Star Wars: The Old Republic hasn’t had the rockiest first year an MMO has ever had. Age of Conan, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and many others never racked up the more than 1.5 million players BioWare and Electronic Arts’ years in the making game did when it opened for business last December. Few MMOs have lost players as quickly as quickly as Star Wars has though, with 400,000 players abandoning the game between February and May alone, forcing BioWare to redesign it as a free-to-play game. It is now, perhaps unsurprisingly, losing its creative staff almost as fast as its players. Creative director Daniel Erickson announced on Thursday that he is leaving BioWare.
“As part of leaving BioWare I’m officially starting a Twitter account for job hunt and design thoughts,” said Erickson.
He went on, clearly frustrated with the current cut throat state of the video game industry as the retail market dwindles, and other game formats take center stage in the quest to replace lost revenue. “When 90 percent of the industry is saying the exact same thing (social, mobile, FTP!) a huge number of people are going to lose that race. Job hunt thoughts: If you think a monetization approach is saying the exact same thing as a game idea, I don’t know why we’re talking.”
As recently as July, Erickson was discussing how he and the rest of BioWare’s Austin team were working diligently to improve The Old Republic to try and reignite interest in the project. “What we always say is, before the game came out it was out game,” he told Digital Trends, “As soon as it launched, it became the community’s game. [What] we’re saying now is we’re going to find any way we can to get the game in front of people. Because when people play The Old Republic, they like The Old Republic. If we can get people to get in there, play it, hang out… we’re really confident we’re going to get a bunch of new players from that.”
Shortly after that though, EA announced that the game would go free-to-play to level 50, and then went on to layoff a significant number of staff members at the Austin office, including executive producer Rich Vogel.
BioWare is bleeding these days. In addition to the exodus of The Old Republic’s staff, the company’s founders left the studio at the end of July.