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EA confident that people will be playing The Old Republic a decade from now

EA confident that people will be playing The Old Republic a decade from now

Fri 15 Jun 2012 4:46pm GMT / 12:46pm EDT / 9:46am PDT

EA's Frank Gibeau very cognizant of free-to-play and is considering options for Star Wars

EA BioWare

BioWare develops high quality console, PC and online role-playing games, focused on rich stories, unforgettable...

bioware.com

Star Wars: The Old Republic got off to a hot start when it launched, quickly gaining a million subscribers, hitting a peak of 1.7 million players but then more recently seeing a drop off to 1.3 million subscribers. It's clear that the BioWare MMO is facing increasing pressure from other MMOs and free-to-play online games, but EA is prepared to do anything to ensure that gamers enjoy being in a galaxy far, far away for a long, long time. EA labels boss Frank Gibeau recently discussed the strategy around Star Wars with GamesIndustry International.

"We're really proud of Star Wars. We're really excited about the launch. We've had tremendously positive feedback from our fans and our subscribers. You're right, it is a complex and difficult market out there on the PC because of the availability of free-to-play products like our own, like World of Tanks, League of Legends... WoW is a free download that you pay a subscription to after a period of time. We're cognizant - we see that," Gibeau told us.

Gibeau stressed that EA will continue to evaluate the business around Star Wars and implement changes as needed, so free-to-play isn't out of the question at all (indeed, BioWare recently said as much too).

"The advent of free-to-play is certainly a change in the dynamic of the PC market... when you have an IP as broad as Star Wars, we're definitely going to look at opportunities to grow that business"

Frank Gibeau

"We're going to be in the business from a long term standpoint so absolutely we're going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It's all a matter of timing and thinking things through. We have a great business right now and we're not looking to make any abrupt changes. We made some good announcements in terms of giving you the first few levels free, because our telemetry told us that if we can get you to around level 8 or 9, you stick with us for the long term. So really the strategy right now is about opening up the funnel at the top so we can acquire more customers who are interested in Star Wars who perhaps aren't ready to pay the full price," Gibeau continued.

"[We want to give them] an opportunity to try and it and say, 'You know, I really do like this. I'm going to make that commitment.' MMOs, obviously, are a big commitment of time and money and so giving people an opportunity to access it for free, try it, we found in our telemetry and our experiments is a really good strategy and a good tactic. We're going to do that. We also announced a... mass amount of content thats coming for the service, so we're going to be in the Star Wars business for ten years, who knows? We're still publishing Ultima Online for seventeen years. So we're definitely going to be in the Star Wars business for a long time and if the business changes in accordance with how the market is reacting, then that's just good process for us since we're trying to create the best possible service for our gamers."

We asked Gibeau if he's absolutely confident that a decade from now EA would still have people playing Star Wars: The Old Republic. He answered, "I am, actually. We're still playing Dark Age of Camelot, we're still playing Warhammer, we're still playing Ultima Online, we're still playing Runescape, we're still playing Lineage. What's beautiful about an MMO is that when you get to a certain scale it stays with the program for a long time."

Part of lasting a decade or more will obviously involve being flexible with business models. "The advent of free-to-play is certainly a change in the dynamic of the PC market. I don't think subscriptions ever go away, but when you have an IP as broad as Star Wars, we're definitely going to look at opportunities to grow that business and look at different ways of bringing customers in and serving them," Gibeau said.

11 Comments

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 942 0.7
Eerm... yeah... sure they are...

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Hugo Dubs
Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
people will play this game until project Titan goes out.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Hugo That's really not SWTOR's biggest threat. Guild Wars 2 is, and it's right around the corner. SWTOR is bleeding subscribers even without another big MMO releasing. Imagine how badly they'll be hurt when one does...

Posted:2 years ago

#3
Seems all the publishers are 'bigging themselves up' in face of a lack-luster E3?

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

215 549 2.6
Regardless of how long SWTOR might endure, I think we can all agree that its subscriber base will never go beyond 1,5 million until it's decided to go freemium based.
It's funny to think about all of these franchises of very powerful grade to fair so little in this market. Starwars, Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, even Age of Conan. At the time I honestly tought D&D had the best potential to be a real competitor to we-know-who, alas I was dead wrong.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andreia Quinta on 17th June 2012 1:08pm

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
MMOs are the most difficult thing to do.
Nearly all of them fail.
They cost a ridiculous fortune to make and another fortune to keep going.
They are a service and not a product. This confuses many in the industry.
The social side is more important than the game play.
And getting it all right often seems to be more down to luck than to judgement.
There are a lot of people out there who have burned their fingers (and much else) thinking they could make an MMO that works.

SWTOR needs something radical to rescue it. But EA must see themselves as putting good money after bad. However some individual with vision and authority could still make this work.

Posted:2 years ago

#6

Barrie Tingle
Live Producer

374 148 0.4
People are still playing Ultima Online so no doubt they'll still be playing SWTOR but in what numbers?

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Bruce You're mostly right, but what's actually most important is the social gameplay hehe. Specifically, there needs to be a lot to do and a lot to keep players playing together once they hit max level, which SWTOR is in dire need of.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Samuel Verner
Game Designer

131 243 1.9
"EA confident that people will be playing The Old Republic a decade from now"

...and im sure all four of them will have fun with the game!

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Craig Page
Programmer

382 218 0.6
To keep people playing for ten years you need to have the endgame not suck. No one's going to keep paying them $15 a month to play PvP Huttball on just one map.

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Samuel Verner
Game Designer

131 243 1.9
To keep people playing for ten years you need to have the endgame not suck. No one's going to keep paying them $15 a month to play PvP Huttball on just one map.
yep. they designed it like a singleplayergame with multiplayer mode, but such a game won't keep the players entertained for years.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Samuel Verner on 19th June 2012 3:07pm

Posted:2 years ago

#11

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