The days of subscription-based MMOs are over, says Bigpoint CEO Heiko Hubertz.
It won’t be on shelves for months, but some people are already predicting doom for BioWare’s upcoming sci-fi MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s expected that SW:TOR will try to generate revenue through subscriptions, something that Hubertz thinks is a mistake.
Hubertz, whose company operates a number of free-to-play browser MMOs, thought that relying on subscriptions wouldn’t work for The Old Republic anymore than it did for the likes of Lord of the Rings Online or Champions Online. He also said that SW:TOR’s estimated development budget of $100 million – or $300 million, if anonymous whistleblower “The EA Louse” is to be believed – will make it very difficult to for BioWare or EA to make a profit on the game.
Presuming that Hubertz is correct in his assumption that SW:TOR will use subscriptions, it’s hard to say if his dire predictions have any validity to them or not. Earlier this week, Cryptic Studios’ head Jack Emmert said that any MMO that didn’t offer a F2P option was “skating uphill,” as World of Warcraft had essentially cornered the market on subscriptions. There’s also the cost of making the game to consider, and if the development budget is really as high as estimates suggest, then it’s going to take a long time to recoup.
On the other hand, of all the MMO’s around, SW:TOR seems the most likely to be able to make subscriptions work in the face of extreme competition from WoW. Star Wars is a massive brand, and BioWare has an excellent reputation, both of which will be instrumental in getting people to try out the game. SW:TOR has also won a number of accolades at the last two E3s’, suggesting that it might be good enough to keep people playing, which is what will really make it a success.