Last week’s announcement of Star Wars: The Old Republic going Free to Play was something that came out of EA’s Q1 2013 Earnings Conference Call. Now the whole transcript of that call is available, and we can see in EA’s own words about what happened with The Old Republic and why the game is now going Free to Play.
On TOR’s Performance:
“The disappointing results of Star Wars – The Old Republic were largely offset by a powerful performance from Battlefield 3 premium service”
This part is very interesting. The Battlefield 3 Premium service is $50 and is basically a clone of CoD: Elite. It’s interesting that enough people subscribed to that in order to offset the “disappointing results” of Star Wars…
TOR will affect EA’s outlook:
“We are lowering the midpoint of our guidance from $4.3 billion to reflect current exchange rates and lower expectations of Star Wars. “
EA was probably really counting on Star Wars being the next World of Warcraft if they have to adjust their outlook like that.
Although it launched well, subscriptions have been on a declining trajectory and have now slipped below 1 million. Last year we announced that the breakeven point was roughly 500,000 subscribers. While we are well above that today, that is not good enough. The message from players exiting the game is clear — 40% say they were turned off by the monthly subscription, and many indicate they would come back if we offer a free-to-play model.
Again, it’s interesting that people would fork out $50 for a Battlefield 3 map pack subscription over a $15 a month TOR subscription. The game has other issues well beyond just a subscription fee. Just flipping it free to play won’t fix those, and firing half the development team won’t either.