SWTOR: Server Merges Timing Compared to WAR and Suicide

My post yesterday rustled some feathers. And the first comment came from a long time reader, Akalukz, who said “same thing happened with WAR, not sure where the surprise is”.

This got me thinking: Why am I surprised? Why does this seem like an atrocity? Why does my butt hurt?

BioWare/EA definitely feels like the bad guy. The worst kind of bad guy. This isn’t hate against the machine for delivering unasked for goods (CCP). This isn’t displaced anger in consequence to lack of content (Mythic). This isn’t profound disappointment with unfinished PVP open world promised (Trion). This is simply, unadulterated despise for not allowing a basic player need in an any MMO. And that’s the ability to actually play with other players.

This anger stems from a growing assumption that this problem was getting worse and worse. We expected the reason was due to political cause for the sake of saving face to the ignorance of stockholders. When the number of loss in 400K was shown on the fiscal report we just assumed, “well, hell, the cat’s out of the bag”. There is no more save face here. Now maintain what you still have, save some cost on servers and do some transfer mergers. You have 60+ server begging (literally) for it to happen. I’ve yet to see someone say “Yeah, I don’t really want to merge. I like playing with the same 5 guys”. I’ve literally never seen an MMO let a server get this bad. Let alone 60 of them. Fuck, even Tabala Rasa wasn’t this bad off. And they sucked.

So why the hell am I surprised coming for years of frustrations with Mythic WAR?

So I did a little math and historical analysis based on EA’s prior MMO project and now a subsidiary program under EA BioWare.

  • Warhammer Online Sold 800K copies by release date.
  • WAR launched in September of 2008 with 750K subscribers.
  • In October of 2008 they lost roughly 100K (18.75%/13.33% Loss) after the “Free Month from Box”
  • In November of 2008 rough numbers of 500K were being thrown around (37.50%/33.33% Loss)
    • This realization led Mythic to merge a number of servers with a response by the end of the Month. 
    • Free Transfer with designated servers were allowed with mandatory merges by December.
  • Sadly, by the end of December (for numberous reasons) of 2008, rough numbers indicated about 350K left (56.25%/53.33%)
    • Another merger of servers took place by February of 2009
  • Finally by first real content patch “Free Expansion” in May of 2009 WAR had leveled off to 300K (62.50%/60%) and from there took a steady decline for the rest of its life.

What does this have to do with anything? Well if you look at the timeline and the percentages, they should be eriely fucking familiar.

Just over a 80% retention for the first month of game launch.
And then a 40% loss in population in the first 6 months.
All too familiar.  

  • December 2011- SWTOR launches with 2.1M in sales
  • January 2012   – EA says 1.7M retained to subscriptions (19.05%)
  • May 2012 – EA Fiscal reports 1.3M subscribed (38.10%)

Before Mythic even saw the 40% loss they opened transfers. So, yeah, I am surprised. We, the players, have no fucking clue exactly what you gain by keeping up running costs for multiple servers. No clue.

What’s “suicide” in the Title for? That’s a funny story.

Sitting around waiting for the Pop to occur for a warzone, many players on the server agreed to spam CSR tickets urging for Server Transfer. Some filed this as a ‘Suggestion’ many others as Harrassment. The party harrassing said player? BioWare. For not allowing immediate transferes. One player wrote to the affect – “We have no economy because there are no players, we have no PVP because there are no players, we don’t have anyone to socialize with because there are no players. Give us server merges or god help me I’ll kill myself.”

I don’t personally know what he was thinking, but sure enough what followed was what we expected. Police arrived at his door to check on his well being. No joke.

Granted the player’s actions were profoundly moronic. What did he think they were going to do? It really makes me laugh. Your players are so hard pressed to recieve merges today, they are willing to sacrifice themselves for this service.