Well. I didn’t see that one coming.

December 10, 2008

I’m still trying to figure out how I want the blog to look.  In the process of adjusting the general layout, I was setting up my links (still not done with that yet).  One of the games I am most anticipating is Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I guess it was five or six years ago I played the first Knights of the Old Republic, and I remember being struck by a lot of things about that game.  The dialogue was solid, the combat was fun, the light/dark elements were well-implemented.  But more than anything else, the story and the setting engrossed me.  I probably spent 40 hours with Bastila, Revan, and HK-47, and I would’ve gladly spent many, many more.  Years passed.  KOTOR II was released, but for some reason the story didn’t suck me in like the first game did, and I didn’t make it to the end. By that time I had started playing MMOs and liking them quite a bit, but was and still am a bit put off by the lack of personal storytelling that is possible in the current crop of games.  With minor differences, in WAR my bright wizard will have much the same story as my warrior priest and my knight, which makes for a sameish experience when playing multiple characters, not to mention the fact that every other person in that zone is experiencing more or less the exact same thing.

More years passed, and then – a light!  EA/Bioware announced they were developing an MMO based on the universe of The Old Republic.  They promised a big budget AAA game with a new kind of storytelling never before seen in MMOs.  Needless to say, I was pumped.  I wasn’t in love with the graphical style, but graphics alone do not a great game make.  I want story and I want depth, in addition to getting my fix from advancing in level.  It may not be with Bastila and Revan specifically, but it wasn’t so much those characters as much as the overarching story and the world itself that I got lost in ‘lo those many years ago.  SWTOR jumped to the top of my most-anticipated-but-still-a-ways-off MMO list, with nary a serious contender to its throne.

So as I was setting up the links for my blog, I came across this.  Huh.  Didn’t see it coming.  I probably should have, but I didn’t.  EA is apparently going to attempt to turn this game into some sort of microtransaction-fueled model.  I have several problems with this, which I will address in another post so as to not go on forever right here, but suffice for now to say that I am pissed.  I think microtransactions are, for the most part, stupid (Rock Band downloads notwithstanding).  I also think that, depending on how EA handles this and what exactly is bought via these transactions, many problems could come up with this model.  I also doubt the legions of hardcore MMO players out there are going to take kindly to this announcement.

So SWTOR has taken a considerable hit from its once heralded position as my top anticipated game.  We’ll see where this goes – maybe EA will clarify their position soon and all will be right with my gaming world again.  Here’s hopin’.

Update: Shacknews has updated the story linked above to relay EA’s quote that “no statements have been made about the Star Wars business model.”  EA also attributed the quote to a misunderstanding.  While not an outright denial of my fears, this does make me feel a bit better, which I guess was the point.  I will definitely be watching this story closely as it develops.