Analyst Says EA Investors "Betting Against" Old Republic

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Analyst Says EA Investors "Betting Against" Old Republic

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According to analyst Mike Hickey, investors aren't prepared to jump on board EA's Old Republic just yet.

Let's not quibble: If a developer gets the right formula to bottle lightning, an MMO can be ridiculously profitable. There probably isn't a single gaming company on the planet that doesn't look at Blizzard's obscene monthly revenue from World of Warcraft without going green from envy. Launching a stand-alone game is almost always financially risky - what if gamers don't buy it? - but a revenue stream from an MMO is practically a sure thing once it gets going.

But that's ignoring the other side to the equation: Not only are MMOs prohibitively expensive to operate (manpower for customer service, bandwidth, power and maintenance for servers), making - and launching - an MMO may be one of the hardest things to do in the entire business. Just look back at the countless titles that were supposed to be the Next Big Thing (and weren't): Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online.

Even a beloved gaming company - BioWare - working with one of the most popular IPs in history - Star Wars - isn't a sure thing. And analyst Mike Hickey says that EA's investors aren't convinced. The Janco Partners analyst says that while other factors regarding EA's financial future - the Playfish acquisition and the Activision lawsuit, to name two - could be hurting the company's shares, investors are mainly wary of the publisher's ability to launch a successful MMO.

"We believe many investors are betting against SWTOR achieving market success, provided the company's (Warhammer Online from Mythic) and industry's track record at releasing successful new MMOs," says Hickey - and indeed, Mythic's Warhammer MMO is a very good example of the risks inherent in launching an MMO. It was a title released by a proven studio based on a popular IP, and while Mythic swears the title isn't a money pit, it certainly failed to live up to expectations.

With the failure of APB fresh in the memories of investors, a new MMO is seen as risky. Furthermore, says Hickey, factors are betting against SWTOR in particular: The title is rumored to be subscription-based "versus a market that is quickly transitioning to free to play," previews have been "modest," and it's a very, very expensive game (not even counting royalties to LucasArts).

Combined with EA's growing stake in the game, and it's not hard to see why investors might be gunshy at the idea of putting their money behind the game.

Of course, if it does come out and promptly lands a couple million subscribers, the same investors will be kicking themselves. No risk, no reward, right?

(Gamasutra)

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Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers, and unless you absolutely trounce WoW from the first week, you're going to lose this one.

I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...

But I'm actually considering trying the old republic out for a few months, and i'm completely against the idea of monthly subscriptions!

Blizzard didn't just jump straight to World of WarCraft, they spent time building up the franchise. When they Released Orcs vs Humans back 94, they didn't intend to turn it into an MMO. They didn't release the online single player for until 04, after 2 RTS sequels. In contrast, Star Wars has had 33 years to establish itself across several mediums. It's to much to hope that it will dethrone WoW (at least not right away) but it can count on appealing to a monolithic fan base.

The_root_of_all_evil:
Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers,

That might actually work it's favor, assuming Naboo is included in the game. Gungan Terrine anyone?

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I'm calling it.

warhammer online was pretty poorly handled and Im putting most of the blaim on ea for rushing it, it needed a few more months of dev time and that would also make put it out after a wow expansion rather then before, so they would probably have been able to capture people who were tired of wow and it would have had less bugs so it could have kept them better. if war didnt have wow to compete with then it would have been huge but since it released in a buggy state it couldnt compete with something that had 3 or so years to iron out the bugs

Well, I have been involved in a massive amount of beta testing for this game, and while I can't say anything specific about it, I can say that it is awesome. It's just a shame that the Star Wars IP is actually going to turn away more people than it brings in (IMO) Lucas has done nothing but continually ruin the franchise and insult his fans. KOTOR is the only version of Star Wars other than the original trilogy worthwhile. I hope people give this game the chance it deserves.

Well if it fails to reach expectations, they could, you know, lower them. There's no shame in going free-to-play, EA. You even have experience with Battlefield Heroes and whatnot. It might just work, and that's where the Star Wars license really has the opportunity to shine.

Indeed, people who don't play MMOs but like Star Wars would probably not try a subscription-based one. You'd need to get to MMO fans that are also willing to pay. But I'd bet even non-fans of MMOs that are Star Wars fanatics would try a free-to-play SWTOR based on the letters "SW" in the name.

Personally that's what I think will happen: it won't be amazing (probably better than Galaxies though) and after a while it might go on the microtransaction route (if the higher-ups at EA and Bioware could stomach the punch to the ego).

Its too bad the game isn't based on the Star Wars everyone knows.

I dont really like EA, so I hope the investors are right. And honestly I think they are, WoW owns the MMO market now.

Games aren't a good investment anyway. I like investing in all sorts of things but I would only put throw-away money on a game or even a publisher. So much of the "intelligence" is marketing/PR bullshite, you can't trust anything you hear.

Sorry. But stop trying to think you can dethrone WoW. It will never happen. They look at companies like Blizzard and think they can recreate the same - if not better - degree of quality, fun and balance that a company has several years of experience, patching and thorough understanding of the strengths and faults of the product within the space of a week. It just won't happen. It's a ridiculous money sink. You have to be lucky to have an MMO survive the initial hype, let alone the first week. It really saddens me to see a big name like Bioware try to dip their fingers into the moneypot of the niche MMO market.

Be prepared for them to lose a tonne of money and for the quality of their products to diminish. Goodbye Bioware, it was great while it lasted.

the.chad:
I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...

So that was a good game? I only played the demo and I kept running out of ammunition for some reason.

i see this will most likely end up toppling WoW, me and my friends are excited about unlike any other game before and the gameplay looks fresh for an mmo and the whole thing is done in such a way it looks so great. not forgetting all the great dialouge and story that will no doubt be included ( plus jennifer hale is in there, the good shephard).

plus, it's fucking star wars.

KarmicToast:
KOTOR is the only version of Star Wars other than the original trilogy worthwhile.

I call BS. The Rogue Squadron games? The Jedi Knight series, 2 in particular? Fucking Battlefront?! There have been some awesome Star Wars games. Unfortunately, for every Rogue Leader we have three or four Shadows Of The Empire or Force Unleashed, but to ignore the absolutely brilliant games because they're surrounded by crap is to cheat yourself out of plenty of fun.

OT: I loved, loved, loved KoTOR, but I'm not buying this. I dislike the idea of paying subscription fees, along with the grinding aspects of your average MMO, so much as I'd love to head back to the Old Republic it just isn't going to happen. Even with a fantastic dev like BioWare helming the project, I'd still much rather have KoTOR 3.

I know if I was an investor I would share in that doubt, however I think the game will turn a decent profit, so in the end I would bet in favor of it doing fine, just not insanely well.

HankMan:

the.chad:
I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...

So that was a good game? I only played the demo and I kept running out of ammunition for some reason.

I fucking hate Republic Commando. I've never actually played it, but I bloody hate it - I bought a copy of KoTOR off of Play, waited weeks for it, and when it finally came they'd put the disc for Republic Commando in by mistake. It might be a great game, but I'll never be able to shake that feeling of coming home really excited to play something only to find something completely different. Even reading the name feels like being let down...

SonicWaffle:

KarmicToast:
KOTOR is the only version of Star Wars other than the original trilogy worthwhile.

I call BS. The Rogue Squadron games? The Jedi Knight series, 2 in particular? Fucking Battlefront?! There have been some awesome Star Wars games. Unfortunately, for every Rogue Leader we have three or four Shadows Of The Empire or Force Unleashed, but to ignore the absolutely brilliant games because they're surrounded by crap is to cheat yourself out of plenty of fun.

OT: I loved, loved, loved KoTOR, but I'm not buying this. I dislike the idea of paying subscription fees, along with the grinding aspects of your average MMO, so much as I'd love to head back to the Old Republic it just isn't going to happen. Even with a fantastic dev like BioWare helming the project, I'd still much rather have KoTOR 3.

I'm talking universe, not games. I totally agree on the games you mention; I just don't think they do a lot for the "story of star wars." For that you have extended universe books (not always garbage, but often contradictory), KOTOR (great), the Original Trilogy (great), the new trilogy (awful), the new clone wars movie and show (awful)

The_root_of_all_evil:
Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers, and unless you absolutely trounce WoW from the first week, you're going to lose this one.

/facepalm

They're never going trounce WoW immediately, nor are they aiming to, nor is it necessary. They've even said they're not looking at it as a competitor because there's no point right now.

If they get a solid user base and it is good, the gamers will come - this isn't a get rich or die tryin' (peace out Fiddy), they need to play the longhaul.

Also: I don't dare count the amount of people who don't like George Lucas and yet love KotOR. I very much doubt anyone cares whether some of the change eventually lands in his pockets if it's good.

SonicWaffle:

HankMan:

the.chad:
I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...

So that was a good game? I only played the demo and I kept running out of ammunition for some reason.

I fucking hate Republic Commando. I've never actually played it, but I bloody hate it - I bought a copy of KoTOR off of Play, waited weeks for it, and when it finally came they'd put the disc for Republic Commando in by mistake. It might be a great game, but I'll never be able to shake that feeling of coming home really excited to play something only to find something completely different. Even reading the name feels like being let down...

dude that sucks hard but Republic Commando is a fucking immense game you should give it a chance.

kinda off topic but does anyone know what this restored content mod is for KOTOR2 nostalgia has hit me like a mackerel to the face lately and im reinstalling old games and i saw something about it the other day.

w-Jinksy:
kinda off topic but does anyone know what this restored content mod is for KOTOR2 nostalgia has hit me like a mackerel to the face lately and im reinstalling old games and i saw something about it the other day.

I've been playing it on my Xbox lately, and I'd guess it was just putting in areas/quests that didn't make it to the finished game. Like on Nar Shaadaa, as you approach the Hutt's apartments, there are clearly two doors on the map leading to a seperate area but neither of the doors can be interacted with. There are a few NPCs around the place who have dialogue that seems like they're involved with quests, but it never goes anywhere. Considering that (or so I've read) the studio were under a lot of pressure to rush the game out, I'd assume there is plenty of unfinished content lurking around.

"Nothing beat WoW so far, therefore it's likely <new MMO> will fail."

Fuck. If only I went to analyst school, I could've made a program to do my job within a few minutes ^^

Oh and heads up. Nearing a million forum users on the official site, take out the doubled accounts and add the much greater amount of people following and waiting for the game from the sidelines and it adds up to a pretty successful looking launch.

That's putting aside the fact BioWare are being very intelligent and saving most of their good stuff (end game info) at bay still. When the flood gates open up on the information, a release date and an open beta arrive (open beta seemingly being aimed at merely testing the servers, thus showing the product at it's pretty much best rather than the usual half baked beta crap) and PAX East presents their stuff in full shining light mere few months before the release, I'm guessing the numbers will start climbing fast :)

Ossian:
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I'm calling it.

I second this. I want it to do well, but my hopes are low.

KarmicToast:
I'm talking universe, not games. I totally agree on the games you mention; I just don't think they do a lot for the "story of star wars." For that you have extended universe books (not always garbage, but often contradictory), KOTOR (great), the Original Trilogy (great), the new trilogy (awful), the new clone wars movie and show (awful)

Oh, I see what you mean now. Still, even the ones you mention don't do huge amounts for the overall story - considering that, by the timeframe we measure by (original trilogy), the KoTOR stuff is ancient history I can't see it being that relevant. Enjoyable, sure, but not really advancing the story at all. Plus (and this might just be me), it makes people in the Star Wars universe seem like idiots; KoTOR is a few thousand years before The Trilogy, right? Let's look at their tech. They have lightsabers, comms, droids that look and act very similar to R2D2 and C3PO, the Ebon Hawk is essentially the Millenium Falcon, goons who wear Stormtrooper-style armour, laser rifles and a whole host of other items that we know, or at least recognise the similarities to, from the original trilogy. What I took from this was that over thousands and thousands of years there had been virtually no technological advancement! The universe and it's scientists appear to have stalled at a time that, comparably, would be like us using pre-Christian technology. It may be a small thing, but it always bugged me...

Oh, and as for the EU books, X-Wing: Rogue Squadron & Wraith Squadron books are awesome. 'nuff said!

Vrach:
Oh and heads up. Nearing a million forum users on the official site, take out the doubled accounts and add the much greater amount of people following and waiting for the game from the sidelines and it adds up to a pretty successful looking launch.

The thing is, a successful launch doesn't mean a whole lot. Plenty of MMO games have a successful launch, but eventually people get bored and go back to WoW. The trick is hooking people in so they keep paying their fees, it's no good to have 5 million people play for the first week and then 500 every week after that.

You're right about BioWare, though - not a company to rush a product, and when they deliver, by God they deliver. If anyone can do it, they can.

A big launch will be easy for this title. Holding onto those numbers for more than a couple of months... that's going to be difficult, if not impossible. The Star Wars IP won't cut it alone - just look at SWG for proof of that - and Bioware's expertise is all in single player, which I'm still thinking just isn't going to translate well into an MMO.

It all depends how many subscribers they've decided they need to be a success. If they can break even with a long term of 100-150k then maybe... maybe they'll do okay. If they're depending on maintaining over a million for the long haul then they're fucked, and may as well start consolidating servers now to save time later.

I'll keep my fingers crossed for it though, if only because if this one crashes and burns that's the end of mega-budget P2Ps, because if this one fails what can possibly succeed?

You people liked KotOR. And it was the Bioware that created it. There is chance they will be successful again.

I really want to play this game, I loved Kotor and I love just about everything Bioware makes but I can't see myself paying a subscription fee for it. And this is coming from someone who has played WoW off and on for a few years now(account currently frozen.) I'll probably just wait for a free trial to come out and try it then to see if it's worth it.

SonicWaffle:
The thing is, a successful launch doesn't mean a whole lot. Plenty of MMO games have a successful launch, but eventually people get bored and go back to WoW. The trick is hooking people in so they keep paying their fees, it's no good to have 5 million people play for the first week and then 500 every week after that.

You're right about BioWare, though - not a company to rush a product, and when they deliver, by God they deliver. If anyone can do it, they can.

Exactly. DC Online had a seemly greta launch but from what I've been hearing it will be lucky to retain a fraction of that number after a few months. And considering the amount of money they've rumored to spend on this title (development, advertising and support), they'll have to keep a good sized player base for a while to even break even.

Also, if this launches opposite say Guild Wars 2 then it's done for considering that lack of fees for the later.

My betting money for this to fail. No hard feeling for those looking forward to it (because it sounds interesting enough) but I have a feeling it'll be going to way of Cryptic's games (which isn't a bad thing I mean Free to Play and all).

DTWolfwood:
Its too bad the game isn't based on the Star Wars everyone knows.

Bullshit, that was the reason why KOTOR was so much better than any other Star Wars game. It was set in its own time period, with its own aesthetic that still fit with the universe.

This game looks exactly like stuff out of the movies, which bothers me. The republic troops look exactly like Clone Troopers, despite the fact that this game takes place at least three thousand some years before Clone Troopers even existed.

TOR looks good, but visually I find it repulsively generic.

Woodsey:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers, and unless you absolutely trounce WoW from the first week, you're going to lose this one.

/facepalm

They're never going trounce WoW immediately, nor are they aiming to, nor is it necessary. They've even said they're not looking at it as a competitor because there's no point right now.

Given how much money they've put into it, they need to do it fast or something else will steal their thunder. That's why they've got to trounce. All the people they're looking to jump into it are those jumping out of MMOs. And who will jump out of this one very quickly.

There's a limited customer base and they have to grab it really quickly or it'll die. DCUO is still struggling with internal issues, but if they'd delayed it, they wouldn't have got the huge player base to lose from.

Well, the money isn't the important thing, so who cares. If I was to make a game I wouldn't care if I lost money so long as it was good and contributed something to gaming

Gralian:
Sorry. But stop trying to think you can dethrone WoW. It will never happen. They look at companies like Blizzard and think they can recreate the same - if not better - degree of quality, fun and balance that a company has several years of experience, patching and thorough understanding of the strengths and faults of the product within the space of a week. It just won't happen. It's a ridiculous money sink. You have to be lucky to have an MMO survive the initial hype, let alone the first week. It really saddens me to see a big name like Bioware try to dip their fingers into the moneypot of the niche MMO market.

Be prepared for them to lose a tonne of money and for the quality of their products to diminish. Goodbye Bioware, it was great while it lasted.

On the brightside this could leave bioware open to be picked up by another company who dosent have them cut content to be sold as dlc. Zeni maz has been buying up companies lately, I think they could do a good job with BW.

All the other failed MMO's had a common problem. Bugs! If you want an MMO to be a success then those first couple of days had better kick butt and had better work. You only get once chance at a first impression with an MMO and if that one fails then poof your game is toast. It's not a secret why WoW succeeded, it worked and had a lot of content to dive right into that allowed you to get comforatable with the game.

Will SWToR succeed? If it works, and actually brings something new to the table in the genre than sure it will. If it's in bad need of a day one patch, all of user reviews will flame the game as not working and half of the potential customers won't ever bother.

You get once chance EA, you should know that by now. I'd buy more shares in your company if I had more faith, but sadly I don't. Here is to hoping you let Bioware do their jobs.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Woodsey:

The_root_of_all_evil:
Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers, and unless you absolutely trounce WoW from the first week, you're going to lose this one.

/facepalm

They're never going trounce WoW immediately, nor are they aiming to, nor is it necessary. They've even said they're not looking at it as a competitor because there's no point right now.

Given how much money they've put into it, they need to do it fast or something else will steal their thunder. That's why they've got to trounce. All the people they're looking to jump into it are those jumping out of MMOs. And who will jump out of this one very quickly.

There's a limited customer base and they have to grab it really quickly or it'll die. DCUO is still struggling with internal issues, but if they'd delayed it, they wouldn't have got the huge player base to lose from.

Actually, the whole point of TOR is to allow for a singleplayer experience within an MMO, and other than EVE (which is really nothing like WOW and the other stuff out there) I'm a total MMO noob, and I'll be getting it. Why? Because of that "singleplayer" experience within it.

And they don't need to do it immediately for fear of someone else stealing their thunder, this is Star Wars and BioWare with EA's backing. You couldn't hope for a better situation. And like I said, that singleplayer experience inside the MMO is going to keep people hooked, and if it is good then I can't see people being easily pulled away from that when they have the best of both worlds.

Gralian:
Sorry. But stop trying to think you can dethrone WoW. It will never happen. They look at companies like Blizzard and think they can recreate the same - if not better - degree of quality, fun and balance that a company has several years of experience, patching and thorough understanding of the strengths and faults of the product within the space of a week. It just won't happen. It's a ridiculous money sink. You have to be lucky to have an MMO survive the initial hype, let alone the first week. It really saddens me to see a big name like Bioware try to dip their fingers into the moneypot of the niche MMO market.

Be prepared for them to lose a tonne of money and for the quality of their products to diminish. Goodbye Bioware, it was great while it lasted.

They've even said on videos posted on the Escapist THAT THEY DO NOT SEE THEMSELVES AS WOW-KILLERS. That's an entirely community-driven concept, I don't think they've even mentioned WoW at any point even for reference.

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