EA Blames Casuals For Falling Old Republic Subscriber Numbers

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EA Blames Casuals For Falling Old Republic Subscriber Numbers

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Star Wars: The Old Republic boasts "very good retention" of "core MMO users."

The Old Republic lost around 400,000 subscribers between February and May, but that's okay. They were all casuals anyway.

"When we launched the product back in December, it was an event launch," EA game label boss, Frank Gibeau told investors. "We brought in a lot of users, and with a brand like Star Wars, it reaches out much past the hardcore MMO fan base into the broader market.

"And as the service evolves from here, what we're seeing is that some of the initial casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and decided not to subscribe to the game."

Of course, that cross-market, casual-appeal is exactly what's kept World of Warcraft chugging along for the past decade like some kind of terrifying, money-vomiting Energizer bunny. The fact The Old Republic is having trouble retaining subscribers despite its license - which can pretty much sell anything - is cause for concern.

World of Warcraft and its upcoming Panda-themed update isn't the only competition the game will face. Both the recently released Tera and the upcoming subscription-less Guild Wars 2 will all be clamoring for a bigger slice of the MMO pie. Gibeau, however, seems unconcerned.

"We are cognizant of competitors coming, but none of them quite fit in the same competitive category as Star Wars," he said. "They're just different fantasies. They're not the Star Wars fantasy. It's not the big expansive universe that appeals to so many people worldwide. And as you know with MMOs, every day you're in operation to get better and better and better. You continually perfect the experience. You continually improve the acquisition component.

"And so building from a base that we're at right now, we feel very confident that this business is going to continue to stay competitive throughout the remainder of the year."

EA shogun, John Riccitiello popped up to add that while The Old Republic is counted amongst EA's top ten earning franchises, it's not in the top five.

"So it's a business contributor, while important, is not as important as Medal of Honor or Battlefield or FIFA or Madden or The Sims or SimCity," he said, "but it's more important than Tiger Woods PGA Golf."

What an excellent quote. They should put that on the back of the box.

Source: Eurogamer

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if it were free to play, this this filthy casual gamer would play it

Medal of Honor made money?

Must... not... add... "u"... to... "honor"

Yep, because losing what, like 30% of your player base is perfectly fine as long as it's the "casuals", because their $15 is totally worth less than the "core" gamers $15.

And he's right about the other competitors not being in the same category as Star Wars. I wouldn't want to be in the "generic themepark title" category so that's a plus to World of Warcraft AND Guild Wars 2!

Think I'll just stick with EVE online, casuals don't honestly exist in that game.

Actually, well....

I'm a fan of the game but man, I don't know who runs the official boards but they need help.

They let the trolls, the QQers, and the doom wishers run rampant. While they systematically close every single positive post, or post of encouragement to the developers. I'm not kidding.

I love this game but, I just can't say that on the General Forums.

Thy have no idea how damaging that's going to be, in the long run.

It's complete madness.

Played 200 hours of TOR in my free month, so I hardly played it casually, but didnt keep subbing. It was just wow in space.

No EA, its not that the ones who left were casuals, its that you made a game that could be "completed" in a month to 2 months time casually and people should not continue to pay subscription fees if they have already completed the content.

Its literally just that simple. Its what you get for trying to make the game "accessible"

Zhukov:
Medal of Honor made money?

Must... not... add... "u"... to... "honor"

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

Freechoice:

Zhukov:
Medal of Honor made money?

Must... not... add... "u"... to... "honor"

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

We could ask the same about Americans

Freechoice:

Zhukov:
Medal of Honor made money?

Must... not... add... "u"... to... "honor"

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

Not sure if joking or oblivious.

Zhukov:

Freechoice:

Zhukov:
Medal of Honor made money?

Must... not... add... "u"... to... "honor"

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

Not sure if joking or oblivious.

Hold your horses, people. I have a question.

How does the box art for Medal of Honor look in the UK? Does it read "Medal of Honour"? In this instance, adding a U WOULD be misspelling it unless it looks different.

OT: Well...I am a casual, I guess. I'm willing to give it a shot but I'm not so willing to throw away $15 per month and many hours of my life in this game that frowns upon us "casuals".

Oh, EA. When will you ever learn?

Wow, shamelessly inflammatory headline there Jonathan.

To be honest, he's probably right. Many of those who left were probably speculating or riding the wave of their first month and the free month. They made a game that aimed to provide a somewhat single-player experience and people were more than pleased to treat it as such.

They'll bleed even more subscribers before it evens out. It's absurd to think the drop, if indeed attributed to casual players, will stop there (those subscribed for several months, those who were still on the fence, those who just haven't got around to cancelling yet...)

EA will never accept a ftp model. They'd consider it sounding the death knell on their investment and inviting investor rage. Still, I think TOR can limp along profitably for a couple of years at least. Give it a few server consolidations and a steady diet of improvements and it will remain an attractive option for those wishing to try something new. Even if it fails to keep them long-term.

Damn, friendliness on new blockbuster MMO staff is getting to be a problem. One of the contributing factors to WoW's success is that the PR department and GM's at the time were all so laid back and less corporate-tied than they are in some of these new ones. Constantly connecting with the players on a gamer to gamer level.

I can tell you now they need to get their act together on forums and just communicating with the player base on a level that doesn't scream 'we're paid to do this'.

WoW's is now cheesy and forced, but they still put on a show.
Even if it's just Ghostcrawler popping his ugly mug into the forums to make another 'To the ground!' joke.

TOR just has this no-nonsense sterile feel to the whole affair of 'being a part of the community'.

But yeah I can honestly not colour myself surprised. 1 month of that game was enough for anyone. Too bad really. As MMO's go it kinda fell more into a mass-interactive-one-man experience. I'm no casual MMO player but I feel the same as those so-called casuals.
Pitching a fit about it doesn't fix anything EA. When u learn this.

I could post an entire rant about what made certain aspects of one MMO work over others but I already feel like most are going to TL:DR my ass on this so I'll save it for a bad day.

Of course, that cross-market, casual-appeal is exactly what's kept World of Warcraft chugging along for the past decade like some kind of terrifying, money-vomiting energizer bunny.

I disagree with this. The only thing that's kept World of Warcraft "chugging along" for this long at this point is inertia, plain and simple. For a long while, they were the best product on the market. During that time they built up 7+ years of content and a truly massive player base who have invested hundreds of dollars and countless man-hours into their characters.

Games like SW:TOR are not fighting WoW's inherent casual appeal; TOR has a bunch of the same things that WoW has that are newbie and casual friendly. I'd say even more so, having played it for a couple months, with every jedi, bounty hunter, etc having a customizable NPC buddy to make solo content even easier. WoW just has so much more stuff and more people that people who actually want to play MMOs would rather play WoW. The years of practice delivering content updates doesn't hurt either.

EDIT: Suppose I should add that my teeth grind the minute I hear people start whining about "casuals" in MMOs. It's so overused that it's lost all meaning, and is just a general derogatory term for anyone who doesn't take the game super-seriously. The use in the source article is perfectly legitimate; I didn't see any negative connotation there at all, keeping in mind that this was a statement that was given to investors.

Beautiful End:

Zhukov:

Freechoice:

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

Not sure if joking or oblivious.

Hold your horses, people. I have a question.

How does the box art for Medal of Honor look in the UK? Does it read "Medal of Honour"? In this instance, adding a U WOULD be misspelling it unless it looks different.

OT: Well...I am a casual, I guess. I'm willing to give it a shot but I'm not so willing to throw away $15 per month and many hours of my life in this game that frowns upon us "casuals".

Oh, EA. When will you ever learn?

Remember he's addressing investors, trying to reassure them. Just ignore Jonathan's headline for a bit. I don't think Gibeau is actually disparaging any kind of gamer this time around. Essentially he's only trying to justify the game's falling subs.

UnderGlass:
Wow, shamelessly inflammatory headline there Jonathan.

To be honest, he's probably right. Many of those who left were probably speculating or riding the wave of their first month and the free month. They made a game that aimed to provide a somewhat single-player experience and people were more than pleased to treat it as such.

They'll bleed even more subscribers before it evens out. It's absurd to think the drop, if indeed attributed to casual players, will stop there (those subscribed for several months, those who were still on the fence, those who just haven't got around to cancelling yet...)

EA will never accept a ftp model. They'd consider it sounding the death knell on their investment and inviting investor rage. Still, I think TOR can limp along profitably for a couple of years at least. Give it a few server consolidations and a steady diet of improvements and it will remain an attractive option for those wishing to try something new. Even if it fails to keep them long-term.

To be fair, they tried to shaft the more casual, non-end-game focused players recently with that free month deal. It was only after their arms got twisted to hell did they add in "Alright alright, you can also hit Legacy lvl 6 and get the free month". It's like their bleeding out so much money they can't just do the intelligent thing and give it to all the subscribed players.

Instead they went "Hey! to our loyal (lvl 50) subscribers, to thank you for your great contribution (being lvl 50) and spending your (lvl 50) $15 on us, here's a month free!"

So I wouldn't be surprised if EA saw those none-50s as "filthy", because those same casuals probably wouldn't pay out the ass for what will likely be the inevitable $30 ship-mounts EA is going to shoe-horn into the game.

gmaverick019:

Andronicus:

Freechoice:

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

We could ask the same about Americans

the whole damn english language is adaptations and misspellings from other languages... way to turn this into a nationality issue.

although, to be quaint, this is an american based website, if you really wanna nitpick, it's gonna be honor.

(although the prick you quoted probably didn't realize most words are spelled different across seas, rather than all english being the same.)

I shouldn't talk.

After being briefly intrigued by the history of these spelling differences, I was looking up variations in spelling across nationalities until I came across SR1; apparently in the mid 70's, some nincompoops in Australia decided spelling needed to be simplified such that it was written like it was spoken, so words like "bury" became "bery", "said" became "sed" and "through" became "thru". Apparently it was widely accepted at the time.

I've never been more ashamed of my country in my life.

UnderGlass:
Remember he's addressing investors, trying to reassure them. Just ignore Jonathan's headline for a bit. I don't think Gibeau is actually disparaging any kind of gamer this time around. Essentially he's only trying to justify the game's falling subs.

This is true, sir/ma'am. My apologies. My dislike for EA has blindeth me. (Dislike, not hate. I will still buy their games if they're any good).

At any rate, I'm not a big fan of MMOs but if I had to take a guess, the low sales seem to come from the fact that we have more choices now, essentially WoW. Yeah, they've both always been around but Blizzard seems to be on top of things whereas EA is...EA! I mean, in this instance, I guess they're trying. But Blizzard knows what customers want and how to please them.

*Shrugs* Just some thoughts.

Halvhir:

Of course, that cross-market, casual-appeal is exactly what's kept World of Warcraft chugging along for the past decade like some kind of terrifying, money-vomiting energizer bunny.

I disagree with this. The only thing that's kept World of Warcraft "chugging along" for this long at this point is inertia, plain and simple. For a long while, they were the best product on the market. During that time they built up 7+ years of content and a truly massive player base who have invested hundreds of dollars and countless man-hours into their characters.

Games like SW:TOR are not fighting WoW's inherent casual appeal; TOR has a bunch of the same things that WoW has that are newbie and casual friendly. I'd say even more so, having played it for a couple months, with every jedi, bounty hunter, etc having a customizable NPC buddy to make solo content even easier. WoW just has so much more stuff and more people that people who actually want to play MMOs would rather play WoW. The years of practice delivering content updates doesn't hurt either.

You're making the assumption that appealing to casual players is as simple as making the game accessible and easy. That's part of the equation, sure, but some games just have a certain mass appeal that crosses traditional demographic boundaries. A huge part of WoW's success lies in its ability to pull in non-gamers.

cursedseishi:

To be fair, they tried to shaft the more casual, non-end-game focused players recently with that free month deal. It was only after their arms got twisted to hell did they add in "Alright alright, you can also hit Legacy lvl 6 and get the free month". It's like their bleeding out so much money they can't just do the intelligent thing and give it to all the subscribed players.

Instead they went "Hey! to our loyal (lvl 50) subscribers, to thank you for your great contribution (being lvl 50) and spending your (lvl 50) $15 on us, here's a month free!"

So I wouldn't be surprised if EA saw those none-50s as "filthy", because those same casuals probably wouldn't pay out the ass for what will likely be the inevitable $30 ship-mounts EA is going to shoe-horn into the game.

Well, sure. I mean it must have looked to them like rewarding those who'd invested the most time and effort into their game; but no-one's getting the clever business gold star by cutting those most likely to leave the game out of honey.

The rest is just speculation though. If EA act like douches call them out on it. If they suck up to their investors and pass the buck then they're doing no less than any other corporate entity. Those conversations aren't directed at us. It's not like a real opportunity to rage over the next outrageous insult to our intelligence won't come along soon enough.

Look, I actually really liked the most recent Medal of Honor. I did. That said, when your MMO, which cost an unholy amount of money to to make, has the most recognizable license in entertainment, and has one of gaming's most famous developers behind it, is considered less important than a modest hit that came off a series that had a dismal streak of bad-to-mediocre games for some years before, than you might be in bit more trouble than you realize.

Just saying.

gmaverick019:

Andronicus:

Freechoice:

Why the fuck do you wanna misspell it?

We could ask the same about Americans

the whole damn english language is adaptations and misspellings from other languages... way to turn this into a nationality issue.

although, to be quaint, this is an american based website, if you really wanna nitpick, it's gonna be honor.

(although the prick you quoted probably didn't realize most words are spelled different across seas, rather than all english being the same.)

HEY THANKS, BUDDY.

And I'm not the one who started it.

This is the one that started it.

Grey Carter:
"And as the service evolves from here, what we're seeing is that some of the initial casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and decided not to subscribe to the game."

I am a hardcore gamer, maybe a terrible one but just by sheer ammount and kind of titles that i play there is no way to avoid being hardcore and somewhat good at it. Played their game, saw the lack of content, of gameplay, of PvP design, of challenge...

I really wanted to play more than a month, but there was absolutely no motivation to keep me going. It is a nice MMO, one that messure up well against an 8 year old MMO having a couple of things done better than vanilla launch WoW and a couple worse, but being a 2011 MMO? Seems like crap, even Rift seemed to have better grasp of the MMO mechanics.

Ohh well, to wait till that beta of the secret world opens up or we get another GW 2 weekend. Might even try Tera if i grow bored.

Anyway, this is the thing that makes me say ToR is a nice game but a shit MMO: If it was done as a single player continuation of the previous ones, adding a party of 3 bots for flashpoints, what of value would be lost?

Grey Carter:
You're making the assumption that appealing to casual players is as simple as making the game accessible and easy. That's part of the equation, sure, but some games just have a certain mass appeal that crosses traditional demographic boundaries. A huge part of WoW's success lies in its ability to pull in non-gamers.

+ 1 rep with me Carter, I have seen a lot of WoW players that are non-gamers. Great insight :P

And you know what? Most of the time those guys were there for social reasons, trying to focus on the multiplayer part of your MMO seems to be more important than on doing a good albeit short single player campaing.

Beautiful End:

How does the box art for Medal of Honor look in the UK? Does it read "Medal of Honour"? In this instance, adding a U WOULD be misspelling it unless it looks different.

In the case of Medal of Honor, it's a proper noun (based, obviously off the American commendation by the same name). Thus it retains the Americanised spelling rather than the proper Queen's English None-U-Hating Original Flavour. See?

Going by the previous thread on this subject, TOR suffers from a lack of endgame content ("less than vanilla WoW"). Surely it'd make more sense if it were the 'hardcore' gamers who were leaving out of boredom with the game, while 'casuals' were still chugging along steadily to level cap?

Edit: And as for WoW's appeal to 'casuals', I think it worth noting that Mists of Pandaria is adding a pet battle system (essentially Pokémon) and a farming faction (likely targetted towards Farmville audiences) - along with the standar fare of new PvP gear, new talents, a new race, a new class, a new continent, world bosses, raid bosses...

Yeah, you get the picture. Not trying to fellate it here (though I'm sure it comes off that way), just trying to point out that Blizzard have no issue with embracing the more casual players and offering familiar, casual-friendly mechanics even to those who perhaps don't enjoy the WoW PvP/PvE/RP scene.

I think the nickname I heard of "TORtanic" is infinitely appropriate here.

Watching this is kind of like the Titanic, but with huge denial issues. Captain EA is standing on the bridge going "Yep, everything is A-Ok! No problems in sight!" while First Mate Bioware nods and agrees and tells anyone who disagrees with them that they "just don't understand" and should accept it as fine.

Meanwhile there is a gaping hole in the side of the ship and 400,000 passengers have already thrown themselves overboard and are swimming away.

Amnestic:

Beautiful End:

How does the box art for Medal of Honor look in the UK? Does it read "Medal of Honour"? In this instance, adding a U WOULD be misspelling it unless it looks different.

In the case of Medal of Honor, it's a proper noun (based, obviously off the American commendation by the same name). Thus it retains the Americanised spelling rather than the proper Queen's English None-U-Hating Original Flavour. See?

Yeah, that was my question. I was wondering if the cover art read "Medal of Honour" in England. But I guess it doesn't. So yeah, I'd say in this instance, it is "Medal of Honor". The word Honor/Honour itself is a difference story.

Staying off topic ftw! *Stops that*

This article made me laugh and cry at the same time O.o

SWTOR has lost much more than 400k subs. If you look at this from a realistic point of view, you'll see where I'm going.

BW/EA claims that they sold well over 2million copies of the game therefore the game had at least 2 million free months subs. In In early 2012 they reported that they had 1,7million active accounts. That mean at that point they already lost about 500k player.

Now after this statement the game kept selling (probably not as good as in the first few weeks but still. Let's say they have sold 400k copies since the announcement of the 1,7million subs. That would mean that they either lost a lot of the old customers that bought the game in december or january or that many of the people that bought the game later on left the game pretty quickly.

Anyway I'd rather say the game lost way more than just 400k players, but they aren't counting the people that bought the game and left it right afterwards. I think they lost about 800k customers.

Btw. I left the game, but I don't really consider myself as casual.

Grey Carter:

Halvhir:

Of course, that cross-market, casual-appeal is exactly what's kept World of Warcraft chugging along for the past decade like some kind of terrifying, money-vomiting energizer bunny.

I disagree with this. The only thing that's kept World of Warcraft "chugging along" for this long at this point is inertia, plain and simple. For a long while, they were the best product on the market. During that time they built up 7+ years of content and a truly massive player base who have invested hundreds of dollars and countless man-hours into their characters.

Games like SW:TOR are not fighting WoW's inherent casual appeal; TOR has a bunch of the same things that WoW has that are newbie and casual friendly. I'd say even more so, having played it for a couple months, with every jedi, bounty hunter, etc having a customizable NPC buddy to make solo content even easier. WoW just has so much more stuff and more people that people who actually want to play MMOs would rather play WoW. The years of practice delivering content updates doesn't hurt either.

You're making the assumption that appealing to casual players is as simple as making the game accessible and easy. That's part of the equation, sure, but some games just have a certain mass appeal that crosses traditional demographic boundaries. A huge part of WoW's success lies in its ability to pull in non-gamers.

I guess there I'd take issue with calling anyone who throws down the money to play World of Warcraft a "non-gamer", aside from the extreme example of people who have never owned a console or installed a game on their PC trying it out for the first time. By the time they've played a month or three, if they've put any time into it at all they already qualify for the gamer tag in my book. A matter of personal definitions, I suppose.

I'm still not sure that WoW has anything innately more appealing than the other MMOs on the market that aren't attributed to it's long history or sheer numbers of players. Granted those count for a lot, including the refinement of the hotkey combat, the reams of lore to draw on for storylines, the numerous alternative progression paths (fishing, archeology, PVP, legendaries, seasonal events, etc) and the invaluable experience in designing interesting raid encounters, knowing what people want in expansions, balancing classes, keeping their servers happy, rooting out bugs and so on.

So... I guess I'm asking where you think that ability lies. Because I'd argue it's not inherent in the questing, combat, storyline or initial fanbase. You play WoW because your friends play WoW, WoW lets you play with your friends, and WoW keeps expanding and improving enough to still be fun to play.

The casuals are leaving? The remaining people not as many as you had hoped? Maybe you shouldn't have tried to ape a game that people are already tired of, then. People have been saying for a while now, but if you make a game that can be described as "like World of Warcraft, but," then you are not going to be able to hold many subscribers beyond the first couple of months, after which a lot of people are just going to go back to the game they've already invested years into.

Hell, even a proper space combat game would have been enough to keep me on board. Instead we got a substandard Starfox clone.

this is the same captivating environment that star wars galaxies managed to completely bomb to death, right? the one that couldn't save the game after the long series of bad decisions

just making sure it's the same thing that you're claiming is the core to your success, that's all

Hrrm...
February to May...
I'm thinking ME3 might have had something to do with this.

No, I'm not saying its responsible for it all. TOR has its own problems that are bringing it down. However, I know a number of people who instantly quit TOR after the ME3 fiasco, as they were only really playing it to support Bioware anyway, and no longer wanted to do so, whilst others were just that disgusted by Bioware's attitude that they couldn't enjoy the game any more.

Now, how long till it goes FTP? I know there are bets on this, but has anyone decided to change their answer?

people stopped because it was feeling like a sp experience. and after that, people were done with it like most sp games. it was a fun game, but there was not enough to do to keep it playing.

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