As many will have seen on the official site, BioWare have released a video talking about the launch of The Old Republic and how successful it’s been so far. Some pretty grandiose claims are being made with regards to how great the game is, how many boxes have sold and how players love the innovation they’re finding.
For me, playing the game is enjoyable and a lot of good work has been done. But I can’t shake the feeling that a public back-patting session is wholly premature considering the game was released while incomplete, and still suffers from some pretty significant problems. Not only that, two months is not a realistic view of how the game is going to pan out over a meaningful period of time.
I suppose my problem is this.
1) We’ve been here before. Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings online, Warhammer Age of Reckoning, Rift… The list goes on. Games that launch to hype tend to sell pretty well out of the gate, but fall away when no real innovation or depth is found in their gameplay.
2) Some of the claims are meaningless. “A successful launch” is only true in some eyes, certainly not all. “Fantastic innovation” depends entirely on where you set the bar on what’s innovative. “Most successful MMO” after two months – it’s harder to be more meaningless than that.
3) This is just setting yourself up for a fall. By coming out and congratulating yourself on how wonderful you are, you’re basically handing the spuds to the kids with spud guns when subscriptions start to fall away and people realise what was promised wasn’t what was presented.
I don’t know, maybe I’m being oversensitive. But I’m playing a game that still, to this day, feels incomplete and I can’t help but think that I’m being short changed when a company spends time telling me what a wonderful job they’ve done, when so many players are sat at their computers bemused.
The “GM” service is still very poor whilst in the game.
Endgame is still the same as WoW, but a bit worse.
Production quality still isn’t where it should be.
Several obvious launch features are still missing.
Class balance still worries a great many players.
Many encounters are still absolutely rife with bugs.
Grouping for flashpoints is still needlessly difficult.
There’s still not enough to do when reaching 50.
Analysing performance is still close to impossible.
PvP on Ilum is still messed up for many players.
Please don’t take this as a laundry list of complaints that are making the game unenjoyable. I’m still playing, and still having a blast. Many problems Blizzard wrestled with for years (and still can’t fix) were dealt with in one fell swoop here, while the commitment needed to be any good at this game is still set extremely well.
But I’m going to be honest; the reason many people are still playing is because of the Star Wars IP, the amount of advertising that went into the game, and the belief that things will be fixed quickly. In lieu of these things, The Old Republic wouldn’t even hold half of its current subscribers because the quality of the game itself simply doesn’t warrant it.
Counting chickens before they hatch is historically proven to be a bad idea.
So please, BioWare, let the shameless self-promotion slide and get back to sorting out some of the problems you know exist.
Players do not have infinite patience.
They really don’t.