05/07/2014

Do you consider SWTOR "old"?

While reading about SWTOR on general gaming sites as of late, I've noticed a (to me) funny thing: I keep seeing people refer to it as "an older game". Seeing someone express that sentiment startles me every time - the game is only two and a half years old, for Christ's sake! I know this is the internet and internet years are different from real life years (probably more similar to dog years or something), but in an MMO two and a half years really aren't that long of a time. I'm pretty sure that the number of MMOs older than that is much larger than the number of those that have been released more recently.


"I don't look old, HK, do I?"

I'm thinking back to when WoW was two and a half years old and I can't even imagine anyone calling it old back then. Then again, WoW's popularity was still rising rapidly at that point. So maybe our perception of a game's age has less to do with how long it has been out than with how popular it is. Consider EVE Online, a game that is over eleven years old by now but experienced a lot of pretty steady growth during that time. I for one don't see anyone dismissing EVE as old.

However these days, with people's tendency to jump on the bandwagon of every new launch and then abandoning the game a couple of months later, the road to being considered old and forgotten is a fairly short one. Not to mention that many new MMOs see a lot of pre-launch hype these days, meaning that by the time the game actually gets released, it can feel as if you've already been engaged with it for several months or even years.

So is SWTOR not popular enough anymore? The truth is, it's hard to say. Back when the hype surrounding the game was at its peak, Bioware loved to throw around metrics about how many subscribers they had and how long the average player was playing per day. Ever since the free-to-play transition however, talking about metrics seems to have become a bit of a taboo around Austin. It's already a surprise when they dare to release information such as "Vanguards win more than half of their arena matches". In EA's quarterly financial report, SWTOR gets lumped in with other games and you can't really tell how well it's doing beyond a vague notion that it seems to be making some money for EA. Individuals can share observations about how their server is bustling or a ghost town, but as the saying goes, anecdotes are not data. Personally I think that there is still a decent amount of interest in the game though. If nothing else I thought it was telling that, back when Massively suffered its staff cuts, the SWTOR column was one of the ones to be thrown out, but has now actually been brought back. They wouldn't have done that if there wasn't still a healthy amount of interest in the game.

In my opinion one or two years after launch is actually a great time to get into a new MMO. By that point, the launch issues that every MMO experiences have been ironed out, and the game's system requirements don't seem nearly as steep as they were on release. It's probably cheaper than it was at launch (if it's not free to play anyway) and may even have had an expansion or two, offering players a considerable amount of content to play through. At the same time it shouldn't yet suffer from the problems that some of the genuinely older MMOs experience, such as a lack of low-level characters to interact with or systems bloat that makes it hard for new players to come to grips with the game.

When do you consider an MMO (or a PC game in general) "old"?

11 comments:

  1. 3+ years is 'old' to me. The first year is spent laying out the base game. Year two (expansion) kinda adds in all the stuff they had planned. Year three they apply what they've learned (players like X, not Y). After that, nothing revolutionary appears.

    I think SWTOR just hasn't added anything that it does best. So anyone that has played other MMOs isn't as blown away by what it has to offer.

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    1. I don't know, I don't really buy that nothing exciting happens in a game once it's over three years old. Both WoW and EVE are much older than that and still regularly revamp core parts of the game. Both LOTRO and DDO were over three years old when they changed business model to F2P. LOTRO decided after over six years to move its endgame away from raids. Just to name a few...

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    2. Lots of exciting things happen after three years. Wrath of the Lich King was my favorite expansion to WoW, and that was on into year 5 or 6? But nothing revolutionary showed up.

      Coming from EverQuest, I had no notion of what battlegrounds were. When I queued my first BG in WoW, it was first experience with any match queued PvP like that. That was new to me. Same with Dungeons. I had no experience with a directed battle-story of sorts like that.

      Raids are just big dungeons, and arenas are just small BGs. I think the next new thing to come out of WoW was the pet battles thing, but I have never experienced those so I can't say. The core game to WoW hasn't changed.

      With SWTOR, there is nothing new. Flashpoints are dungeons, Operations are raids, GSF & PvP are battlegrounds. Arenas are...arenas. For MMO veterans, there is nothing 'new' to experience, so that's my guess as to why anyone would think SWTOR is an older game. Maybe what they mean is SWTOR is based on an older model.

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  2. I generally think of a game as old if the hardware it ran on is no longer commercially available (for example, Apple ][ games). I can also be old if it won't run on a currently sold operating system without modification, emulation, special support, etc (for example, 16 bit Windows games on 64-bit Windows).

    As far as MMOs go, I see the old ones as pre-Wow MMOs. Ultima Online, Everquest 1, Dark Age of Camelot, etc. While they may receive new content updates they rarely, if ever, receive technology updates. The other 'old' MMOs are the ones such as Guild Wars 1 with reached a stage of being purely in maintenance mode: no new tech or content updates.

    I see SWTOR as being mature, rather than old. It gets tech and content updates on a regular basis, but it has probably hit equilibrium as far as its player base goes. It will remain consistently popular (Let's say top-five MMOs, but won't be the game that is this month's hotness.)

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    1. That sounds like a sensible point of view to me. :)

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  3. I'd say about 4 years is "old". By then, there have been a couple of expacs, the first year's worth of issues have been ironed out, and the rush-rush-rush crowd has moved on to the next flavor of the month.

    The people who remain are those that like the game for what it is, and the game has a general ebb and flow of people on daily basis. That's why I like games like SWTOR and Age of Conan, because the regulars know they're not riding the "next big thing", and they don't have to put up with people saying "I'm bored!" or "This game sucks!" on a constant basis in Gen Chat.

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  4. This is off the subject but I was wondering if you have noticed this on your server. I am on Shadowlands and recently I have noticed a huge increase in gold/credit spammers. Mostly on the fleet. For the first 2 years I don't remember ever seeing one. Have you had an increase as well?

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    1. I wouldn't call it a "huge" increase, but it's definitely become more of an issue than it used to be. At lauch, credit/gold spammers seemed to be pretty much non-existent. Then at some point I got my first "buy credits" mail, but that still remained a rare occurrence. These days, there's at least one low-level spammer character standing at the GTN and yelling at all times of day, and reporting seems to do nothing. :-/

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    2. Somehow, it's just not a trip to the fleet if you can't ignore and report a goldspammer within 15 seconds after stepping off your ship... ;)

      There appears to be only one GTN yeller, at least on Harbinger, for mmowell; the genchat spammers, on the other hand, appear to have expanded from shilling for one site to either four or five (I've stopped paying attention to which site they're pimping).

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    3. I've noticed it on both servers I play on (Shadowlands and Harbinger), but pretty much only on the fleet. And yeah, it's only one person doing the shouting.

      It really is kind of amusing, because it doesn't take long at all to amass credits in SWTOR --even without playing the auction house-- unlike some of the other games out there.

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  5. It might sound strange, but yes, in my book that game is "old". Indeed older than some games which were released before it.

    By all means of logic, this makes no sense, just looking at the release date this game is not old yet, but for me, when i actually played it, it felt "old" already within the first week of playing it. Your blog and the existance of some more tells me that there are people who love this game. (But alas, there are people who still love and play Anarchy Online, which still has a fond memory in my heart. ) Still i think everybody playing the game has to acknowledge that the game at heart is much oder than the release date indicates.

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