For a subscription MMO, getting hooks into players is pretty much a top priority. Players that want to return are more likely to continue to subscribe than players nearing the meh-zone. People have been pretty pleased with the launch of SWTOR so far, except for the log-in queues. Unlike Rift, which may have been a shock to the ‘sphere as far as quality went, I really haven’t seen any ‘3 month death toll’- posts at launch. Still, the 3 month mark is one to give the MMO a hard eye.
In Rift, I was just hitting level 45 or so and getting in to the “end game.” I quit. Between my guild and the game, I still didn’t have enough hooks in my skin to keep me interested in paying. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a fault of Rift; I just think that ye ol’ gear shift from leveling to end game in Rift (modeled after other vanilla MMOs of yore) was not for me. So I was tangentially flung away from the game. I know I was not alone.
I still don’t think the core of SWTOR is different enough for me even if it is a solid MMO, but I still have to wonder what effect the story pillar will have on subscriptions. If I assume that in 3 months time that my situation would be similar to Rift, would I pay another month or two just to see the end of my story. Would I want to start another one?
Then there is the issue of BioWare’s post launch plans adding in new story content. If I were a betting man, I would say that the story pillar will definitely keep more subscribers around at the 3 month mark. Of course, there is also the feeling of finishing, which might make some players kick their feet up as credits rolls. I don’t think this will happen often. I didn’t see many instances of players doing that in Guild Wars or Lord of the Rings Online.
I know as the inevitable first wave of subscribers tampers down, the statistic I would love to see how much impact did the story pillar have on their monthly tithe. It’s something that could definitely change future MMO ideas.