BioWare is making the difficult decision to close down the company’s official forums for all titles except Star Wars: The Old Republic, preferring social media.
Video game companies are so anxious to maintain avenues of conversation with the players these days that it’s uncommon to see one closing such an avenue. Yet such seems to be the case with BioWare, as the company is announcing plans to close down the official community forums. Citing a preference for social media over more traditional platforms like forums, BioWare will turn out the forum lights on August 26, giving thousands of users a window of time to share their goodbyes.
Oddly, the secondary reason for closing the official forums is rather blunt. BioWare employees seemingly just don’t care enough to make the time for it anymore:
“With so many great things so widely available, our developers today find themselves spending more time on other sites, and less time in our own forums. And to our fans and players who came to those boards looking to talk to us, it was a great disservice.
So it is with a heavy heart that we will close our public forums on August 26, 2016. We will maintain some private boards, and may use these in future for beta feedback or other special projects.”
BioWare will also maintain the forums in a read-only state until October 25, so community members can copy or collect their old posts, friends’ information or just reminisce about better times in the forum. That being said, not every BioWare forum will close down; the Star Wars: The Old Republic forums will remain live.
The official BioWare forums have been the home for over a dozen game communities over the years, including franchises like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Even now, the official Mass Effect Andromeda forum is especially active, filled with speculation threads, fan-art or fan-fiction posts, and an overall staggeringly positive community. The wide array of international forums will likely have the worst of the problems, as their smaller communities will have difficulty finding new homes that draw in new people like BioWare’s official forums could provide.
BioWare insists that going forward, players will still be able to maintain the same, strong level of communication with their fan-base as when the forums were at their peak activity level. Through the use of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, Bioware says they’ll continue to “share stories” and give fans looks “behind the scenes.” Meanwhile, fans can continue socializing in their own communities on Tumblr and Reddit, or through fan-made resources like Wikis.
While the company didn’t apologize for taking down the forums where their community had blossomed, they did try to sympathize:
“While we are saying goodbye to this venue, we remain committed to our community and will always be here to listen, share, and support you. Online and in person, we will continue to seek out opportunities to interact and share in our combined love of games.”
At the heart of the matter, fans should realize that this decision likely had very little to do with the community itself or how much BioWare valued it. The decision was likely made purely on the cold details of cost analysis –whether BioWare and EA were receiving value from the forum in proportion to how much they spent on it. Considering the value of having an excited, invested community in residence on your forums doesn’t fit well onto a spreadsheet, it’s surprising BioWare kept it up as long as it did.
For now, it seems like fans are migrating to a dozen different homegrown forums and communities across the internet. Whether it’s the newly made Unofficial BioWare Social Network or hastily put together Twitter networks, hopefully all of these little fan families find new homes.