State of the Galaxy: September 2019

Welcome to the first edition (in quite some time) of the State of the Galaxy. Previously we used the State of the Galaxy as a catch all, update on the game, which eventually morphed into what is now “the Road Ahead”. Over time we realized that the Road Ahead was acting like a single monolith of information and that we didn’t have enough touch points with the community where we acknowledged things that were going well (and not so well) in the game. We want to use the State of the Galaxy as the once-a-month check-in with the players talking about our progress on building new features, what may be coming out that month, and discuss some tough topics that are currently affecting the game.

Our hope is that the Road Ahead acts as our broad intent about upcoming major changes to the game, the State of the Galaxy is our monthly check in, and the monthly Q&A is a way that we can talk about things in the Road Ahead and the State of the Galaxy with you in addition to our other normal posting. So without further ado, let’s talk about what’s going on with the game.

Grand Arena Championship
After what can only be described as a significant number of bumps and bruises (It’d be disingenuous of us to act like the release of GAC has been a rosy, pain-free affair), the first season of the Grand Arena Championship is officially underway. We had a scare with the points associated with Byes, but for now everything appears to be stable and working as intended.

The creation of GAC has been a multi-release process for us and it’s been a learning experience for everyone in the studio. We’ve made competitive modes in the past, in many of our other previous games, but nothing as elaborate as the GAC. If you look at the game as an evolution - this is a step beyond what we initially envisioned. When we first released, competition was simple; there’s a small pool of potential heroes, make the best single squad. But now, with almost hundreds of characters and a wide variety of strategies, we want to be able to celebrate all the different ways you can play in the game.

This is ultimately a long winded way to say, we’ve learned a ton and it hasn’t always been fun (for you or for us). Thank you for your patience and helping us see this through to this point. Now that the patient is stabilized, we’re going to start looking into making small changes to the mode (better messaging, updating scoring/point gains, and expanding feats) with a longer term view to the future (things like: new modes, better seasonal wrapping, and expanded inter-guild matches). We look at GAC as a platform for us to continue to expand what the end game looks like and we’re excited to continue going on this journey with you.

Cheating has been a major topic of conversation since the beginning of Grand Arena Championships - and we’ve posted a few times recently about how seriously we take cheating in providing a competitive PVP game and actions that we’re taking to address cheating in SWGOH. This is a never-ending challenge, but we wanted to give an update on the results of some of those actions - as well as communicate other initiatives that we’re working on regarding cheating.

We previously communicated that we were introducing a “new suite of data points and detection tools.” These tools help with the identification of potential cheaters which then go into a queue for manual review by our staff along with reports from the community. The introduction of these tools to help us identify potential cheaters more quickly, along with the increased focus of team member hours devoted to investigating the claims, have resulted in us taking action against four times as many suspected cheating accounts in August over July. 96% of the time this resulted in a perma-ban - irrespective of spend level.

That said, while the conversation has been incredibly heated around cheating in recent weeks, the vast majority of players are playing fairly. To give you a sense of scope, we’ve been able to determine cheating occurred, and then actioned against, several hundred accounts in August out of a couple thousand suspected accounts we’re monitoring. We’ll continue to improve these tools over time, and we’re talking with other EA partners and looking into 3rd party tools that exist to help identify cheaters.

To make reporting suspected cheaters a little easier, we’re taking steps in our next version update to improve the cheat reporting system by adding additional options for what kind of cheating is suspected as well as the ability to add comments. These categories help us prioritize which cases to investigate first, and the comments help give much needed context to the investigations. While we’ve been handling reports submitted directly on the forums, the in-game tool is the best way to submit a case of suspected cheating.

Lastly, we wanted to mention that we’ve been talking about adding a Battle Report Summary to communicate which characters were used, how much damage each character dealt, how much health they had remaining, etc. Adding this in-game is going to take some time, so we’re actively talking with our friends over at SWGOH.GG about exposing this data to them and letting them display the results. We’re excited about the opportunity to get this information into the community’s hands sooner and will have more updates on this in the coming weeks.

You’ve started to see our introductory posts around Relics over the past couple weeks. We’re going to continue to do very targeted forum posts about different aspects of Relics as we ramp up to the release of Relics this month. Topics we still need to cover include: How to Upgrade your Relic, Character Progression, and Relic Abilities (spoiler alert on this one: there won’t be Relic Abilities in the initial release, but we’re laying the groundwork for it). Stay on the lookout for these and continue to post your feedback (we look forward to tackling some of these questions in the Q&A later this week).

Next Month’s State of the Galaxy & Road Ahead in Nov
I also want to use this post to frame our near future plans so you have a solid idea of what to expect in the coming months and what we will be talking about in the next Road Ahead or State of the Galaxy. Normally, we would be ramping up for a big Road Ahead post next month, but you already know that Light Side Territory Battles will be our next major piece of content alongside new ships and characters coming - so we are going to save this for November.

Going forward, we will be posting the Road Ahead when we’ve got a new chapter of content to announce or something huge and exciting to announce (approximately once a quarter) but if there isn’t, we will post a State of the Galaxy that month in lieu of the Road Ahead. Our hope is while the Road Ahead is about driving hype and excitement around something cool and new, the State of the Galaxy can be where we discuss how things are going in the game and go deeper into our intentions.
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