Playing both Swtor and Tsw in paralel makes for very interesting comparisons. I’ve seen the launch of both games and I find it very interesting to watch two completely different launch strategies for each game. Swtor went for a big, all-inclusive game with a lot of features and Secret world opted for a much smaller game with the idea of growing the game post launch.
Let’s not beat around the bush. Swtor strategy of launching a big game with features to appeal to many types of players has backfired on them. Whatever the reason, too many variables or shoddy work, Swtor is dragged down by bugs and features that are not working as they should. Bioware seems to be unable to keep up with the fixes and the demand and the end result is that Swtor has been bleeding players for a long time now. It does not feel like a healthy game.
There’s a lot of potential to be found in Swtor and I still believe that it could become a truly great game but Bioware might simply run out of time. No game can keep losing players forever and I freely admit that I am worried for the game future at this point.
Secret world small and targeted launch
The Secret world took a completely different approach to its launch. Instead of going for a broad approach, they narrowed down a lot their scope and targeted a certain audience right from the start. They want to appeal to the more adult players, those that love to struggle a bit in their game and explore the world around them. In short they designed a game for explorers and puzzle solvers. There’s not a lot of entirely new mechanics in the game and the combat / pvp is pretty standard. Instead they focused on what they felt is the strength of their game and appealed to the players they felt would love the exploration based gameplay.
So far their strategy seems to be paying off since the game is growing nicely and most reviews are very positive but I wonder a bit about long-term. Short term it’s great to play a game that has relatively few bugs and is well polished but will it hold people interest in the long run? Maybe six months down the road the missing features and the smaller amount of content will become major problems. It’s a bit hard to say right now…
Which is the better strategy?
So what would you prefer? Throw a wide net from the start and hope you’ll retain enough players so that by the time you get everything in order you’re still on top or aim smaller and hope that the quality of the content will be enough to sustain you long-term while you add the rest?
If you go with a pure number game where the aim is to get as many players as possible the answer is not so clear-cut. Swtor still has a lot of players (around 600k apparently) and while we do not know about Tsw it’s a safe bet to say less simply based on the number of servers and sales. Ultimately, if Swtor stabilize around their current number they will still be one of the big MMOs out there right now and that means money which is what interest EA in the end so their strategy isn’t that crazy.
But that comes at the cost of reputation and it can have disastrous results if you let a game fall too low in public opinion. There are dead MMOs out there that are proof that yes, a mmo can die and there’s many more like Warhammer online or FF14 that are simply surviving.
It’s too early to tell really how this will all play out but I’m really curious to see if Funcom strategy will pay off. It seems lately all the new MMOs try to be the big one and do it all and it’s interesting to see a company take a different path. I do hope it will pay off and show the industry that the WoW way isn’t the only way to go.