Star Wars: The Old Republic just celebrated its fourth birthday on store shelves. Though the game had over 1 million subscribers within three days of its launch (making it the world’s fastest-growing MMO in history, mind you), a number of players have expressed concern over what they see as servers seeming evidently “light” as of late. PC Gamer had the opportunity to talk to BioWare Writing Director Daniel Erickson, who dismissed rumors of a significant drop in subscription numbers for the heralded MMO.
BioWare stated that subscriber numbers haven’t dropped, but concurrent users at peak times are in fact struggling a bit. Erickson said the developer is doing “anything and everything” to keep that number of concurrent users steady:
“Nothing is off the table when it comes to making sure our communities are strong and active on each server.”
BioWare are in the unique position of overseeing an MMO which features full-fledged character voiceovers, so creating additional content for players to consume is a far different process than that of developers like Blizzard in adding content for WoW, for example. BioWare has to plan add-on content months in advance if they are to equip the necessary resources and actors to produce it. Erickson stated however that BioWare is getting better and more efficient at producing content quicker, and that caters to the wants of their audience:
“We’re getting spryer all the time. 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.”
BioWare is in the process of finishing up an experiment in expanding the SWTOR universe without forcing players to pay/download content supplemental to the experience. Instead, BioWare recently introduced to the game the “Rakghoul plague outbreak” which turns unsuspecting characters into the most feared, and unquestionably most annoying monsters in the Star Wars universe. Infected characters quickly turn into the bulky mutants, giving you the opportunity to play the role of a**hole and infect your friends. The plague has in fact been a part of the SWTOR storyline already. The plot is intertwined with the Kaon Under Siege and The Lost Island “flashpoints” added after the game’s release as add-on content.
The event is a result of an integral concept that BioWare hopes will keep players engaged. Erickson stated that SWTOR seeks to be “not just a destination to see your friends but a place to log in just to see what’s new. Interesting replayable content is the top of the list of design prototypes going on over here.”
Erickson interestingly continued by saying he believes content such as the Rakghoul plague will add to a singular, coherent in-game history that players will be able to reflect upon later down the line.
“Events are, by their very nature, transient things that build a sense of history within the game. Later you’ll pull out your red rakling pet and say, ‘remember when the Rakghoul plague hit.’”
Source: PC Gamer