SWTOR Death Thoughts

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated — Samuel Clemens.

So yesterday EA reported that 1.7 million active accounts have been created for Star Wars The Old Republic. They also said that they needed 500K to break even, 1M for a mediocre profit, and it scales into awesomeness after that. The statement was also made that they no longer have to wait for the worst case scenarios.

Still, despite the launch success of SWTOR, there are still heaps of comments about the impending doom of SWTOR.

Hopefully this new info will put those comments to rest. Of course, those commentors that actively wish for the demise of the themepark model will probably continue to make predictions of the death of SWTOR based on wishful thinking, and not the facts. Those are likely to continue for years, flying in the face of the evidence. After all, World of Warcraft has been dying for how many years now?

Still, this doesn’t mean that SWTOR is out of the woods.

Bioware/EA is attempting something new here with the heavy focus on story. I for one hope they succeed, simply because it provides another arrow in the quiver of MMORPG designers if they do. That’s not to say I particularly like the linearity of the SWTOR experience, I’d far more like to see more freedom than an on-rails experience like that gives.  But if SWTOR fails, at such a development cost, that means that story in MMORPGs will be either ignored, or actively repudiated in future AAA MMOs. After all the bean counters these days want a sure thing.

If Bioware is at least somewhat successful, then developers may feel it worth to experiment with story in future games.

The big concern with SWTOR, now, is that players do not renew. The character stories are very linear and once complete, what then? Bioware has put a lot of effort into implementing systems that get players to create alts, simply to keep playing, but I wonder if that is going to backfire. Again I hope not, I’d like to see the game become a great success and draw a new generation of players into the genre.

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  1. ogrebears

    The problem with Quarterly reports, is that they only report in that quarter. EA quarter ended Dec 31, everyone was still on their free trail.

    Back then http://www.torstatus.net/ still had 10-15% of the server reporting full the majority of the time. Today the numbers are hugely different. Most likely there are now less than 1 million people playing.

  2. Stropp (Post author)

    That’s dead right Ogrebears. I suspect that at the end of this next quarter we’ll see some new data come out showing a drop off, or not depending on how bad it is and whether EA wants to be forthcoming with the ‘bad’ news.

    That’s normal for any MMO though. As people finish their 30 days they have to decide if the game is for them or not. And for some it won’t be. There’s nothing wrong with that in itself, however if a lot don’t renew that will raise eyebrows.

  3. Raptorak

    The 30-day mark is a huge wall that causes decreases, but it goes well past that. The main determinant as to how successful it will be is the retention from month-to-month. Every day players will progress further and get closer to the end of the game. If they do not feel that there is enough worthy content (note: not just “new,” but “worthy”), they quit.

    If the company overhires due to the number of subscriptions now and does something to cause a massive drop-off, it can hurt the overall game.

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