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Starwars - The Old Republic: 24,367 Keys Remain

Posted by Ozzallos Monday November 14 2011 at 2:56PM
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Seriously?

That little statistic was taken straight from MMORPGs very own beta offer page. I don't know what the figure originally started at (25k?) but the number of beta keys being offered is high. Absurdly high. In fact, it's so high that I don't ever recall any other game posting so many "beta" keys and still maintain the facade of beta. With a launch date of December 22, 2011, I think we can safely assume beta is all but done and even stress testing is by and large a done deal. So what does that leave us?

Marketing.

Twenty five thousand Metric Ass-tons of marketing. Bioware and Lucas Arts have taken the advertising beta to a whole new level, if not elevated it to a fine art with this tactic. How do you combine a subscription game that you're supposed to pay for at the store with the hands on word of mouth usually associated with free to play gaming? Exactly like this. You let everybody and their goddamn brother "beta" your game for a taste test, shut it off a few days before the release date (all the while enduring the 'will you delete my character?' rants in the official forum' and then hopefully sell the real release as if the game DVD were pressed into gold disks.

What am I saying? This is Starwars. Even if the game was merely World of Warcraft with Light Sabers (ahem), it would still sell like it was pressed into gold disks based on fandom alone. Normally I'd say that advertising betas- especially one of this magnitude -are a double edged sword, but here? Since the guarantee to sell is already there, an advertising beta is only icing on the cake and thus receives my Evil Genius in Marketing Runner Up Award for 2011.

It'll also be interesting to see how many of those keys actually get used between now and then as a slightly non-scientific barometer of future sales. About the only drawback I can see here is that it reeks of needy attention. It all but screams "Please, please please make our Christmas a profitable one?"

Omasu writes:

Prolific post, and as a marketer myself I can tell you it's true. However, it has backfired on numerous occasions. I bore witness to one such occasion back when they opened the doors to the recent abortion that is Final Fantasy Online. I spent over a year being excited about the game, even to the point of pre-ordering but upon trying the game in the beta I was relieved that I saved my money and devastated that it was sooo (x20) bad. 

 

Meanwhile, all a game company needs to do is to have a good strong release. The monthly subs are just the bonus round. Anyone who tells you different is a sales rep for Funcom.

Mon Nov 14 2011 11:24PM Report
Leadslinger writes:

December 20th is release, Plus MMORPG.com isn't the only one that got keys. Massively.com got 75.000 and then you have a ton of other sites. Plus everyone who was signed up before 11-11 got invited for the Thanksgiving beta. So yeah its hard to call it a beta.

Tue Nov 15 2011 12:10AM Report
whilan writes:

I think this falls right in line with the quote daniel gave a few months back about not having a traditional open beta.

What this does is allows them to semi control what numbers are being let in (by limiting entry amounts by keys)

Lots of people heard from their ears, we aren't having a traditional open beta and what got to their brain was, that the game would be under lock and key the entire time. When in fact that doesn't appear to be the case, just that they are limiting how many people get into these "betas" by using keys. But that the amount of people would be so high that it would feel more like an open beta then a closed one, but not actually be one because you would still have to secure a key and stay under NDA

Is it marketing, darn right it is, said so themselves they see "betas" like these as a try before you buy type thing. Thus full out marketing. Seriously, it's star wars, it's Bioware, it's EA, if you didn't expect full on marketing of ever single kind in grander numbers then  games that came before it, then you don't know Lucas arts and EA very well. Heck LA is the master of selling you products, they make a normal version of a movie, then a little bit later, they sell you a updated version, then a DVD version, then blu-ray, then 3D.

Be prepared to see this game everywhere as EA is in charge of marketing. This is the start of EA trying to hype the game (what you thought they did that already? nah, this is now the start of it), you'll probably see commercials on TV for it, and who knows where else.

Yes these beta phases these keys get you into are designed for two things, testing the servers, and marketing. That is all it is.

Tue Nov 15 2011 1:02AM Report
Madimorga writes:

I normally don't see betas as a free trial, but since this is a stress test just prior to release, that's how it's looking to me.  And I have no complaints whatsoever about getting to try before I buy.

Wed Nov 16 2011 11:18PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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