Rise Of The Old Republic
"Some of the risks that we identified going into launch were becoming worse than we thought... The most worrisome was that people were going through the content a lot faster than we expected. We had expected our playerbase to play through the game and get to the endgame, on average, in about three to four months, maybe five months. It was 170-180 hours of content. But our metrics were showing us that, on average, for the millions of people playing our game, they were going through the game at a rate of 40 hours a week."
This from BioWare Creative Director James Ohlen, who addressed a room full of developers and video game journalists at the GDC Thursday (28/03/2013) morning. Of course, MMO players power grinding through games a whole heap of a lot faster than the developers anticipated is far from news. In fact, if players had been taking three months to max their levels, that would be news. All things considered, even a week of grinding to reach end game is quite an accomplishment in itself, so they should be proud of that...and learn not to be so cocky in the future. Heh. And hey, it's still slower than the other Star Wars MMO. From personal experience, I can tell you, you could max out in a day with the right group.
But where does this leave the future? Aside from the gross underestimate of timing, the game suffered from more than just a lack of endgame. No group finder tool being, certainly, one of the most crippling oversights. With the playerbase dwindling, literally, day by day, BioWare staff morale right behind it, calling it an uphill struggle is an understatement. But, thankfully, they persevered. Making the jump to the free to play model in what has to be record time. A wise move on its own, which was heavily supported by an even bolder moment of sheer genius. They listened to their playerbase.
Since then, things have changed a lot. With endgame content rolling out at a steady rate, the first expansion on our doorsteps and much better networking options, the game is clawing its way to lofty heights. Slowly, yes, but steadily. Metrics now show that, day by day, total active players is increasing by close on 10,000 per day! It seems the free to play model, once again, shows itself to be the future of the persistent online experience. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a sassy Twi'lek Jedi itching to get at that endgame. Comment below my young Padawan.