“Entitled” Gamers Need to Ask the Right Questions (SWTOR)

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Posting twice in one day?! HOW IS POSSIBLE.

This is just a quick post to address a SWTOR-related debacle that started this afternoon and will still be rolling along tomorrow. Earlier today Bioware announced that along with the release of patch 1.2 every player with an active account and a level 50 character would receive a free month of time. “Hooray!” said people with level 50s. “OMG WTF why do you hate us?!” cried out the sub-50s.

Let’s get one thing straight: I can see how missing out on a free month of gameplay would be a bummer, and I don’t begrudge the passed over folks for the fact that they are indeed bummed. What does bug me though is that thus far I haven’t seen any of the complainers asking the right questions about all this. What I am seeing is a lot of, “Bioware, am I not a loyal customer? Do you hate altoholics and role players? Why are you hurting me like this?” and that, my subscribing friends, is not going to get you anywhere.

Let’s review what I’ve been saying over and over for the past few weeks:

  1. Bioware is not your friend. As a company they do not really care if they slight you, John Q. Jedi. Stop stomping about with hurt feelings and rants about being underappreciated for your dedication to your alts.
  2. There is probably a logical (if unpleasant) business rule at work. In this case, I would bet money that SWTOR has been having a retention problem with level 50 characters, and this is their way of trying to coax people into another month and checking out patch 1.2.

People who have played SWTOR for hundreds of hours and still do not yet have a level 50 are, in both my and I suspect in Bioware’s estimation, pretty unlikely to jump ship. You didn’t get a retention bonus because you don’t need one, and the company isn’t just shoveling out free money for kicks.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be disappointed that you didn’t get a free month, but that you’re asking the wrong question. Asking, “Why doesn’t Bioware appreciate me?” reeks of entitlement. Who are YOU? Why should mega-mono-game-mart care about YOU and all your alts?

The question instead should be, “Is a retention offer important enough to me to cancel or otherwise put my SWTOR account in peril?”. (For me, by the way, that answer is no.) If it is, then act on it because all these posts I’m seeing today about how your BFF Bioware hates altoholics are just wearing out your keyboards.

Author: Jessica Cook

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15 Comments

  1. I agree with the general sentiment vs entitlement, but I don’t generally agree with these kinds of promotions. As far as game communities go this achieves 2 things: nets you the money you’re targetting at that demographic, and alienates the portions which didn’t get anything nice for playing. In just fractures communities, and communities are the backbone of MMOs.

    It’s poor marketing and these companies should understand that it’s not helping their games. You retain those players you made feel special and you lose those who you made feel less special. It’s just not win/win economics.

    And I don’t play SWTOR :) Not surprised they’re making bad marketing gimmicks.
    Doone´s last post: How Blizzard Should Have Solved Ji the Firepaw

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    • I read this comment of yours yesterday, Doone, and I’ve been pondering it ever since.

      I think I disagree with you about these kinds of marketing initiatives. Whether it’s this free month in SWTOR or the Scroll of Resurrection in WoW, the initiatives work. I mean, yes, they caused hopeless drama, but I think it’s almost impossible to make any kind of serious, audience-limited offer and not get folks upset that they missed it.

      The fact is that the Scroll is a great deal. A free month of SWTOR is also a great deal! They seem like solid, if divisive, promotional measures to improve retention and as a jaded MMO consumer it’s kind of pleasant to see companies work for my dollars. Like, I’m not saying that the companies are awesome, but as far as promotions go.. they are dramatic and they would certainly work. I shall have to ponder more.

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  2. At this stage, Bioware could pay off a player’s mortgage, deliver their baby and save their mother’s life, and people would still find something to complain about.
    Shintar´s last post: Jedi Consular Story Thoughts

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    • I love hating on MMO companies, and there are things I think Bioware deserves some flack about*, but in my opinion this is not one of them. I understand disappointment, but the cries for (as always) class action lawsuits and the like is boggling.

      * There are SO MANY quality-of-life improvements in 1.2 and I really really really wish they had introduced them sooner, for example.

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      • I’m not opposed to criticism at all, but I’m just feeling kind of jaded by some of the things people have been complaining about lately, and that’s not limited to Bioware. The amount of outrage in regards to WoW’s Scroll of Resurrection and about everything relating to the MoP beta has been just as silly in my opinion. I suppose the MMO world must actually be pretty good to players in general right now if “not enough free stuff for me” is the worst criticism they can throw at developers.
        Shintar´s last post: Calm Before The Storm

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  3. I agree with the sentiment of the post, that gamers (too) often feel an overblown sense of entitlements. I have no complaint about missing in game items, limited availability mounts or other trophy that rely on you happening to be around or playing during certain time limited periods (e.g. festival rewards).

    However as one affected by this who has shown ‘loyalty’ by pre-ordering, playing beta weekends + submitting bug reports AND subbing for 6 months at a time I find this level restriction insulting and insensitive.

    As you yourself said in your post about SWTOR not necessarily being aimed at the ‘WoW’ crowd this game need not be all about the “raid / PVP or get out mentality” of current WoW. However SWTOR is going down the same path I fear, whether due to player requests, stats on what players are doing, dev decision or investor/EA pressure.

    Saying that I must concentrate on one character until I’ve capped them, or that I am only loyal if I’ve played a set number of hours is a rediculous. I do not expect Bioware to be a BFF, I never did, but I expect them to continue to provide the gaming experience they sold this game on (4th pillar – story led content), I fear that just like with Rift the original design vision is being replaced or subsumed in the bog standard and very tired WoW endgame paradigm…
    Telwyn´s last post: SWTOR: ‘Loyalty’ reward and target audience

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    • I agree. This has been badly presented. Bioware have split their customer base in two, pointed at the level 50s and said ‘This lot are our “most-valued” players’ and then pointed at everyone else and said ‘This lot are, um… well… they play our game too.’

      Insulting what may well be a significant part of your customer base is not a good way to make them feel respected and wanted.
      DraconianOne´s last post: The value of loyalty

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    • I think you are making a leap of logic, Telwyn, to say that a free month for level 50s = raid or die. The game has been out for 4 months, and it is ENTIRELY possible for someone to have ambled to 50 by now. I’m not saying that everyone should have, because we all play in different ways, but it’s certainly not the hardcore or serious business raiders alone who have a level capped character.

      While I understand that it’s disappointing to not be included in a promotion, personally I don’t think this is any kind of an indication that Bioware is abandoning their story led content or veering more towards a hardcore mentality. It’s more that statistically they lose the most subscriptions from level 50 players.

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    • Good for you! I know “if you don’t like it, quit” is not the most pleasant answer, but unfortunately money talks to big companies like EA.

      I do wonder though, for you or folks like you who are really upset about this: are you in favor of any promotional efforts to retain the population in a game? Like.. ostensibly SWTOR has been experiencing a population drop, particularly for level-capped folks, and this is supposed to help that. If you love the game, as many of the folks who are upset about this do, then.. aren’t measures that keep people playing a GOOD thing? Do you care if other people are playing, or are you enjoying a single player experience? (No judging, honestly curious.)

      I kind of wonder where the balance is between measures to plug a population leak in a game you like, and your $15.

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      • I’m absolutely in favor of promotional offers to keep the game alive. As I said in my post about this, I don’t mind the fact that they’re giving level 50 characters something to make up for the fact that the end game content has been buggy or otherwise lacking, I’m all for doing something to make it up to them.

        My problem isn’t that something was given and I was excluded, my problem is with how it was given and what their criteria was for who got it and who didn’t. (I updated my post to include some numbers and also a reply of sorts to your comment if you’re interested in seeing it.)

        They said that this rewards was for their “loyal, valued, and supportive” players, which was calculated by having a level 50 character. Let’s look at two examples for a second.

        Player 1: Started playing in early access or at launch, has two+ level 50 characters, has suffered through buggy operations for four months.

        Player 2: Started playing on April 2nd, has one level 50 character, but has never been in an operation or flashpoint.

        Both of these players receive the 30 day reward as both of them have a level 50 character.

        Now look at me:

        Total Levels: 430 (not including characters below level 11)
        Total /Played: 29 days, 9 hours, 29 minutes (696.5 hours)
        Average Hours per Week: 42.24

        I don’t have any level 50 characters. Not because I couldn’t get to 50, but because reaching max level with a character means I can no longer progress with them, thus the character is essentially dead to me.

        Now refer back to Players 1 & 2 above – To give Player 1 a reward but not me is fine. If you’re rewarding level 50 characters who have dealt with buggy content for 4 months, then I’m all for it. Does Player 2 deserve to get rewarded for that? I don’t think so.

        But what did Bioware say they were rewarding, again? “Loyal, valued, and supportive” players. So rewarding Player 1 still fits. Rewarding Player 2 does not. Rewarding Player 2 but not me when the reward was stated as being for loyal, valued, and supportive players is quite frankly bullshit.

        If they had said that this reward was meant for those who had dealt with poor end game content, then I wouldn’t care at all. I didn’t experience it, so I shouldn’t be rewarded for it. But that’s not what they said. Sure, you can assume that this is meant to be aimed at those who dealt with buggy content, but that’s your assumption. Bioware didn’t say it, and they only mildly implied it. We know from the reports Bioware gave us at the Guild Summit that they who has participated in operations and who has not, so if they wanted to reward those players alone then they could have.
        Psynister´s last post: Bioware Rewards Their Players…Sort of

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  4. To be honest, I’m a little surprised so many people aren’t level capped that have been playing since early access. I barely play SWTOR but I’ve managed a level capped character since then, even with having several alts [including some level 20s I deleted/rerolled].

    I guess different playstyles and all at work…

    Hubby didn’t get the 30 days [I believe his toon is 41 now] but I’ll also admit that our priorities are still in WoW as we raid lead twice a week and we’re still having fun there.

    Honestly, I wasn’t expecting any of these things with a new patch. I thought it rather classy of them to give these perks. I mean, everyone is getting something, even if it’s just a pet [and a rather cute looking pet at that].
    Askevar´s last post: Wherein I am Cynical: MoP Beta and Annual Pass

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    • I’ve seen more than one person (not to pick on Telwyn from an earlier post) complain that this initiative is just for “the hardcore raiders”, and I’m just not buying that. It is perfectly reasonable for a very casual player to have a 50 by now if they wanted to (not that they SHOULD, because as you say different playstyles and all).

      I like SWTOR, and while I don’t LOVE it I do want it to do well, and hopefully this promotion helps! (Also, eeeeeeee BABY TAUNTAUN. =D )

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