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Analyst – SWTOR could lose 450K subs by end of fiscal year

Thursday, 19th April 2012 16:57 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz has estimated player subscriptions for Star Wars: The Old Republic will have dropped from 1.7 million at the beginning of 2012 to 1.25 million by the end of EA’s current fiscal year in March 2013.

Creutz also believes the reason EA started heavily promoting the MMO could be in direct response to declining subscribers.

“We believe that the apparent decline in subscribers is most likely due to a lack of ‘end-game’ content for the title, meaning that players who hit the level cap have few compelling options in terms of ongoing game play,” he said. “While the game got off to a good start, the relatively light amount of end-game content does appear to be taking a toll.

“We believe EA is attempting to address the end-game content issue, including a recent major game update, but momentum appears to have stalled and we believe it is prudent to adopt a more conservative forecast on subscribers at this time.”

Despite a suspected decline in subs, Creutz said EA’s “highly predictable” sports franchises and continued success in the digital sector will contribute to a positive outlook for the company’s fiscal year-end.

Thanks, Gamasutra.

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25 Comments

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  1. viralshag

    Even though it’s not taken off as massively as many people thought it would, a million plus is still good enough – at least on a sub-figures basis.

    Spending the last week in the game I have to say that on the server I play, Peragus Mining Facility, the game still seems to be quite healthy but that might be down to the free week.

    Having joined what seems to be a good guild I’m almost considering re-subbing for a month, which I think would actually be two as I have the requirements to get the bonus month.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. DSB

    Wow. Sounds like something needs to happen if they’re gonna hold on.

    I’d expect WoW to lose half a million subs, but SWTOR?

    #2 2 years ago
  3. viralshag

    They’ll hold on, I’m sure of that. They really do need to up the content though, and that’s not just end game. They need to make some changes to the way PvP works too.

    Having a WZ explained to me by an NPC as a “combat training simulation” is just not cool, imo. It’s a war and in this time line there should be a lot more opportunities for open conflict.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. DSB

    And the analyst could be wrong, but over a quarter of their subscribers, this early in the game?

    I don’t know what model they’re operating with, but half a million subs has to be a lot of money.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    I stopped playing/subscribing because the servers were so empty it was impossible to even make a strong party for Flashpoints/Instances.

    Was playing on Hoth a couple of months ago and there was just me and one other guy. On one whole planet.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. OlderGamer

    Something to keep in mind is that for the number of hours players can play a MMO game, the price of 50/60usd (and that often includes a free month of sub play) is a great value. Even if you only intend to play for one month.

    I can play more in one week of WoW then I often sink into a full priced console game.

    Lots of people bitch about sub fees, but in the end a fun MMO has a lot of value.

    The flip side to that is that because players can and do spend so much time intensly playing the same game over and over, they often get burnt out on it rather fast. Esp if the game has flaws or lack of content, then gamer tend to show little patients and bolt to another game.

    Add in the wave of quality free2play games, a game is gonna have to fight to hold on to subs.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DSB

    @6 Make the infrastructure solid (levelling, crafting, trading) and make the endgame challenging.

    That’s really all there is to it in my opinion. You have to give people a mountain to climb.

    If you give them a mountain they can simply walk over, that’s what they’re gonna do, and then they’re gonna get bored. That’s what happened with Wrath of the Lich King for me. We killed everything in a month or two, and then the game became about waiting.

    The thing that made me dig into WoW was that there was an actual challenge to be met. Everybody was watching who was going to take down the next boss, and you practically became “famous” on a server when your guild took that boss down before anyone else.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. endgame

    HA! Take it you money hungry freaks! :D

    #8 2 years ago
  9. OlderGamer

    I always used to stop playing wow once I reached end game tbh. It was always too hard.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. GrimRita

    1.2 brought in some needed changes but essentially when you reach the level cap, you repeat the dailies over and over and over. As Viralshag said, its war but my god, this feels more like the Sims, as Bioware have taken every single opportunity to ensure open conflict doesnt happen.

    Even some of the changes to pvp have been extremely poor, I mean come on – why on earth allow a warzone to start with uneven numbers? And until today, if you bothered to stay in a losing warzone, you got fuck all for your efforts. Totally stupid.

    EA seem to be holding off their fiscal conference call until the 30 day of extra ‘free’ time kicks in, just to put some icing on the bad news.

    The sooner they a) Bring in cross server b) merge servers c) go F2P they will then be able to gain new players because as of right now, this thing isnt worth £8.99 a month.

    Its all down to EA. Maybe in the eyes of their investors, if they do any of the above, it may look like failure. But if they are smart(LOL EA here), and adopted a League of Legends esq payment model, they could really make ALOT of money

    #10 2 years ago
  11. TheWulf

    @6

    And Guild Wars 2 is launching without a subscription, which is the final straw on the camel of truth that may finally be needed to convince people of what some of us caught onto early on: Subscriptions pay for yachts and little else.

    That’s not just being cynical, it’s the truth of it.

    Server costs on Activision’s most recent financial year report were a footnote. Also consider that the box sales of Guild Wars paid for the server costs of all of online games NCsoft runs. All of them, not just Guild Wars, but stuff like City of Heroes, too.

    And the value isn’t that great, to be honest. If they feel they can count on your subscription every month, they don’t feel the need to add in much content. As an example: A mission pack for Guild Wars, with a nominal fee on it, adds ten times more the content than I’ve seen added to any subscription-based MMORPG.

    Let’s say you pay a subscription for three months and it amounts to $45… yeah? What do you get out of it? Maybe a dungeon thrown to you as a scrap, but that’s about it. If you’re playing something like Guild WArs 2, you’re going to pay $0 for those three months, and again, mission and expansion packs will be the way to go. Let’s say that you get a mission pack for $10 or #20, it’ll have many tens the times of content that you see in a subscription-based MMORPG.

    Speaking out of experience here. If you don’t buy it, go and grab Guild Wars and a mission pack and see for yourself.

    The reason subs are dropping off is, as I said, the truth is finally dawning in the minds of the many. We know how it is, something that the few have known for a long time takes time to light up in the many. And this truth is that subscriptions are a huge con. Not only are they a con, but hey, they need to keep you paying month after month, so they have to pad out the content to the point where it gets obnoxious.

    There’s really nothing good to be said about subscriptions. And every day there’s more and more people who’re finally dawning upon this realisation, who’re catching a glint of this truth.

    For me, it’s like watching people wake up from a coma.

    TotalBiscuit pretty much confirmed that even with GW2, there’s nothing on the cash shop that you need to play the game, it’s all optional extras. But when you actually feel you’re getting value for money, you’re more willing to part with it. So if people had great fun playing the game, they may buy a cosmetic outfit, or they’d just gleefully slap money down on mission or expansion packs with no buyers remorse, ready to do that again and again.

    In fact, if you do the research… and it is out there, you’ll find that many publishers have found that the free to play or buy to play models are more popular for that exact reason. Because people don’t feel like they’re being shilled.

    For years, to me, subscriptions have felt like a tax upon the stupid, much like the lottery. It’s just a tax for people who’re bad with both money and math.

    And all you’re doing is lining someone’s pocket.

    Well, you do that. I’m going to avoid subscription based games, I’d rather not be shilled. I’m not going to voluntarily pay any non-mandatory taxes which net me nothing in return.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. TheWulf

    @7

    There was never a challenge in WoW. I mean, come on, let’s be honest here. With all the metres out there – DPS ones, aggro ones, and so on, it’s all just about numbers. To win? You grind the best gear. It’s as simple as that, and all they did in Wrath was making the best gear more readily available. In other words, in Wrath, there was less of a grind for good gear.

    In Cataclysm, there’s even less of a grind. But that’s padding, and that’s exactly what I find so despicable about subscription MMORPGs. I don’t get addicted to grind, I get mind-numbingly bored by it. I’m not the sort of person who falls for it, instead I feel like my brain is going to dribble out of my ears if I have to kill 20 more X just to get that torso piece with this stat or that stat.

    And then you have the daily quests and shit for grinding potions.

    Grind, time, grind, time, grind, time, grind, time, grind.

    This is why I’m actually looking forward to Guild Wars 2. I’ve seen some players play that with lower end gear and absolutely rock it due to it being a more action-oriented game. In that you can dodge projectiles. If you can do that, then it becomes more like Mass Effect and less like WoW.

    In WoW, you can’t dodge a projectile. If someone shoots a projectile at you, it’ll home in endlessly. We both know this is true. You can find the videos as easily as I can. We both know the truth of this, too: It’s because the graphics are just a front end for the math which is going on in the background. You can do NOTHING to change that math. It’s just scheduled rotations and gear. Scheduled ortations and gear. Time, grind… NUMBARZ. It’s like Yahtzee said, WoW feels like kids trying to impress the opposite gender with their NUMBARpeens. Srsly.

    The day WoW lets me do something like dodge a projectile, it’s no longer WoW. But this is why there isn’t such a thing as a challenge in WoW. If you have the right numbers, you win. If you don’t have the right numbers, you lose. It’s that simple. It’s a numbers game.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Uncontested

    The only reason anyone even bought this game is because of “Star Wars” in the title and clueless people clinging to the notion that SOMEHOW this MMO would REALLY be the next KOTOR they had been dreaming about for so long.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DSB

    @12 The hard part wasn’t neccesarily filling your own role, it was learning the fight and making sure that the other 24 did the exact same thing, at the exact same time.

    The top guilds didn’t get sponsored for being great at grinding gear, they got sponsored because they were the best at playing the game. All gear did was make an encounter shorter, it didn’t help with coordination or anyone’s individual skills.

    While I agree that Wrath of the Lich King was all about opening it up to a more casual raiding public, the loot was still random. There was no guarantee that you were going to gear your tank up to a point where healing him became easy, or your ranged or melee DPS to a point where the encounter got shorter.

    Every encounter had some form of a gearcheck, that’s how you pace these games.

    Your convenient one-dimensional focus on the obvious limitations of the game covers maybe an auto-attack or two. I’m pretty sure you realize every encounter included a lot more than that. Damage spikes, splash damage, special attacks, random fire, random afflictions. The challenge was in switching it up and adjusting to those things, 25 people as one unit. You can choose to get caught up in numbers, but I don’t know any top progress players who relied on what they read on the internet to succeed. Theory is great, practice and especially intuition is something else. I took special pleasure in wiping the floor with those guys.

    I know you want to rewrite the history of what WoW actually did, and how we played it, but the only person you’re fooling is yourself. And I’m guessing that’s good enough for LALA land. I would think it pretty obvious to those who were actually there, that the best guilds, with the best players, also got the best results.

    Maybe you should snap up some sponsorships though, you seem to have it all figured out ;)

    #14 2 years ago
  15. GwynbleiddiuM

    @14 Great comment, DSB Sir.

    I still haven’t played SWTOR, no thanks to BioWare for IP blocking my country, but from what I read leveling is rather fast and the End-Game experience is lacking IMO because of that.

    Haven’t been in WoW since day one but I’m sure all of those who were remember that leveling a toon from 1 to 60 wasn’t exactly a walk in the park and fast experience, and there is a good reason for it. In a new experience people should spend time appreciating the game figuring out what’s about this game that they want, learning the lore and developing a sense of satisfaction throw exploration. These things were in wow, I remember it took me forever to level my hunter (I was a noob back then, granted), and I didn’t level it up in time when WotLK arrived which I immediately switched to Death Knight (I was born to be a Death Knight).

    BioWare didn’t realize this I guess, when you’re new to the market you can’t be fast cause everything might backfire in your face. They should’ve made it so that the players could take their time while playing and leveling a class, this would’ve give them time to develop proper content and address the game breaking issues that their game might have.

    This is why their game is not as successful as they want it to be, IMO.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. GrimRita

    I think the problem lots of developers/publishers face when they try to launch a game in the MMO, most try and clone WoW.

    Most never stop to think that the WoW player base has/are becoming bored with a stale format and want something refreshing and engaging. If you want to attract players to your game, and then importantly STAY after the 30 days is up, you need more than ‘story’.

    With Guild Wars 2 just around the corner and offering so much more than this outdated Bioware game, pvp will no doubt just die once GW2 hits the shelf.

    Its a shame, because given the IP, combat should have made this game a winner but instead its just a stun fest which isnt enjoyable, no matter how many beers you may have had first.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. viralshag

    @11, regardless of whether you are/will be correct, you should really stop talking as if GW2 has already released and has set the MMO world alight. Because while you do that, at the same time as attacking what is probably and always will be one of the most popular MMOs around, it just makes you sound like a zealous GW2 fanboy.

    I’m looking forward to GW2, don’t get me wrong on that but I have a feeling it will be like every other MMO and enjoy a short time in the limelight and then just fade to the realm of all other MMOs that never hit the 12 million sub mark.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. polygem

    sorry didn´t read all the comments. no time atm. i think lots of this is connected with guild wars 2´s release. also many vet players seem to be disappointed by the patch as far as i heard from people i know who play swtor. it´s like they really promised a lot but didn´t really deliver. there seem to be some major changes in the classes too that have serious impact on gameplay of certain classes making some stuff you focused on for ages unnecessary.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. GrimRita

    @17 – GW2 raises its head probably for those who enjoy pvp. With the footage out there and the fact GW2 has World vs World, X-server stuff etc already gives it a huge bonus over SWTOR, which simply lacks any creativity.

    Throw in Biowares inability to actually improve pvp, but decide instead to make things worse, then you can see why people appear to be shifting toward GW2.

    With EA handing out free weekend plays almost every single weekend now(another one this weekend!), giving 30 days free* play time to ‘veterans’, and the delay in EA’s shareholder call, clearly shows that this game hasnt performed anywhere close to what they need/wanted and they are pulling out all the stops.

    From EA’s own numbers, from the 1.7 million ‘active’ subs, half took on a subs plan with a ‘vast’ majority of those taking a recurring plan – so its already lost almost half its player base. But EA have been very coy with the numbers and their use of the word ‘vast’.

    Ive said for a long time, these guys are going to struggle to attract new players and grow its player base and if they think players will flock to this because its Star Wars and because EA have paid//bought advertising with some major gaming media websites to ensure a high review score – they need their heads tested. And shame on the journos that reviewed this giving it a 9/10.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. endgame

    This topic along with most of the the comments warms my heart. :D It just shows that not all players are dumb f**ks who think that server maintenance is costly. There is still hope for humanity. :))

    #20 2 years ago
  21. viralshag

    @19, You’re right in that respect regarding the PVP features. I think that comes down to the games being built with two different mindsets. I think when you look at the two games TOR is made with a huge focus on the SP aspects of the game and GW2 has been built with a much more PVP mindset.

    And that’s not saying that the solo content in GW2 will be bad but so far from all I have seen and read it appears to be very run of the mill MMO stuff in comparison to the PVP content they have.

    The problem with TOR is that they focused so much on the solo content I honestly think they thought people would play this over and over again with all the different class stories. Which I definitely would have done… if this was KOTOR… and not filled with all the usual MMO grind.

    @20, What’s wrong with subscriptions if you are getting a constantly good service?

    #21 2 years ago
  22. endgame

    @21 The problem is that you are almost never getting a good service. The only exception is EVE Online. That’s the only MMO where the service is good enough for the 15 euro fee to be acceptable. And that’s why it is still very much alive and kicking despite it’s.. hardness.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. viralshag

    @22, That’s not true at all. Rift, Aion and even WoW are/were good examples of receiving a good service.

    During my few-year stint of WoW I don’t remember ever getting a downtime that significantly affected me playing the game. And the same can definitely be said for Rift too.

    £8.99 is more than acceptable for a game like Rift imo and I’m happy to support them for it. They have easily led the way in terms of patching, hotfixing and updating an MMO. Not to mention excellent customer care.

    It might sound fanboyish but I have very rarely, if ever, met anyone who had a horrid time with Trion. The game might not* be the best MMO out there but the service offered by Trion is second to none.

    *Edit

    #23 2 years ago
  24. GrimRita

    Viral is right. Rift probably offers THE best service and Bioware could/should have learned from how to provide an MMO service -but failed.

    And I am SO pleased Trion are looking after End of Nations – so service side will be excellent, and the game is free to play.

    The beauty of Rift is that you can more or less open your own rift and others will join in, yielding nice rewards. SWTOR only offers the same old ‘Flashpoints’ and now probably most skip through the cut scenes.

    It really is such a shame that given the IP, Bioware should have been more creative – just look at Star Wars Galaxies. SWTOR isnt even a patch on that game and its now 2012!

    Unless urgent changes are made, it could all be over by March 2013.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. viralshag

    @24, Even though I didn’t before, I think I would tend to agree with you that TOR definitely does need a certain flair of creativity that SWG might have offered.

    For an MMO, it is very linear and there really isn’t a lot to do on your journey from 1-50. At launch and even now, probably my favourite part of the game is the crafting. It’s strange as I guess you could consider it’s a boring mechanic but I really enjoyed chasing the purple unlocks for all the crafting gear.

    Honestly though, maybe that’s just saying something if THAT is my favourite part of the game. I would love to see a crafting app that linked to my account though…

    #25 2 years ago