I have a thing about betas. I used to love them and try to get in as many as I could. I remember being giddy as a school boy for the Age of Conan beta, as desperate as a lumberjack for the Aion one, and horny as hell for RIFT’s. Then recently something in me changed. A switched was a flicked, a lever was pulled, a light bulb went off in my brain and I realised that playing betas were killing the overall enjoyment for me. It’s like celebrating Christmas early.
Archive for the ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ Category
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.
Via Massively I read today that BioWare and EA have confirmed that in order to remain “substantially profitable” (i.e. survive) Star Wars: The Old Republic needs at least 500,000 monthly subscribers. They didn’t mention timeframes regarding how long they need to maintain that level in order to make back the initial investment and start earning a buck but my guess would be somewhere in between “indefinitely” and “until the end of time”. To be fair, 500k is a lot smaller than the number people were throwing around a few months ago but it’s still a hefty amount. So I guess the big question is, are they gonna manage to pull it off?
Yesterday Massively posted an article about how BioWare and EA not only expect 2 million plus subscribers for Star Wars: The Old Republic, their upcoming MMORPG, but also how they need at least 1 million to make it ’successful’. Anyone else getting a feeling of deja vu? *cough* Warhammer *cough* Online. Geez, I should really get that cough seen to.
The whole thing’s got me slightly worried. When a company talks about how amazing, large scale and grand their game is and then comes out with statements that it needs an entire country sized playerbase in order to even begin being successful, it just seems like they’re setting themselves up for a fall. In an industry were only one Western MMO has ever succeeded 1 million players, there isn’t exactly an achieveable precedent for setting such a loafty target.
By publically stating this goal, every critic on the planet is going to be watching BioWare and EA like a Korriban hawk. If the game doesn’t hit that magic 1 million number, the entire spin on the game is going to go from positive to negative and the result could be an unrecoverable spiralling downfall. We’ve seen it before with games like Vanguard and Warhammer and as soon as staff start getting laid off, the game becomes a dead duck in the eyes of the players.
Considering that BioWare/EA have also already starting discussing additional and further payment models, I’m starting to get the feeling (justified or not) that the main motivation behind the MMORPG is more money than anything else. Yeah, I know that’s the founding principle of any company but at least most have the good grace to try and hide that fact and let the product speak for itself.
I’m still looking forward to SW:TOR and will judge it when I play it but all of this talk about subscribers and payments is making me a little uneasy. I just want to play a game and for it to be fun. I don’t want to be thinking about money and its success as I’m doing it (or before it’s even come out).
Honestly, I can’t help but think that BioWare/EA would’ve been better keeping their mouth’s shut about it all. I’m not sure what they were trying to achieve.