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Sticking Around, or Sibylline End of Days

June 25, 2012 1 comment

It would be difficult to overstate the magnitude of Bioware’s recent missteps in public relations. The game was freshly off a subscriber-numbers report that, viewed soberly, suggests the best retention rate of a recent MMO release, but was nonetheless quite shy of (to adopt James Ohlen’s language) top-tier-of-success expectations. The personnel consolidation that followed, viewed soberly, would have been more bizarre had it not occurred – but early on in its message management cycle Bioware managed to create the expectation that it wouldn’t and accordingly copped the dreadful “layoffs!” headlines. On the heels of this comes the hilarious treatment of lead designer Emmanuel Lusinchi’s interview with GamesTM, which was misquoted in the first place (‘we are looking into everything’ as opposed to ‘we are moving into F2P!’) then re-released with a correction, then kept alive with a rambling, philosophical interview answer by Ohlen. The kind of strategic blue-skies discussion that goes on all the time in all MMO teams quickly mutated into an image of commanders waving the white flag atop the trenches.

And now, we have what in my opinion are overly-aggressive server mergers, with very little public relations context provided. This may well be a good thing, given how helpful public relation context has been, but it does tend to leave people with a sense of anxiety, and insufficient information on which to make the decision whether to move or stay.

My own choice, for the moment, has been to stay. Its wisdom is questionable, but it feels right, and it is, at least, an interesting experience. The origin server is desolate, and it is a curious yet wholesome joy to run across another human being across the stretches of empty virtual real estate. I joined a guild of charmingly-dedicated survivors who hope that 1.3 might attract newcomers who could eventually form a new critical mass of community. We are trying to carry on with flashpoints and a couple of my comrades have resolved to seed the GTN with accessible lowbie goods in anticipation of the inflection point. It is all quite fragile, and might not last, but I think it befits free-thinking MMO players to try to make something from nothing instead of being herded around.

I will miss the PvP, though. And, dear Bioware, I could rather do without the red-lettered system reminder, every few minutes, about how free transfers are available.

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Categories: Mentality, Uncategorized