How can EA save Star Wars: The Old Republic after losing 400,000 players in two months?

star wars the old republic loses 400000 players in two months 400 000

Electronic Arts is in a state of flux. The company that Markus “Notch” Persson, creator of Minecraft, called a “bunch of cynical bastards” that are “methodically destroying” video games is trying to find its place in a medium that is changing. EA is turning further away from massive productions that cost upward of $200 million to produce and on to smaller titles in the mobile and social spaces.

What EA game cost $200 million to produce? Star Wars: The Old Republic. The MMO took six years to develop, with a staff of 800 people working on four continents to see the game to completion. Was it worth the gamble? Back in February, 1.7 million players were exploring the galaxy together. These were active subscribers too, the players EA is banking on for revenue each month. That population is in steep decline though. EA announced during its fiscal year earnings report on Monday that Star Wars’ membership has fallen to 1.3 million.

By Electronic Arts’ estimation, that’s more than double the number of subscribers it needs to make The Old Republic profitable. The publisher claimed just after the game’s release in December that it needed to retain 500,000 subscribers to make Star Wars: The Old Republic profitable. EA has already lost 400,000 subscribers over the course of just two months though. Right now, profitability on the game means staunching the flow of blood.

When Star Wars: The Old Republic went into development, the business and art of MMOs was very different. World of Warcraft was still just ramping up in 2006, making Blizzard the face of online gaming success (not to mention an attractive acquisition target for Activision, who merged with Blizzard a year later.) There was no question of how to retain players willing to spend $15 per month to play the game, because there was no alternative at that point. Few online RPGs were free to play, and those that were partially free, like Sony Online Entertainment’s ailing Everquest II, were only open out of desperation.

World of Warcraft didn’t even hit its subscriber peak until December 2010, but in the nearly eighteen months since, its population has been slowly shrinking. Star Wars: The Old Republic released in an environment where, even if its Bioware-crafted narrative ambitions were new amongst MMOs, it looked like WoW, played like WoW, and more significantly, cost what WoW did back in 2006.

EA knows the writing is on the wall. If its game is going to survive beyond 2012, it needs to fundamentally change its business model. It needs to also accept the fact that The Old Republic will never, under any circumstances, reach the over 12 million subscribers Warcraft did at its height. The company has learned how to adapt though. Rest assured that Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a different game by 2013.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Tricked-out e-scooters and bike lights that lock

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!
Buying Guides

The best PlayStation 4 exclusives you can get right now

The PlayStation 4's game library and an incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Gaming

Microsoft Project xCloud will support all current and future Xbox One games

Microsoft's Project xCloud video game streaming service will support all current and future Xbox titles. This includes more than 3,500 games for the Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One, and more than 1,900 future games for the Xbox One.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

Overwatch League Commissioner Nate Nanzer moves to Epic Games, Fortnite esports

Nate Nanzer, the founding commissioner of the Overwatch League, will be leaving his post to join Epic Games and oversee competitive Fortnite. Nanzer will be inheriting a robust esports scene, but one besieged by cheating.
Gaming

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night DLC stirs controversy for Kickstarter backers

The post-launch DLC for Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has been revealed. The $10 Iga's Back Pack DLC that will allow players to earn the Swordwhip weapon, however, has stirred controversy among the game's Kickstarter backers.
Gaming

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will focus on troubling, realistic emotions

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is reportedly the title for this year's entry in the series. The game is also said to draw inspiration from the controversial No Russian level of 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Gaming

The best Nintendo Switch games, from Breath of the Wild to Rocket League

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Deals

Dell drops huge savings on XPS and Alienware gaming laptops for Memorial Day

We've seen a lot of different Memorial Day sales come down the pipeline this week, but some of the best so far have been from Dell. With big discounts on XPS and Alienware gaming laptops, now is a great time to pick up a new computer for…
Gaming

Dauntless hits 5 million players in first week; Phoenix Labs tries to keep up

Dauntless suffered from matchmaking problems and server issues in its first days after launch. Things have started getting better for the Monster Hunter: World challenger though, as the game surpassed 5 million players in its first week.
Gaming

Cyberpunk 2077 development at full speed, but still not playable at E3 2019

The development of Cyberpunk 2077 is at "full speed," but it will not yet be playable at E3 2019. CD Projekt Red's president, meanwhile, opened the possibility that the game's release date will finally be revealed at the annual event.
Deals

PS4 Dualshock 4 wireless controllers get Memorial Day price cuts from Walmart

The standard black PS4 controller is what usually comes with the console itself, but if you want to add something a bit more customized your gaming experience, Walmart is offering a wide variety of colorful DualShock 4 controllers at…
Gaming

Square Enix may tease long-awaited The Avengers Project at E3 2019

Marvel and Square Enix formed a multi-game partnership in January 2017, starting with The Avengers Project. Nothing has been heard since about it, but Square Enix may be teasing the presence of The Avengers Project at E3 2019.