Playing with friends increases engagement faster than I could pull the ears of a gundark.
Star Wars: The Old Republic is a contentious game. On one hand, it was a major disappointment for EA and BioWare financially and it will be hard for it to make the $250 million it cost to make. But on the other it's a fantastically crafted MMO with solid storytelling mechanics which let you feel like you are in a Star Wars film. The transition to free to play did wonders to increase revenue, and the upcoming public release of the first expansion Rise of the Hutt Cartel next week will keep the game's visibility high, but BioWare isn't leaving anything to chance. The developers today announced they are rewarding anyone who's in a guild with a 5% bonus to XP gained.
"Rewards await players who team up with other players in a guild to take on multiplayer adventures! Whether you're already in a guild or looking to join or start one, you can earn in-game bonuses, starting with a +5% Guild XP Bonus, which enhances your gameplay experience just for being in a guild," the Guild Rewards Program page reads.
The rest of the announcement outlines all the social and networking benefits of joining a guild, and promises more tangible in-game rewards for guilds in the months to come. Perhaps the best piece of this program is that the 5% XP bonus stacks with other XP benefits such as items purchased with Cartel Coins - the game's free to play currency.
The Guild Rewards Program seems like a rather transparent way to get players engaged socially, because, hey, you're more inclined to keep playing (and paying) if your friends are there. I wonder if BioWare has metrics which tell them a majority of players aren't in guilds now, and they want to offset that with these incentives. I, for one, play the game almost entirely solo - that's kind of how I roll - but I can't deny the benefit of free XP. My Sith Marauder isn't going to level by himself.
Source: Official SWTOR site