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Subscriber loss surprised some

There a lot of people in the gaming and Star Wars communities, and they were really excited when EA announced about a year ago that it was investing $80 million into a Star Wars themed MMORPG. That game launched as Star Wars: The Old Republic and racked up a large number of users very quickly. It appears that the popularity of the game may be cooling.
According to EA, the game had 1.3 million subscribers at the end of April. At the end of February, the game had 1.7 million subscribers. The reduction coincides with the game's launch in the Asia-Pacific region. Star Wars: TOR comes with a free month subscription so some subscriber fall off was expected shortly after the launch, but the number of losses has surprised many.
EA maintains that the subscriber drop-off is consistent with its projections. Subscriber losses being consistent still didn't prevent EA's shares from dropping as much as 10% in after-hours trading. According to EA interim CFO Peter Moore, "a substantial portion of the decrease [was] due to casual and trial players cycling out of the subscriber base, driving up the overall percentage of paying subscribers."
Casual gamers tend to drop out and stop playing when their free month subscription is over. EA is talking about plans to keep paying customers paying with character expansions and more. EA CEO John Riccitiello counters that the MMORPG is one of the company's top 10 profitable titles. 
"It's a business contributor, while important, is not as important as Medal of Honour or Battlefield or FIFA or Madden or The Sims or SimCity," he said.
Many think competition in the MMORPG sector will only get more intense with the announcement that The Elder Scrolls Online is coming next year. 

Source: BBC

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Not Just Casual
By Flunk on 5/11/2012 10:04:20 AM , Rating: 5
I think the biggest issue with SWTOR has nothing to do with casual players. I think they've failed to engage the hardcore players. So far the longest I have ever played one MMO was 8 years (not continuously but spread out over 11 years) so I consider myself fairly hardcore.

I quit last month, along with everyone else I was playing who hadn't already quit in the preceding months all of whom have played many MMOs for a very long time.

Once you get to 50 the game is essentially over, there are a few high end instances that get old really fast and PvP is a really repetitive minigame.

Well, that's my rant. I don't expect I will ever go back.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Etsp on 5/11/2012 10:25:36 AM , Rating: 2
WoW at least had MC at launch, that and UBRS. Not really a lot of different content, but it was something. MC took a long time to get old because it took a long time to do. I haven't played SW:TOR, as it is an EA game, but if it doesn't even have anything for end-game players, I'm even more happy that I didn't buy it.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Blight AC on 5/11/2012 11:13:43 AM , Rating: 3
There are end game Raids, they're called Operations. There are 3 of them I believe currently. I think one of the problems is that it copied WoW a little too closely. So, people who were burnt out on WoW that tried SWTOR, found it easy to get burnt out on SWTOR.

For me, the PvP was what I was enjoying the most, and that just became frustrating. I hate the Voidstar map, but seemed to be dropped in it too often. There were also other frustrations with PvP.

Guild Wars 2 is going to have persistent (for 2 weeks at a time at least) PvP that I'm looking forward to. So, that's my next great hope, and I think of lot of people frustrated with SWTOR seem to be looking forward to GW2 as well.

Overall though, over a million subscribers for SWTOR isn't bad and the game has potential. The Single player stuff is solid the first time through, but can get repetitive.

They just released it too early, and need more development time. After a year it might be a great game, but they may of also already lost a lot of hard core gamers that won't come back to it.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Reclaimer77 on 5/11/2012 12:27:43 PM , Rating: 2
There are end game Raids, they're called Operations. There are 3 of them I believe currently. I think one of the problems is that it copied WoW a little too closely. So, people who were burnt out on WoW that tried SWTOR, found it easy to get burnt out on SWTOR.

This happened to me. I was really tired of WOW and quit it to play SWtor. I was REALLY into the game for a few months but it just failed to capture my interest. I wanted it to be less like WoW, and more like Star Wars Galaxies . After playing WoW for so long, the idea of having to do the exact same things all over again was just really unappealing.

Also, it must be said, they utterly failed to balance Force using classes against non Force users. Or even make them half as interesting. Non Force users feel more like an afterthought. It's a REALLY common misconception to assume everyone associates Star Wars with lightsaberes and Jedi or craves that play-style.

RE: Not Just Casual
By FITCamaro on 5/12/2012 12:42:48 AM , Rating: 2
Non-Force classes are just as powerful as force using classes in the game.

RE: Not Just Casual
By abhaxus on 5/12/2012 8:49:19 AM , Rating: 2
My operative will dominate any class in the game much more easily than my sorc 1v1. Saying force users have the advantage is definitely not true. Now with gear force users have more choices for a custom look because they get to change the color of their sabers.

The loss of subscribers is much worse than 25% on my server. They gave away a free month and we are still down to about 25% of what we had a month ago.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Reclaimer77 on 5/12/2012 1:18:41 PM , Rating: 2
They must have nerfed Sorcerer then. Because when I was playing literally 8 out of every 10 Imperials rolled a Sorcerer and for damn good reason. An Operative wasn't "dominating" jack.

But I'm not just talking about class balance. The entire game is just WAY focused and centered around Jedi/Sith. There's way too many of them in the game, it's just absurd. Star Wars is just better when Jedi and Sith are rare, like SWG. When they are everywhere at all times like in the Star Wars Prequels, the allure of them being special and nearly mystical gets destroyed.

My first raid in SWtor I'll never forget the sound of dozens of lightsabers waving around. That's literally all you can hear because nearly EVERYONE is a Sith or Jedi. It made for just a silly experience and nowhere near as "epic" as boss fights in WoW.

Mediocre. That's the best word for SWtor. It does some things really good, but most of those were just cloned from WoW. The things it does really GREAT, feels more like a single player KOTOR style game.

SWtor feels like a mix between a really great single player RPG, and a really mediocre MMO with not nearly enough content and diversity.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Theoz on 5/11/2012 1:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
I couldn't agree more. I was off of WoW for 2 years at the SWTOR launch and got burned out pretty quickly with SWTOR due to the similarities and the unfinished state. I liked the PVP a lot, but there wasn't enough depth to the gameplay to keep me around. Just put in my preorder for GW2 the other day and am looking foward to the PVP.

RE: Not Just Casual
By TSS on 5/11/2012 6:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, Everquest had 1 million subscribers, which was the biggest MMO by far before WoW came along. Enough MMO's of yore could persist on 50,000 subscribers or less (don't know if SWTOR's server architecture is efficient enough for that though). So it aint so bad. Even as a WoW clone.

I don't like GW2 either. I'm sorry but it looks and feels like WoW to me, with "manual" aiming as a gimmick (i say gimmick because the AoE's will nuffify the effect). Levels on gear just means gear will be more important then the character (= stats, not skill), which means people will still focus on gearscore instead of getting better.

The characters are far too hard to kill (punching bags), and the fallen down mechanic's ridicolous. Know how we used to save teammates? By not letting them get killed in the first place. All you're doing is denying fair kills. Which mind you is indicative of the casual player mindset, or, having a correcting mechanic for the inevitable death casual players will incur, since those have no desire to get better and avoid death what so ever (one of the few things WoW taught me). This gives the experienced player a chance to save their asses, or they can save their own ass by, guess what, button mashing (derp).

Aside from planetside 2, just talking RPG wise, i'd pay for a baldurs gate type RPG in MMO form. Something that takes some damn adaptability instead of just pushing buttons. Even if you ignore AoE and go with the manual aiming arguement for GW2, So far i've seen no footage that has anybody doing anything else then whacking away and using abilities on cooldown, after an initial rotation. Atleast in neverwinter nights, when all else failed, i could transform into a huge dragon.

Oh, and the upcomming "Neverwinter" by cryptic doesn't count. They've been flagshipping games ever since champions online and even allow gambling (in STO, cardassian lockboxes, drop from mobs, key costs 100 cryptic points, officer duty pack which costs 220 cryptic points can drop from those lockboxes, as well as a rare ship to incentivise the gambling) so i'm NEVER buying games from them again. I have full faith they will screw up the neverwinter legacy as well.

RE: Not Just Casual
By rburnham on 5/11/2012 10:46:39 AM , Rating: 2
SWTOR failed to capture the sense of exploring a living world that we had in SWG, EQ, WoW and most other MMOs. SWTOR felt more like a game that was meant for single players with the MMO element tacked on. I really wanted to love this game, but it got boring. Maybe they should have just given us KOTOR3 like we wanted in the first place.

RE: Not Just Casual
By JediJeb on 5/11/2012 11:03:35 AM , Rating: 1
I played Star Wars Galaxies and when reading up on SWTOR decided it would not be for me. After having friends who did try it tell me more about it I was glad I never even started it. The sandbox of Galaxies was the best, you could do something different almost every time you logged on and the content was pretty much made up by the players instead of just walking through some short story and repeating. I switched to playing the SWG Emulator that is based on the very first version which had the most players in the beginning and is so much better than anything I have ever tried before or since. All professions allow you to mix and match what you want from any class, you can be a medic/rifleman or an entertainer/scout or any combination you wish. I just hope the get the space portion finished soon, that was the best part ever.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Reclaimer77 on 5/13/12, Rating: 0
RE: Not Just Casual
By frozentundra123456 on 5/11/2012 12:31:54 PM , Rating: 2
My vote for KOTOR 3 too. A real shame that the franchise died. (No, I dont consider TOR really related to the true KOTOR single player games. It is an MMO, set in a different time period, and cannot possible bring closure to the questions left open at the end of KOTOR 2).

Sad really. Seems like Bioware hasn't had a game with a good ending since KOTOR 1 actually. They just seem to have to have some morally ambiguous ending that leaves everything up in the air.

RE: Not Just Casual
By masamasa on 5/11/2012 11:24:29 AM , Rating: 2
I would agree. Unfortunately, the game is simply too boring, too much of the same old same old.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Sazabi19 on 5/11/2012 11:53:06 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, the PVP was worthless to the best. I played it to get away from the closed environments I was in and found that after an instance I wanted nothing more than turn off my game and play something else. I really tried to like it and played for 2 months, but there was just such a lack of anything holding me there that I cancelled and won't be going back. The new "expansion" is not worth it, nor would new classes or even a new system you could explore. For me at least.

RE: Not Just Casual
By Sazabi19 on 5/11/2012 11:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
I thought it looked nice and I always liked SW, not a HUGE diehard or anything but I liked the movies and most of the games. I got this and thought, well I can try it for a month for free and if I don't like it I will stop. Honestly I think $60 just to try is a bit too much money, I think it should have a free month then you can buy it (trial period). Also, there is a "free" month, but you HAVE to buy at least 1 month in order to use that month (you have to have your CC on file and charged for 1 month, then you play that and THEN play your free month, no matter what you are paying $75 for this, no other option). I found the game so incredibly repetitive that I got tired of it within the 1st month but decided to try to stick it out and see if it got better, not for me; The game somehow seems... oddly primitive. I played (don't laugh) Runecape for about 6 years, 9 off and on (still go on for nostalgia) and that is by no means an awesome game (graphically, mechanically, almost anything) but I personally find it more fun and engaging. I would love for more games to have an actual demo/trial before you had to pay, like WoW. I don't play Wow, but I like the fact that there is an option to where I can try it and see if I like it. I don't honestly see this game lasting very long.

RE: Not Just Casual
By TSS on 5/11/2012 5:48:55 PM , Rating: 2
That's because even WoW was designed for hardcore players, the hardcore Diablo 2/warcraft lore player base, as well as hardcore players from other MMO's like everquest. It was blizzard's fanbase that pulled in more casual gamers which pulled in more casual gamers which made WoW what it is today.

Just consider this: Vanilla WoW, took 3 weeks to level to max level from scratch. I did it in TBC in ~2 weeks. In wrath, i leveled a char to 80 under a week. Casual players don't have alot of time to spend, so the feeling of progression has to happen faster to retain attention.

Because of the casual gamer market being so much larger then the hardcore gamer's market (by atleast 6 fold at this point), everybody started designing for this market and trying to copy WoW's succes. This has lead to an oversaturation of the market. Now with the free to play model being accepted, subscription MMO's will simply die out or return to everquest proportions (<1 million), since that is the size of the hardcore gamer market. If they aren't designed for this market, they will simply die out. SWTOR went for this model too late, had they launched 5 years ago it would've been a roaring succes.

The negative of this is the hardcore gamer market has been fragmented to such a degree that it's hard to count on anything above 100,000 hardcore players, and thus for me to have a good game in any game. Though planetside 2 is a small beacon of light in the future. I can still remember the 250vs250vs200 battle i once fought in 1, and that's a decade ago now (go try that in WoW. Exactly. That's why i bitch).

RE: Not Just Casual
By Mogster on 5/12/2012 4:32:55 PM , Rating: 2
I get the impression that the game wasn't really designed for hardcore players, and they didn't expect so many people to rush to 50 and expect a strong endgame so soon. The main focus of the game seems to be the class stories (which are amazing for the most part.) It has strong roots in KotOR, and it really shows in the quest design.

It may sound backwards, but I think Bioware needs to do something to encourage people to slow down and go thru more of the planetary questlines and sidequests. We all love to ding, but players who just rush to 50 and skip all this stuff are really doing themselves a disservice. It's just not that kind of game.

RE: Not Just Casual
By mulethree on 5/14/2012 7:56:50 PM , Rating: 2
"According to EA, the game had 1.3 million subscribers at the end of April. At the end of February, the game had 1.7 million subscribers. The reduction coincides with the game's launch in the Asia-Pacific region. "

So they dropped > -400K subscriptions +addition of Asias = -400k

Maybe thats accurate since they don't post how many were added in asia.

Players online was way-WAY down by March to the point that you had less than 10 players per planet and couldn't make a PVP warzone except during prime-time.

The number of on-line players in March was off at least 50% vs early January - tho presumably they didn't all cancel their subscriptions and some of them are still being charged despite not playing any more.

I knew something was wrong the minute the game - which included 30 days in its purchase - wouldn't let me play until I provided a way to charge me for the 31st day.

I played EQ for many years - alts, raiding guilds, pvp guilds and it takes a lot of content to carry users thru a year and most of it is max-level content. This game had been hyped for 4+ years yet was still missing vital systems like voice-comms, guild tools, charachter-look customization and LFG tools. Stuff other games have had for years and years. Its 16-players-at a time engine limit and lack of a combat logfile are very revealing that they never intended to have end-game content or support hard-core players.

These guys put 80% into the first 49 levels and 20% to level 50 stuff - they needed 4x the level50 content - or better repeatability of the 1-49 stuff. More locations to go at level 20? Some way to bypass the grind (repeated questlines) when you level an alt?

There are like 8 main questlines which were the best part of the game. I only saw 2.5 of them because the quests outside the class questlines were so terribly boring. I leveled one Imperial to 50, then one Republican, but subsequent attempts ended up with needing 4 more levels before I could continue the class quest but the available questlines and broken PVP just made me want to logoff instead of grind out the levels.

And of course the first Imperial toon put a lot into his crafting but then couldn't make stuff for the republican 2nd character? The 2 sides can't mail or message each other or belong to the same guild - bad.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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