Executive Producer Jeff Hickman tackles some tough topics
For Star Wars: The Old Republic, the upcoming transition to a free-to-play game has given BioWare plenty of reason to stand atop the tallest skyscraper on Coruscant and shout about the changes players can expect to see this fall. Yesterday, Executive Producer Jeff Hickman took an opportunity to address fans with his first "state of the game" in that role.
For those of you who don't know Hickman, he's a long-time MMO industry veteran (with the ink to prove it, see inset pic) that brings a wealth of experience with him from Mythic, where he worked on Dark Age of Camelot, Warhammer Online and even Ultima Online. BioWare brought him on in 2011 as Executive Producer of Live Services.
He took a moment to recap their rationale for transitioning to free-to-play:
"When we decided to go Free-to-Play earlier this year, we had weeks of discussion with everyone on the team about where we thought the game was going, what we thought was going right and what was going wrong. We uncovered a lot of issues, but three things really stood out:
1. Our game is awesome. People love it and want to play it.
2. The subscription requirement was driving away huge numbers of people who do not want to commit to paying monthly.
3. The frequency of our Game Updates was way too slow. People were leaving because we were not releasing new content fast enough to keep up with the pace at which it was being consumed.
You are now seeing the results of these conversations. Free-to-Play goes live this Fall, and we are dedicated to getting Game Updates out to you every 6 weeks or so. Though each of these efforts is incredibly challenging for the team, they have accepted that challenge and have tackled them head on!"
Jeff goes on to pick three very hot topics and address them directly:
"Topic #1: Staff: Why are some developers leaving The Old Republic™? How will the game be affected?
Topic #2: Bugs: How does testing work? Why do bugs get through? Why did Game Update 1.4 have so many of them? What are we doing to improve the process?
Topic #3: Oceanic populations. Are we doing anything about them?"
He provides some level of detail for each of those, and if you're a SW:TOR fan, it's well worth a read. Some of his comments will no doubt cause some controversey, but it's also important to recognize that BioWare is trying to address these issues head-on.
Head over to the SW:TOR developer's blog for the full read!
Bill "Lethality" Leonard