EA BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic is off to a good start, “with more than 1.7 million active subscribers and growing,” according to CEO John Riccitiello. While player churn is always a concern in MMOs, DFC Intelligence does see long-term success for the title.
The market research firm noted that The Old Republic “has the potential to be a successful long-term online subscription PC game… despite a general decline in high-end subscription game products and growing competition from numerous free-to-play games like Riot Games’ League of Legends, War Gaming’s World of Tanks, and S2 Games’ Heroes of New Earth.”
DFC, which conducted the study in conjunction with Xfire, tracked game usage data from the launch of the MMO on December 20, 2011 through February 20, 2012 and also surveyed over 4,000 Xfire users in January 2012. Based on this data, DFC believes that Star Wars can indeed reach over one million long-term paying subscribers (defined as a subscriber that pays for over six months).
“The current trend among large massively multiplayer online games is to have strong initial sales, after which users quickly lose interest and are not converted to long-term paying subscribers,” said DFC Intelligence analyst Jeremy Miller. “While early signs are fairly positive, over the next few months the plan is to closely monitor usage and consumer reaction to gauge how well Star Wars: The Old Republic performs over time.”
Miller added, “The next three to six months will be critical to determine if the game can attract a large and sustained paying subscriber base.”
DFC said that this study is part of an “ongoing initiative” with Xfire to better understand the core PC gaming market.
“The Xfire user-base is a strong trend indicator for gaming titles like Star Wars: The Old Republic and World of Warcraft,” said Xfire Chief Marketing Officer, Juston Brommel, “One of the core product features that attract gamers to Xfire is the ability for users to track their game hours. This data gives Xfire and DFC terabits of insightful trends into which games users are playing and how often.”
Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media Inc. estimates that the game has generated around $650 million since it launched less than six weeks ago.
The PC version has also sold strongly, outperforming other games by a factor of three-to-one in the month of its release.
“Skyrim is the fastest selling title in Steam’s history” said Jason Holtman, director of business development at Valve, in a statement.
“Bethesda’s commitment to and understanding of the PC as a gaming platform shows in the great review scores, spectacular launch, and continued high player numbers that Skyrim has received.”
Skyrim sold 3.5 million copies 48 hours when it launched in November. Since then, it has continued to sell strongly, despite being plagued by a number of technical issues.
Star Wars: The Old Republic will launch on December 20 in North America and December 22 in Europe.
The date was revealed by Bioware co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk during a developer session at the Eurogamer Expo.
Muzyka emphasized the importance of creating a high quality product, and finding “a good window” that would give players time to play it.
“We’re getting more and more confident too because we’ve been testing for many months now with thousands and thousands of beta testers, so we’re doing exhaustive testing of all different aspects of the service,” he said.
“Taking all that feedback to heart and integrating it in and continually making it better, so we’re getting very confident in the quality now.”
The news that Blizzard’s Diablo III – which will also be a persistent online experience – won’t launch until next year may have contributed to the decision to launch this year.
“It would make sense mutually to probably not fall on top of one another, but our primary concerns, like [Blizzard], is to launch a great game first and foremost,” Muzyka added. “If we’re steering clear of great competitors well, so much the better.”
Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley claimed that The Old Republic has a “legitimate shot” at 2 million subscribers. However, Smedley also said that it will be the last large scale MMO to use a traditional subscription business model.
“Why do I think that? Simply put, the world is moving on from this model and over time people aren’t going to accept this method. I’m sure I’m going to hear a lot about this statement. But I am positive I’m right.”
Courtesy-GI.biz by Matthew Handrahan