2012 started with a "bang" as several hundred Syndicate members surged into SWTOR. The leveling process was extremely enjoyable. You were the focal point of your own storyline and there were multiple storylines you could play through by playing all of the classes. So, in a sense, it was like playing through several movies that all took place in the same universe but each had its own story. There was also space combat and pvp and even Flashpoints and Operations that were great fun at first.
Unfortunately, that feeling of awesomeness didn't last. The content was all top tier but there was simply no way that Bioware could create enough top tier content, fast enough, to keep players interested. Instead, players burned through the content at a record pace and then slammed into the wall that marks the "end" of the game. Then they waited. Days turned into weeks which turned into months and nothing very substantial came out. There were tweaks.. there was a new warzone and a new flashpoint anda new operation but those were burned through in a days.
So players began to drift from the game. The Syndicate went from around 400 people actively playing to about 50 people by the summer. Similar stories were occurring all over the world and finally the servers had to be merged since, at peak time, the Imperial Station had less than 20 people online and warzone queues might not let you into a match even if you waited an hour or two.
What was missing? In our view it was a focus on community. The "content" has to be fun and compelling but without a community focus players do not stick around. There was no guild 'housing'. There was no guild leveling. Communication tools were rudamentary. Mechanics to play your main toon but help others who were lower level did not exist. In short, most of the core building blocks of "community" were lacking. So, once the content was burned through, players left in large numbers.
The Syndicate did stick around... we did move servers as part of the consolidation... but SWTOR was never to recover as a major focus for us nor as a power-house MMORPG in the overall landscape of online games.