Star Wars Galaxies has been ruined
Published on May 6, 2005 By d3adz0mbie In MMORPG
Mr.Smedley, As a community member and paying customer, I appreciate your recent statement regarding the Combat Upgrade and the future of Star Wars Galaxies. You show merit in displaying an interest in feedback from your customers. With the recent exodus of paying customers from the game, many suggestions, opinions and specualtions have been offered as to the why people are dissatisfied. It is my hope that this letter will help clarify some of the basic issues people are having with Star Wars Galaxies. Please keep in mind the following observations include some very strong suggestions for creating an extremely successful Star Wars Galaxies experience. While some may seem critical, I hope they are taken in a positive, constructive manner.

Star Wars Galaxies is in a unique position within the gaming industry. It is the only game that has the potential to tap into a multi-billion dollar franchise on a global scale over an extended period. Yet the game itself has shown a steady level of customer loss over the last year instead of the remarkable growth that would be expected from the massive multi-media campaign that has been launched for the last Star Wars movie. Something is obviously wrong with the Star Wars Galaxies product that needs to be changed.

May I first recommend that the customer base be shown the respect and attention that is due. Over the past few weeks SOE representatives have issued multiple statements declaring that customers are upset with the Combat Upgrade because they are "afraid of change". In almost every public statement this message is drilled into the media channels. "Fearing change", "change is difficult" or "they will adapt to the change" are just a few of the comments I have read online from SOE employees. The customers are not afraid of change, and this spin control must stop immediatly as it is alienating people. The customer base of Star Wars Galaxies have much more pressing issues concerning this product outside of how different the new system is.

Please understand, many of us play many styles of console and PC games with many different objectives and interfaces and adapt without any problems. Many Star Wars Galaxies players are also young to middle age adults. This translates into a market of people that have left home, earned a degree, have held down several jobs and in many cases have adapted to raising children. Accepting a new combat system is easy for us in comparison, and the concurrent media spin of fear is insulting to us as customers, because it avoids deeper issues that are actually causing customers to leave by the thousands.

It is a few of these deeper issues that must be fixed immediatly. To begin with, the development team must be fired and replaced by professionals. This is a critical not only to the success of Star Wars Galaxies as a product, but also to it's very survival as a profitable product. The market for MMORPG's is extremely competative, and the current team has proven without a trace of doubt that they cannot bring a finished product to the market. With polished MMORPG's such as Lineage II and World of Warcraft gaining market share every month with polished games, Sony Online Entertainment must acquire the talent needed to stay competative.

This is not just my opinion, but the opinion of thousands of customers. Various examples could be given in how the current team has failed your customers and SOE's potential earnings with the Star Wars license. To generalize, they continously push out an extremely bug ridden game that lacks new content. In contrast, Lineage II and World of Warcraft are very polished, with a minimum amount of in game bugs. Content is constantly updated and added to these games, keeping people interested in spending their money. As it stands, the people actually designing Star Wars Galaxies do not seem to understand what enjoyable, playable content is! This is a key point of failure with the team in place, and the stakes are too high to allow this to continue. As I posted recently (in a forum article that I was banned for);

"If a player re-specs and plays under the current upgrade, they will not have anything to do that has not been available for at least several months. All major content is at least a year old."

" The exodus of players leaving SWG actually began in the Summer of 2004, as shown in the MMOG Active Subsciptions chart at http://www.mmogchart.com/. This slow decline can easily be attributed to the different rates at which players have completed available content, then find themselves with nothing new to accomplish inside the game. .."

"The difference between a gaming system and content must be realized for this to have an impact. How a profession works is not content, it is the tools you are given to actually explore content. With that understood, the CURB offers nothing new to explore, it merely provides a different set of tools to explore the same missions over and over again."

" To the limited degree that some classes provided content by offering a chance for players to achieve a reward through the creation of unique items, the CURB has actually removed content from players. In short, crafters should not have been nerfed."

"The evils of grinding. To compound the issue of content, SOE has decided, in a very strange fashion, that hard work and repetative clicking is a fun gaming experience. To date, 90% of the offered content in SWG involves a massive amount of 'grind'. The starting classes must repeat the same actions over and over to achieve the elite skills, only to grind once more for Master skills. At this point, a player has the choice to grind again for an alpha class, to start over and grind another profession or to quit once the limited content has been explored. All of this grinding is done with the hopes of unlocking new content, or to explore existing content in a unique way. SWG fails in this regard by not offering any new content once these grinds are finished. While it is understood that to entertain a massive number of subscribers a game needs a limited amount of time sinks to create a more versatile reward system, grinding is not fun and should never replace actual game content." The market available to Star Wars Galaxies has so much potential profit that hiring even the best, most expensive 'star quality' developers in the industry would be justified. No other game has this much to gain, and so much to lose.

Last, and just as important as customer respect and solid game design, stands customer service. Any MMORPG is a living community of real people, each with needs and concerns. Too often over the Star Wars Galaxies experience have people been banned for offering constructive advice, been given conflicting guidelines for gameplay or had in game issues ignored for months. It stands to reason that it is impossible for any business to make every single person happy, especially when dealing with hundreds of thousands of people. What can be done is to have a properly trained staff of customer service reps available that understand the product and a system of communication in place with checks so bugs can be resolved, issues can be addressed, and customer service can maintain a level of at least adequate customer interaction.

As I'm sure you've guessed by the length of this letter, I could go on. I don't think Star Wars Galaxies is a lost cause. It's very, very close to becoming an albatross around SOE's neck, and an embarrassment for the SOE/ LucasArts joint venture. Many of your customers see this, and we were hoping that the long standing issues addressed above, such as content, would be corrected with a new, different system of balanced play. Instead we were given an even buggier game, with less polish, content was actually removed and the only response we saw was "stop being so afraid of change".

Please take the actions necessary to live up to the legacy created by this legendary fantasy. Star Wars Galaxies should be an amazing success. It's what the fans want.

Comments (Page 2)
on Jun 03, 2007
SoE should take a leaf out of Anrenanet (Guild Wars) Community programme and have 1 person at least whos job is to keep up with Customer Issues trawl forums and even (Shock Horror ) appear in game to answer questionsIn guild Wars there are 3 possible accounts that do just that "Gale Grey" is Gale Grey comunity Support Manager for arena net, "The Frog" is an unknown account who appears as a frog that talks giving hints to changes in game, and Finaly there is a monk character controlled by a dev or support person (Unknown) whom writes the semi regular what is happening Scroll on the main website.now THAT is what I call customer Support in game as for doing it in SWG maybe use "The Emperor" and "Mon Mothma" as the Dev/support characters
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