Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Marginal Return on Content

Anjin asks whether the layoffs at Bioware are a sign of trouble or business as usual.  I'd suggest the answer is a bit of both - losing staff is business as usual for a game that lost about a quarter of its customers in the previous quarter.  This move comes at about the game's five month mark, which is a bit late for the traditional ship-then-sack treatment.  At a minimum, the game's subscription performance can't have helped their case to keep more people on board.  That said, the game is still the number two subscription MMO at the moment, which would seem to make it a bit early to be abandoning ship.

The more concerning possibility, then, is that EA does not like what they're seeing in terms of return on investment for new content.  We know from the beta that Bioware has great tools in place to map out how content is used.  These tools may now be telling them that daily quests aren't helping them retain players who are out of story content.  Meanwhile, my experience has been that the solo content on a planet runs for a couple of hours, which can't be a great return on the development investment needed to create that much content. 

Overall, it is going to be very interesting to see whether the game ever focuses on advancing the solo story content beyond its current set of endings, or whether they continue to focus on quality of life features and concede that players will simply leave as they finish the story.  

4 comments:

Feliz said...

If you look at patch 1.2 as "ship" it's well timed for ship & sack

spinksville said...

There is a question in my mind about who they are letting go, because the community management should be fairly key in a live team. So losing senior CMs is very different from dropping some devs.

Rob Basler said...

Playing through TOR, it seemed to me that they had TONS of room to add content to their existing areas with minimal investment. The planets are huge and many maps had areas I walked through but didn't have any content to make me stop.

Pai said...

Putting the main focus of the game on complex scripted cinematic cutscenes rather than on compelling gameplay is going to be the anchor around the neck that drags this game down.