I Guarantee SW:TOR Will Pass A Million Subscribers
Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to be huge. I unequivocally guarantee it*. EA are playing a strategy so perfect it would make a Russian chess master blush. Everything from the design of the game and its IP to their business model and hype tactics is utterly flawless. If SW:TOR doesn’t crack at least a million subscribers and manage to to gain a foothold against WoW, I don’t think anything ever will.
Aside from the obvious factors like an incredibly popular IP, a well-respected development company, financial investment larger than Han Solo’s well-hidden insecurity complex and the guarantee of polish so bright it could serve as a second sun, EA are manipulating their target audience (us) into a frenzy of epic proportions. And as dirty as I feel for letting them do it to me, it truly is quite amazing to watch.
I guess the penny dropped for me when I saw their price for the retail and digital boxes – they certainly aren’t cheap. Even the most basic digital edition costs a third more than normal MMOs whilst the Collectors Edition retails for something like a billion dollars (OK, $149). Now while many people would call this plain greedy, I call it rather bloody clever. See, it’s not about money, it’s about perception. EA are making us psychologically connect value and significance to their product and once we’ve done that, we’re going to antipicate it more than ever and hype it to hell.
The pre-order scenario is another perfect example of this as the number of pre-orders is limited. Yep, EA Bioware have actually manage to limit digital registrations of a digital game under, according to their FAQ, the guise of some cock and bull story about wanting to maintain quality. And of course this has caused a lot of complaints and moaning and groaning around forums and blogs etc but at the end of the day it’s achieved exactly what the developers intended – it’s created artificial supply limits to increase demand. It’s exactly the same strategy that was employed by Nintendo with the Wii, Apple with the iPad 2 and plenty of manufacturers and retails before that.
I learnt a while ago that sometimes creating a product that’s the cheapest or the most mass market isn’t always the right solution. Humans are strange creatures and we place value on items in different ways, not necessarily just as by judged by the total of the sum of their parts. We become enticed and intoxicated by quality, by brand, by rarity, often without any real logical reasons behind it all. EA have recognised this and are crafting SW:TOR into more than just a MMO but rather a complete perfect experience that we are starving for.
Plus it’s going to come out right at the time when everyone is royally bored and fed up with WoW. Maybe that will play a small part in it all too..
*I by no means guarantee anything.