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News & Features Discussion  » Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Butterfly Effect

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  Stradden

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

 
OP  6/09/10 10:24:56 AM#1

In the news slow week before E3, MMORPG.com Star Wars: The Old Republic columnist Eric Barnett sets his mind to wandering about what might happen if Bioware were to take two routes that seem to be popular among developers recently: moving to a Free 2 Play model and ignoring the IP's niche in favor of a larger audience.

Due to the abundant lack of news this week in The Old Republic universe (aside from a new chapter in the Blood of the Empire comic), I'd like to play the role of chaos theorist. We've seen the F2P market creeping up on us for some time now, and it seems that many companies are starting to become the little spoon in its bed. With more companies trying to copy the "Golden Formula" of MMOs we have seen a major lull in retention and heck, over all fun. I have found myself re-subbing many old accounts just to see if I could rekindle some sort of spark, only to cancel them a few days later. Have certain games caused a ripple effect that has made studio heads worry more about quarterly revenue numbers, than the actual fun factor of their games? This week, let's take a look at how these "popular" design tactics could both positively and negatively effect The Old Republic.

Neither of these two scenarios is likely to actually turn out to be the case, but leading up to E3 where there's nothing much to talk about, it can be fun to think about.

Read The Butterfly Effect.

Cheers,
Jon Wood
Managing Editor
MMORPG.com

  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 17373

6/09/10 10:38:39 AM#2

I thougth this game was going to add a cash shop of some sort? Or perhaps it was discussed by the devs in an article?

  Athcear

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 9/19/09
Posts: 422

Never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by malice.

6/09/10 11:13:22 AM#3

"A free play model would open up the game to a much wider audience of players"

Good communities aren't always larger ones.  In fact, bloating a community tends to ruin it.  Great communities aren't filled with "instant gratification" drones and retarded monkies.  Wider audience doesn't make a game better.

Important facts:
1. Free to Play games are poorly made.
2. Casuals are not all idiots, but idiots call themselves casuals.
3. Great solo and group content are not mutually exclusive, but they suffer when one is shoved into the mold of the other. The same is true of PvP and PvE.
4. Community is more important than you think.

  Trioxic

Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/09
Posts: 67

Toxins given: mental, physical, and emotional. Bleeding is a side effect.

6/09/10 11:15:33 AM#4

If the game has no RP time and sandbox time then slap me silly put a c-store in it and call it Star Trek Online... BTW... SWG fans have been slobbering all over SW:TOR news and are waiting to be vindicated by this game if they are disappointed... it will spell disaster for Bioware and the future of Lucas Arts and mmorpg's. BAH! SOE/LA doing CWA lol... that is off topic but smacks of conspiracy with the whole SWG NGE things years back... the future is coming that if you want a real mmorpg your community may have to build it your selves... example: SWGemu project. 

  User Deleted
6/09/10 11:21:50 AM#5
Originally posted by Trioxic

If the game has no RP time and sandbox time then slap me silly put a c-store in it and call it Star Trek Online... BTW... SWG fans have been slobbering all over SW:TOR news and are waiting to be vindicated by this game if they are disappointed... it will spell disaster for Bioware and the future of Lucas Arts and mmorpg's. BAH! SOE/LA doing CWA lol... that is off topic but smacks of conspiracy with the whole SWG NGE things years back... the future is coming that if you want a real mmorpg your community may have to build it your selves... example: SWGemu project. 

I don't think Bioware are too concerned about ten or so thousand SWG fans. Most gamers do not want a sandbox, or RP features. I think you'll find SWTOR will reflect this.

  Ludipe

Tipster

Joined: 1/14/08
Posts: 109

FOR PONY!!!!

6/09/10 11:22:58 AM#6

I like the F2P idea, in the past i wouldnt have played DDO, now its one of my favourite mmorpgs and i have purchased some adventure packs.

  Caskio

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/14/07
Posts: 344

MMOs are entertainment, not lifestyles.

6/09/10 11:43:06 AM#7
Originally posted by Sovrath

I thougth this game was going to add a cash shop of some sort? Or perhaps it was discussed by the devs in an article?

Everytime the question comes up they basically say "We don't have an answer for you at this time regarding business models."  So there has been no confirmation on what TOR will use as a business model.

"If you're going to act like a noob, I'll treat you like one." -Caskio

Adventurers wear fancy pants!!!

  Teala

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/16/04
Posts: 7436

"Really officer, they're herbs."

6/09/10 11:50:01 AM#8
Originally posted by Hrothmund
Originally posted by Trioxic

If the game has no RP time and sandbox time then slap me silly put a c-store in it and call it Star Trek Online... BTW... SWG fans have been slobbering all over SW:TOR news and are waiting to be vindicated by this game if they are disappointed... it will spell disaster for Bioware and the future of Lucas Arts and mmorpg's. BAH! SOE/LA doing CWA lol... that is off topic but smacks of conspiracy with the whole SWG NGE things years back... the future is coming that if you want a real mmorpg your community may have to build it your selves... example: SWGemu project. 

I don't think Bioware are too concerned about ten or so thousand SWG fans. Most gamers do not want a sandbox, or RP features. I think you'll find SWTOR will reflect this.

So you speak for all gamers huh?

  Trioxic

Novice Member

Joined: 12/17/09
Posts: 67

Toxins given: mental, physical, and emotional. Bleeding is a side effect.

6/09/10 11:51:14 AM#9
Originally posted by Hrothmund

Originally posted by Trioxic

If the game has no RP time and sandbox time then slap me silly put a c-store in it and call it Star Trek Online... BTW... SWG fans have been slobbering all over SW:TOR news and are waiting to be vindicated by this game if they are disappointed... it will spell disaster for Bioware and the future of Lucas Arts and mmorpg's. BAH! SOE/LA doing CWA lol... that is off topic but smacks of conspiracy with the whole SWG NGE things years back... the future is coming that if you want a real mmorpg your community may have to build it your selves... example: SWGemu project. 

I don't think Bioware are too concerned about ten or so thousand SWG fans. Most gamers do not want a sandbox, or RP features. I think you'll find SWTOR will reflect this.

 

Then call it MSPOPC not and MMORPG! LOL, did you just land on earth from Mars or Venus because I think you have missed a few things over the years? LOL!!!!

  Hyanmen

Elite Member

Joined: 10/11/06
Posts: 5033

6/09/10 11:51:14 AM#10
Originally posted by Teala

So you speak for all gamers huh?

For me at least.

FF:ARR FATE grinding: People not having fun by doing something not actually intended to get to a point that doesn't really matter as fast as possible. Just so they can do the same thing over and over again to gain a piece of virtual loot.

  jiveturkey12

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/22/04
Posts: 1284

6/09/10 11:51:29 AM#11
Originally posted by Hrothmund

Originally posted by Trioxic

If the game has no RP time and sandbox time then slap me silly put a c-store in it and call it Star Trek Online... BTW... SWG fans have been slobbering all over SW:TOR news and are waiting to be vindicated by this game if they are disappointed... it will spell disaster for Bioware and the future of Lucas Arts and mmorpg's. BAH! SOE/LA doing CWA lol... that is off topic but smacks of conspiracy with the whole SWG NGE things years back... the future is coming that if you want a real mmorpg your community may have to build it your selves... example: SWGemu project. 

I don't think Bioware are too concerned about ten or so thousand SWG fans. Most gamers do not want a sandbox, or RP features. I think you'll find SWTOR will reflect this.

 

Ok first off, theres a little more than ten thousand SWG fans, there may be ten thousand VOCAL SWG fans, but theres way more out there, just look back at the old sub numbers.

 

Plus have you ever seen how many RP servers there are in WoW? And how many of them are Full all day? Have you ever been to goldshire for the all day ERP that goes on there?

 

Yea people dont like roleplaying, o yea and people hate sandbox games too, you know what in fact, people just like linear grindfests with super instanced worlds.

 

That must be why STO and CO are doing so good right? O and I bet Warhammer, Pirates, and AOC are doing great being offered on steam for 10-15 bucks right now?

Yea because everyone likes linear games!

 

No Wrong! Everyone likes WoW, thats it.

 

All the other linear games that have come out since WoW have been failures in every right. To the IP and to the fans, the only one that came close was LOTRO, but even that was too straightforward for the out of the box tolkein fans who wanted more from there game.

 

And you know what else will happen? SWTOR wont make nearly as much money as they put into it, because right now people are thinking a little more with their minds than their wallets. Most people cant afford to throw 50 bucks at a game without knowing they are going to love it.

 

Does that mean SWTOR will suck? No not in my opinion, I think the story will probably be great, and the single player aspect will be fun, and might be worth a one time purchase.

Which would be ok! IF they wernt making this game with the budget of a blockbuster MMO, which needs a constant flow of income to support itself. But only time will tell.

  godeda24

Novice Member

Joined: 9/10/07
Posts: 99

6/09/10 12:28:22 PM#12

The difference between all those games you listed and Star Wars is that those aren't anywhere near as mainstream as Star Wars. Sure Star Trek has a following but that following is not as main stream as SW. This game is made to appeal not just to MMO fans but to SW fans and it also helps that Bioware is making it since that company has sold millions of games. Both Bioware and SW fans are looking forward to this game. I personally know about 15 people from work who don't even play MMOs who plan on buying TOR. The game is appealing to both MMO players and people who don't play MMOs just because its SW.

  Kothoses

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/08/10
Posts: 688

6/09/10 1:13:48 PM#13

Funny thing ToR, it already divides opinion on forums more than even wow does, it gets talked about more than wow and it has as many people saying it will die as wow does.

 

Will ToR be a commercial success? without a doubt, I would go as far as to say 99% of people who will play this game dont frequent forums like this one (full of mainstream hate), 99% of gamers are the main stream.  ToR will be good and bad for the MMO industry in much the same way wow was, it will bring new players to the MMO scene who will eventually try other MMO's.  They will also be able to actually give Blizzard some competition in the hype stakes, Bioware have IP's just as loved if not more so than the blg blue giant and they have some severe financial clout (Though not anywhere near what Blizzard have).

 

They are taking their time to release a solid product, they are releasing information only when they are 100% sure of it these are two of the biggest requests of the mmo community.

 

But and I hate to break it to you guys, they like most Game developers understand that you cant please everyone and that while you listen to feedback you have to go with your vision of the game not the vocal members of a forums wishes.

 

ToR wont go free to play, IF they were then Warhammer online would already be trialing that business model, EA have a massive amount of F2P social MMO games they already know the limits and perks of this business model, but they rarely make their AAA releases F2P.  FIFA online with its massive world appeal is an exception based on the fact that football of any medium that is successful will attract massive advertising sponsorship and cross spectrum marketing chances.

 

ToR will likely start as a Subscription game, establish its player base then offer us a fluff shop,   They will look at maximising revenue streams not because they are going bankrupt if they dont (EA are in a little hot water but Lucas Arts who are funding ToR are most assuradly not in trouble) £150 million to them is while a sizeable amount an amount they can absorb the loss of entirely.  But I doubt they will need to, I imagine ToR with the interest it will generate will make its money back within a year easy, probably significantly quicker.

 

I base that on the following bits of information.

 

Bioware Box games regularly sell in units multiple milions.  Mass effect 1 and 2 were commercial successes Dragon Age sold well despite being in a much less mainstream genre.  The only Bioware game that didnt sell like hot cakes was Jade Empire and  thats becase it was barely Marketed (one of the undeniable tradgedies of gaming is that thanks to bad marketing there will never be a sequel to one of the most beautifully crafted settings of its time)

 

2, Star wars has the potential to generate massive interest even without prior knowledge of the product Star Wars games generall sell well regardless, star wars tie ins are very very profitable because it has such a broad appeal.

 

3, Despite what people think, the "theme park" model of MMO is the one that commands the most market share, its the one with the most potential and actual market penetration.  Sorry Sandbox Fans but there is a reason most sanboxes can run on 1 server cluster without issues.

 

4 (And something this Article ignores) the Star wars "Niche" is one of the biggest most consumerist fanbases around.  People will buy Star Wars toilet paper if it were available.

The day may come when Microtransactions are the mainstay of MMOs and I will die a little inside, the commitment to a character, building and evolving him is what attracts me to MMOS in the first place, playing with a bunch of people who will jump ship when ever anything goes wrong doesnt appeal to me.  Also the F2P model will be the end of balanced end game conents.  But ToR wont be the thin end of that Wedge.

 

Also going F2P is not "Popular" with developers these days, its popular with Turbine, who hold about 3% of the Market share of Sub based MMO's

 

Under their Sub Model their customer base was in recession, so the tried something bold, its not the start of the end....Stop over reacting and pushing your F2P (whose adverts pay for this site) Agenda.

Promoting thought a new Gaming video blog http://www.youtube.com/user/quinnthalas discussing games, gamers and the internet with gameplay footage as background.

  User Deleted
6/09/10 1:17:55 PM#14

I think either scenario painted by the OP would leave Bioware holding a 150million dollar laughing stock.

  Kaneth

Elite Member

Joined: 8/19/07
Posts: 1631

6/09/10 1:41:56 PM#15
Originally posted by godeda24

The difference between all those games you listed and Star Wars is that those aren't anywhere near as mainstream as Star Wars. Sure Star Trek has a following but that following is not as main stream as SW. This game is made to appeal not just to MMO fans but to SW fans and it also helps that Bioware is making it since that company has sold millions of games. Both Bioware and SW fans are looking forward to this game. I personally know about 15 people from work who don't even play MMOs who plan on buying TOR. The game is appealing to both MMO players and people who don't play MMOs just because its SW.

I'm not entirely sure you can get away with calling Star Trek not as mainstream as SW. In terms of overall media outlets, Star Trek is far more mainstream than SW. More movies, five different TV series, hell Star Trek has an experience in Vegas (something I don't believe SW has). SW has always been more about flash and not really about substance, especially in the most recent movies. The most recent Star Trek movie was more in line with what SW typically has been, and not really a Star Trek movie to it's truest form.

Star Trek has just as much of a following as Star Wars, but the demographics of the two fan bases are certainly very different. Star Wars grew a younger fan base with the recent movie and Clone Wars series, while Star Trek has always had an older fanbase.

  godeda24

Novice Member

Joined: 9/10/07
Posts: 99

6/09/10 1:54:52 PM#16
Originally posted by Kaneth

Originally posted by godeda24

The difference between all those games you listed and Star Wars is that those aren't anywhere near as mainstream as Star Wars. Sure Star Trek has a following but that following is not as main stream as SW. This game is made to appeal not just to MMO fans but to SW fans and it also helps that Bioware is making it since that company has sold millions of games. Both Bioware and SW fans are looking forward to this game. I personally know about 15 people from work who don't even play MMOs who plan on buying TOR. The game is appealing to both MMO players and people who don't play MMOs just because its SW.

I'm not entirely sure you can get away with calling Star Trek not as mainstream as SW. In terms of overall media outlets, Star Trek is far more mainstream than SW. More movies, five different TV series, hell Star Trek has an experience in Vegas (something I don't believe SW has). SW has always been more about flash and not really about substance, especially in the most recent movies. The most recent Star Trek movie was more in line with what SW typically has been, and not really a Star Trek movie to it's truest form.

Star Trek has just as much of a following as Star Wars, but the demographics of the two fan bases are certainly very different. Star Wars grew a younger fan base with the recent movie and Clone Wars series, while Star Trek has always had an older fanbase.

 

I disagree with ST being as mainstream as SW. ST has an older following as to where SW has a following of all ages. 

  Pigozz

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/06/07
Posts: 852

Nihil gratis

6/09/10 2:25:06 PM#17
Originally posted by Kothoses

Funny thing ToR, it already divides opinion on forums more than even wow does, it gets talked about more than wow and it has as many people saying it will die as wow does.

 

Will ToR be a commercial success? without a doubt, I would go as far as to say 99% of people who will play this game dont frequent forums like this one (full of mainstream hate), 99% of gamers are the main stream.  ToR will be good and bad for the MMO industry in much the same way wow was, it will bring new players to the MMO scene who will eventually try other MMO's.  They will also be able to actually give Blizzard some competition in the hype stakes, Bioware have IP's just as loved if not more so than the blg blue giant and they have some severe financial clout (Though not anywhere near what Blizzard have).

 

They are taking their time to release a solid product, they are releasing information only when they are 100% sure of it these are two of the biggest requests of the mmo community.

 

But and I hate to break it to you guys, they like most Game developers understand that you cant please everyone and that while you listen to feedback you have to go with your vision of the game not the vocal members of a forums wishes.

 

ToR wont go free to play, IF they were then Warhammer online would already be trialing that business model, EA have a massive amount of F2P social MMO games they already know the limits and perks of this business model, but they rarely make their AAA releases F2P.  FIFA online with its massive world appeal is an exception based on the fact that football of any medium that is successful will attract massive advertising sponsorship and cross spectrum marketing chances.

 

ToR will likely start as a Subscription game, establish its player base then offer us a fluff shop,   They will look at maximising revenue streams not because they are going bankrupt if they dont (EA are in a little hot water but Lucas Arts who are funding ToR are most assuradly not in trouble) £150 million to them is while a sizeable amount an amount they can absorb the loss of entirely.  But I doubt they will need to, I imagine ToR with the interest it will generate will make its money back within a year easy, probably significantly quicker.

 

I base that on the following bits of information.

 

Bioware Box games regularly sell in units multiple milions.  Mass effect 1 and 2 were commercial successes Dragon Age sold well despite being in a much less mainstream genre.  The only Bioware game that didnt sell like hot cakes was Jade Empire and  thats becase it was barely Marketed (one of the undeniable tradgedies of gaming is that thanks to bad marketing there will never be a sequel to one of the most beautifully crafted settings of its time)

 

2, Star wars has the potential to generate massive interest even without prior knowledge of the product Star Wars games generall sell well regardless, star wars tie ins are very very profitable because it has such a broad appeal.

 

3, Despite what people think, the "theme park" model of MMO is the one that commands the most market share, its the one with the most potential and actual market penetration.  Sorry Sandbox Fans but there is a reason most sanboxes can run on 1 server cluster without issues.

 

4 (And something this Article ignores) the Star wars "Niche" is one of the biggest most consumerist fanbases around.  People will buy Star Wars toilet paper if it were available.

You made a great point there. I, as a pissed of TOR fan who now mostly spits on the current state of the game, now realized  why the game looks like it does thanks to your post. You gave solid arguments and now all thats left is my recolciliation with it. You set me free dude:D

MMOs played chronologically:
Runescape,Lineage II, WoW,Tabula Rasa, AoC,Eve Online,Guild Wars, Rift(beta only),SWTOR(beta only),Star Trek Online
Most fun: Tabula Rasa

  Korithian

Novice Member

Joined: 1/14/10
Posts: 243

6/09/10 2:27:27 PM#18

 Its almost certain this game will go subscription and have a shop. I'd love to say that EA are funding this game cause they want to make the best damn MMO in the world. But whats really important is making money and EA didn't buy out bioware or opt for the Star Wars IP for any other reason than it would make them money. And in the same vein they know fans will not only pay monthly but they will also pay for nice robes or other cosmetic touches. Allowing EA to get the revenue from both the F2P market model while at the same time getting a monthly subscription.

 

 If they didn't think they could get away with it they wouldn't try. But many people are so amazed that 'its star wars. Its Bioware, Its Kotor' that EA are very aware they have hard core fans that will pay for both and be happy to do it. And if people are happy to pay then EA will be happy to work up a pricing plan to help them.

  User Deleted
6/09/10 3:09:30 PM#19
Originally posted by Teala
Originally posted by Hrothmund
Originally posted by Trioxic

If the game has no RP time and sandbox time then slap me silly put a c-store in it and call it Star Trek Online... BTW... SWG fans have been slobbering all over SW:TOR news and are waiting to be vindicated by this game if they are disappointed... it will spell disaster for Bioware and the future of Lucas Arts and mmorpg's. BAH! SOE/LA doing CWA lol... that is off topic but smacks of conspiracy with the whole SWG NGE things years back... the future is coming that if you want a real mmorpg your community may have to build it your selves... example: SWGemu project. 

I don't think Bioware are too concerned about ten or so thousand SWG fans. Most gamers do not want a sandbox, or RP features. I think you'll find SWTOR will reflect this.

So you speak for all gamers huh?

I am sorry but... *points at WOW and it's plethora of clones* Apparently he DOES speak for most; yes indeed.

I am sorry, each to his, really. But I don't think those die-hard UO/SWG-preCU people are more than a few thousands. I know you will claim otherwise, and some delude themselves to think they'd play SWG if it went pre-CU or UO if it went pre-Trammel. Thats just humbug. Even back in the days most SWG gamers found CU a good move and Trammel also. It was always a vocal elite which wanted things in this... primitive design. And that it is for me as younger gamer who doesn't watch 1985 gaming as "glorious old days". It is what older people said for thousands of years, that the past was great and then came the event XYZ who brought only decadence. It is a human myth for millenia of history. Elitist people claimed book printing was decadence and only handwritten copies were really cultivated. Or then combustion engines where invented some elite few claimed horse and carriage was more elegant. Every time something changes some handful claim it was better in the past.

Each to his. If you are into nostalgia, thats fine with me. Sandbox was a phase of early MMO design, not because they were so clever, but because they didn't know what to do other than create a world and drop people in it and "now go see for yourself". Sure, people were creative filling the gap. But it was a gap nontheless. It's like an electricity fail. You value the moody candle light. But you are glad when comfortable electricity in back nontheless.

 

TOR catches hate from the same sort of people for the same reason they hate WOW: it's popular. I am sure that is the reason at least for 90% of people. It's the same as people in my school were "antis". They didnt really have a geniune taste or ideas. But attacking what was fashion made them look elite and special in the eyes of others - or so they thought. I don't play WOW. I don't like it. But I also do not feel compelled to make a religion out of it and repeat it like a Mantra every single day. I decided not to play WOW and moved on. End of story.

  User Deleted
6/09/10 4:51:50 PM#20

A fantastic article. i enjoyed it.

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