[Editor's note: This opinion piece was authored by Chong, our guildmate and the organiser of the Ootini Fight Club, our guild PvP group on The Harbinger. While we welcome comments, please note that all comments are moderated before appearing on the site. -Teo]
It started a long time ago in a galaxy far, far… actually it was around February of 2012, two or three months after the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR). I’m referring to the unbridled hate for the once falling star that is SWTOR. It began with ingame chat, murmurs about game mechanics and quality of life aspects versus previously-played Massively Multi-user Online Games (MMOs); but now it’s escalated into outright hate and vitriol over the game and its existence. SWTOR has been attempting to stem and repair its dwindling subscription base by fixing and addressing all these complaints about how it does not match up to other MMOs; particularly the “elephant in the room”, World of Warcraft (WoW). While I am not going to argue about subjective opinions, I am going to argue against the passionate hate that seems to plague this game.
A few days ago I saw a story on GameSpy.com covering the future of SWTOR as it expands to face one of the biggest complaints against it back in February: “Not enough endgame material.” This was one of the problems that started to lead to early subscription cancellations.
For the hard-working folks at BioWare and EA, adding higher end content is a step in the right direction. This can only be a positive change and may even bring some of the early deserters back into the fold. This is only the most recent dramatic change to SWTOR from its initial release. The expectations for the game, which was only one year old in December of 2012, to be better than or on par with WoW, the then eight year old game, is so mind boggling that it leaves one gobsmacked. Should the game ever be exactly like WoW it would also see harsh criticism, including “it is just a clone of WoW” opinions. It seems whatever route that the BioWare and EA team try to take, they are attacked with hatred.
The state of the game now is one of recovery from its early and large loss of players; those players are needed to keep games like SWTOR and WoW alive and entertaining. I played WoW before they even had their first expansion, and before that I played the first Star Wars-themed MMO, Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided (SWG). I experienced both a dying MMO (SWG) and an expanding MMO (WoW) simultaneously. SWG was losing badly to the then-new WoW; SWG started to become a wasteland devoid of players. This was a double whammy for SWG and all MMOs: less paying subscribers meant no income to maintain the game, and fewer players online meant no enjoyment for the remaining players, thus creating a vicious cycle that caused yet more players to leave.
For SWTOR to keep the game competitive and enjoyable, they had to make changes, and they have; in my opinion, mainly the right ones. The vast majority of players who have stuck with it have seen and appreciate the changes. The recent rapid influx of new and old players is testament to my case that BioWare and EA are going down the right path. But there remains a loud minority, who for some reason are aggressively hateful, and consider any change to be suspect or malevolent.
Why am I writing this? It’s very simple: I love to play SWTOR, I look forward to the changes in the game that will both improve my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others who I want to play with. I know there are problems with the game, because I play it. I will use the resources given to me to help inform developers to make the changes I want; my faith in their ability to do this is why I give my hard-earned income to support the company. It is my subjective opinion that SWTOR is the best MMO at the moment, and will only get better with my help and those of players like me. There is no true objective answer to “What is the best MMO?” That is why I cannot argue about it being the best for you. I stopped playing WoW shortly after the Cataclysm expansion and I have never logged back in, never gone back to the forums or glanced at a story on the internet about the future of that game. I have never posted a negative comment on any site that is promoting or informing its subscribers. This does not mean you don’t have a right to try to effect change if you don’t pay or play. I am sure BioWare and EA would love to know what it would take to get you to try the game, or bring you back. I would consider suggestions of improvement as constructive criticism. It’s the non-constructive comments that irk me.
SWTOR does not deserve to be hounded by people who want nothing more than to outdo each other in tearing down a game they themselves want nothing to do with. The internet calls it trolling, and it’s really sad and pathetic. What drives people to spend energy attacking something they don’t care about? It can’t be healthy. This is why SWTOR does not deserve the hate. If you don’t like the game, move on! Let others who may still enjoy it, enjoy it. A comment on a blog has never changed someone’s opinion, so save your energy for something you’re passionate about, and don’t be passionate about your hate.