Ben Irving’s Interview – Thoughts on Group Content Response

Recently did an interview with Bioware Producer Ben Irving about the Fifth Anniversary of Star Wars The Old Republic, how the Knights of the Eternal Throne expansion was received and future group content.

There is one part of the interview that stood out to me. In it, Ben Irving is responding to Michael Bitton’s question about what type of group content we can expect. Note I’ve highlighted part of the quote for emphasis.

We’ve talked pretty openly on streams, that by the end of January, we want to do a stream and say, “Hey guys. This is kind of what we’re thinking for February and March.” And give more information on what that group content is. But I think it could be some part of any of those things you mentioned. I think we just gotta really understand what people are doing. Sometimes there’s difference between what people say they want and what they actually do in game and I think that’s the tricky part for us. We’re listening to our players giving us feedback, but also correlating it to the data of what people are actually doing in the game, to make sure we’re building the right type of things.

I found what Ben Irving said here to be quite perplexing and concerning. Isn’t it logical to conclude that reason people aren’t doing Operations that much is because they’ve done them all and do not want to do them all over again simply because of level cap increase?

That is the whole point of what the community wants. We want NEW Operations because WE ARE SICK of grinding the existing ones we have. So, we don’t run them as often. Many hard-core and veteran players have quit SWTOR because there is no new content. Those who remain (such as myself) enjoy other content the game has to offer (or have other reasons for staying) as well as Operations but don’t want to do them all the time because again, they have already done them. So, of course, the metrics are likely going to contradict what the player base is asking for.

Are they taking into consideration in their ‘metric crunching’ the players that have already left the game? Do the Devs understand that we cry and beg for new Operations because we are so sick of grinding old content? Do they understand how Guild communities work, that they thrive on the regular injection of new ‘larger’ group content? Do they know the reason many players are mad about the lack of Operations is because their guildmates and friends have left the game over it? We want our guildmates and friends to come back. For the game to be how it used to be. To have that sense of community again.

If the SWTOR Devs want to appease current players and bring back old players they NEED to create NEW Operations. You know, the content that brings Guilds and communities together. Do their ‘metrics’ show this? Probably not. If they’re relying on metrics too heavily, then we’re screwed.

What did you think of the interview? Do you think we’ll get new Operations in 2017?


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  • SavingPrincess

    I’d wager to guess the metrics are more of “how many players engaged in the last new group content we created”…

    i.e. If players screamed “we want new ops” and “new ops were created” then what %’age of active players subscribed engaged in that content? How many new./returning subs did that content generate? What were guild metrics like surrounding the release of said content. etc. Do players that engage in Ops/Grouped content spend more or less than players who don’t? etc. etc.

    I think that YOU think they are looking at it from a “this week” perspective. I’m sure their metrics date back to the beginning of vanilla and track for all variables possible. This is BW/EA we’re talking about, I’d be STUNNED if they didn’t have either full-time data analysts or a huge company they outsource the work to that tracks this kind of thing to the minute.

    • I’m surprised you put that much trust in how they read their metrics. Yes they have the metrics but other people (like SWTOREconomics) have done a much better job then me at showing how they don’t always reliably interpret their own metrics.

      In any case I still find what Ben said here to be concerning. My future with the game is pretty much dependent on what they announce in January.

      • SavingPrincess

        Well it’s also a matter of “what info do they have that we don’t have” as well. In the end, the direction of the game will be one of a cold profit-oriented direction. The game could alienate you, Dulfy, Ashe, et. al. but as long as the CM profits come in and their profit margins maintain, it won’t matter one bit.

        Trying to prioritize what the “community leaders” get excited about will never stand up to cold, hard metrics. It sucks; I wish more games would cater to their most loyal players, but they’d rather in the end have an influx of 2mo subs, who drop a load on the CM, buy 60/65 tokens, play KotXX, then peace out; and they’d rather see that influx-outflux every month than have a group of veteran players who have everything they need from the CM or the credits to buy the stuff they don’t, off the GTN doing content for more earned gear that doesn’t generate any additional revenue for the game.

        • Shaun Salisbury

          The thing is FFXIV is successful money wise and releases new content every three months and they always have new raids and content for all types of players that allows them to maintain around a million subs.

          • SavingPrincess

            It’s also:
            1. incredibly popular in japan
            2. a modern game built in a better engine
            3. not f2p
            4. on ps3/ps4

            i.e. to state that FFXIV maintains it’s subs exclusively because of “Raid content” is problematic. There are tons of factors that lead it to the subscriber mark and FFXIV makes most of it’s money OFF those subscriptions and game purchases, which is a different business model than SWTOR altogether.

          • Shaun Salisbury

            Actually I said new raids and content for everyone as each content patch contains new story, new crafting, new 4 man group content, new pvp content and either a 8 man or 24 man raid so as you can see getting that much content every three months leads people to stay rather then leave like swtors focus on delivering as little playable content as possible while making sure to release a CM pack every month.

          • SavingPrincess

            Now you’re just citing differences in American and Japanese business practices 😉

          • Shaun Salisbury

            and BW could change it’s practices but it doesn’t because EA is all about giving it’s customers as little as possible while stripping them of every dollars that they can get.

  • Uh oh. I find that emphasised part cause for very much concern. It reminds me when LOTRO said “but nobody does raids!”, then stopped developing them for 5 years. They’ve started again this year, but the raid community is long gone, and the state of class understanding of the average player is deplorably poor. Let’s hope SWTOR does not go down that road.

    • gonzoloathing

      Pretty sure that SWTOR has reached that stage already. There are few exceptions like yourself but a lot of them…

      • I don’t think SWTOR has quite gotten to that point just yet. There are still a few skilled players around although most of them PvP these days. But if SWTOR doesn’t give us new Operations next year however or other new large-scale challenging group content…

        • I agree with XamXam. Yes, many have left, but it takes a few years without any content for *everyone* to give up and leave. That was the case in LOTRO, too.

  • DualBlastersGuy

    That guy and his pathetic little fluffers need to be fired, like right fucking now.

    I’m pretty sure that the damage he has done to SW: tOR is, at this point, irreparable.

    For damned sure, BW has permanently lost me as a customer, and it’s because of SW: tOR 4.0/5.0…Obviously my individual weight isn’t bugger-all, but there can’t possibly not be others like me by now. And I’m even really “a raider,” aside from a few “SM here” PuGs every so often! (Because autocrit HeatSeeker makes me giggle, but in any case, I prefer harder small-group/solo content)

    No I don’t care that it’s Mass Effect: Andromeda on the horizon…It’s still BioWare, and that now guarantees no-go from me, and now I even know exactly whom to blame.

    Yes, I’m serious:

    Ben Irving needs to be sacked, immediately, and also prevented from ever working in his current capacity on any major game project, ever again.