Old Before Its Time? SWTOR Subs Sliiiiiide

By Alec Meer on May 8th, 2012 at 10:02 am.

METAPHOR

Yesterday was EA’s annual fiscal earnings call, which meant another night of the publisher baying about sums of money beyond all human imagining to stern shareholders and jumpy journalists. The headline numbers were revenues of $4.1 billion and earnings of $76 million, and a claim that it will be throwing $80 million down the gluttonous money-pit “in development of games for Gen4 console systems.” So consoles didn’t start until PS1, huh? My sister’s still-used Sega Mastersystem says otherwise, bucko.

But enough about the willy-waving. Let’s talk willy-shrinking too. Back in March, EA claimed its frighteningly expensive MMO goliath Star Wars: The Old Republic boasted some 1.7 million active subscribers. It’s now the merry month of May, and the earnings call brought news that subscribers are down to 1.3 million. So that’s 400,000 chappies gone in just two months, eh?

To make matters worse, EA has of late been resolute that SWTOR subs weren’t on the slide, claiming as recently as last month that overall numbers weren’t down but apparently light server populations were merely the result of less ‘concurrent users.’ I’d say EA have egg on their faces, but I’d imagine they have an army of robotic lackeys under strict instructions to go and wipe it off before anyone notices.

And then there’s our own chat with SWTOR’s lead designer Daniel Erickson just last week, in which he claimed that “Although the internet loves to pronounce the doom of all things, what we’re seeing is a huge increase in activity with [update] 1.2 as people return to see all of the new content.” -400,000 is a bloody funny way for activity to increase, I must say.

In the earnings call, EA Labels President Frank Gibeau attempted to Force-deflect concerns that the MMO was going the way of the Star Wars Holiday Special, arguing that numbers reflected EA’s “original assumptions” about the game’s likely performance. His reasoning for the drop was that “Some of those casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and have decided not to subscribe to the game.” Well, that was certainly me, though I’d say less ‘casual’ and more ‘just not gripped by the game’.

EA reckons it can yet increase subscribers with planned updates to PvP, guilds and endgame content, plus expansion packs. The first two of those will be called “Legacy” and “Allies” and will make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs (i.e. they’ll be out later this year).

If you’re of a mind to, you can comb through EA’s money-blast in full here.

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181 Comments »

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  1. Blaaaaaaag says:

    So they’re developing for the Genesis again… If we’re getting another Desert/Jungle/Urban Strike, I’m all over it.

    • f1x says:

      Omg what I fine game, I think it was Desert strike the one I played, just remember creating havok with my helicopter, by that time there was that movie, Blue Thunder

      just reminds me how many games have fallen into oblivion that were actually very nice

      • Enso says:

        Grabbing a dinky Sadam on a rope ladder while he danced around like a happy prospector is one of my greatest gaming memories.

    • Mistabashi says:

      Renegade Ops looks pretty much like a modern Jungle Strike (albeit with more of a ground vehicle focus).

      • f1x says:

        Will give it a try then, I saw it on Steam but somehow I thought it was a different kind of game

      • Blaaaaaaag says:

        Ooh, that does look pretty cool… and 4 player co-op, to boot! Nice.

    • DogKiller says:

      I still have a really big soft spot for Nuclear Strike. The cheesy FMV movies were actually pretty good, in my opinion, and the missions in Korea were both fun and atmospheric.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rikard Peterson says:

      Well, they can’t call it “next generation”, since I have a feeling that term still refers to the PS3 and X360.

      • Blaaaaaaag says:

        If they mean ‘Gen 8′, then that’s what they should say. I’m gonna take this one literally and get my hopes up for more yellow clips.

        • SiHy_ says:

          Ah, the yellow chunks of plastic and oddly proportioned cartridges; truely the sign of an EA game.

    • Bhazor says:

      Snes was bestest.

      Old console rivalries never die.

    • Plivesey says:

      If EA are developing for the Mega Drive, I’m hoping for another Road Rash!

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      When I re-bought my SNES the Amazon seller packed in a (cheap, I imagine) copy of Urban Strike. I never heard of the series before (yes, yes, I know) and I was like “WTF is this?” Thankfully I gave it a try, read up on it in wikipedia, and secretly thanked the seller for letting me discover a series I never knew about :P

  2. wodin says:

    Like all this couldn’t be foreseen pre release. You didn’t have to be some sort of Nostradamus to predict SWOTR would end up being the same old same old and certainly wouldn’t be the great hope for MMO’s and a game that will be just as popular in five years as it was on release etc etc.

    On a side not I remember PONG on a TV thing my dad had in the late seventies, then an Atari console in the early eighties, I had an intellivision in the early eighties aswell. But we all know consoles where only invented when the PS 1 came out…yeah right, I reckon there had been at least 15 different consoles by then.

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      If anyone had any doubts even with all that evidence the interviews senior TOR staff gave in recent weeks where they desperately tried to pretend the game is totally doing fine was a clear indicator the game is not doing well.

    • Lemming says:

      The sad thing I think is that all that development time, money and hype banging on about their ‘fourth pillar’etc. and what they came up with probably could have been done for a quarter of the cost for all the difference it made to the average gamer who took one look at it and went “like WoW but with less content…oh, well”.

      That’s kind of embarrassing.

  3. Lee_Nox says:

    Free-to-play! Free-to-play!

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Heh. I would actually give it a try, if it would go FtP. I don’t like paying subscriptions, and that is that main reason I haven’t played this game.

    • Phantoon says:

      EA will never allow this to go free to play, as it’d be proof it failed. The only things they’ll have free to play are games they made to be free to play.

      • Bhazor says:

        http://ageofreckoning.warhammeronline.com/

        Just sayin’

        edit: I am a fool
        Just saying’

      • sephiroth says:

        EA dont do FREE 2 play they do PAY 2 win or in some cases pay to play (but the menu screen is free)

        they did that free weekend to tor so as a fan of KOTOR but a hater of MMO’s thought id give it a go.
        I found a server in which it said it wasn’t too full but populated and saw 2 people the entire time, sure I was in a starter area but when I trialed WoW the starter areas where packed and it had been out for years at the time.

        my free taster didnt make me want to play more and made me 100% sure that to me it wasn’t worth money. IF it goes F2P I think I could maybe put up with the mechanics to get through a toon. maybe

      • TwwIX says:

        Yes, they would rather let it die a slow and agonizing death like Warhammer Online.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      Paying a sub has got nothing to do with me not wanting to return to TOR…….neither will any expansion or update make me change my mind. One month was enough.

    • Mattressi says:

      I’m not sure that you really want that. Remember Battlefield Heroes? Decent F2P game, reasonable fun for a bit, then after they’d got quite a few players they made it Pay2P – if you wanted anything other than the starter guns (or if you want to heal yourself or fly or basically if you want to remain competitive in any way), you need to pay real money. With SWTOR it’ll just become “pay 153 star monies for level 1 lightsaber” (where star monies are only sold in lots of 1000, costing $100).

      Hopefully they’ll just let it die and realise two things – MMOs suck (at least, the current MMO structure, which is the only structure used in any MMO other than Eve) and the market is already saturated with thousands of the crappy things; and copying WoW and hoping to beat it is a REALLY dumb idea.

    • Stromko says:

      I gave it a shot via a trial a friend sent me. It’s not a bad game as MMO’s go, I thought the storytelling was starting to get good (at least with some of the classes), but it wasn’t worth 40$ to continue. I know I wasn’t going to want to play for 4 more months, so the economics simply made no sense to me.

      At this stage I really feel that a game should either charge a subscription, or charge for the box, and putting a cash-shop on top of that is just outright evil.

  4. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    More Master Drive and SNES games are always welcome!

    • wodin says:

      Thought it was megadrive…

    • SiHy_ says:

      I hate to be that guy but it was Master System and Mega Drive. Master Drive sounds like an attempt to create the ultimate race of hard disks through eugenics.

  5. NathanH says:

    Fewer, brother, fewer.

  6. mistwolf says:

    I think when they insisted recently that their subscription levels were still ‘normal’ they reminded a lot of people to go cancel instead of waiting for the various fixes the game needs. :)

  7. sneetch says:

    Hardly a surprise is it? Surely every MMO has a lot of people stop after a month or two? I couldn’t tell you how many MMOs I’ve played where I didn’t play past the first month and didn’t (re)subscribe. (I think it was 4, hey I could tell you after all).

    • Jimbo says:

      Yeah, but MMOs destined to succeed bring in more new people than they lose and they build momentum. Maybe this will level out at a decent number for them, but it doesn’t look good to me.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      This was always going to happen as it’s too similar to other games (I forget the names…) out there that already have a well established player base.

      It’s as if Nestle invented a new hot drink called Goffee. It smells and tastes almost exactly like Coffee, except it’s green not brown.

      People who like coffee will just keep drinking coffee. People who don’t like coffee won’t like goffee either.

      The only people who will ever buy it are people who like the taste of coffee but would prefer if it was a different colour.

      EDIT: Or, if you want a real world example, like Tab clear. Just like Coca-cola, but colourless.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Great. Now I picture EA as this grotesque creature that is covered with penises, one for each project. Thanks for that mental image.

    Anyway. Isn’t it normal for subscription numbers to drop after the first few months? If the numbers stabilize now, the game might not be doomed yet.

    • Phantoon says:

      How in the seven hells did you come to that mental image?

      I had something to say about the subscriber stuff, but I want to know why that entered your brain more.

      • Premium User Badge

        Bluerps says:

        Mainly because Mr. Meer talks about willy waving and willy shrinking, which only really makes sense if there is more than one willy, because they wouldn’t wave a shrunken one. But if there is an extra willy for SWTOR it’s only logical to assume that there is one for every project EA has.

        Also, my mind is a very bizarre thing.

    • Dozer says:

      EA is the Dickwolf!

  9. cliffski says:

    76 mill profit on 4.1 billion revenue in a creative business sounds a bit poor to me. Is that 2%? Please tell me that’s after tax. Even so, that’s bad. Really bad.
    Better off buying premium bonds bad.

    • BooleanBob says:

      It is a shockingly small return. It’s puzzling to wonder why sources as august as the Los Angeles Times are referring to them as “good earnings” (equally curious, and possibly related, is the fact that the article fails to mention these revenue and profit figures you focus on).

      • Jac says:

        Well its good for them. if you look at previous years they generally post fairly hefty losses.

        The thing to remember is that income statements include a lot of non-cash transactions like depreciation charges etc. Better to look at their cash flow statement under cash from operating activities. They are doing ok.

    • frightlever says:

      Weeellll…. there are a lot of wages being paid out of that – and as is common the management are probably making out a lot better than the share-holders. Probably not quite ready to liquidate the company and use the proceeds to buy scratch cards yet.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      For Activision-Blizzard, it was 1% or so, the last time I checked. So in comparison, it’s not that bad, I guess?

      • Duke of Chutney says:

        Cliffski for EA Chief Exec

      • RogerMellie says:

        2% is considered bad by most standards in pretty much any industry and yes, that is after tax.

        2% in a financial year when you release massive games like ME3 and SWTOR doesn’t look like it augurs well.

        Tough economic conditions and it’s way better than SONY etc. Random other company example such as BMW shows they were at about +3.6% for the same period.

        Conclusion – ignorant people like me shouldn’t spend 15 minutes at work looking up this kind of stuff.

        • arccos says:

          Does the game industry use Hollywood Accounting? That does seem awfully small.

    • MiniMatt says:

      I’d hazard a guess that there’s an army of jedi accountants doing their damndest to hide all the profits tax inspectors are looking for. That 80 million space bucks put aside for next gen death star development has likely already been earnt, but hasn’t been spent – ie. it’s profits to you and I but an R&D tax resistant force field to the Hutt treasurers. Then there’s all the dividends, board bonuses, donations to the charitable foundation which just happens to be the same private school the board sends their younglings to etc.

    • Jimbo says:

      Not so bad when you consider that they lost a billion (with a B) dollars one year not so long ago, and x hundreds of millions for a couple of years either side of that.

      Setting TOR aside for a moment, which appears to be fucked, EA showing any kind of annual profit is a pretty promising turnaround.

    • Premium User Badge

      FhnuZoag says:

      Dude, do you really want EA to have its revenue stream as profit instead of investing it into future game development?

    • feoinc says:

      I think it is pretty good if you account they paid 650 million for PopCap…

  10. BooleanBob says:

    And then there’s our own chat with SWTOR’s lead designer Daniel Erickson just last week, in which he claimed that “Although the internet loves to pronounce the doom of all things, what we’re seeing is a huge increase in activity with [update] 1.2 as people return to see all of the new content.” -400,000 is a bloody funny way for activity to increase, I must say.

    For the two statements to be reconcilable, it does rather darkly suggest that the number was at some point much lower than 1.3 million and that something (i.e. the free month of playtime) brought them back up to that level.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      That’s pretty much how I read it. Also by my extensive calculations, that does mean they have retained 76.5% of their player base. Which actually isn’t too bad at all really – and was they target not 80% retention?

      • BooleanBob says:

        Perhaps, but if a proportion of the figure are non-paying do they really count as ‘retained’? (And I believe the rebill subsequent to the free month offer isn’t for a few days yet, so there’s presumably a considerable number of non-paying subscribers among the 1.3mil figure. The total number of ‘active’ subscriptions might be about to spike downwards sharply again in the next two weeks.)

        • Simon Hawthorne says:

          If this is true then does that mean they chose the free month to coincide with their annual report to make their numbers look good? Wouldn’t surprise me.

          • Phantoon says:

            Such is the general assumption, yes. And it’s highly likely it did in fact drop below 1.4million. The population trend charts for the game have eschewed the “full” trend entirely and introduced a “medium”, as both “heavy” and “full” had effectively flatlined.

          • BooleanBob says:

            It’s not impossible. Even if they hadn’t had to extend the promotion due to outcry from the player base, this earnings call malarkey would still have fallen a few days before the free month expired on May 12th (which was a fixed date – players couldn’t just activate their free time when they wanted to).

            Of course, this granular level of conjecture starts to make us look like conspiracy wingnuts. Speaking of which, did you know that Commander Shepard never set foot on the moon? The whole thing was a Council fabrication!

          • Phantoon says:

            There’s a point when observation leads to conjecture leads to theories. When those theories aren’t the mainstream, then they’re conspiracies.

            And after EA’s insane amount of marketing, everything negative about them is a conspiracy. What was it, 774 million dollars on nothing but marketing?

          • BooleanBob says:

            Didn’t that marketing budget figure come from someone on 4chan, though? Seems iffy.

            The LA times article I linked to above suggests that the game’s “combined development and marketing budget totaled well over $150 million”. But there’s nothing to substantiate that number, either.

            And $747 million is well over $150 million, after all :)

          • Phantoon says:

            Are you suggesting the internet hate machine is not more reputable than EA at this point?

        • BooleanBob says:

          To Phantoon, above: put it this way, if they were both standing in front of a door, and I could only ask them one question each, I’d probably flip a coin instead.

      • lijenstina says:

        1000 people sleeping ws 750 people waking up and running around. There is a huge increase in activity. It’s just a spin.

    • warthog2k says:

      Easy peasy – “huge increase in activity” = “huge increase in cancellation activity”

    • Jimbo says:

      It’s obviously spin, but there’s no contradiction. Activity isn’t measured in subscribers, and the two terms aren’t interchangeable.

      Activity (how many man-hours are being played) can go up while still losing subscribers overall.

  11. MichaelPalin says:

    Only $80 million for next gen games?, but I heard that each next gen game will cost at least a gazillion to develop and another 2 gazillions for marketing.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Not to forget that those gazillions must then be passed on to the customers

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      The way I read it is that this is the preliminary research to find the problems that’ll need to be solved. Like when NASA wanted to go to the moon they had to look into how difficult it will be to get to the moon, how to land and get back into space and get home, what equipment they’d need to explore the moon and so on.

      Once you’ve nailed down what a space suit will need to do and how much fuel the Lunar lander will have to carry you can then get down to the far more expensive work of designing and building all that stuff. Here it would be how to utilise the processor / GPU of the next gen consoles, what level of visuals competitors will be likely to get out of the machine, how many people will be required to make a next gen game and suchlike.

      However for this to be the case the launch of the next gen consoles will need to be a couple of years off or EA would have to be really behind the curve.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Would they really be so far behind if the next Gen consoles were only moderate improvements without a ton of new problems? I thought that there wasn’t tons of new tech for games anyways. Tesselation and 3d if anyone cares about it.

        Anyways, I thought that most consoles (besides the Wii) rarely get maxed out until a couple years into their lifecycle.

        • ReV_VAdAUL says:

          That is definitely possible (I don’t know jack about games development) but them being behind was more based on a time issue.

          Games take at least a year to develop and usually more, if my theories were correct about this $80 million being a preliminary thing then only after the research had been done game development could start.

    • lijenstina says:

      The players demand tessellation on nipples.

  12. Premium User Badge

    P7uen says:

    Was this the one that they said was a single player (instanced, whatever) MMO? I had half a mind to look at it as an anti-social gamer, in which case could it be some players approached it that way, and just played until they got bored of that part?

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      That’s pretty much it. And it’s not even very good at this, given how horribly horrible they implemented the dialogue wheel. As in, three steps backwards even from the one in Mass Effect.

      • Phantoon says:

        So the Dragon Age 2 dialogue wheel?

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          That one went a different way, and you could clearly judge the intention of the lines. I like that approach.

          TOR just makes it, well, Neutral/Jedi/Sith, and Sith varies so wildly between calling someone a poopyhead and shooting an old lady and her dog, that it’s not even funny any more.

        • Vorphalack says:

          Imagine the Dragon Age 2 dialogue wheel, only with the Jackass option removed.

        • Premium User Badge

          RedViv says:

          Somehow my previous reply was swallowed, so to repeat it:

          I liked the version in DA2, because it made the actual intention of the dialogue more clear. Aggressive and negative responses had different icons, even though they were generally on the same point in the wheel.
          TOR removes the full responses, just puts general Sith/Jedi behaviour on top/bottom right, and Sith can range from hurtful bad words to shooting a mom and her kid, while Jedi can range from jerk to paladin. That’s horribly horrible.

  13. Stardog says:

    It’s just a pretty bad game all round. Just the same as all the others.

    Adding new end game content will not increase subscribers, only stop some of the current users from leaving.

    If they wanted me to part with that much per month, they should have made a better game. I wouldn’t even play this if it was free-to-play.

  14. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    The first two of those will be called “Legacy” and “Allies” and will make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs (i.e. they’ll be out later this year).

    No, no no. In keeping with that measurement system, it will be out in 3 miles.

  15. AngoraFish says:

    I was looking for a new MMORPG to tide me over until GW2 comes out so, despite not being a huge fan of the Star Wars universe, I took the plunge and picked up SWOTR a week or so ago and have been trying it out. Surprisingly, the Star Wars part is relatively inoffensive and turned out not to be a big issue, however I am struggling to maintain interest and I’m barely level 11. The game is bland, bland, bland, with no real personality to speak of, and almost zero need for the ‘M’ part of MMORPG, at least to date. At best, the game is a light, relaxing, somewhat linear RPG. Since I got the game with 30 days game time I feel the need to persevere, but if it doesn’t pick up soon this one won’t even keep me around for the full starter credit.

  16. f1x says:

    It was predictable, because of the fact that they shipped it missing end-game and basic features like guild banks or UI customization, which nowadays are a must for any MMO
    also bland combat, poor zone design, those mobs always standing there without even moving….

    On top of that, its not gonna help that they now plan to improve it by selling expansions, I mean people is not gonna return / start if they have to purchase an expansion + game time/game account

    Best option in my opinion = go F2P, the game is simply perfect for that model, people would enjoy playing the storylines without having to rush because of monthly subscription plus they would make a bigger revenue selling mounts/speeders, cosmetics, personal spaceships, companions, pink lightsabers

  17. non_entity says:

    EA Lying?! Nooo! Who’da thought!?

  18. wuwul says:

    It is now official. RPS has confirmed: SWTOR is dying.

    One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered SWTOR community when RPS confirmed that SWTOR market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all players. Coming on the heels of a recent EA earnings call which plainly states that SWTOR has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we’ve known all along. SWTOR is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent PCGamer comprehensive gaming test.

    You don’t need to be EA’s CEO to predict SWTOR’s future. The hand writing is on the wall: SWTOR faces a bleak future. In fact there won’t be any future at all for SWTOR because SWTOR is dying. Things are looking very bad for SWTOR. As many of us are already aware, SWTOR continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

    All major surveys show that SWTOR has steadily declined in market share. SWTOR is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If SWTOR is to survive at all it will be among MMO dilettante dabblers. SWTOR continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, SWTOR is dead.

    Fact: SWTOR is dead.

  19. Premium User Badge

    Morlock says:

    So their business numbers might slide to the Red Side?

    I know it’s dirty feeling, but somewhere in my EA-hurt heart I want this company to fail.

    • f1x says:

      I have read the PDF, but I have no clue what the stuff in there means, but anyway there are millions everywhere
      so, no, dont think its gonna go red numbers any time soon

      on the other hand, I dont want EA to fail, its a big company and has a lot of good IPs and studios, they just need to go from “chaotic evil” to “lawful neutral”

      • Premium User Badge

        Morlock says:

        Just for kicks: “EA Louse” about SWTOR, many months before release:

        “And you know what they’re most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That’s the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas, they’re panicking, and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can’t keep pushing back launch.”

        “Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too ……”

  20. DogKiller says:

    1) It always seems to me that when an MMO loses a very big chunk of players, they don’t ever get them back. I really don’t think EA will be growing this game ever again. I’m not saying it’ll lose all its players, but I think the sub numbers still have further to fall before they level out.

    2) I think I read somewhere that Bioware and EA had retained a very large chunk of the development team for future content. If true, then that payroll has got to be expensive, and staff numbers will probably start getting cut if numbers keep declining. Staff numbers get cut, less content gets put out, more people leave and round and round they go until they spiral to the bottom.

  21. apocraphyn says:

    Star Wars Holiday Special >>> SWTOR. I think that says it all.

  22. Palindrome says:

    It is normal for an MMOs subscription numbers to fall a few months after release so saying that SWTOR is dead is premature. However I suspect that these figures have been massaged, such as including the free subcription thingy they gave to players with a level 50 character, so their real numbers are probably lower still.

    I don’t predict a rosey future for this game, it is one of the blanded MMOs that I have ever played and didn’t EA state a while ago that they required something like 1.2 million subscribers to make the game profitable?

    • JamesPatton says:

      Yes, I’d like to know how this affects the profitability of SWTOR. How many subscribers do they need for how long to make a profit on this super-expensive behemoth?

  23. Phantoon says:

    Why is it the “original assumptions” were correct?

    SW-EA-TOR never had a chance since it wasn’t SWG V2, a market which it could’ve easily filled. Instead, it was WOW clone #9. You want to be a WOW-killer? Do something different, and better, and more engaging. I’m excited for Guild Wars 2 because it’s a good game that isn’t warcraft.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Star Wars Galaxies seems to have only had 300 or 400k subscribers at peak, and 100k by 2007. It’s a bit pessimistic to say it never had a chance and highly inaccurate to say the SWG crowd could support TOR at this level since even the reduced numbers for TOR are three to four times that.

      • Arglebargle says:

        SWG was pretty much an irretrievable disaster at launch. No shame in loving the good parts of it, but it was just broken. Kicked out a year too early, middle and upper management were idiots, many parts of the game didn’t work, etc. As a Star Wars fan, I was interested, but friends of mine on the Dev team warned me away from it. They were that enthused….

  24. brulleks says:

    I think, perhaps, it might be time to stop whipping the equine carcass of Star Wars altogether.

    Let it go, people. Let it go.

    • Phantoon says:

      No way, man. After Star Wars Kinect, I’m out for blood.

    • Walter Heisenberg says:

      We’ll stop when they stop running it into the ground which means…… never.

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, TIE Fighter, Defender of the Empire, X-Wing, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Balance of Power, X-Wing Alliance, Empire at War, Forces of Corruption, Star Wars Galaxies, Episode I: Podracer, Rebel Assault, Rebel Assault II, Knights of the Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic II, Lego Star Wars, Battlefront, Battlefront II.

      It is possible to make a good Star Wars game. It’s just easier to make a crappy one.

      Edit: Republic Commando, Rogue Squadron

      • Toberoth says:

        <3 Dark Forces.

      • Phantoon says:

        Right, but look at the release dates of those games.

        • Simon Hawthorne says:

          The latest one was 2006 :-(

        • Baines says:

          And think about how Battlefront 3 might have made that list, except LucasArts killed that game and pretty much killed Free Radical Designs in the process.

      • Premium User Badge

        Stellar Duck says:

        “Dark Forces, Jedi Knight, TIE Fighter, Defender of the Empire, X-Wing, X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, Balance of Power, X-Wing Alliance, Knights of the Old Republic, Knights of the Old Republic II.”

        There. Now we agree. :)

        And I suspect that that’s the problem Star Wars will always face. Everybody has their own definition of what the good games are. Though mine is obviously the right one.

        • Simon Hawthorne says:

          At least we all agree that The Force Unleashed series is crap.

          • Premium User Badge

            Stellar Duck says:

            Yes! Good grief was I frustrated when I loaded that game up. And after having spent ages downloading all 30 GB of seemingly uncompressed cut scenes. I sometimes wish there was a way to delete games off my Steam account. I’d be happy to not have it anymore.

          • marcusfell says:

            ^ you can uninstall them, but they will sit in your cue like always.

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            My solution was to make a category called “Shit” and categorize games i never wanted to see again in that pile and minimize/fold it.

      • D3xter says:

        If you remove Star Wars Galaxies from that list we might be in some sort of agreement… it doesn’t belong on that list (and I don’t know a few of the others), you might add Republic Commando instead.

  25. Wodge says:

    I must say, I’m not surprised in the slightest.

    Never been so disengaged from an MMO I’ve played from launch.

    The game performed the cardinal sin of making running around with a Lightsaber dull, and making the MMO as single player as possible.

    Utter Garbage,

  26. Zeewolf says:

    MMOs are the future, et.c.

    • Quinnbeast says:

      I held out for a couple of sub renewals before realising that I hadn’t played for a week. I know a couple of guys that play, so its easy to breeze through the group content. But…I can’t say the game itself is going to hold my interest much longer.

      Besides, I’ve just resubbed my Perp account. One MMO is plenty for me! STC 4 LYFE.

      – Funnel

  27. Premium User Badge

    Morlock says:

    Just for kicks: “EA Louse” about SWTOR, many months before release:

    “And you know what they’re most proud of? This is the kicker. They are most proud of the sound. No seriously. Something like a 20Gig installation, and most of it is voiceover work. That’s the best they have. The rest of the game is a joke. EA knows it and so does George Lucas, they’re panicking, and so most of Mythic has already been cannibalized to work in Austin on it because they can’t keep pushing back launch.”

    “Old Republic will be one of the greatest failures in the history of MMOs from EA. Probably at the level of the Sims Online. We all know it too ……”

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      Wait? The Sims Online? Is that a thing that happened?

      • Jason Lefkowitz says:

        Yep, back in 2002. I was actually in the beta test. It was… disappointing.

        I see from the Wikipedia page that in 2007 EA tried to reboot the game by renaming it “EA-Land.” Shockingly, that didn’t work.

  28. remoteDefecator says:

    Not that I disagree in the slightest, but this article as absolutely dripping with Schadenfreude.

    Might as well have made the headline “LULZ EA LOSING TEH $$$”

    • Supahewok says:

      Maybe Alec is just the teeniest bit upset about one of the lead designers blatantly lying to RPS? Hell knows I’d be somewhat snippy if I were in his place. Although I imagine it’s common enough in this business, and news media in general.

  29. Kevin says:

    I didn’t really like TOR and I thought that making the game for fans of KoTOR and *single-player* Bioware RPGs rather than fans of MMOs was the wrong way of going about making an MMO. However, that didn’t mean I wanted to see it “fail” or go “free-to-play.” I think we needed to see something that legitimately competed with WoW so we could see more innovation in a genre that so desperately needs it (I mean, what else could drive Blizzard to make meaningful changes to things like combat and questing if it has no financial equals?).

    I suppose for the John Walkers of the gaming world that innovation manifested itself in TOR. For guys like me, we found that innovation in Tera and Guild Wars 2.

    • Plivesey says:

      “I think we needed to see something that legitimately competed with WoW so we could see more innovation in a genre that so desperately needs it.”

      This is true. However, seeing as TOR is like WoW from 5 years ago, it’s definitely not the game that will come close to achieving it. Here’s hoping that GW2 can change peoples’ opinion of the MMO genre.

  30. marcusfell says:

    The subscription is a joke. How do they even settle on $15 a month a player?

    This wasn’t hard to see coming, no amount of starry-eyed reviews got a sale out of me.

  31. Jdopus says:

    I’m an accounting student myself and took a read through their financial statements, I’ve picked out a few things that I thought were interesting.

    -Their ratio of Assets:Liabilities has decreased from 2.08 in 2011 to 1.81 in 2012, this is primarily due to the company issuing $500 million worth of bonds, that they’ll have to pay back in 2016

    -A lot of their asset increase is due to them increasing Goodwill by $500 million (Goodwill is a measurement of what the company is worth above and beyond its actual assets, it’s probably been increased by too much, since I imagine it’s mostly based off The Old Republic and that seems to be sliding quickly).

    -Their actual Net income is not $284 million, that’s a figure that doesn’t meet accepted accounting principles and is much more liable to have been tinkered with. Net income was $76 mil, up from a loss of $276 mil in 2011, most likely due to their big launches of SWTOR, Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3, for comparison, Activision profits were 148 million for their year end of September 2011.

    -Their figures are much stronger in the last 3 months of the year, again due to Mass Effect 3 which was released at the beginning of March (Their year end is 31 March).

    -They had a strong revenue increase in Asia(66%) although I myself don’t know why, maybe someone else can comment?

    -The PC had the biggest increase over last year in revenue(95%) due to Battlefield 3, their revenue from PS3 and Xbox 360 increased by about a third each, their Wii sales are way down and their revenue in the handheld market is down.

    • JamesPatton says:

      Very interesting. If they have to pay back $500m in 2016… well, given the fact that they didn’t even make $100m this year, it sounds like that’s going to be a struggle. Then again, I know *nothing* about business management so maybe I’m just being simplistic.

      Also, interesting PC vs. console sales. I guess that shows that EA ignore their PC players at their peril.

      • Jdopus says:

        Indeed, although it’s worth bearing in mind that the %increase is so high because their PC Revenue has just been so damn low in recent years, Battlefield 3 is the first PC-focused game they’ve released in quite some time.

    • Simon Hawthorne says:

      Just to echo that this kind of analysis is very useful – RPS should have someone like you to take a look at financial statements which the rest of the RPS team can then comment on, i.e. you explain what the figures are showing, they can explain what they think that means (as with the 66% increase in Asia).

      • Jdopus says:

        It’s very interesting stuff for me, I enjoy applying my knowledge to gaming companies, it’s nice to be able to look at businesses in a industry in which you have an active interest.

  32. LambdaNamNam says:

    As a diehard single player RPG man i was saddened by the release of SWTOR but now it seems that I’m still going to get some entertainment, thanks to the drama surrounding this game.

    • Grygus says:

      TOR is actually not a bad single player RPG; that’s part of the problem. People play through their storyline, perhaps a second playthrough with the opposite faction, and they’re done with it.

  33. mmalove says:

    I’m more than slightly pissed off about this one: I managed to resist the urge to go play WOW with lightsabers for months. Then the free trial came about and I gave it a go, my usual line up of MMOers having lasted through several months, and seemed to be enjoying max level play/alts, and looking forward to the Legacy system.

    Fast forward to last month, 1.2s Legacy system came out, and they didn’t even flinch. Haven’t seen but maybe one guy in game in a month.

    The single player leveling is ahead of other MMOs in terms of story, but it’s ultimately still a series of extremely simplified kill/collect/fedex quests that have no meaningful impact on the game world. To put this in perspective, my 5th grader was observing me play one day, and commented on these giant AA guns pounding away at the sky, asking if I was going to have to take them out. To which I replied disdainfully, I already did, last quest. As if to echo the point home, the guns let off another salvo.

    The game is no KOTOR 3, and I think that’s bothers me the most about it. For all the development dollars and time and marketing hype that went into this, they’re ultimately still delivering a WOW-like game experience, which gets decidedly boring to play single player. Having seen KOTOR and Dragon Age, we know EA is capable of doing better. Or at least, once was.

    • Jdopus says:

      KOTOR and Dragon Age were developed before EA bought over Bioware. EA bought Bioware over when Dragon Age was nearly finished.

  34. Eclipse says:

    Old Republic is clearly bound to fail hard. There’s no trial period and in this kind of games you need to get people hooked so they’re willing to pay and continue developing their characters. No free trial means no word of mouth and less interest, as most players aren’t gonna pay upfront on a subscription based game, and people will just go and play something else

  35. paladintom says:

    I thought the point of having a mega-successful mmo was to attract casual players.

    Wasn’t that the reason WOW grew to the multiple millions – they made the early game content very accessible to new players?

    • f1x says:

      Yes, and no

      Blizzard managed to take everything good from all the other existing MMO and mixed it with a perfectly well done gameplay,
      I mean, even today the characther responsiveness and softness of the controls/skills are still unmatched, you can be a wow fan or hater but you gotta recon that, I’ve played pretty much every other MMO out and none matched that,
      that combined with a charismatic dungeon/raid design for the vanilla wow and brilliant for TBC made it what it is, I think from that point it sustained from the community/inertia until the real declive after cataclysm release

      SWTOR sadly has nothing of that,
      for example there was a big problem with a 0.5seconds delay for skills on some classes like the bounty hunter or the imperial agent, you can check at the forums there was a lot of complains about that, dunno if they patched already

      this are just some examples that come to my mind

  36. Ratchet says:

    They need to merge some of their servers. I played on Ice Breaker, but abandoned my character after awhile (at level 28 I believe) because I could never find any groups to do stuff with. I created a new character on one of the supposedly high population servers, but it was pretty much the same situation. Then I abandoned my account altogether.

  37. WJonathan says:

    Sega Master System references make me happy.

  38. FreshwaterAU says:

    I absolutely loved the game from launch until March, played nothing else….and then the magic just stopped….I wasnt interested anymore. I did make it to 50 but I didnt even finsih my class story, as stuff got further and further spread apart it really began to hurt my desire to keep running from point a to b. I still might go back one day though, try some republic side stuff for the story, but as this was my first MMO I learned quickly I had zero desire to grind for gear and once the story became less interesting on the BH side I just moved on, as did my entire guild. I’ll probably go back one day though if its still around.

  39. Unfettered says:

    Maybe…just maybe these financials are a foreshadowing of EA breaking up? Maybe? Please?!? Bioware turned to crap the instant EA started sniffing around and how many other great developers have they destroyed? When a flagship product like TOR stutters, pukes and dies, heads role and companies puts an axe man in charge for a few years to “regain profit margins”. AKA: slash what remaining creativity and soul remained in the company to produce nothing but their core IPs that everyone’s sick of already.

  40. prowlinger says:

    EA is the devil. They rush products out the door, cancel projects near completion, bloat sales figures to pave their fat wallets. I have seen time and time again, many developers get under the EA wing only to have their title fail miserably. The sad thing is that EA continues to overpower smaller devs and publishers and then buys them up with their blood money.

    About SWTOR — I started playing day 1 and I do not really like Starwars! Yes the MMO market is saturated with clones and boring lack of innovation to the genre. SWTOR is a good game but everyone
    wants it to fail … they are trying to keep it afloat… and I do enjoy it for the story telling / coop play.

    Why are they losing subs? It is summer… people tend to get out and not be on the computer as much. Also the global economy is on a down slide… their are less jobs and more people who cannot afford a sub at this time… (Reason being why the SWTOR free weekends / trial really increased subs…) Their are some direct blows to SWTOR coming that will drastically hurt their subs… Diablo 3… (some people will transition to that)… Terra Online (some people will move to that seeing as they are bored with SWTOR as a mmo)… then you have the prophecy of Guild Wars 2 … Free to play, amazing dev team, a NON – EA publisher, and ground breaking genre innovation to the mmo market.

    When Guild Wars 2 comes out what will happen to SWTOR? It will probably lose about 50% of its remaining subs on June 26th (the day of the Charr Reckoning) … People will still play SWTOR or only pay for that mmo while playing GW2 … but as a time sink… GW2 will dominate for some time.

    The MMO market is lackluster and boring now… Guild Wars 2 is taking the risk to take the MMO market to the next level and it has proven in beta that it will be successful. World vs World PVP, event based quests (no single NPC questing), complete randomness of the world and a very easy engine to inject new events to for a long time… this model will be what everyone else copies for the next 2-3 years…

    Sure some people do not like the way GW1 or GW2 plays… but the industry is evolving toward random event based questing … reduction or removal of kill stealing (and encouraging team work). Warhammer Online tried this to a small degree but ultimately failed, it was under developed and a very niche market ‘Warhammer Online’ theme a lot of people did not understand.

    I personally have played numerous MMOs… — GW1, LOTRO, WoW, , World of Tanks, SWTOR and many others… I know that GW2 will be a success… GW1 was and it worked well.

    • Ajh says:

      GW2 is a completely different beast. Having poked at the beta (Yes I’m buying it.) I absolutely adore the game, but since it’s free to play it after you bought it, I’ll be playing WoW and Diablo 3 also.

      There will be a cash shop in gw 2.

      I tried star wars and I moved around and determined that, like rift, it was wow with a new coat of paint a few features from other mmos and a new story.

  41. Ajh says:

    Honestly it sounds like they’re building a small dedicated player base as those who were merely curious return to their old games or move on.

    As for my officer that left to play it…well, He’s back in WoW.

  42. Mordsung says:

    If this game had multiplayer components more akin to NWN, it would have sold amazingly and did very well.

    MMOs are a tired genre. Even GW2, which I played and enjoy and will play, is still not as good as it could be as a more focused game with MP aspects instead of an open world game.

    Imagine if SWTOR, instead of offering 8 class stories and several planet stories provided a single, large, branching story with multiple endings and more dynamic changes to the world and you could play this game with up to 8 of your friends in a group.

    Then for PvP they could have just had 10 maps at launch.

    An open world isn’t really that great of a thing unless you’re doing a sandbox MMO. If you’re doing themepark, then just remove the park and add more rides.

  43. elevown says:

    Parsec is a measurement of distance not time btw :) Its just over 3 light-years. (Also a measurement of distance for anyone confused on that).

    • Malk_Content says:

      We use distance to mean time a fair bit in English. Just around the corner, miles away or even light years away are all used regularly to indicate a time span rather than the actual distance, more often than not when an accurate time span cannot really be given.

    • Mordsung says:

      The “unofficial” explanation for why Hans Solo said he could do the “whatever” run in “X parsecs” is that the run involves going by a black hole, and the closer you can get to the black hole while not falling in allows you to do this run in a straight line.

      So this run would be shorter or longer depending on how fast the ship is, as less course correction would be needed to avoid the black hole if the ship was fast. A slower ship would have to arc the run, increasing the distance traveled.

      • elevown says:

        Lol if thats the official explanation it sucks. Black holes dont pull stuff in from lightyears away. You could fly by half a light year away and it would probably hardly register any kind of gravity pull. if any.

        • Josh W says:

          It’s the density, not the mass, that’s important, so long as you hit certain basic requirements, and at longer ranges a light black hole and a heavy star are pretty equivalent.

  44. Fox89 says:

    I like TOR, but there’s just no way I can justify a monthly fee when I play it so occasionally. I’ll stay subscribed until I finish the Jedi Consular story, but then I’ll be un-subbing.

  45. ScubaMonster says:

    You mean to tell me that a game copying a six year old game by the book isn’t doing well? Preposterous!

    I never will understand why mmo developers insist on using a paint by numbers formula emulating WoW. You don’t become the next WoW blockbuster by copying WoW itself. That really should be common sense. You’d think by now investors would learn that making wow clones doesn’t work in the long haul.

  46. kevmscotland says:

    Theres a couple reasons for this slide.

    Firstly, patch 1.2 of TOR borked alot of peoples game installs, which after a week of downloading and redownloading over 12gb worth of data each time pushed alot of people away from the game, without so much as a apology or compensation from Bioware Support.

    Excuses ranged from network/isp issues, to Harddrive issues, to IP release/renew.

    There was atleast 3 threads at 100 or so pages each on the issue, which somehow went un-noticed by most of the press websites.

    Secondly, they “rewarded” loyal fans with 30 days free subscription time, which unofficial was because of the lack of endgame content, as a way to keep people playing while they slowly add some in.

    patch 1.2 on another note introduced the legacy system, which by most accounts does very little currently, and most of the larger features were pushed back into 1.3

    • Tokamak says:

      I’ll be waiting in anticipation to see how they fuck up 1.3.

  47. newprince says:

    This is going to happen to GW2, too. I just hope GW2 holds my attention longer than SWTOR did. After playing the beta, I have to say I’m *much* more excited to play it than TOR. TOR’s beta I was like… eh, this is good but we’ll see.

    • Malk_Content says:

      The main difference is that Arenanet have stated that they are fine with this. They don’t need to hold on to subs as all their income comes in upfront, apart from the sustaining micro-transactions which they expect only long-term players to invest in. The main source of income for them after boxsales is actually developing fully fledged expansion content to sell.

      That and the fact your character can roam among the servers like a free bird (except for wvwvw, I think you have to pay a small sum to change which server you represent in that to stop people constantly flipping to the winning side) means diminished server populations wont hurt the player as much as they seem to be in SWTOR right now.

  48. Flavioli says:

    Am I the only one that smiles a bit every time something bad happens to Bioware? Despite being (in name) the same company that made my favorite game of all times (Baldur’s Gate), I get a bit happy every time Bioware comes a step closer to going the path of the other great companies that were acquired by EA. The current Bioware is too far departed from what it used to be.

  49. Shooop says:

    Can we get a link tag code that actually works for this site already?