the account screen yesterday. Some users posted a workaround link, but those users “[…] received a warning and seen their threads shut down by moderators as violating the Rules of Conduct.”

The disappearing unsubscribe button you can sort of explain. I mean, it’s possible for bits of a page to go missing if you muck up the CSS. The timing is highly suspect, but fine. We can let this slide. But there is no way to explain or justify the locking of threads that instruct users how to get around this.

Then there was the story about people being banned from the game for looting containers in an end-game area with low-level characters.

accounts were warned or temporarily suspended for exploiting loot containers on Ilum. To be completely clear, while players may choose to travel to Ilum earlier than the recommended level (40+) and may loot containers if they can get to them, in the cases of those customers that were warned or temporarily suspended, they were systematically and repeatedly looting containers in very high numbers resulting in the game economy becoming unbalanced.

Ah. So it’s legal to loot the containers, unless you do it too much? Shouldn’t stuff like this be regulated by gameplay mechanics and not banhammers?

The thing with “unbalancing the economy” is that this is basically the goal of players: To make as much loot as possible with as little effort as possible. To the player, the line between “a protip” and “a ban-worthy exploit” is not necessarily clear. I can believe that their actions were disruptive and unbalancing, but does the game warn them that they’re doing something wrong? If not, then why should we expect them to not take the most direct means of advancement? If it does, then why not just make the game forbid the action outright?

One final oddity is that apparently both of the following facts are true:

  1. The Old Republic is the fastest-selling MMO in history.
  2. The Old Republic is failing to meet sales projections.

Hmmm.

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A Hundred!20827 comments. Suck it, base ten!

From the Archives:

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Im so glad that I dont like mumorpugers and am not part of this hype,especially when things like this pop around.I can then just laugh cheerfully.

  2. Ross says:

    LOTRO used to have this problem in the early days. You’d see a level 6-10 person mining in the Misty Mountains, which is meant for 40ish+. They fixed it with game mechanics. Incredibly increased the aggro range of mobs against characters that are considered vastly too low level to be there, and when you do get defeated (and you *will*), you respawn in the starter area again.

    It’s not a permanent fix, because you can always get back there again, but constantly getting killed and sent back to Combe/Shire/Ered Luin is a pretty good hint.

    • And anyway, if you can manage to make it pay despite that, arguably you deserve the loot.

      • Winter says:

        The weird part is that, in MMOs, no amount of skill will result in you “deserving” a reward. Only grinding/time investment is “deserving” of reward.

        It’s very bizarre.

        • Audacity says:

          Not really. The whole business model is based on wasting people’s time so they keep renewing their subscriptions. Thus they keep working toward the level range in which “the game really starts.” Players are basically paying a monthly fee to grind out a graphical spreadsheet… At least that’s the way it has always looked from my outsider’s perspective.

  3. Meredith says:

    This is why I prefer offline single-player games and always will regardless of fun I may have in online multi-player games. Other people ruin everything. :p

  4. MalthusX says:

    I had heard about the unsubscribe buttons disappearing, but not about the thread locking. That’s just evil, or stupidity so gross it amounts to the same thing.

    I really don’t like the “ban first, ask questions later” mentality that EA has been taking, not just with this game but with others. It seems like any company (usual the first to rail on about government protection) act just like power crazed dictators.

    And the ESA wonders why we’re all scared of SOPA. I miss the days when companies felt like they had to treat customers well.

    Edit. In the interests of fairness I should state that I have been playing swtor, plan to play for at least a few more months, and have been enjoying it. But my good experience does not excuse EA from its jerkishness.

    • noahpocalypse says:

      Pay attention to how Bungie behaves; I don’t know their opinion on SOPA, but back when I was a regular of the Halo forums, employees participated in threads other than those where someone misbehaved, and always behaved like intelligent individuals with a sense of humor and aware of Internet courtesy. They have a very old-school corporate culture, with their own memes and jokes and behavior. They are the embodiment, in my experience, of how gaming companies should behave: respectful of the players, and not acting like a see-all know-all behemoth. (EA, Activision, snicker)

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      Just for the record I’m not in SW:TOR so I wasn’t affected by any of this. Anyway, correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t EA have a long history of being really, really bad with customer relations? Which is really something that they should work on before they dropped millions and millions of dollars into developing an MMO. A genre which is all about not even “return” but continuous business…

    • Adam Bloom says:

      I miss the days when companies felt like they had to treat customers well.

      Imaginary time was my favorite time too!

      • Shamus says:

        Customer service was indeed better in the past, at least in my experience.

        When I was twenty-ish, there was no such thing as an automated phone tree. You talked to human beings, who had roughly the same level of professionalism as a bank teller. This might vary based on age / country, but EA’s behavior (not just here, but their general trend of bans, activation-limited DRM, casual dishonesty, contempt for customer privacy, and slothful customer service) would have struck me as ludicrous in the 80’s. I certainly never head of a company behaving like this outside of fiction.

        • Alan says:

          It’s a shame, and leads to two possible depressing conclusions. One, the free market is working great and that the majority of people are perfectly happy to be treated like crap if they save a few pennies. Or put another way: people value being treated well at essentially zero. Two, the free market has failed; no one will pay a bit more for quality service because they don’t trust companies to provide it, so as a result companies won’t provide it.

        • Winter says:

          To put it another way: All of those jokes we used to tell about awful service? They were jokes. As in, “ha ha, that’s so funny, wouldn’t it be stupid if someone really did that?”

          Shadowrun wasn’t supposed to be biting social commentary.

          • Skye says:

            “Shadowrun wasn’t supposed to be biting social commentary.”

            Wow. I had not noticed that, but now that you mention it, I think my DM has just been grabbing news articles as source material for whatever new misbehavior’s the corps are up too… and we’ve been cheerfully doing it for the cash.

        • Aufero says:

          As someone who dealt with several large companies back then (Sprint and Bank of America, for instance) that had customer service at least this bad, I’ll have to politely disagree that the situation was much better in the 80’s.

  5. rofltehcat says:

    Wat.

    I was planning to buy one of the accounts of people who stop playing after the first month (no money from a new sale, EA!) but this is it… not even 15 bucks for you, EA!

    I was already doubting if I’d buy one of those accounts after the disaster with their last patch. lol, open pvp in a game that has like a 90:10 faction imbalance that was clear from the beginning… really bad design imo.

    • Shamus says:

      90:10? Please tell me you were exaggerating for comic effect.

      Because that’s just crazy. And Josh was telling me this morning about a PvP issue where Sith were getting epic end-game drops long before they should, which only tilts the scales even MORE.

      I weep.

      • krellen says:

        It was more like 10:4, but the new patch also broke the system, allowing Empire players (who were the 10) to camp the Republic spawn points. Supposedly the patch they rushed out yesterday fixed this.

      • rofltehcat says:

        I don’t have numbers so I exaggerated, yes. But from what I hear it is extremely bad. Worse than it has ever been in WoW or Rift, even Warhammer (at least for most servers). Well, according to some friends of mine that played all of them (I skipped on SWTOR).

        Also:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WslG4E7thgs&lc=YiVdvYc9l_darLTi3OM7PXKT3pUgJSSsGozkzF9VxEk&context=C3578911ADOEgsToPDskKrHI-JbBiZ9ReFoNVjmfuN

        Really, part of the problem is that there is a “cool guys side” and a “losers side”. One side gets the cool (remember, black+red=cool) outfits and gets to do whatevery they want (because, you know, they are [i]evil[/i]) and the other side get to be “the good guys” but get less [url=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/9345-The-Old-Republic]rewards and may feel like they didn’t do their job[/url]

      • rofltehcat says:

        Yeah, I don’t have any numbers so I exaggerated. But according to some friends who played WoW, Warhammer and Rift (know them from those games but I skipped on SWTOR), the faction imbalance is worse than in any of those.

        But yeah, it appears to be pretty bad:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WslG4E7thgs&lc=YiVdvYc9l_darLTi3OM7PXKT3pUgJSSsGozkzF9VxEk&context=C3578911ADOEgsToPDskKrHI-JbBiZ9ReFoNVjmfuN
        (Note: This is from a state before the hotfix krellen is referring to, don’t know how it is now but note that one side still has much larger numbers and got an insane number of PvP points from this, according to the video)

        The problem really lies in the faction design. It was clear from the beginning that the Sith would be far more popular but it is really bad design to give no incentive and/or boost to the weaker faction. Also, the faction design of good vs. evil is always skewed.
        Good: Has to stick to a code, outfits are often not considered “cool”, gets less rewards (evil people just take what they want)
        Evil: Gets to do whatever they want, normally without consequences. Gets the black&red(“cool”) outfits.
        Of course you can still play a dark side Republic character but wouldn’t you then have picked Sith instead?

        • acronix says:

          I´m suddenly glad they don´t offer services to this side of the world.

          Of course, I would have gone Boba Fett-y, so maybe I should be sad.

        • Kavonde says:

          There’s more to it than one side just being “cool” and the other not; the Empire class plotlines are almost uniformly better than the Republic ones, and offer rewarding stories whether you go Dark Side or Light Side. The only real exception is the Trooper, which has probably my second favorite storyline (and my favorite voice acting: Jennifer Hale as FemShep)…which is, of course, why you see so very many Troopers running around the Republic Fleet.

          Honestly, though, I’m surprised at the population imbalance. I chose Empire largely to avoid the zerging I suffered from Alliance players in WoW; I figured that since the Republic had the “pretty” races, it would end up with a much higher population. Whoops.

      • Adam Bloom says:

        There are a few servers that do reach 90:10, but it’s not the overall balance of the game. There are balanced servers.

        Note: I don’t play, I’ve just seen server stats.

        • Aufero says:

          No idea if there are servers that reach 90:10, (I doubt it) but mine is much closer to 50:50. Then again, I’m guessing people who play the game for the PvP didn’t flock to RP-PvE servers.

    • Museli says:

      A Wild Anecdotal Evidence appeared!

      I’ve raised seven Sith characters to between levels 20 and 40. Disregarding levels 1-15, as they take place on Sith-only planets, I’ve seen maybe 20 Republic players in total. I can spend an entire evening pottering around contested planets without seeing a single member of Team Jedi. Mind you, the server is called Sith’ari, so maybe everyone else thought the same as me, that it was the perfect server to put Sith characters on.

      • Michael says:

        Honestly, with eight character slots per account and eight classes, I’m surprised Bioware didn’t lock the character slots by faction, IE, you can have 4 Empire and 4 Republic characters… well, no, I’m not surprised, but it strikes me as a really painfully simple stop gap against this mess.

  6. Irridium says:

    Both those sales figures might be true, depending on the overall cost of the thing.

    If it really did cost so much to make, all the sales it’s getting probably won’t mean much. But with MMO’s, while short-term sales do help, you MUST think long-term. That’s where most of the money will come from over time.

    Probably hard for EA to adopt this policy, since they seem to be all about the short-term profit.

    • Primogenitor says:

      The “fastest selling” looks dubious to me. They seem to have condensed all pre-orders into day 1 sales and extrapolated based on first months sales.

    • rofltehcat says:

      What? How could you ever imply that EA, the publisher of countless yearly-released sports titles and the publisher of Assassin’s Creed 2, Assassin’s Creed 2.5, Assassins Creed 2.85 and countless DLCs is only interested in short-term sales?
      Impostorous!

      Chances are that by March they will release SWTOR: A new hope, which will add a lot of cool new stuff to the game for just a measely $30! In addition to your normal subscription of course.

      :D

      • Infinitron says:

        Ubisoft is the publisher of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. EA got nothing to do with it.

        • rofltehcat says:

          Ok, sry. Got carried away by my zealotry.
          But doesn’t really make it better, seems like most of the big publishers today are just the same.

          • Infinitron says:

            That’s true, but each member of the Triad of Evil has its own specialization.

            EA specializes in DLC, spyware and general tyranny.
            Ubisoft is the dark lord of DRM.
            And Activision…ugh, let’s not go there.

            • RCN says:

              “And Activision…”

              In corrupting good Devs? Pushing Xenophobia as a gameplay? Shoddy corporate dealings? Bobby Kotick (just… Bobby Kotick)? Actually convincing players they’re in for a deal by buying the same game 3 times?

              I could go on forever.

              (Wait… shouldn’t we add Nintendo to the triad by now? I believe they’ve already reached the mark of trying to sell the same game 10 times in a row and surviving on pure nostalgia, as well as achieving the mischievous feat of convincing their gamers that’s exactly what they want… then again, why should I care, I’m a PC gamer)

              • Alan says:

                Nintendo is pretty honest about what they’re selling. When Super Mario Whatever or Legend of Zelda: Something Something comes out, they deliver exactly what they promised. It’s similar to Michael Bay movies: I loathe them, but he must be making someone happy and I don’t think anyone goes to a Michael Bay movie not knowing what to expect. You can conclude that their games suck, but I hardly think that counts as evil like DRM and spyware.

              • Keeshhound says:

                Wait, I know most of those, but when did Activision “push xenophobia as gameplay?” I honestly have no idea what you’re referring to.

                • Cineris says:

                  I’m curious to know too. Since by all signs (See Leaked Starcraft 2 HOTS Ending here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMrOxtbfeAU), they are setting out to make Starcraft 2 Zerg just be “misunderstood” in the same way that the Orcs in Warcraft were pretty cool guys, just green, and the Undead weren’t really all that bad after all.

                  I don’t really know what other games Activision puts out that might be considered xenophobic, but Blizzard has a real problem with adding any level of moral complexity to their monstrous “villains.” They’re all either out-and-out evil jackasses, or honorable-but-manipulated-into-evil. I’d argue that most entertainment these days has way more of a problem with oikophobia (in the sense of own-culture-hatred) than xenophobia.

                  • RCN says:

                    Uhh… sorry, but when I said Xenophobia, I wasn’t talking about the Blizzard side of Activision-Blizzard. (Though the other parts are indeed about it).

                    I’m talking about the likes of Modern Warfare and how you’re just killing Russians and Muslins the whole game… you know, actual ethnicities that actually exist? Hmmm… wait a second, I believe Extra Credits touched the subject.

                    Aha! I believe this is the one:
                    http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/propaganda-games

                    When they talk about lazy gameplay design they’re talking how you can condition whole generations of young minds to considering certain ethnicities as “The enemy”. Mind, though, they’re saying this in the sense that any medium can convey this idea, so it is not by any means a jab about gaming and violence.

                    • Infinitron says:

                      I wouldn’t assign any moral agency to the Call of Duty games. They’re just copying Tom Clancy storylines, mixed with Michael Bay action sequences.

              • acronix says:

                Nintendo survives because a lot of their player base aren´t looking for innovation. They just want to play the games of old with some new mechanics strapped and modern graphics.

        • DeadlyYellow says:

          He’s not alone, I’ve made that mistake countless times. It seems rather ingrained to tack on EA when discussing modern videogames that I didn’t enjoy.

  7. HeadHunter says:

    I participated in the Beta for a long time… long enough that I got kind of burned out on making a new character every testing phase and just gave up on the game before it even released.

    All the while I played, I couldn’t help but feel that this would have been a game that was far better suited to a single-player game. Most of the things I did were by myself anyhow.

    • rofltehcat says:

      I recently took a look at Star Trek online when it went F2P. This is also exactly what I thought: It would have been better as a singleplayer game.

      It wasn’t bad. I really liked the part I played (the tutorial). The ground missions were pretty cool for an MMO (with direct controlled shooting) and the flight-part is pretty ok too.
      The whole thing with the officers also looks a lot like SWTOR’s companion system. I haven’t really talked to the one officer I got but if it had some story arcs for them that would just be great (after all the personalities of the different officers is what made Star Trek entertaining).

      Where was I… oh yeah, it could have been a good singleplayer game instead of a MMO. And I think this is also true for SWTOR.

      • krellen says:

        Unless they changed things after going free to play, your bridge officers don’t really have personalities or stories of their own.

        • rofltehcat says:

          This is what I feared and it would have been a great addition in a single player Star Trek game. Imagine it as a mix of KotOR and Mass Effect, gameplay-wise…

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Well there is going to be a star trek single player game this year.But Im not sure if itll be the one you are wishing for.

            • rofltehcat says:

              Thanks, I’ll keep an eye open for that. However, there seems to be awfully little coverage about that game for it to come out in 2012.
              Looks like it could be a lot of fun (Mass Effect with coop in a Star Trek setting). Although I’d probably have prefered “KotOR in Star Trek”.
              And then preferably in one of the older settings, not the new one established by the newest movie though I really don’t have a problem with that one, I merely don’t prefer it myself. But it isn’t really about the Star Trek setting anyways… it could also be Babylon 5 or Firefly or whatever ;)

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                It was presented on e3 or pax last year,Im not sure.And I saw it either on the AngryJoeShow,or the Spoony’s site.You can check their logs from those two events if you want,but not much info was given.Still,a few nice details(like you being able to play kirk or spock,and having different playthroughs depending on which you choose).

        • Ateius says:

          Unless it was something they added six months before going F2P (when I stopped playing) and then removed again, bridge officers have never had personalities or stories beyond those you may choose to invent for them on your own initiative. They are basically just ways to swap in and out different powers (in space) and cannon fodder (on the ground).

          That said, ST:O has a lot to recommend it. Unfortunately, it also has a lot against it. My biggest complaint is the shoehorned-in MMO elements, like grindy patrol missions (which 90% of the time become “kill X alien ships”) and enemy inflation (it becomes downright silly when you’re clearing out 30+ Klingon/Romulan/Breen/Whatever warships and/or ground troops every mission).

          So I agree. Being a single-player game would be a big improvement. I still have fond memories of it though. The overarching story is serviceable and sometimes downright good, and of course, space fighting is always great. Of course, the biggest draw is simply being Star Trek, and since it’s gone F2P, I’ve been encouraging all my Trekkie friends to at least give it a look.

          • Michael says:

            They’ve actually hidden the Patrol missions, they’re still kill ten space rats, but you actually have to go hunting for them now, and they’re not really part of progression anymore.

            Still, coop with friends can be a blast.

    • Jeff says:

      I feel the exact same way. I have a lvl 40 character so it’s not to bad now but a few of my friends have reached 50 and the only thing they can really do is pvp. They pvp to get better gear and they get better gear to pvp…better. It feels they didn’t think the end game through enough.

      • Klay F. says:

        No thats all end game content in MMOs have EVER been about. You raid to get better gear so you can keep raiding. You do PVP so you can get better gear so you can keep PVP. Blizzard has had this formula down for years now. They know exactly how addictive it is, and they’ve got all the Skinner Box techniques down to keep people involved.

        • Jonathan says:

          DDO handles it a bit differently. You raid to get better gear (or to construct it, really)… but then once you have better gear, you have the option (with the right dropped/purchased item) to True Reincarnate and start over at level 1 with better base stats and some minor bonuses based on your previous life… and better gear. It takes longer to level up (extra x% per level of XP), but you’re bigger, stronger/smarter/etc and have some massively more powerful gear that becomes available around level 10/11 of 20. Basically, it’s the ability to play the game on “more awesome mode.”

          You can do it several times to get a certain amount of stacking from the stat/past life bonuses.

          Note that this works because DDO itself is generally fun to play.

    • swenson says:

      Didn’t they already make the perfect Star Wars single-player game? Knights of the Old Republic ftw! Still an awesome game, even if the graphics are a bit… dated these days.

  8. Ambitious Sloth says:

    I’m not sure what to think of this news. I’ve watch friends play the game, they’re having fun and the game looks like it’s fun to play. There’s definitely a lot of people playing it even after just a month of being available.

    But all of these links you just posted describe some fairly bad practices. I mean besides the sales coming short of expectations. I’m not an economist, I don’t know what they were expecting. But how they’re treating the players seems unfair.

    Pages and links can go down. This happens all the time on the internet, but stopping people from unsubscribing -or helping people unsubscribe- seems like some sort of robbery.

    As for banning the players who found and used an exploit repeatedly? That feels more like a DM being mean to players who didn’t follow his rails exactly as he wanted. As people have said before me here, It’s something that should be fixed with game play tweaks not ban-hammers.

    • Derek K. says:

      I will say that I, and a lot of other people in my guild, find the game amazingly fun. It certainly has flaws, and I’ve made it a policy to completely avoid the official forums, but I’ve far more than gotten my money’s worth. Raptr reports me at over 210 hours at this point (although I have to think some of that is me falling asleep playing, and leaving it on all night.

      EA and the forums are certainly not the game.

      And I’d say the story is totally Bioware. It’s rarely shocking, the characters aren’t tremendously nuanced, but they’re Bioware characters.

      Bioware seems to be trying to figure out how to run an MMO and deal with EA while in action, which could hurt a lot. But I’ve got a fair amount of faith in the doctors….

  9. JimminyJoJo says:

    Maybe I’m crazy, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing SWTOR… I haven’t encountered anything like what those articles talked about so far (only up to level 29 as of last night, haven’t tried out much PvP yet) but I like it a lot more than when I played WoW. There is actually a storyline to most of the quests which is awesome. When you click on an NPC they don’t just say “Lok’Tar Ogar” and assault you with a wall of text which you swiftly banish with the ‘accept’ button. It’s pretty much like playing KOTOR with other people.
    I’ll probably be playing it for at least another month because I am anxious to see how the story for my class (Jedi Consular) turns out, and I want to try playing some of the other classes for their stories.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      You dont have to be crazy to like a game published by someone with shoddy business policies.I like plenty of ubisoft games,even though they are just as bad of a company.

      • HeadHunter says:

        You don’t have to be crazy to like the game… but doesn’t it sound crazy to subsidize those shoddy business policies with your own money?

        MalthusX said “I miss the days when companies felt like they had to treat customers well”, but the sad fact it, we permit them to treat us like this, and we pay them to do it! There’s only one cure – but it requires people to make their principles a higher priority than their convenience and recreation.

        • X2Eliah says:

          Myes, God forbid people actually buy and play games they enjoy! We can’t have such nonsense here, this is teh Internet…

          • HeadHunter says:

            Well, keep in mind that when you buy a game you enjoy from a company you claim to deplore, you are rewarding bad business.

            “Nonsense” is claiming to hate a company but giving them your money anyway. That’s the mentality that keeps them going. Sarcastic quips don’t change the fact that you make them successful at what they do…

            I didn’t invent the phrases “Vote with your wallet” or “put your money where your mouth is”… but they both apply here.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Right,because everything is black and white,and you can either love or hate the whole,and not have mixed feelings about parts of it.

              Also there still are legal ways for you to not give the money to some of these companies,but play their games(buying used copies is still possible in some cases,as well as rentals).

          • Klay F. says:

            Yeah God forbid people actually have fucking principles that are more important that some shitty piece of recreation they’ll forget about one hour later. Gamers today have less willpower than a crack addicted monkey.

  10. DanMan says:

    I was really excited about this game when it was announced. I even pre-ordered it a year before it was scheduled to release. Then I started seeing the stuff that EA has been doing. I know they’ve been doing this kind of stuff for years, but I hadn’t really noticed it.

    I canceled my pre-order and don’t really plan on ever getting it. My friend owns it and I played a couple hours on his account and it was fun, which just makes this whole thing that much more depressing.

    Sorry, EA, but when you’re looking to put out an MMO, the customer service is more important than when you’re putting out your yearly sports game. I know I’m only one voice in millions, but my vote is no.

  11. Mike says:

    I hesitated to start playing because I was afraid I would get hooked…

    Now I’m hesitating because I’m afraid that if I take logical, normal actions I may be banned if the admins decide that I am in any way taking advantage of the game mechanics by doing what I’m allowed to do.

    WoW doesn’t have this problem. The fix is easy. Put a minimum level on all containers, doors, zones, etc. If you aren’t supposed to get there or open that or fight these, then you quite simply cannot.

    • Thomas says:

      You should be safe, from the article:

      The original post on Reddit has been updated by its author to note that Reid got in touch to resolve the matter. A ban was never issued — despite the fact that the email stated a ban was going into effect immediately — and “the e-mail was an attempt to help me understand that what I was doing was in violation of the ToS and to not do it again.”

  12. Jax says:

    I unsubscribed from SWTOR yesterday, and while the unsubscribe button wasn’t easy to find it was an available option. I can’t fault a company for not having a neon sign pointing to the spot that may cost them dollars. To be fair, I unsubscribed because I entered my credit card info to register and play the game at launch. I will be applying a game time card to continue playing, because I did not have one at launch I was forced to subscribe with a monthly fee.

    As for the faction balance, the Imperial starting zones have 150-200 players in them this week and the Republic starting zones have 20-30. That’s how it is on the server I play on between 5 and 9 PM central time. The 30-40 Republic zones are usually around the 25 player mark, but I haven’t gotten a higher level Imperial alt, but I imagine that it’s more crowded.

    For a lot of people, SWTOR is basically a multiplayer BioWare game, and by that I mean you can co-op with your friends. Excluding Raiding and PvP players can easily solo through the content and avoid teaming. So for me, it’s more enjoyable being on a planet where there aren’t 15 other players camping a spawn location. Might not be a good thing for the long term health of the game, but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

  13. DrKultra says:

    I’m going out of topic here for a sec, feel free to erase it after you read it Shamus.

    You got this ad “http://loco.es.alaplaya.net/landingpage/googlecontentimage?track=admatics” on the banne from time to time, it’s a game like Ebony using the same “sex sells” marketing, might want to look into avoiding it in the future.

  14. Hitch says:

    MMOs are about the long haul. That’s where they make their money, providing an entertaining play experience that players are willing to pay for month after month. And that’s exactly where most recent MMOs have fallen short. They’re released to massive hype proclaiming them the “next big thing,” then a couple months later people realize they don’t have what it takes to keep them entertained beyond the first month or so.

    That’s why I’ve adopted a policy of waiting to see what the buzz on an MMO is 6 months after release. So far it’s always been a much bleaker picture than the beta through release day hype.

    SW:TOR could still pull out of this by patching out the bugs and smoothing the rough edges. EA/Bioware apparently have significant financial incentive to get things right. But from all the things I’ve read, whoever’s in charge of the EA forums is doing the company no favors at all.

    • Trix2000 says:

      It’s a reason why I have to admire WoW a bit. Despite how long I’ve played or how often I’ve been burned out, I always end up coming back and enjoying myself again. They’re pretty good at keeping things fresh (relatively speaking of course).

  15. Brett says:

    I quite like SWTOR, although I’m essentially playing it like a coop sequel to KOTOR where I can now play with my wife and there’s eight different storylines to follow. I’m a bit baffled by everyone who’s already rushed to 50 to… raid. It’s a bioware game. You play bioware games for the story and the voice acting (which is awesome). Why would you rush past the best parts so you can hang out at max level and raid? I loved the smuggler storyline so much that once I finished Chapter 1 with my money-grubbing female scoundrel (who has the most awesome voice actress) that I started a new ladies man gunslinger to play.

    So yeah, even if you don’t like MMORPGs but you do like RPGs, it’s worth playing for a month or two just as a single-player game. Just treat all the Jedi/Sith running around as very badly written AI bots.

    • Rosseloh says:

      Because despite their [previous] prowess in storycrafting (I don’t know if they still have it, honestly. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Bounty Hunter’s story, and don’t even mention ME2 or DA2), they still designed the content to be “end-game” centric. At least, when it comes to XP gain. I leveled quickly because there was no way for me not to, unless I just hung out in the fleet and worked on crafting or something. Compared to LotRO, where I spent a good 6 months getting my first level 50, this game is crazy fast. And there are already, what, 4 or 5 operations (raids), and a ton of level 50 flashpoints (instances) including hard modes in SWToR…In LotRO (where it’s obvious that end-game isn’t the focus) they’ve been going for nearly 5 years and still only have like 5 raids.

      • Irridium says:

        The class stories are MUCH better than what Bioware has done with ME2/DA2.

        At least, from my experience with the Agent, Smuggler, and Consular.

      • Even says:

        To be fair, leveling in Lotro has been made incredibly fast and much easier thanks to the F2P and all the changes to the Book content. You can get to 50 easily in a couple weeks if you keep playing actively. You can actively solo your way all the way to level cap without missing much on the story ever since they made all the Book content soloable. You’ll get a buff that increases your morale, power, regen-rates and healing done/received to ridiculous levels whenever you’re doing a quest or instance that previously required a fellowship to do.

        There’s also been a heavy shift to endgame content in general with all the recent updates starting from Mirkwood with all introducing new instance- and raidhubs. I think the overall number of raid instances is close to 10 now with the Enedwaith and Isengard raids.

        • Rosseloh says:

          Yeah, I know, I still play it. :) I just attributed the faster leveling to my knowing the content really, really well. As for end-game, that was just a rough estimate so I may have been wrong.

    • Even says:

      It’s still an MMO, which creates a bit of a conundrum. You really do need a satisfying endgame if you want to keep the traditional MMO-crowds conten and if you hold any interest in maximizing your profits. If they decide to keep neglecting it, their only real hope is that the people who want to see more of the story keep their subs alive.

      • krellen says:

        I really wish some MMO developer would realise there’s a huge untapped market of people that want to play an MMO (or MMO-like) game but don’t necessarily want the “traditional” raids and end-games therein.

        MUDs never had raids and people played them for years and years.

        • Even says:

          “MUDs never had raids and people played them for years and years.”

          True enough. For what they lack in graphics you’ll get a boatload of features and gameplay mechanics most developers only dream of. I played a MUD called Icesus some years back and for all the “MMOs” I’ve played, and I kid you not, it’s been to date the most immersive RPG experience I’ve ever had. There’s just something about the freedom to do almost anything you want and a seemingly endless space to explore where you could really get lost in if you didn’t pay attention.

        • Zukhramm says:

          It just seems like such a wast. There’s this giant world, with hundrerds of players in it and what is the supposedly final, central part of the game? Walling of 25 of those players doing boss fights on routine to get a new sword. That’s not what I envisioned when I first heard about the concept MMO.

    • TheZoobler says:

      I agree with this viewpoint. I’m not far enough along to appreciate the endgame/MMO aspects fully just yet, but I absolutely love the fact that for my purchase I received eight fully fleshed out and thus far interesting storylines. The stories so far aren’t THE PINNACLE OF BIOWARE WRITING so far, but then, I’m only level 10, so I’m not even half through the prologue. And, as was mentioned, I can play this game co-op with my girlfriend. It is ridiculously fun to be able to play a co-op bioware RPG, and the replayability of the eight different storylines is immense. As for the raiding/endgame scene, I think people just need to be patient and give the game time to update. It will only get to satisfying endgame if you give it the time of day.

      As to everyone giving the game a miss because it’s “too WoWish”, I suggest you reconsider. I ignored this game for this entire month, thinking like that, until my girlfriend got me to cave and try it. I immediately fell in love. The combat, while similar to WoW’s, has far superior and much more visceral animations. The story vastly enhances the MMO aspect, because for once it gives your character a real sense, of, well, character. Your story being completely based on which class you pick is a genius stroke, as it truly allows you a great sense of immersion. Who you are and what you do is enhanced with every dialogue you have and choice you make. It’s great fun.

      Of course, there are occasional nonsensical light/dark choices and the classic Bioware fail of lack of options (Punch me in the face hard/please punch me in the face gently/I will pay you if you punch me in the face, or however that comic of Shamus’ went). BUT. I have enjoyed myself despite that, because there’s plenty of good moments as well.

      • Irridium says:

        Pretty much why I’m enjoying it. Though I’m playing solo. And I LOVE that I can do that.

        Did play a bit with a couple of friends though. It was great fun. One’s a jedi, and always keeps picking the “good” choices. One’s a Trooper, and basically does what he thinks is right. And I’m a Smuggler, and try to mess them up at every turn.

        It’s pretty awesome.

  16. Alex says:

    Man, this isn’t lookin’ good. For EA or Bioware…

    Which is too bad, because TOR has provided some much-needed unintentional comedy.

  17. Eruanno says:

    Oh, BioWare. If you had made a single player RPG, I would have bought it and played the shit out of it. But a MMORPG? With EA handling the support? I… don’t… no… just… no.

    Come onnnn, Mass Effect 3…

  18. Taellosse says:

    Whose sales projections, I wonder? I’m not aware of EA making any such projections public, so are we talking about the wild, fevered imaginings of this random stock analyst?

    I mean, sure, the “fastest selling MMO in history” thing is mostly marketing-speak, but the initial launch, in terms of sales, has been undeniably good when the estimates suggest ~1.5 million players worldwide. That probably doesn’t put them instantly back in the black based on the estimated production costs, but it goes a long way, and the whole point of an MMO is that it’s a continuing revenue stream. Even if half the initial player base abandons the game today (which I HIGHLY doubt), they’d still be into almost pure profit territory in less than 6 months, assuming they never sold a single new copy from here on out (again, HIGHLY doubtful). MMOs are long-term investments. Initial sales are, of course, important, but the real money is in the subscriptions–in 4 months of typical fees an MMO doubles the revenue of every initial sale that stays on.

    I’m sure the frustrations of some people–particularly the ones that focused on getting to high-level PvP as fast as possible–are legitimate, and doubtless a fair number of them have abandoned the game as a result of that frustration. I don’t have a max-level character, and I don’t do much PvP, but I haven’t observed a great deal of reduction in population in either of the servers I play on (excepting the first couple weeks of early access, when the initial launch servers were overpopulated and had queue problems getting in. They since opened a number of additional servers, and those problems gradually went away, but I believe most of it was server migration, not people abandoning the game). And while the balance issues with max-level PvP are undeniably real, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a problem affecting a tiny proportion of the overall population in the game, and even if they’re severe enough to cause a large proportion of people affected to unsubscribe, that isn’t going to work out to being a large fraction of the total number of subscribers.

    • Forktongue says:

      I might be misunderstanding, but it sounds to me like that the analyst is referring to his sales projections, not EA’s. I got the impression that the article was purposely written vaguely so they could tack on “and it is all SWTOR’s fault” in the title.

  19. Lesquille says:

    I am quite glad I decided against buying this trainwreck.

  20. Dnaloiram says:

    Hey, at least the game had a good soundtrack.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0Z9LS5QgNY

  21. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This explains so much.

  22. Thomas says:

    I’m a little confused. Those articles you linked to about the contains said in the first paragraph that people aren’t actually being banned for it and it was just rumor mongering?

    In fact people were being banned for gold farming. Which is wrong in every MMO except Diablo 3

    “None of these accounts were banned for their actions and no accounts have been banned for travelling to Ilum while still relatively low level. By comparison, the number of accounts that were warned or temporarily suspended was considerably lower than the number of accounts banned for ‘credit farming’.”

    Whats more it says that they’ve even got an email from the guy who originally posted the article, admitting he was never banned and actually just received an email making him aware he was breaching terms of service and they would like him to stop.

    Could you reread it and update your article? Because you’re just accidentally spreading false rumours in a game which is already struggling with publicity (often about fake rumours, or misguided anger)

    EDIT: Darn having to wait for moderation, misinformation hurts, especially when it’s affecting something this big that so many people have poured all their time and work into. All these people who’ve read this thread and will go away telling their friends an untrue anecdote. I was as bad when I fell for the Jon Huntsman thing and spread that around

    • Forktongue says:

      You are correct. The article about being banned for looting in high-level areas was confirmed as false.

      As for the issue with the “Unsubscribe” button, the only threads that were being shut down were ones not posted in Customer Service. The ones in the correct forums remained open and even had updates from moderators when the issue was resolved. Plus the “SWTOR failing to reach sales expectations” article is extremely vague as to exactly whose sales expectations they are referencing.

      Hopefully Shamus will post an update at some point over the weekend. Just like the text beside the number of comments says; most people won’t wade through all of these posts. They’ll just read the article and tell everyone how horrible Bioware is. Not to gripe, but I feel like a large amount of the bad press this game gets is due to misinformation.

      EDIT: Fixed a few typos. Sorry about that, was juggling between this page and the linked articles.

      • Spider Dave says:

        Likewise, I’m positive there is a lot of misinformation about this game, as there has been during its whole development process. The rumor mill is strong in this one.

  23. Amarsir says:

    Their website (specifically the account portions) has been seriously flawed for years. Especially when it comes to state changes. I don’t know what their underlying logical structure is like, but there have been numerous times where a situation worked fine under situation 11.2.4.17.3 but was completely broken under 11.2.4.18.3. It’s understandable that such things can happen, but also the sign of structural problems in the basic design.

    (Actually it’s reminiscent of what I’ve seen in account structures at phone companies, with people grandfathered into plans that were discontinued 20 years and 2 mergers ago. That such a young company has replicated that mess is already awkward.)

    The larger issue seems like inexperience with MMOs. I want to think that they do know it needs a structural fix and not an enforced behavior rule. But the latter is so much faster to implement that it doesn’t shock me they’d go in the middle.

    And the last two stories aren’t in conflict. If you follow businesses (or stocks) you become used to statements like “unfortunately they only tripled their sales” or “good news! We only lost 40% of our income!” Considering all the projections, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if sales are fast but not fast enough.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      If you follow businesses (or stocks) you become used to statements like “unfortunately they only tripled their sales” or “good news! We only lost 40% of our income!”

      That such fantasies are common place is telling of our ability as people (even smart people) to delude ourselves. That they are relied upon is a real problem.
      Of course, this is no different than people being surprised that EA treats people like crap. Wake up people! Yes, someone spent a bunch of money to make a really cool game. It’s great! But… if you give your money to thieves, they will steal it. If you hang out with jerks, you’ll get hurt. Get with the program!

      Not you Amarsir. You seem like you’re alright. I mean, maybe you’re already with the program? I hope so.

  24. Moriarty says:

    well to be fair, doing something to amass wealth in a way you’re clearly not supposed to was always a bannable offense.

    If I remember correctly the martin fury incident got an entire wow guild banned because one player used an item he was accidently given by a gm.

    But yeah, the unsubscribe button being unavailable is a rather embarrassing affair for their web support, at least it’s possible to cancel subscriptions via phone. I’m used to cancelling my subscription directly after I pay for a month since something similar happened in wow to me once, so luckily I’m not directly affected by it.

  25. X2Eliah says:

    I find it somewhat interesting that such a seemingly large deal is going about unsubscribing.. As in, that so many people want to unsub, in fact.
    Is that caused by the game’s levelling speed, or lack of content, or something else?

    And.. I wonder.. Will this game fall over itself in the next few months with a downward-spiralling userbase? Given that an MMO thrives on the number of people playing it.. this might cause a snowball effect, perhaps.

    Edit: As for Bioware/EA websitesbeing rubbish, yeah, that’s all true and nothing new. Other examples.. Origin store site language-locking to your IP (want english outside UK/US? Bwaahahaha, yeah, no, not gonna happen) without any option to change it, Bioware site not allowing to register ME1 or older games anymore, all links on ME1 page for their “bring down the sky” dlc are invalid (you have to go through EA support to activate it!)… And a number of issues that came to be when they merged their bioware user accounts into EA-user accounts.

  26. GTB says:

    The “ban people who break our arbitrary rules without fixing the problem in-game” thing reminds me a lot of World of Warcraft’s early days, when you could get banned for getting on top of the roofs of the buildings in that neutral town and sniping people from up there, because it was difficult to get up there if you didn’t know how. Rather than fix the jumping path to get up there, they just started warning-then-banning people who did it, calling it an exploit. A friend of mine who still plays said it took them years to actually fix it, which they did by spawning guards on top of the buildings.

    Also, what you all are not taking into account is that George Lucas initially didn’t want that “unsubscribe” button to be there, but didn’t have the technology at the time to get rid of it. Now that he does, a month later, he fixed it. So its a feature, not a glitch, on the brand new “enhanced” version of the website.

    • Veloxyll says:

      Well it was very annoying. Because there was nothing you could actually do, even at max level, to actually remove them.

      On the other hand that was actively negatively affecting other people’s gameplay. And the threads about it never got locked afaik. Also that was what? 5 years ago.
      Where getting loot early. Really. THAT’S a bannable offence. Or removing the unsubscribe button a few days before people MUST make their decision then people providing solutions.

      This might be the first potential WoW Killer (HA!) that gets killed by bad customer service. And yeah, if it’s the fastest selling and STILL not meeting projections, that’s what we call a TERRIBLE idea. And it wouldn’t be the first MMO to sell really well then lose all its subs in 6 months.
      Except people can’t cancel their subs
      ONCE YOU SW:TOR YOU CANNOT ESCAPE. Only the Sith deal in absolutes – fortunately 90% of the playerbase are Sith.

  27. Agammamon says:

    I swore I wouldn’t ever buy this game and then a couple of weeks after it came out I said what the hell.

    It meets everyone of my expectations.

    Its a poorly thought out WOW clone with a story tacked on.

    The worst thing about it apart from the minor bugs (I haven’t dealth with anything too bad beyond ability delays) and the latency spikes I have is that they’ve literally ignored all the lessons learned and features that MMO’s have developed over the last half decade.

    TOR is the worst type of WOW clone – its a clone of WOW as it was in 2005.

  28. Bubble181 says:

    I’m in the group of people who’d have loved KotOR 3 but won’t play TOR.
    Thing is, even if the stories are great, and ignoring the retcon about KotOR 2, and whatever… Sure, I can solo the game. That’s nice. But that just means it’s KotOR 3, with lag, with always-online DRM, with a bunch of badly-scripted, annoying bots around, where I can’t have as much freedom. And I’d have to pay €15 a month – Diablo III has most of those features as well (alas) and I wouldn’t be playing it either, but I got it as a gift…But that costs €43.99, one time.
    TOR is either short and not worth it, or long, and not worth it because it’d cost too much. I’m not paying €15 for my, maybe, 15 hours of game time a month. That’s just not sensible.

    Besides, I’d want it offline. Give me TOR offline for a fixed price and I’ll try it out :-P

  29. DTWolfwood says:

    Unsubscribe button disappearing just before the most expensive month of the game is over? That is super suspicious!

    So happy to see Tera finally getting a release date wooooo

    Someone please tell me what End Game is like in SWTOR in terms of PVE? cause i really can give 2 shits about PVP. I really cant see any longevity to this game. :(

  30. NBSRDan says:

    Star Wars: The Old Republic doesn’t sound like a game so much as a scam.

  31. Xythe says:

    Need to point this out, because I can’t see anyone else who has, the e-mail about players getting banned for looting containers was a hoax. Bioware confirmed some accounts had been banned for farming on Illum, but that these were obvious gold farmers (the kind running the same circuits 24 hours a day).

    Personally, I think SW:TOR is fantastic. Certainly the best theme-park MMO I’ve ever played, and 2nd only to EVE Online as hands down best in the field. Yes, there are some irritating bugs, balance issues and “features” around, but nothing game breaking that I’ve come across, and all things that look like they’ll be fixed with a bit of post-release polish. Apparently the last patch broke PvP somewhat, but I don’t participate in the sort of zero risk, zero consequence PvP offered by SW:TOR, WoW, CoD etc, so it would be impossible for this to affect my view of the game. I only hit 50 on Saturday, so endgame I can’t comment on with any real authority, but there seems to be more to do than WoW had at launch, and the few bits I’ve done have been pretty fun. But the main thing I think that really makes this one blow everything else away for me, is that I hit 50 on my Imperial Agent, then immediately rolled a Sith Warrior and started doing it again. I have never, ever, progressed an alt before. The only game I even had alts in was WoW, and none of them broke lvl 30 in almost 6 years of me (on and off) being a subscriber. Leveling has always just been something I endured and got over with asap to get to the cap, find a decent group to play with, and do some endgame content. In SW:TOR it’s been a 160 hour joy, and I’m straight back in to do it all over again.

  32. Kdansky says:

    Squishy rules are bullshit, there is no other way to put it. Either your game has working rules, or it fails. But asking everyone to “play nicely by these arbitrary and unclear rule set which we change all the time” is just crap. And if people manage to sneak by, and loot containers, well, make the mobs a bigger challenge, or remove the containers, like WoW did at one point, because cheaters teleported around the world, looted the chests, sold the rare items on the AH, and then sold the gold online for real dollars (and what’s the problem with that, exactly?)

    At least they didn’t ban anyone for using the /dance exploit, eh? As if…

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