SWTOR Controversy Friday – Customer Service and Server Transfers

As we end the week, we’ve got a couple of interesting posts discussing the two hot issues of SWTOR this week – customer service, and server transfers.

On the customer service end – throughout this week, we and the blogosphere have been following the trials of blogger Battlechicken, who was banned from SWTOR with no explanation for said banning. Her particular example had a happy ending thanks to a personal contact from a member of the SWTOR team, but left questions as to how players in similar situations without popular blogs are treated.

Today, Big Bear Butt writes a fascinating dissection of the entire situation, which may initially appear to simply criticise Bioware, but ends up reaching much more complex conclusions

“If you read that account of what happened to me, you’ll see how I tried to resolve it at the time, how much info I had just waiting to provide, and what kind of responses I was getting at the time. Look at how long it took to get any kind of recovered gear, and oh, WHAT gear!

The main things that are interesting to note in how Blizzard treated me as someone who was hacked compared to Bioware, is that I posted my problem on the forums, and when I went back to see what the response was, I found my post was deleted. I was not allowed to have a voice that others could see. I camped the forums for a while, clearly having no life and obsessed with some kind of fascination with just how shitty Blizzard CS could be to their customers, and watched others post their stories of being hacked, pleading for help, only to refresh my screen and see them deleted as well.

Think about that. Blizzard was not only ignoring those of us reporting being hacked, they were actively seeking out the posts and deleting them so it LOOKED like there were no problems with hacking in their game.

So what is my point?

My point is, Blizzard’s customer service was far shittier to me than Bioware is being now, but in the years since those days they refined their processes, changed their focus to actively HELP people, and have done so with such quality and consistency over the years that i bet half the people who would read that old post of mine would think that I either made the whole thing up, would think that it was an isolated case, or think that I asked for it somehow. Blizzard has turned the entire thing around, so now people hold them up as a shining beacon of communication and customer service.

So when you look at Bioware now, don’t see them as what they are, and judge them forever based on it like I was doing to Blizzard back in 2007.

Bioware has every opportunity to see what they are doing, to face it, and to accept that they have to change for the better. If they do, if they don’t try to hide it but instead work on improving the way Blizzard did, this could change for them too.”

BBB’s got a number of interesting points to make here, and I both hope and suspect that this post will make its way up the ranks at Bioware HQ. His points on public relations and admission of wrongdoing are particularly interesting – although they also reflect the difference in corporate cultures between Bioware and Blizzard generally. In the past, Bioware have had a more open dialogue with their fans and the Internet at large, and it’s served them well – I hope it continues to do so.

Meanwhile, Shintar follows up on her earlier posts about server transfers, where she felt forced into a transfer from her old server, with an update on how she’s finding life on the server she ended up joining

The transfer process itself went as smoothly as everyone had predicted and was done within five minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I only had to change two of my character names: my main is now Shíntar (“with a funny eye”), and my bounty hunter with her three-letter name gained an apostrophe. I couldn’t believe that neither of the four-letter names of my Republic alts were taken. I feel like I really lucked out.

The first thing I did after transferring was make a separate chat window for general chat so that I could hide it away without completely disabling it. It’s not that the quality of the chat was that awful (though I did see people say some pretty dumb things), but the constant LFG, WTS etc. requests were just too spammy while I was also trying to pay attention to other things.

Next thing I ran around the fleet a bit to see whether I recognised anyone… and I did! I was really pleased when a friendly Vanguard returned my greeting emote and we showered each other with sparkles. It’s a bit weird I suppose, but I really missed seeing those familiar faces around. They are not my friends; they are barely even acquaintances: I only really know their names and maybe a bit about their play style, but that’s it. Still, that familiarity with the people around you is one of those things that gives an MMO a sense of place, and having the majority of my “small town” evaporate from one day to the next had made me sad, so it felt good to reconnect with at least some of them. I also joined the custom chat channel for former Luka Sene players that I had been told about and there were lots of people in there.”

It does seem that the server transfer issue has been extremely complex for a lot of people. The major problem for the game seems to have been the issue of shared names – I wonder how much better the situation would have turned out if that had been resolved. Regardless, it’s good to hear that whilst it has been a tough transition, there have been upsides to the transfers too.

After a pretty hectic week, what’s your opinion on how Bioware have done?

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Hope! Hope for transfers, subscriptions, and LGBT events in game

In contrast to the concerns of our other post today, this post brings nothing but messages of hope.

Yes, it’s a very hopeful day in the MMOsphere. From new hope (appropriately enough) springing from SWTOR server transfers, to a report on the huge Proudmoore Gay / LGBT Pride event, here are some blog posts to cheer your day:

  • It’s great to hear there’s another side to the SWTOR server transfers – Spinks hasn’t had the woes other players of the game have encountered, and in fact feels that her server transfer has breathed new life into the game“Fleet chat was buzzing, full of excited players who had either just transferred or were enjoying the new crowds. Within an evening I had found a friendly guild and joined a random instance group to run Taral-V and Maelstrom Prison. “
  • In amidst a wave of bloggers quitting WoW, Ben at Scribblings On The Asylum Wall explains why he still considers the WoW subscription a superb source of entertainment“Someone once challenged me that I could spend that money better on other things, and I laughed at them because $12 buys less than two movie tickets.”
  • And Ironyca delivers a lengthy pictorial report on the WoW Proudmoore Pride event, one of the largest gay/LGBT events I’ve ever heard about ingame“It was so silly, look at how cluttered that bridge is. The boat bursting with people left the harbor without me. I suspected it would crash, although it actually didn’t. “

What are you hopeful for right now?

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Of Blues, Nerfs, Rock and RIFT

Today, it would seem, is a day of reflection. We’re reflecting on the recent turmoil of SWTOR’s server transfers (which are still causing mayhem and upset), the nerfs to Dragon Soul and whether they worked, the hyper-successful in-game music festival Weatherstock, and the entire game of RIFT as a player re-enters.

So, pull up your comfy chair, and let’s consider…

  • Malevica at Type H For Heals considers the effects that the progressive nerf to Dragon Soul has had, both intended and unintended“The trouble is that nerfs don’t usually affect the number of things to be tanked, and more DPS is rarely a problem (Madness is the exception to both of those rules), so their roles are secure and relatively unchanged. But as the fights get nerfed there’s just not enough healing to go around and it directly affects our play experience and our fun level.”
  • Shintar reflects on the fallout from the SWTOR server transfers, as she discovers that her own in-game life may be torn apart by them“I spotted an out of guild acquaintance near the bank. If the game allowed for more emotional expression, I probably would have run up to him, grabbed him by the lapels of his robe and yelled “Oh my god, someone is still here!” like a crazy person, but as it was I just waved at him and asked him whether he and his guild were going to transfer too.”
  • Why I Game writes a fantastic roundup of the in-LoTRO music festival Weatherstock – really thorough and worth reading“One memorable piece was entirely made out of drumming. Drumming! Who would think you can replicate the rhythms of percussion groups like Stomp in a frickin’ MMO?”
  • And the Aggronaut ventures back into RIFT after a long absence, and writes up his experiences in the new RIFT“I am not exactly sure how to quantify it, but the game as a whole feels much more fleshed out than it did at launch. The game world back then, felt extremely spartan. There are far more constructs in place to add some additional depth to the game.”

Have you enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider spreading the word on them!

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Has SWTOR shrunk 90%? More Server Move Reactions

Has SWTOR’s recent server move effectively been a shutdown of up to 90% of their servers?

The controversy over the massive low-population to high-population server transfers in the Star Wars MMO rages on today, with an optimistic viewpoint, an analytical one, and an experience-based one:

  • Keen and Graev believe that the server moves could be a move with very few downsides for SWTOR, players or devs“Merging all of these communities together doesn’t change anything. None of the servers developed differently, and the communities haven’t shaped anything in a game that focuses on the individual…. There is little to lose when merging themeparks like this and everything to gain. More people = More fun.”
  • What are the statistics? Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer has been looking at the numbers“We’re looking at closure of anywhere from 75-90% of US servers depending on how the undecideds break. “
  • And Njessi at Hawt Pants Of The Old Republic feels that the server move may have exchanged the “ghost town” problem for the “impersonal metropolis” problem“Last night, upon arriving in Canderous Ordo, I had to turn off general chat because it was going by too fast and just spamming up things. I lost a connection to the community of which I’m a part because it was too big and unwieldy.”

How’s the SWTOR server transfer experience treating you and your friends?

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AH Views, Server Transfers, Rock Guys and more

And finally, some excellent posts from today – it would appear that whilst the MMO community’s news-light at the moment, there’s still plenty of thinking going around:

  • Tobold’s always strong talking about virtual economics, and his discussion of the impact of the Diablo AH on different MMO player types is a very interesting read“Another important difference is that some players play Diablo 3 “for the challenge”. While the AH can postpone the point at which you feel challenged, you will get there sooner or later. Other players play Diablo 3 “for fun”, and it has been showed by psychologists that random loot drops are most fun on a neuro-chemical level.”
  • Altaclysmic discovers that Blizzard seem to have a crack in their anti-profanity wall when it comes to British swearwords“This got me thinking, Knobhead of Kilrogg, is likely to be a character name, so next stop was the Armory. Below are my random findings from the armory.”
  • Big Bear Butt’s Cub is back for another fascinating insight into WoW through a child gamer’s eyes – in this case, talking about grinding, pets, and player cynicism““If I get Pebble, will he fight with me?” Sigh. Oh, do you mean will there be more of a reward for your time and effort other than a standard pet? No, no there won’t. But of course I won’t say that. He just has an honest question. he knows what it takes to get normal pets, and he knows there are pets he has gotten from quest chains, and even pets from the Darkmoon faire dailies. So, if he has to go to what seem unusual lengths, it seems fair to him that there be unusual rewards.”
  • And in SWTOR, free character transfers are starting – from low-population servers to high-pop ones. Shintar is dismayed by this decision, and explains the significant potential downsides of the decision“Even with transfers being free, it’s inevitable that a lot of people won’t use them, whether that’s because they don’t even know that the feature exists because they don’t follow the news, they are only moderately active, or they like(d) their server to begin with. However, many people will transfer, and removing some of the most active players from an already low population realm is going to have dire consequences for those that remain. “

What’s got your attention in MMOs at the moment?

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