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.


From NES to PlayStation, retro gaming is booming. But will it last?

Everyone craves the good old days, and companies like Nintendo and Sony are cashing in with their mini versions of beloved retro consoles. But is this fad built to last or will our fixation with pixelated graphics come and go like mom…

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.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

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 everyone.

Everything we know about 'Anthem', including new details on Javelin classes

BioWare announced an upcoming action role-playing game called 'Anthem' at EA Play 2017. Here's everything we know about the game so far, including gameplay, DLC, and when you'll be able to play it.

The best free-to-play games you can play right now

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.

‘Blockchain gaming’ startup gets $16 million in Series A funding

A gaming startup, Mythical Games, has raised $16 million in Series A funding to work on their concept of blockchain gaming. The aim is for the startup to develop games for the PC, console, and mobile markets.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

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 sure is fun to gawk!

‘Fortnite’ named Ultimate Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick awards

This year's Golden Joysticks, the gaming awards handed out by GamesRadar, have been announced and Fortnite has been named the Ultimate Game of the Year. It beat out Red Dead Redemption for best game, but Red Dead was named critics' choice.

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.

‘Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers’ to launch next summer with gunblades, Viera

Square Enix revealed that Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers will be released in summer 2019. The third expansion of the MMORPG will include new story content, dungeons, and raids, in addition to gunblades and the Viera.

The Fix PUBG campaign is over: What’s next for ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’?

The PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds development team declared that the Fix PUBG campaign was over. Here are the results of the three-month campaign, as well as the future plans for the multiplayer Battle Royale shooter.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

All the best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…

Get an Xbox One S or PlayStation 4 for just $200 at GameStop starting Sunday

GameStop is currently running an early Black Friday sale that offers an Xbox One S or a PlayStation 4 slim model for just $200 apiece. Both consoles come with a free game, and other games are also on sale.