BioWare Unsure if Free-to-Play Can Save Star Wars: The Old Republic

August 31, 2012 -

BioWare's new General Manager says that shifting Star Wars: The Old Republic to a free-to-play model may not save the Star Wars themed MMO. When asked by Computer & Videogames in a recent interview if the transition would help the MMO, Matt Bromberg said with much frankness, "I don't know."

"My primary intention is to make as many people play this beautiful game that we've made," he added. "It just so happens that the business will naturally grow as more people come to play the game, but we're not trying to squeeze every single penny out of it. A lot of other games that have moved from subscription to hybrid haven't lost as many customers as you might think, in fact a lot of them have gained subscribers."

When asked for an internal target for new or returning subscribers post-transition, Bromberg didn't offer an exact number.

"I can't say what it is. But also because I'm not sure. You have to plan for this but you can never be sure. We do think the numbers will grow steadily but we're not looking for some enormous surge on day one," he said.

You can check out the full C&VG interview here.

Source: GII


Comments

Re: BioWare Unsure if Free-to-Play Can Save Star Wars: The ...

What would have saved SWToR is content.  One of the primary reasons they lost most of their consumer base (myself included) was the fact that they failed to deliver on content.  When I bought the game they made it clear that they were going to justify their price tag with regular new content, which is key in a story game.

What happened? Three months in and one major content patch.  Technically two, but the legacy system was not true 'content'.  Convenience is story content.  That was when I left.  And now they are trying to capture the free to play?  I've already experienced all the classes, in multiple variations thanks to my friends that I played with.  And Guild Wars 2 has hit.  Want free to play where you still have to buy the game?  I've been waiting since Guild Wars for this, and world vs world lets you level.  PVP lets you get levels day one.  Enough said.

"If you really want to enslave people, tell them you are going to give them Total Freedom." - L. Ron Hubbard

Re: BioWare Unsure if Free-to-Play Can Save Star Wars: The ...

You know back in the day, 400,000 subscribers was considered a license to print money. Now, unless you are posting WOW's numbers, you are a failure. WOW's numbers will never be seen again. Not for a long time anyway.

Re: BioWare Unsure if Free-to-Play Can Save Star Wars: The ...

Back in the day it only cost about $10 million USD to make one of these puppies. Even today the succesful games and the ones that were successfully turned around by going ftp all have one thing in common. They cost under $50 million to make. WoW, Eve, DAoC, EQ, LotRO, DDO, Rift, DCU, CoH, etc. 

Compare that with games like SWTOR and the recently stillborn Studio 38 game. Lowball estimates put SWTOR's development costs at in excess of $250 million. With many reports hitting as high as HALF A BILLION $$$. We know Copernicus was well in excess of $100 million when taxpayers pulled the plug.

The secret to success or failure in an MMO is not the shear number of subscribers on day 1 or year 1. It is the amount of subscribers or players factored by how much it cost to make the bloody thing. Quite simply WoW was a success not because they had 12 million subscribers. It was a success because they made back their development costs fairly quickly and every subscriber from then on was profit and growth. There is now way come hell or high water that SWTOR ever had any possibility of making back their development costs. No sane rational business model that would allow for that. The entire business plan was "we must steal ALL of WoW's current and historical customers, and keep them for a year or two". No really! That by any rational measure is what the EA/Bioware business plan appears to have been. Development Costs should not be an order of magnitude more than historical  baseline profits for the product you are seeking to make. This is business 101, a course which somehow often seems to be lacking in the games industry. 

Re: BioWare Unsure if Free-to-Play Can Save Star Wars: The ...

my only question is in what terms are they going to have their micro transactions (in game store? and what payment methods?)

as well as what kind of content...

while a good game its more like a broad co op KotoR than an MMO... they def didn't have much idea on what makes MMO's last when they made it.. nor a good look at how the market shift has put paid MMO's on the down slide in recent years...

long ago the game prob would've thrived big time, but these days... not so much.. and killing SWG didn't help the case much.

Re: BioWare Unsure if Free-to-Play Can Save Star Wars: The ...

To be fair, SWG died a long time ago.

The fact that the SWGEmu server had more active players than the live servers speaks volumes about the opinions surrounding that game's direction.

 
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