20/12/2019

Eight Years of SWTOR

It's that time of year once again to wish my favourite MMO a happy birthday! And to update my collage showing off my main's different looks over the course of the years:


I can't believe we're getting close to a decade of SWTOR now, and it's still holding up well. As usual, hard facts and figures are hard to come by, but when Keith popped into the dev livestream a couple of days ago he said that Onslaught has been doing "really, really well" and that lots of people are coming back to the game.

For me, YouTube also keeps recommending videos by smaller channels (less than 10k subscribers) that are about the creator trying SWTOR for the first time recently, and then said videos suddenly become the most watched things on their channels, eclipsing their subscriber numbers by several multitudes, so there's still obvious interest in the game.

Of course the release of episode nine and the Mandalorian have undoubtedly contributed to a renewed interest in Star Wars from more casual players as well. The other day someone on my Twitter timeline commented that the Mandalorian made them crave a Star Wars game that wasn't just about swinging lightsabers - I'm sure it won't take you three guesses to figure out which way I pointed them...

Anyway, to take a few steps back for a moment - as I mentioned at the start, these birthday posts are an annual tradition on this blog, so if you like you can look back at how I rated other years in SWTOR's history:

Happy Birthday, SWTOR!
Happy 2nd Birthday, SWTOR!
Happy Third Birthday, SWTOR!
Happy 4th Birthday, SWTOR!
Five Years of SWTOR
Six Years of SWTOR
Seven Years of SWTOR

Last year I was mostly expressing some concern that it had been the second year in a row that we hadn't got a new expansion. I liked the direction in which Bioware was taking the game and its content, but new content seemed to be coming out painfully slowly. My main hope for 2019 was that this would improve a bit.

Now, I wasn't instantly sure how I should rate this in hindsight. We did finally get that long-awaited expansion two months ago, so fist pump on that count! It brought with it a great new story, a brilliant new operation, a fun new flashpoint and more. Is one sizeable content dump at the end of the year really that much more than we got in 2018 though? Ossus was a pretty damn big patch too after all.

So I went to check the patch notes, and yeah, I think it's fair to say that we got more content this year. Before Onslaught we also got the Hive Queen as a lair boss, Dantooine as a new planet and with it a new world event, as well as some minor story updates.

As I had predicted, they've been kind of running out of actual game features to revamp at this point (something that had been a bit of a trend for the last two years), though they did upgrade the gear preview window in April. The toughest period were probably the four months in the immediate run-up to Onslaught, as nothing of impact happened during that time and things felt kinda slow if you weren't particularly interested in testing things on the PTS.

I've also learned from hearsay (though relatively reliable hearsay at that) that the SWTOR team is now much smaller than it was even a few years ago (so long after the big post-launch lay-offs), only about half the size it was around the release of Shadow of Revan, presumably because a number of staff were pulled off to prop up the ailing Anthem. While this is not happy news, it did greatly increase my admiration for this small team that keeps the game up and running as well as churning out exciting new content - if not at a regular pace, then at least at a decent one.

They also seem to have grand plans for the future - in the aforementioned dev livestream they also mentioned that they are already thinking about the game's tenth anniversary, which is still two years away, and I'm sure we'll see more exciting story and group content before then. For now, the next new thing we know to expect is a new stronghold on Alderaan, which is currently available for testing on the PTS and set to be released around February. Good times!

So another happy birthday to you, SWTOR, and I once again raise my glass to all the folks at Bioware who keep this show running in such an enjoyable way. Long may they continue!

4 comments :

  1. I think it's saying something where older titles that have benefited from MMO nostalgia (WoW Classic, SWTOR) are doing better than MMO titles that have been constantly trying to reinvent themselves (WoW retail).

    ReplyDelete
  2. wohoooo...another year! we best! in the words of Halestorm "here's to us".

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm beginning to think that small teams is the way to go from a player's perspective. The bigger the operation, the more chaotic and weird things get. Small teams have no choice but to focus and that really shows in the content.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I beg to differ…"and that really shows in the content."...no content for months is the result. Small teams is not the way to go.

      Delete

Share your opinion! Everyone is welcome, as long as things stay polite. No sign-in required. I also read comments on older posts, so don't be shy. :)