This post may come off a little negative, but that’s not how it’s intended. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to why SWTOR didn’t grab me, or rather, it did, but couldn’t keep me. One of the major issues I had wasn’t really an issue at all, but is just how gamers perceive things. There are a lot of ‘things’ that I’m used to having in games, thanks to those who have been around for 5+ years. I realize it’s incredibly unfair to judge a game that releases today against a game that has been around for many years because after all that game has had time to grow – but – as a gamer, we are not interested in how things were 5 years ago, or how they will be 5 years from now. What we are interested in (and I use the term ‘we’ loosely here before someone throws a fit) is what is available NOW. At this exact moment that we are playing. If I can play a game that offers me 5 things that I really want from my video game, as opposed to a game that offers me 9 things that I really want from my video game, which game do you think I’m going to play? It doesn’t matter how old or how new a game is – in order to KEEP me playing, it’s going to have to appeal to those things on my list, and lets face it, the older games have had more time to work out what those ‘things’ are and to add them.
I feel very strongly that in order to actually compete with games that are 5-10 years old, games that are being released today need to take that progress into account. Dusty made a very good point yesterday regarding SWTOR – if you are leveling alts you can’t simply say “well, I leveled in Balmorra last time, so this time I’ll go to planet X instead.” There’s no alternate rout for you to bring your characters, where as (as an example) in EQ2 if you leveled in Thundering steppes last time, you’re more than welcome to head to Nektulos Forest. Or Butcherblock Mountains. Or do dungeons. In WoW you also have the choice of where to spend your time. In Rift? Not so much. SWTOR? Also not so much. Again this is an unfair comparison and I know it is, because the two later games are much newer, and thus haven’t had the time to add new content – but that’s simply how it is. In order to compete with games that are 5-10 years old, you must think of yourself as one of those games. I realize that there’s only so much manpower a company can dedicate to a game, and I also realize that this is pretty much an impossible task – but for us selfish gamers, that’s how we’re thinking. We’re going to constantly compare any new game to those we have played previously. Those older games have already gotten their hands on us, we’ve already got ties to them – new games need a way to get those hands on us in a MUCH faster way, so that we’ll stay.
When it comes down to it, that’s why SWTOR didn’t have the staying power required for me to keep playing. Were the stories amazing? Sure they were, I loved them. I loved having choices for my characters to make. I experienced very few bugs (personally, I know others have a long list of bugs), and datacrons and exploration were fun. The problem is (aside from the story lines and character choices) I can get those things in any other game on my list, plus more sandbox features which is key to me sticking around in any game. I play alts, they need choices that will be different from my mains. Sure, I can choose a different *story* for them, but they’re basically doing the exact same things (as long as we’re the same factions) as my main, minus the class quests. They’re visiting the same zones, collecting the same datacrons, and when I dislike a zone like Balmorra (those lifts.. that map.. OUCH) I have no alternate rout. Now, maybe game companies have given up on trying to retain players and instead are working to build up their first-time sales, which is completely fine if that’s the way they’re trying to operate. Obviously that’s not how I’d prefer things done but hey I’m not a gaming company trying to make money, I’m just a player.
Anyhow, those were just some of my thoughts on player retention. As always, happy gaming, no matter where you find yourself!