Star Wars: The Old Republic – Review
Posted on November 14th, 2011 by Grim

Yeah, I played it over the weekend.  Yeah, I’m still under NDA, so I can’t give you any spoilers, screenshots, or videos.

However, I can tell you a few things.

1) If you don’t have this game pre-ordered already, go ahead and get it.

2) No, seriously… Go ahead and get it.  You won’t be sorry.

Some things I can comment on…

1) There seems to be a lot of “WoW-Rage” in every new game.  SW:TOR is no exception.

2) I would expect WoW to drop 4.3 very soon in order to try and steal SW:TOR’s Launch-Day Thunder.  I don’t know that it will work.  While WoW is adding “Yet Another Endgame Encounter”, SW:TOR will be shiny and new.  I have heard reports that SW:TOR has already sold over 2 million pre-orders.  If that is true, I’d be willing to wager that a new raid in WoW isn’t going to keep their attention very long, if at all. (and that’s assuming that all of the 2 million pre-orders are WoW players… Something I know is NOT true.)

3)  I said this in an Ask Massively column a long time ago, WoW ain’t going anywhere.  However, with a loss of over a million subscribers so far this year, and with new games taking bigger and bigger bites of WoW’s subscriber base.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to say that WoW is starting to move, inexorably, back to the pack.  I would not be shocked to see WoW dip below 10 million subscribers by the end of this year, and I think SW:TOR will get more than a few of those people. If SW:TOR takes off, there is no reason it couldn’t pass WoW in subscriber numbers within another couple of years.  Will it hit 12 million like WoW did?  I REALLY doubt it.  On the other hand, as franchises go, show me a bigger money maker, historically,  than Star Wars.

Here’s the real kicker.  What things does an MMO need in order to maintain success?

1) Community.  I’m not sure how well the in-game community is going to develop, but I’m sure that it’s going to.  There are a lot of hardcore Star Wars fans out there.

2) Pop-culture tie-ins.  Perhaps not mentioned much, but part of WoW’s success is tied to some of the merchandising and other multimedia tie ins.  T-shirts, novels, even rumors of a World of Warcraft movie.  Star Wars comes with all of that stuff built in.  Non-gamers might not know who Thrall is, but you can bet your ass they know names like Skywalker or Vader.

3) Quality of the game.  Yeah, it still matters.   Without giving anything away, I will say that my experience was very smooth over the weekend.  Not a lot of bugs (and the ones I did find weren’t game breakers), and the game felt as if it were ready to be released very soon.  We all knew Bioware had a good track record with single player RPGs in the Star Wars universe.  While I think they have made a couple of “rookie mistakes” in the MMO space, they have learned a lot of good lessons from previous games including WoW, Rift, and others.

Assuming that this game doesn’t completely crap the bed on launch, I’d like to go ahead and invite the entire 501st to the MMO track party at Dragon*Con next year.