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The sky isn't falling. A numbers based view.

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > General Discussion
The sky isn't falling. A numbers based view.

Tim-ONeil's Avatar


Tim-ONeil
10.25.2012 , 07:12 PM | #1
I'm starting this thread as a place to discuss the state of the game while keeping things in perspective without employing excessive hyperbole to make my point. I hope it can generate a good discussion.


The Truth in Numbers


It is only fair to judge a game to it's direct competition. This is an attempt to do that based on the information available to us. After viewing the data we can then extrapolate from there.

This is the information we have to use in this endeavor. You can debate the validity of the info (some of it is dated) but it's all we have otherwise the debate is pointless and turns into an opinion based debate rather than a fact based one. There has to be a base foundation in which you can make a deduction. An updated chart is on the way and at that point we can reassess.

http://www.mmodata.net/

How many subscribers does SWTOR have? Per EA SWTOR has between 1 million and 500k. This number will be updated at the EA shareholders meeting at the end of the month. The human mind tends to latch onto the negative immediately when ever a projection is given. Depending on your POV you'll choose a number in that range that fits your mindset, however for these purposes the range itself is fine.

Since SWTOR does not have a eastern (China) based operation this is only a comparison of western players where the numbers allow the distinction to be made. Additionally games that do not have a subscription based model are not compared here. They do not release numbers of active accounts and having played the game only once you would be a subscriber for life essentially. While they can be compared for game play elements their financial models are completely different and not a part of the scope of this discussion.


Direct MMO competitors with a subscription or subscription + F2P model (Western Subscription numbers only):

World of Warcraft has ~5.1 million players
SWTOR has between 1mil-500k players.
Eve Online has ~350k players.
LOTOR has ~250k players.
Rift has ~250k players.
Star Trek Online has less than ~60k players.
SWG had under 30k players before the sunsetting announcement.

The outlier is of course WoW with over 6.5 million subs no surprise there. Otherwise SWTOR is solidly the industry number two when compared to it's peers with similar payment access models.


Retention, It's all about perspective


Immediately the focus then shifts to what about the subscription retention numbers? In order to give something weight it has to have a viable comparison. Next let's examine all of the MMOs with the same payment access model that have come on to the scene in the last 4 years. This comparison will start in 2008 because from 2008 to the present the market conditions and number of existing games illustrates the current market saturation of MMOs. Additionally 2008 represents the start of the rapid decline in the US economy. Not accounting for this would be illogical.

These will be based on a peak subscriptions number as high number for retention as box sales do not exist for all of these games specifically broken down to the first year sales. The comparison has to be equal for it to be worth considering. If actual date including box sales can be obtained this will be amended to show those numbers.

Retention Rate of Direct MMO competitors with a subscription or subscription + F2P model since 2008 over a 1 year period:

STO: 107k to 58k. (54% Retention Rate)
SWTOR: 1.7 million to 1 million- 500k. (59%-29% Retention Rate -Median is 45%)
RIFT: 600k to 248k. (41% Retention Rate)
Warhammer Online: 800k to 175k. (22% Retention Rate)
Age of Conan: 700k to 110k. (15% Retention Rate)

Clearly we can see the trend of newly released MMO's with a similar payment model has taken quite a hit since 2008. STO doesn't have a player base anywhere near the other games but has apparently carved out a loyal niche during their first year. SWTOR is on par with the average when compared with it's recently released peers. The new release of SWTOR subscription numbers next week will paint a better picture.


Summary and Conclusion


Based on the information presented we can draw several conclusions.

1. SWTOR is the #2 game in the MMO market when compared to other games with a Subscription or Subscription + F2P model.

2. SWTOR's subscription retention rate is typical of the trend all MMO's released within the last 4 years that share the same payment access model.


Having viewed the data the question is obvious, why does the gaming community that pays for SWTOR continue to tout it as a failure? Unrealistic expectations that the game would just go up and up and up in terms of subscription numbers. That trend isn't realistic based on the data.

Expectations are set by people. That is an important thing to consider. SWTOR isn't a living entity so the game itself never said it was going to be a WoW killer, you will not find a single interview prior to launch with anyone from Bioware stating they believed they had the next WoW killer on their hands. We set those expectations ourselves. Speculating on EA's motives is also pointless endeavor, as a business they internally have to hope any game they sell has blockbuster potential.

If SWTOR is a failure then all other games with the exception of WoW are failures as MMO's that use a subscription or subscription + F2P model. Objectively people may have expected more from the title in the first year but it performed on par with it's directly comparable competition.

If leveraged correctly SWTOR can increase it's #2 market share position with the F2P release. It is not unrealistic to expect growth going forward with this new model as the charts show the game that grew adopted the F2P service.

Change log:
10.26.12: Updated WoW's current subscriber numbers to reflect the chart referenced. I mistakenly pulled the China numbers originally.

Disclaimer: We can never be 100% accurate with any of this and you should already know that. Where possible the most accurate and available datapoints have been used for the time frames under consideration. Companies do not have to give us the information unless they are publicly traded and even then it can be vague. Accepting this as the medium we have to work in then you can still draw conclusions from the data. This will ALWAYS be more accurate than feelings based discussion. Conversely you can state that this can never be 100% accurately assessed therefore is worthless and move on. I don't believe that is logical however.

**** I will gladly update and revise this based on any new or more reliable data that can be obtained. ****
Rhy Phin
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UberDuberSoldat's Avatar


UberDuberSoldat
10.25.2012 , 07:23 PM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by Tim-ONeil View Post
If SWTOR is a failure then all other games with the exception of WoW are failures
This is the only thing the Media will ever see regarding MMOs until WoW is dethroned.
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denpic's Avatar


denpic
10.25.2012 , 07:25 PM | #3
Well the sky is falling on the APAC servers
The population is to low on the pvp server which is ruining the mmo experience we are paying for
Other than this glaring important issue the game is great
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Imhotep's Avatar


Imhotep
10.25.2012 , 07:38 PM | #4
Quote: Originally Posted by Tim-ONeil View Post
SWG had under 30k players before the sunsetting announcement.
NOOOOO but SWG was the greatest game evar!!! TOR needs to be turned into SWG2 NAO!!!!

/sarcasm off
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spectreclees
10.25.2012 , 07:40 PM | #5
If that's accurate, then the WoW decline has begun as I predicted before Pandaria release.
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KorinHyvek's Avatar


KorinHyvek
10.25.2012 , 07:45 PM | #6
I think the real concern is how much money the game is actually generating for EA, and how that compares to the development cost, but I suspect that's something they're keeping to themselves. If you can find that, though, it would lend a lot of weight to your argument.
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Tim-ONeil's Avatar


Tim-ONeil
10.25.2012 , 07:47 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by spectreclees View Post
If that's accurate, then the WoW decline has begun as I predicted before Pandaria release.
Keep in mind these numbers are western subscriber only. WoW has an even more lucrative China operation that beefs up the overall number of their subs.

If SWTOR can roll out a game to China we won't have to worry about revenue.
Rhy Phin
Kl Nemonica
The Ren Legacy Server: Ebon Hawk US/EAST

JoeeyyMagzz's Avatar


JoeeyyMagzz
10.25.2012 , 07:55 PM | #8
Quote: Originally Posted by KorinHyvek View Post
I think the real concern is how much money the game is actually generating for EA, and how that compares to the development cost, but I suspect that's something they're keeping to themselves. If you can find that, though, it would lend a lot of weight to your argument.

Somewhere I read that SWTOR would need to keep over 500k subs for over 1 year to break even; anything over that is a win for them. Just a few more months to go... With the rate of updates right now I think they will break even, especially with the Cartel Market coming to the game. It's amazing how much money people are willing to spend on a f2p game... lol

Andryah's Avatar


Andryah
10.25.2012 , 08:17 PM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Tim-ONeil View Post
I'm starting this thread as a place to discuss the state of the game while keeping things in perspective without employing excessive hyperbole to make my point. I hope it can generate a good discussion.
I've been saying essentially the same things for months now, and using MMOdata as source data (since it's the only persistent and reliable data on the MMO portfolio), so it's nice to see someone else applying thought and common sense in the face of the hyperbole hurricane.

The only comment I would add is that WoW (West) numbers shown at MMO data in the charts are rather old and do not reflect the 2M+ bleed out (admittd publicly by Blizzard)... so the 6.5 number is really about 4 (though I'm sure they got a short term pop from the expansion release, which if it follows WoW expansion trend in modern times will evaprate by January again). Basically, all publicly available data says Wow will continue to decline, which is what you expect for an aging MMO, even if it is the whale in the pond.

Quote: Originally Posted by KorinHyvek View Post
I think the real concern is how much money the game is actually generating for EA, and how that compares to the development cost, but I suspect that's something they're keeping to themselves. If you can find that, though, it would lend a lot of weight to your argument.
Let me explain why that is not really relevant. EA resizes their opeations cost (ie: labor and other resources) on their MMOs to match projected subsrcriptions. There is ample evidence of this with DaOC, and Warhammer. Factor into that that EA essentially is a box sales company more then all other aspects of their business (no matter how much they say they want it to be otherwise) and is a holding company of a diverse portfolio.... so profit margin is king to them. In other words, as long as a business line continues to meet profit margin requirements, even though it may be less in total dollars then they aspire to... the business remains sound and will be continued. If you resize your operations to maintain your profit curve under reduced subscriptions... you can run an MMO game forever effectively. DaOC amply proves this.

As for development cost, as I have shared often in the forums here..... development cost is a sunk capital investment and is not part of profit analysis of an ongoing operation like an MMO. They sunk the cost over time (the years of development) and depreciated it and wrote most of it off as a tax decuction at the EA level. It does not factor into operations cost or profit margins or profit contribution at all.

Quote: Originally Posted by JoeeyyMagzz View Post
Somewhere I read that SWTOR would need to keep over 500k subs for over 1 year to break even; anything over that is a win for them. Just a few more months to go... With the rate of updates right now I think they will break even, especially with the Cartel Market coming to the game. It's amazing how much money people are willing to spend on a f2p game... lol
That was before they resized their operation in June to match projected post launch subscription levels. So it's an invalid number today. Not only that, but if they follow normal practices, they will reanalyze every six months and adjust their operations baseline up/down depending on the business projected in the coming two quarters. For example, with F2P coming in a few weeks, they will project and expect a very nice revenue bump incremental to their current revenue and will likely bump up their operations plan for 1st half of 2013. That would translate to more assets developing and releasing more content (ie: reaffirms their faster more frequent content patching).
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bloodmoon's Avatar


bloodmoon
10.25.2012 , 08:24 PM | #10
A good read thanks for all the information.