Kotick: Lucas, not EA, will benefit from Star Wars MMO

"I don't really understand how the economics work for Electronic Arts," says Activision CEO

Outspoken Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has cast doubt of the profitability of rival publisher EA's MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic.

"Lucas is going to be the principal beneficiary of the success of Star Wars," Kotick told the Reuters Media Summit.

"We've been in business with Lucas for a long time and the economics will always accrue to the benefit of Lucas, so I don't really understand how the economics work for Electronic Arts."

Bioware are developing the multiplayer title, with release scheduled for December 20.

"If you look at the history of the people investing in an MMO and achieving success, it's a small number," Kotick added.

He also addressed recent issues with the supply of Skylanders, the game that comes with toys, with American stores selling out last weekend.

Retailers across the board are concerned that they will be out of inventory well before Christmas," he explained.

"There's nothing we can do because they are made offshore and we can't get product made that quickly."

Activision has also found recent, if unsurprising, success with Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, grossing $775 million in just five days.

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Latest comments (24)

James Prendergast Research Chemist 7 years ago
I guess skylanders is one of those "holy grail" kids toys. Imagine if Nintendo had been able to do the same with Pokemon (or insert other "-mon" franchise here)....
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 7 years ago
Is the whole MMORPG genre starting to look a bit tired or is it just the move from paid for to freemium? Are the Habbos and Runescapes of the world still doing well? Are the Chinese taking the market with their MMORTSs? Or is the genre moving on to mobile?

Certainly the expensive goldrush towards MMOs seems to have quietened down a lot with many burned fingers. Meanwhile WOW has been a fantastic cash cow, an industry phenomenon.

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Graham Simpson Tea boy, Collins Stewart7 years ago
Great news about Skylanders. It's the Cabbage Patch dolls all over again. Does show you can introduce a new and original product to great success. It could be the start of something very big in the toy industry. The toys/video games/web/phone fusion. Barbie dolls, [insert any toy property] next etc...

As for EA we'll have to wait for the next quarterly to see the MMO revenue and profits breakdown. At that point you can at least guess how much LucasArts will be taking. One thing for sure is that it will not be small...
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Show all comments (24)
Christina Carkner Systems Administrator 7 years ago
The genre is starting to look a bit tired, primarily because the same sets of things keep being repeated. While I understand the notion of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" seeing the same tired mechanisms being reused makes for a disappointing lack of innovation. Personally, as a MMO player, the constant sword and sorcery settings are getting very old and tired as well.

The move to freemium seems mostly like an attempt to grasp for as much cash as possible from players who otherwise wouldn't have touched the game. The games doing it seem to have an already dwindling subscriber base, so it seems like a last ditch effort to keep older MMOs chugging. That said, after a few years, there's theoretically little downside to doing this, because they've likely already recouped their costs for the original game development.
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Dave Stansfield Reviewer/Comedian 7 years ago
When Pokemon first came out, it WAS a "holy grail" toy. Not the dolls, the electronic games or the TV show, mind you, but the TCG spread like wildfire and only grew in popularity. If there's money to be made in counterfeiting your product, you're doing something right.
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I've read some beta user feedback for this MMO and it was -politely put- not promising.

They were quite rude expressing it, too.
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@Jorge I was part of the beta and I have to say that the game exceeded my expectations (which were pretty high to begin with). Bioware is bringing in some fresh ideas in the MMO world and I honestly think the game has long legs: it will succeed.
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Jeffrey Kesselman CTO, Nphos7 years ago
SWTOR is very very different, and quite good. It has its faults, but its one of the cleanest breaths of fresh air we've had in the MMORPG market for awhile. Between it and Secret World I predict we will see a resurgence of success and thus interest in the MMORPG genre.

Asking a game executive of one company what he think's of rival company's big hope this season is sort of ridiculous on the face of it.
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Max Priddy7 years ago
Played the beta, it's definetely got something new to bring to the table with the fact the game feels like an RPG within an MMO rather than an MMOG trying to be an RPG and it's got a good chance of succeeding.

My only gripe with it is the pricing (at least for the UK). I mean really, 45 for a standard edition (excluding non-refundable 5 pre-order fee) and then 60 for the "Digital Deluxe Edition"? Seriously at those prices the game better come with some cocaine hand delivered to my door at that kind of expense.

I know it's no doubt been very costly to develop but come on, wouldn't it be better if the price barrier was lowered so people will actually buy your game? I'm not exactly a cheapskate and I'll fork up the cash if I think I'm getting a fair deal but really, I best be getting a bag of cocaine with this courtesy of EA so I can mainline it whilst playing!
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Kirk Kading writer 7 years ago
As Beta goes, this went very well. Yes, there are pieces to fix here and there. As the scope of a project grows so does the possibility of bug. Every time you fix something there is the possibility of adding a bug. As I was in said SW:TOR Beta I will say There is Plenty of Story Thank You Very Much. Basing a Review on Beta is like basing a test drive of a car while it's on the production line. I'm sorry you've had bad experiences, but BioWare, LucasArts, and (gods help up) EA are doing this right. I believe Kotick can see where SW:TOR can go and Blizzard won't have their new MMO 'toy' out for another 3-4 years. Pre-orders are sitting at 900k+, For NA only. So pull up those memory chips and think back to WoW's Launch and tell me they didn't have bugs there too.
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Max Priddy7 years ago
Because the edit button fails me double post with what I was going to edit in it is:

-The game is fun!

-By "so people will actually buy your game" I meant "so more people will actually buy your game", basically I don't think every Tom Dick and Harry will pay -that- much.

-Cocaine's a hell of a drug.
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Gregory Keenan7 years ago
Played the Beta and it is the first MMO I could enjoy playing because it has an actual story to it - rather than that bull crap "you make your own story" MMO from Blizzard.

Everyone I know is going to get it now after playing the Beta weekend.

Also I have 7 Nephews and a Niece and most of my friends have kids as well....none of these kids talk about skylanders - go figure
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Martin Rohatynski student 7 years ago
It's funny with how SWTOR's numbers vary. Because at first I'm certain they said @750K, we'll be profitable. Then @650K. Now, it's 500K. What's next? Just me?
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Julian Cram Producer 7 years ago
I don't really understand why this is news.

Of course Lucas Arts is going to profit the most from licensing Star Wars to EA - it's how they've worked for the last 35 years.

But it's not like Kenner didn't benefit from licensing their toy range.
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Franz Felsl Senior Staff Designer, The Amazing Society7 years ago
Kotick comes off sounding somewhat bitter. Since he's been doing business with Lucas for years, then one can only imagine Kotick was making money too. Well, unless Kotick just liked losing money or something.
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Sour grapes?
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Shawn Zipay Community Manager, Total Gaming Network7 years ago
@Jorge Well, of course what you're going to read online is from the most vocal. That's how it works. If someone hates something for whatever reason, they will shout until they're blue in the face and then keep on shouting.

Typically, the people who enjoy something don't say anything because there's often not too much to say. Did you like it? Yeah, I did. Kind of ends the discussion there. But if you get the ball rolling on the negatives, it picks up steam real quick and typically from the same group of people in similar threads.

I was in the beta for the past couple of weekends and I quite enjoyed it. It was actually great to have a story played out through voice acting the entire way through. I probably would have enjoyed Age of Conan more as well if they had kept up with the voice acting for more than just the starter island. It at least gives me an incentive to care or pay attention. In WoW, I just click accept and go about my business. Often times, I couldn't care less about the reason behind the menial tasks they want me to do in WoW.
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Chris Swain7 years ago
Kotick definately sounds bitter to me. However, as others have said, SWTOR isn't anything new in terms of gameplay. Story is nice, and it is certainly enjoyable in SWTOR. But from my perspective, what a lot of people appear to be yearning for is more depth (complexity) and width (quantity) to gameplay.

I fear that the story in SWTOR will improve the quality of the leveling experience, but will not also encourage long term subscriptions. Which is precisely what the industry needs.
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Arst arst Being Awesome 7 years ago
I don't like the Activision CEO, he probably doesn't even understand the video game industry. WoW, Stacraft, and COD would succeed even if he made dumb choices. He has nothing to do with Activision's success.
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David Stevenson Journalist 7 years ago
If people want game play depth then pick up a copy of Starcraft2.

All pricing and revenue models for Blizzard must be at minimum approved by Activision and at maximum designed by Activision. Blizzard's pricing models are 100% on target.

Kotick knows how to save money and when to "pull out" of a franchise. He pulled the plug on the Guitar Hero series within months after "the street" was bored by the franchise. He buried the british dev studio that made the "Blur" racing series in a very well timed manner. And, he is not attached to his own mistakes he also ended the whole "DJ Hero" thing in a real hurry.

He understands enough about the industry to do his own job well. Kotick did a great job of staying away from Starcraft2 despite its 5 year development time and low profit return ceiling due to being a strategy PC title.

He recovered nicely from the Infinity Ward debacle by chopping off the head of the snake and with MW3 they have not missed a beat.

Because Kotick is the "money guy" he will always be viewed as teh "bad guy" in any software development organization. The "money guy" is almost always viewed this way by the creative people who make the software and their loyal fans.
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology7 years ago
i got into the beta but didnt play it (due to the massive 20GB download and my cap) :( but what i read people are saying it is good,fun game.

as for the article i agree in saying that lucas WILL get alot of money from this but if they do it right then so will EA (as it is tied to orgin)
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 7 years ago
@Eduardo Bautista

Kotick is by far the most successful businessman in the video game industry and thus understands it better than anyone. For various reasons some people don't like this. I would suggest that this is their problem, not his.
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Hamed Manzuri Head Buyer, Game Outlet Europe AB7 years ago

was part of the beta as well. i didnt expect much but the game is really great and will have a huge playerbase.
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Franz Felsl Senior Staff Designer, The Amazing Society7 years ago
Getting under the Vivendi umbrella was certainly a good call by Kotick.
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