Some interesting news about SWTOR came out in the past week.
First off, there was the press event that was held in California two weeks ago and about which the people who attended weren't allowed to talk until the start of this week. Heather from Pretty Little Sith posted a great, in-depth report about it on her site.
Can I just say how pleasant it was to read a Q&A where people actually asked sensible questions? No offense to the Community Cantinas, but all too often the people attending there ask terrible questions during the Q&A sessions, usually things along the lines of "When will we (ever) see [insert feature here]?", to which the answer is always something vague about how it sounds like a cool idea and they'd quite like to do it but probably not any time soon. So it was really refreshing to see a Q&A where the people asking the questions were actually in touch with the community and had clearly given their questions some thought.
It was also nice to see the devs "come out of their shells" a bit so to speak and be able to elaborate on certain issues, such as their stance on datamining. I was happy to hear that they are planning to double-down on Bioware cinematics next year, which will hopefully mean more PvE content at a faster pace than we've seen recently. I think GSF and GSH added value to the game, but I agree with their stance that they shouldn't try to add more feature expansions just for the sake of adding new features when nothing really jumps out at them as making a good addition.
I'm also a sucker for stats and statistics and found it interesting that they revealed that fewer than two percent of all free players hit their weekly warzone cap, which goes very much against the commonly touted assumption that letting free players queue more often and/or for ranked play would fix any queueing issues once and for all.
Apparently the number of guilds who participate in Conquest is going up, something that definitely matches my experience. I noted that during the last Total Galactic War, the event ended with ten empty spots on the leaderboard on The Red Eclipse. This week it's already been completely filled up. (And my guild has been beaten by a Polish guild I'd never even heard of before.)
A lesson they apparently learned for Shadow of Revan is that they need to make the questing content "worthwhile" because apparently "many" people levelled to 55 without even going to Makeb. Again, this is something I can attest to... I did complete Makeb several times, but most of my alts haven't actually done it, because once you'd seen the story, the planet wasn't really very rewarding in terms of gameplay.
On Wednesday Bioware also released a new infographic about SWTOR on the official website. I was quite excited about this as I feel that they've become very coy about numbers of any kind ever since the free-to-play conversion (which is kind of understandable considering that things like decreasing sub numbers made for terrible PR, but still). It wasn't quite as interesting as I would have hoped (for example I felt that all the emphasis on the length of the cinematic story content wasn't all that relevant or interesting) but there were still some fascinating tidbits of information in it.
For example the class distribution shows Empire and Republic on nearly even ground, with the two Jedi classes being the most popular - which is kind of what you'd expect in a Star Wars game, but this wasn't true at launch! When Bioware first released information about class distribution back at the guild summit in 2012, the Sith inquisitor was by far the most popular class for some reason, making up 19% of the player population. Now they are down to roughly 14%. Meanwhile the total population of Jedi (knights and consulars put together) has risen from making up roughly 17% of the playerbase to over 30%. Also, the Empire in general was a lot more popular than the Republic at launch, but the population seems to have evened out since then, with Imperial characters outnumbering the Republic only by a few hundred thousand. (Though something is slightly off with these numbers, as they talk about 57 million characters created at the top of the graphic, but the numbers listed in the class distribution bit actually add up to nearly 60 million, which I find a bit confusing. If it was the other way round, you could argue that 3 million characters were created and then deleted, but you can't have more characters exist than were ever created...)
The number of player ships listed is also interesting, as acquiring your ship requires you to actually complete your class storyline on Coruscant or Dromund Kaas, so this implies that only about 11% of all characters even complete the prologue. Now, while there are probably some odd exceptions like people who level purely by GSF and ignore their class story or characters that exist purely as name placeholders, this certainly reminds me of the old WoW statistic that revealed that only 30% of new players made it to level 10, and how even that was actually amazingly good by MMO standards.
As somewhat of a counterpoint, the 635 million hours invested in the game make for an average of 11 hours per character... now if you consider that 90% of the people who try the game stop playing relatively early, that leaves a lot of hours for the people who actually do stick with the game.
Shoraan on the forums also pointed out that it's kind of surprising just how close the number of mob kills and PvP kills listed on the infographic are, which implies that about one PvP kill happens for every 2.5 PvE kills. Considering the hundreds and thousands of mobs you mow down while levelling and doing dailies, that's actually a lot of PvP happening in a game that isn't really focused on it.