Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Return of the 400,000?

There is much chatter about how SWTOR has - as Azuriel cleverly put it - lost an Eve Online's worth of customers in the last quarter.  This is roughly the first half of what I predicted at the beginning of the year - high churn.  The second half of that prediction - recurring revenue as those players return to replay the game - remains to be seen. 

Bioware is looking like it now owns the fastest MMO ever to acquire a million former players (in fact, Bioware-Mythic would own the top two slots if only Warhammer had actually made it to a million in the first place).  Many of the studio's games are well known for replayability, and this appears to be no exception - two factions, and four class stories (albeit with generic content padding out the leveling curve that is shared within the faction).  If you are coming back to experience the story, having more story left to experience is a good thing. 

That said, the short term looming crisis is to stop the bleeding.  The game is still most likely the number two Western subscription MMO, but knowing that the subscriber base is dwindling that rapidly puts a lot of what we've seen in the last months - the aggressive free game time campaign, complaints of poorly populated servers and the corresponding priority to implementing character transfers and guild features - into context.  Some of the solo-replay market won't care if they come back to a largely dead server in a game that's being viewed as a sinking ship by the "core" MMO community, but Bioware definitely does not want this to continue.

1 comment:

Yeebo said...

Considered as a proportion of the playerbase, I suspect it's losing players more slowly than most MMOs that have launched recently. Six months after launch they still have more than half their peak after all.

That said, they need to do server merges badly. Even at prime-time most of the servers are light. Even a devoted soloist isn't going to stick around once they have seen all the class storylines if they haven't stumbled into a good guild by the end of them. It's also frustrating to be on a server with a dead economy, even from a solo perspective. Not being able to fill out gaps in your gear or sell items via the AH sucks.