Thursday, April 28, 2016

The MMO That Abandoned Raiding

My SWTOR raid group called it quits tonight. A bit sad, because we had a good run of about three years or so. I think we were all getting a little burned out. But it also has sunk in that SWTOR has given up on raiding. It has been about 16 months since the last operation was released, and looks very unlikely that any future operations will ever be made.

Back in the first few years of WoW, there was a huge debate between raiders and casuals. Casuals pointed out that raiders were a small minority of the player base, and that the devs spent too many resources on them. Raiders felt that they were the dedicated players, who made guilds and a community, made an MMO an MMO as it were.

WoW, and FFXIV to lesser extent, followed the path of trying to make raiding more accessible to the broader player base. It's perhaps not quite as successful as people would like, but that path has preserved group content.

With the release of the Knights of the Fallen Empire, SWTOR has gone in the opposite direction. All new content has been aimed at the solo player. The main story content does not work well with groups, even duos. The new side content is again mostly aimed at solos or duos.

SWTOR did re-tune a lot of the existing group content for KotFE, but did not create any new group content.

I'm not saying this is the wrong decision. Focusing on single-player content might be the right call for SWTOR. Maybe the casuals were right all along, and the raiders are superfluous. Maybe the number of people who want group content is not enough to justify the cost of creating it.

It is a bit of a pity, as Bioware did make good operations and flashpoints back in the day. I especially liked all the puzzle bosses.


  1. LotRO went the same way, and if I remember right it didn't serve them well at all....

    Black Desert is the current trend in single-player MMOs, in a much more extreme way. If the "crowded" I see upon logging in are true, it's already sinking like a brick.

    1. That's a good point about Lord of the Rings. On the other hand, I don't think the game companies are doing this arbitrarily. They must have metrics which show that raiders aren't a large-enough source of income.

    2. Well, actually this is trivial. I mean, look at the WoW population metrics, and you see that raiders have always been a minority.

      The problem is that when you kill the group content, you more or less kill the need to be a MMO. It becomes an always-online single-player game, which is a critic also aimed at WoW.....
      The difference is that WoW decided to abandon group play for the leveling phase, because while group quests work fine in the early days with a fresh population, they become impossible when the game is older and the population established (and at top level). LotRO was a good example of this: any group quest was impossible to do since you found noone to group with.
      WoW definitely has a hard transition from leveling (single-player) and top-level (group play), and Blizzard has tried to smooth it with variable success. But there's no real solution if you decide to keep in place a system (levels) which is designed so that players who may want to play together cannot play together. If any top-level player could group with levelers win a meaningful way this divide would not be as present.

      Black desert has gone in the same direction, in a much more extreme way: the game is really almost single-player until you reach top-level PvP (which, btw, is still not in place in the EU/NA version). But it's suffering the same problem in a much more extreme way, as you can see from the number of threads about "forced PvP vs PvE".

  2. It has always been my opinion that players need something to strive towards, casual or not. I play these games for the group PVE aspects which only seems to have raiding left.

    Perhaps developers need to refocus on group content of all sizes instead of removing them entirely and eliminating any and all motivation.

    1. But to have players strive for something also implies that at least a few players will fail to achieve that something. Is that desired?