Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes developers continue to show they don’t understand their playerbase

I love Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes.  It’s a great mobile game, and I can literally count on one hand the number of days in which I haven’t logged on in the past three years.

I also am growing increasingly frustrated about the stale nature of Galaxy of Heroes.

Both things are true, and the second one is actually because of the first one – I get frustrated because there are some seemingly simple and obvious things that could go a long way toward making this game so much better.  But recently, it seems that the biggest problem is that the developers are way out of touch with their playerbase.

We can spend a lot of time talking about how that has been evident for much of the past year, but I want to jump right in to the most recent example: the developers are reducing hard node attempts from 8 to 5.  They announced it late on Friday, probably hoping that they might be able to sneak it by.  But that didn’t work.  Here’s a look at the post:

“In a future update we will be changing Hard Nodes back to 5 attempts per refresh. This was temporarily increased with the launch of Mods 2.0 to help players earn Jedi Knight Revan and Darth Revan.”

So they announce that it’s being reduced to five attempts, and notice that they’re being very intentional about how they frame this: increasing it to eight was a favor to the playerbase.  They say that it was temporarily increased with the launch of Mods 2.0, but nowhere in that update did it say that this change was temporary.  But, well, I bet they just conveniently left that part out.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“Now that players have had a chance to earn these characters and players will have had much more time to unlock the prerequisite characters in future events, we will be returning back to 5 attempts per refresh.”

Again, note that this release is totally framed as if EA/CG were so incredibly generous in increasing the hard node attempts for players.  This post reads essentially like this: “we’ve been so incredibly generous to you and thrown you such a great bone to make these events easier, so now that those are over we’re going back to the way things used to be.”  But that’s a total load of crap, because these events (particularly the Jedi Knight Revan event) were still aimed totally at making players pay money.  And while we don’t have time to get into it here, the Jedi Knight Revan event was handled incredibly poorly.  In many ways, the tone CG strikes in this post is as offensive to players as the move itself.  It’s laughable that they would portray this as them being so exceedingly kind to players.

“We will also be reducing the Crystal price of Mod Salvage in shipments with the next update. This will still be a slightly more expensive way to obtain Mod Salvage compared to farming it from the nodes but a more convenient way to get those materials quickly.”

Ok, so the last bit of the update is about Mod Salvage prices being reduced.  Gotta end on a positive note, right?

Basically, this post is more evidence that the developers are either so out of touch with their players – or worse, that they simply don’t care about their players.  I say this for two reasons.

  1. THE MOVE ITSELF.  In some ways, three additional attempts per day (assuming no refreshes) isn’t a huge difference – it’s basically the equivalent of one additional shard per day.  So from CG’s perspective, I wonder: why in the world is giving players one or two more shards per day such a big deal so as to make this change?  That makes zero sense to me.  But the flip side would be another fair question, and it’d be from the player’s perspective: why is losing one or two shards per day such a big deal to make such a commotion about it?  That’s a good question, and I think it has a lot to do with the principle of things, especially in light of the way characters are released.  I’m going to make a bold statement, but it’s one that I’ve seen echoed many times on Reddit and the forums recently: players wouldn’t mind this change as much if CG weren’t so intent on making hard nodes the primary way of farming characters.  One of the worst parts about the game’s direction recently has been that CG has refused to put new characters in stores, and a significant portion of any new characters go to single hard node farms.  That means that it takes players months to farm one character.  And because there’s always something new to chase – like Jedi Knight Revan or Darth Revan – that means that players have to make conscious decisions about which hard node characters to farm.  As someone who has played this game almost from day one, I still have characters I want to farm from hard nodes but who I haven’t had the chance to focus on yet.  I can only imagine how much of a grind this must be for newer players.  And that’s all with eight attempts… only for CG to go to five?  Seriously?  It’s just a tone-deaf move, based on CG’s utter refusal to put any new character in any store.  Their method of releasing characters is primarily a long single hard node farm.  And now CG is just trying to make it longer.
  2. THE TONE OF THE POST.  As I already explained a bit earlier, this post was poorly done.  I sincerely applaud their efforts to communicate changes before they happen – that’s a welcome improvement from the near zero communication level the game had been at a short while ago – but I think framing this as giving players a huge favor only reveals that CG doesn’t truly get the playerbase.  I do remember when this change was made (from five to eight), and the players were ecstatic and praised CG.  But with the change, CG has only ramped up their reliance on hard nodes, meaning that the game has seemed to change with the increase in attempts.  Hard nodes have become even more important, and the farms there have become even more overwhelming.  So yes, them changing it from five to eight was a very nice move, but that doesn’t mean that they should be thanked now when they’re removing it.  Many times, these developers either try to pass blame on to the players when they don’t deserve it (like with the banning characters in Territory Wars fiasco) or try to take all the praise for themselves when they don’t deserve it.  This falls into the latter category.  The move was nice and all, but it definitely was not a huge favor to the players, and there’s zero reason why any developer who actually understands the feelings of the players could possibly conclude that framing this new change as a “you’re welcome” post is the right way to go about it.  Transparency is welcome; arrogant naivety is not.

As of late Sunday night, nearly 7,300 people had signed a petition to revoke this change, and countless more players have flocked to Reddit and the forums and social media to express their displeasure.  And rightfully so; it’s just the latest sign that these developers don’t actually care about the players and are out of touch with the feelings of those who are actually playing their game.  But I’ve already harped on that enough.  If CG has already convinced themselves that this is the right change to make (about which I’d strongly disagree), I want to offer two suggestions.

  1. INSTEAD OF PRAISING YOURSELF, EXPLAIN YOURSELF. As we’ve already mentioned, the post reads very much like a “you’re welcome for being so generous” post than an actual explanation as to why they’re making this change.  Now, certainly, CG doesn’t ‘owe’ anyone an explanation, but at the same time, they’ve been needing to do a better job of connecting with their playerbase for a while.  Simply explaining why they make such a move could go a long way – at least as far as communication and transparency are concerned.  Right now, very few players give CG the benefit of the doubt, and it’s because CG has emptied the trust bank for many players.  In other words, many have come to always assume the worst about the developers’ motives (like, for instance, releasing Chewbacca to drain resources right before the Revan event).  So instead of patting yourself on the back, I’d encourage the developers to explain their reasoning behind this move.  As I explained earlier, from a developers’ perspective, an additional shard or two shouldn’t be worth all the backlash they’re receiving (and that they knew they would receive, unless they’re even more ignorant than we fear).  So what motivated this change?  Why now?  What makes it worth it?  I suspect that their only possible answers are things they wouldn’t want to admit: either (1) they simply want more money or to make the grind harder; or (2) they’re preparing for an upcoming character release that they want to make harder.  But either way, I would counter that if you’re too afraid of making your intentions public, then perhaps they’re not the best intentions in the first place.
  2. CHANGE THE CHARACTER RELEASE POLICY.  I said it before and I truly believe it: if CG were to change their stubborn refusal to put any new characters into stores, the frustration and backlash over this change would quickly dissipate.  It’s been a very frustrating release schedule in the first place – putting the majority of new characters on one hard node farm – and there is zero reason why some ‘lesser’ characters couldn’t be put in stores.  There are plenty of characters who aren’t really needed for much and are luxury characters that are hard node only farms.  Instead of putting every single new character on a hard node, CG should spread things out a bit.  This is the biggest change that they could make that would go a long way toward making the slashing from eight to five attempts more welcome.

Ultimately, I’m not confident in CG making any sort of changes.  They haven’t earned the benefit of the doubt, and that’s probably part of the problem.  As Lando Calrissian said, “This deal’s getting worse all the time.”

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