The Soapbox: Everyone’s being dumb about Star Wars: The Old Republic’s lightsaber

This is not that lightsaber, but I care so little I'm not hunting down a picture.
A couple of years ago, The Force Awakens introduced us to (among other things) a lightsaber that looks poorly made, like a little kid made it. So Star Wars: The Old Republic added a version of it to a lockbox, and everyone got pissy. Then it got added to direct sales, and everyone got pissy.

Including me! Except, in my case, not because I feel like one side or the other is being hard done by. No, it’s that rare situation wherein I consider pretty much everyone involved to be whining about something that really requires not the slightest bit of whining. Yes, everyone here is being dumb and I am on absolutely no one’s side here. Except for the side of tegu.

As such, I’ve compiled my thoughts briefly below, with sections dedicated to both “sides” of the debate and all of the people who are mad. I’ve also included a few pictures of big old lizards because I was told that I couldn’t write an entire column about liking lizards and I can be petulant, too. So if you don’t care about this debate, check out some lizard pictures. That’d be fun.

Dear Bioware: Here’s why you’re being dumb

Guys, you’re first on the block here because I feel like somehow you haven’t gotten a really basic memo. It’s kind of surprising to me, and I sort of think that someone must have told you this before now? But apparently not, so I’m just going to go for it. You ready? Here we go.

No one is ever going to like your item packs.

Seriously, this is never going to be a thing that people like. I get it, you’re trying to make money, I have sympathy for that. But you’re trying to get people to like something when it’s just not happening. Not now, not ever. No one is ever going to be excited about having a random chance to get things. I’d say “that ship has sailed” but it was never in port. No one ever liked this, no one ever thought it was great. People don’t even like paying for actual things; they’re sure as hell not going to like paying for a chance at things.

What you’re doing here, with directly selling the lightsaber? This is not fixing things. This is just making things worse. The people who hate having cosmetic stuff for sale at all are still going to hate it just as much, and the people who are willing to accept random item packs are just going to be pissed off.

Look at these sweet lizards. Seriously, these lizards.

See, it’s not just the item packs here; it’s the fact that players feel as if all of the cool new stuff is locked behind a cash shop wall. And I have to say, they’re kind of right. I mean, I like your game, and I like the collection system, and I really don’t care too much about the random packs myself. If I want something from them, I can just buy them off of the market for credits, that’s cool. But that’s where all of the cool new costumes come from, which starts to feel kind of… well, cheap.

Yes, I get it, you need to make money, you need to entice people into buying these things. But this system is not liked. Players want more control over their cosmetic options, and every alteration you make is centered around giving them less control. You tried to get people excited about a random chance pack inside of another random chance pack, as if this were a reward.

You’re also charging an absurd amount of money for an item after it was available only through extreme chance, which is not making things better. Like, seriously, more than half of the classes in the game can’t even use this lightsaber. Sixty bucks is ridiculous.

Sooner or later, you’re going to need someone on the staff to accept that you actually need to make some fundamental changes to how things are running around here because you are mostly succeeding only at making people angry. Seriously, I generally don’t care about people whining about this, and here I am pointing out how intensely dumb this is. If you have something you know everyone is going to want, sell it to them. Set up some sort of currency system where buying these random packs actually gets you closer to earning the reward you want.

Heck, just sell packs of themed weapons and armor and count on people buying those, I don’t know! But the current approach is not working, and eventually it’s going to run into the rather predictable problem of people just getting too tired of it to bother playing any longer.

And don’t act like selling this thing at $60 a pop for a single cosmetic item is some sort of act of benevolence. This is trying to fix something that made people angry months after the fact with a hasty bandage that isn’t very well-managed. Or, more likely, it’s because someone was pretty sure you could make like $60,000 easy for the next financial report. Seriously.

I would buy one of these from a cash shop. I am always half an incentive away from buying one anyway.

Dear fans: Here’s why you’re being dumb

All right, guys, it’s your turn. Here, I’m going to make this very simple. I’ve got a two-point action plan for addressing this. Ready?

  1. Don’t buy the stupid lightsaber.
  2. Holy [REDACTED], we’re already done? Let’s go watch The Force Awakens again. That was a good movie.

“But where does complaining about it on forums come in?” It doesn’t. See, that’s why I didn’t include it on the list. Because it’s not on the list.

This handsome zard is not dealing with these issues. It's just being very step through a forest. Lizards are step, and the quality we are discussing is steps.Look, you got exactly what you were asking for. You wanted this to be sold directly; now it’s being sold directly. You won! If you’re unhappy about the path it took for us to get here, I assure you with a cynicism born of lengthy experience that actions speak so much louder than words that it’s not even funny. The question is whether or not you know what to do with that victory, and the right thing to do is pretty much nothing. Buy the lightsaber if you want it.

“But that’s too expensive for a cosmetic weapon!” I agree. So don’t buy it. Problem solved.

The reason that this stuff persists is because it keeps getting bought. You want to complain about the fact that you opened a hundred item packs and didn’t get the Unstable Arbiter’s Lightsaber and it’s an insult? I assure you, what you’re actually saying is that you spent a whole lot of money on these item packs, which is the whole point of having them there. This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature.

Yes, there’s a thing in there you really want. What did you think was going to happen? “Hey, guys, here’s an item pack with nothing you really want in it, and the one desirable item is super-common. Buy a lot of them!” That’s the sort of story that ends with everyone responsible for the item pack getting fired for grotesque incompetence, and they’d deserve it.

If you want this stuff to not be sold, don’t buy it. If you don’t want it to be sold but it still sells enough that it keeps being sold anyway, we live in an imperfect world. There’s no more discussion to be had about it.

I was told I couldn't write an article just about liking lizards so I did this.I get wanting it. I really do. But the fact that you asked for X and are now getting it and complaining about X sends the message that this is just complaining that’s going to happen no matter what. I’m sure someone with more patience than I for trawling through forum threads could find people – perhaps even the same people – arguing that it would be so much better if the lightsaber were being sold directly for a high price, which is precisely what wound up happening. You got what you said you wanted, and if you’re going to complain now that it’s not what you actually wanted, you’re kind of taking a sledgehammer to your future credibility.

You are just going to have to decide whether or not a minor cosmetic item is worth $60 to you. If it isn’t, don’t buy it. That makes an impact. Endless whining on the forums about getting the direct sale people were asking for just confirms that what people really want is tons of cosmetic items donated for free every minute, with no chance involved.

Which, you know, may be what you want, but it’s not ever going to be something you’ll actually get. In any game, cash shop or no. There are more important things to be concerned about, like the actual state of the game’s content and the actual delivery and accessibility. Those matter a lot more.

Dear lizards: You’re not being dumb

Sit on that hot rock and sun yourself, lizards. I adore lizards.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!

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Bioware just needs to completely rethink their business model, light fire to their cash shop and start over.

Kickstarter Donor
Richard de Leon III

I doubt they can, if they went back to requiring subs they may just lose too many customers to stay in operation. They simply wont have enough money to fund the needed changes to make a sub based mmo work in todays F2P world.

Fenryr Grey

I fear SWTOR is beyond salvation. I loved it at release, I mean what is 10ish $ compared to the annoyance of the ingame store right now?(or in any cash shop for that matter) For many people too much unfortunately. People value 10 bucks a day in beer higher than 10 bucks of unlimited access to a great game for a month.

Sally Bowls

It just struck me whilst in WoW. Several people in my small guild have the spider mount. It is not uncommon to see at least one in a 25-person group. I.e., rare but not ultra rare. It is an in-game item sold for in-game gold; cash shop or RNG is not really involved. It is not limited; me buying one does not preclude you from buying one.

It costs 2,500,000 gold. You could buy 28 $20 tokens (=$560) to get this much gold. Alternatively, if you have 2.5M gold, you could get some combination of 28 months of the $15 subscription or $420 of credit to buy Overwatch or Hearthstone items.

This is about ten times more money in a normal MMO (i.e. EVE & SC dwarf $560 items and even AA & BDO will take that amount of money from you.)

Dracon TOR

I would only use the original style, others can use what they want. If people want their toon to have a lightsaber I consider stupid looking, let them. I don’t really care what others are using if it’s only a visual. Of course lizards rule.

Kickstarter Donor
Ailsa Nordstrom

This is similar to how I feel about gold-seller spam. It bugs me that I have to ignore and report 3 new bots on every character every time I log in. But they’re just doing their jobs. So then I get mad at the people who BUY from gold-sellers for creating the demand for their services. But they are probably just players with limited time in which to make the credits on their own who want to buy the exorbitantly priced items on the market. Ok so now I’m mad that people price their stuff so high…yep, we live in an imperfect world.


#teamlizard Lizards are awesome, whiners are not.

Patreon Donor

wait wut? they made a lightsaber cost $60usd? ayyyy lmao.

it’d be easy to blame this on EA somehow, but the reality is bioware was like this long before the doctors cashed out on EA’s dime to retire into drinking craft beer all day.

Sally Bowls

Thank you for a good article.

I definitely agree with the second point. For the first, I think that cash shops and loot boxes are not going away. There are people who are always going to complain about them, so I am not sure how valuable it is to worry about them. They will “die out” both literally and of the target audience. I don’t think people who have downloaded a thousand “free” games to their phone prior to graduating from Uni, will be quite so contorted over cash shops.


Quote: A couple of years ago, The Force Awakens introduced us to (among other things) a lightsaber that looks poorly made, like a little kid made it. So Star Wars: The Old Republic added a version of it to a lockbox, and everyone got pissy. Then it got added to direct sales, and everyone got pissy.

My reply: Wrong. The vented sabers are the ones from Force Awakens. The Unstable sabers have lightning around the blades.


for comparison
Unstable: unstable

Vented: vented


Force Awakens put me to sleep. It was the most boring star wars movie I have ever seen.


How about a Chlamydosaurus, Mr. Eliot? o.O