BioWare Responds to Eurogamer’s SWTOR Review, Depiction As ‘Competent But Not Innovative’

Star Wars: The Old Republic Game Director James Ohlen responded to Eurogamer’s review of the new MMORPG in an interview with the site, in which he says the review’s characterization of SWTOR as lacking innovation is “unfair.”

The review handed over an 8/10 to SWTOR and called it “immensely competent,” but Ohlen took issue with critic Oli Welsh’s claim that SWTOR doesn’t bring much new to the table. Ohlen likened SWTOR and its underlying structure to first-person shooters, real-time strategy and platforming games, saying that those games have maintained the same basic mechanics for the last 20 years, and that doesn’t cause them to lack innovation — so why should MMOs be expected to change everything?

I don’t know why the MMORPG genre is not considered to be a genre,” Ohlen shrugged. “It could be that World of Warcraft has dominated for so long that people just think of it as just a single game genre.
“But it is a genre, and we wanted to appeal to fans of that genre – we don’t want to turn them away by making something that’s radically different. And we wanted to take the lessons that have been developed in that genre over years and years and years and basically refine them, much like other companies do with other genres.

So, I don’t know, it’s just the way it is, but I don’t see us as not being innovative. We’re actually a lot more innovative within the MMO space than comparable games in other spaces like the first-person genre, the action genre – games like that.

Ohlen also said he thinks some people expected BioWare to reinvent the wheel in terms of MMO gameplay, but that was never the studio’s intention.

The expectations on what the game was going to be for a lot of people was kind of different to what we were building. We were building essentially a classic MMO with BioWare storytelling set in the Star Wars universe. And there were a lot of people out there who wanted us to reinvent the universe and come up with a game system that had never been done before. And that was something we weren’t doing, so it was going to be disappointing for those people.

We did succeed in creating a game that’s very fun and addictive, and I think that’s what’s going to make this successful.

You can read the rest of the lengthy interview over at Eurogamer. We’re still finalizing our extensive review of SWTOR, but in the meantime, let’s put it to you — how do you rank SWTOR? Do you agree with naysayers claiming it’s just a World of Warcraft clone? Or are many complainers just unable to see past a decade of WoW gaming?

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16 Comments on BioWare Responds to Eurogamer’s SWTOR Review, Depiction As ‘Competent But Not Innovative’


On January 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Eurogamer has been doing that with at least several games lately.

Maybe they’re trying to do a “one man can make a difference” thing to improve originality in gameplay mechanics (or something) or maybe they’re all bored and express that in their reviews.

Personally, its refreshing but only when done right. They have rated a game that was better then the one before it with a lower score all because it was “more of the same”. If its better than its score should be better and that’s far too difficult for them to understand.


On January 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm

this is one of the few MMOs that has a story unique to each class and alignment in your faction, this is one of the few games with massive amounts of voice acting

the crafting in this game is unlike any ive ever played, the best before this i thought was Vanguard SOH.

Mr. Innovation

On January 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Spot on review. Gamespot’s review is similar. There’s really not much “innovation” and there never really was any innovation intended.

The quotes say it all: They set out to make a better WoW and they may have succeeded. That is all.

As for me, I’ll be the one playing the “innovative” games.


On January 14, 2012 at 12:55 am

Jumping into the MMO market is tough, with the Time and Money required it becomes harder and harder to bring innovation out into a high risk market.

You ether think you made something innovative and it falls flat on its face praying to the F2P Gods to save you or stick to a formula that is known to work with small improvements here and there.

for me swtor is a good game but with the lack of mods, and craptastic auction house setup, in game map, and a few other things I can’t remember right now that where vary annoying, they have a lot of work ahead of them.


On January 14, 2012 at 1:43 am

Sorry but I rarely have anything good to say about Eurogamer; they and Edge always seem to want to be the broadsheet type publication compared to the more tabloid journalism of every other site, but to me they just succeed in appearing like the gaming equivalent of the Daily Mail. Hell, they even proclaimed the complete failure of SWTOR two days BEFORE it was released, dressing it up as an overall look at the subscription MMO genre. But then again it’s all hits, it’s all PR, and it’s all ‘hey lets all look at Eurogamer’ being discussed and written about across the gaming sphere.

And whilst they may protest (perhaps the site doth protest too much) that 8/10 is far from an average score, when 8/10 happens to be the score that they give to 80% or so of the games that they review I would still say that to them they view it as an average game.

Personally, as a publisher or a developer, I would stop giving two hoots about reviews, and about Metacritic, and why people from Bioware would give Eurogamer even more capability to slag them off on their site is beyond me; all it does is give them hits and oxygen


On January 14, 2012 at 1:52 am

The feeling that I get is that SWTOR will only be innovative in making things that currently exist, in WoW, better- adding things like a full set of class stories with fully voiced dialogue into an MMO just obviously isn’t innovative within the current MMO sphere.

90% of what people are asking for seems not only reasonable (probably the reason why there’s suck ore going in BW direction at the moment) but can be added/ amended within the current client iteration, I would think.

What has to be remembered is that a number of the people shouting out for better crafting or dungeon finders etc, are the same people that are also calling SWTOR out for being a WoW clone; so how do we satisfy these people? By making it even more like WoW?


On January 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm

End of the day swtor is a glorified single player RPG, with a tried over and true beaten dead horse end game aka farm this place gear to raid this. I’m a full time student with full time job and I’ve already hit 50 on my juggernaut, done all the hardmore flashpoints, and have eternity vaults nightmare on farm in a very laid back casual guild, we had to pug 2 dps last night for our nightmare and had no problems.
I cancelled my sub yesterday, as I realized that Bioware was banking on the idea that their “innovation” of voice and class story would be all that players needed at end game and would gladly happily continue rolling alts to see the class story.
I run into bugs constantly, guild UI is terrible and lacking features, my biggest ordeal is the auction house was designed by someone that has never played an MMO ever and had no idea what they were doing. I have 4 toons of banks loaded full of stuff I need to sell but dealing with that auction house is just a migraine.
The only 3 things I see as innovative is Voice acted, personal class quest, and companions, everything else is a tried and true mmo industry type system though severely dated and behind the times.

Game has some good potential, I feel that the above powers aka EA forced this one out a bit too soon. I think if Bioware had another full solid year to add missing features and smooth everything out would’ve been a good thing.

I almost wish I hadn’t played this at launch, and instead maybe 6 months to a year later. I’ve enjoyed my time, and had fun with the game, and will most likely come back in several months. Just my 2 cents.


On January 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm


Your so full of .nice try but your such a fail troll.LoL I hope you get shot at that lame ass collage you say your attending.


On January 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Try harder.


On January 17, 2012 at 10:33 pm

The acting and stories in this are beyond anything that has come before and it makes the game highly immersive, but as specified it is non innovative and actually a few generations behind in many aspects. That being said i find it truly enjoyable to play and to interact during cut scenes.


On January 23, 2012 at 4:59 am

Question what is this innovation you speak of? I am not familar with this word. DO you mean the thing we havent seen in a first person shooter since halo 1 yet CoD keeps getting 9/10-10/10 and everybody continues to to shell out money for. I really dont think innovation exsists anymore seems like everything that can be done has been done. The only thing that changes is the story. Does not bother me a bit though since that is the reason I play games is for a great story and this game has 8 of them so to me the succeeded in something no mmo has they made leveling fun at least for me leveling was always my most hated aspect of mmo but because of the different story lines it does not bother me here. I will prob come and go with this game leaving for games like mass effect 3 and diablo 3 but I am sure I will return


On January 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm


I believe people are referring to a desire specifically for the MMORPG genre to start (and continue) offering something more refreshing; push the envelope a little harder in every aspect of the genre we all so very much enjoy playing. I played WoW for four years, quit in 2008, and have been on the look-out ever since for an MMO that offers something delightedly different than what WoW can currently offer me today.

It’s true, there seem to be very few games out there that are currently “innovating” and implementing those kind of different ideas into their product to make them stand far enough apart from WoW but, luckily, there actually are some good ones that offer concepts I find sweetly stimulating – games like Atlantica Online and everything that Guild Wars 2 is stating they will be. In all actuality, I think SWTOR really created enough of a buzz initially to make enough people like me stand up and take notice of what they were creating.

Will SWTOR be a game that can offer me something that’s closely aligned with what I’m looking for? I don’t know, I haven’t played it yet. But, from the various reviews that I have been seeing online lately, I know I can certainly wait quite a few more patches to see what it grows into.


On February 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Star wars galaxies was perhaps the most innovative mmo ever made. Player cities, the reliance on crafting, complexity of farming. All made it incredibly addicting. swtor has none of this. They made a pretty good single player game, but a horrible mmo.


On February 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Oh, forgot about space combat! space is a joke in swtor. bioware owns wing comander right? why didn’t they slap that on top of swtor…


On February 10, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Maybe horrible MMO was too harsh. They made a clone of wow with less emphasis on crafting and farming.


On March 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm

If you go reading some past comments by James Ohlen, He clearly speaks about the game as a game who set “new standards in mmos”. I’d like to understand what these “new standards” are, as I’d like to undertand what Bioware wanted this game to be? Something innovative or classic? Could a classic game be innovative? Is there any innovation in putting some classic single player’s elements and arcade mini games in a mmorpg? A fresh idea, in my opinion, but if someone doesn’t find it innovative, can you blame him? I don’t. Why a so defensive posture? I actually play and enjoy the game, but what is fair is fair, this is not an innovative game.