Analyst Says EA Investors "Betting Against" Old Republic

John Funk

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Dec 20, 2005
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Analyst Says EA Investors "Betting Against" Old Republic

According to analyst Mike Hickey, investors aren't prepared to jump on board EA's Old Republic just yet.

Let's not quibble: If a developer gets the right formula to bottle lightning, an MMO can be ridiculously profitable. There probably isn't a single gaming company on the planet that doesn't look at Blizzard's obscene monthly revenue from World of Warcraft without going green from envy. Launching a stand-alone game is almost always financially risky - what if gamers don't buy it? - but a revenue stream from an MMO is practically a sure thing once it gets going.

But that's ignoring the other side to the equation: Not only are MMOs prohibitively expensive to operate (manpower for customer service, bandwidth, power and maintenance for servers), making - and launching - an MMO may be one of the hardest things to do in the entire business. Just look back at the countless titles that were supposed to be the Next Big Thing (and weren't): Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online.

Even a beloved gaming company - BioWare - working with one of the most popular IPs in history - Star Wars - isn't a sure thing. And analyst Mike Hickey says that Activision lawsuit [http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/32605/Analyst_Wary_EA_Investors_Betting_Against_SWTOR.php], to name two - could be hurting the company's shares, investors are mainly wary of the publisher's ability to launch a successful MMO.

"We believe many investors are betting against SWTOR achieving market success, provided the company's (Warhammer Online from Mythic) and industry's track record at releasing successful new MMOs," says Hickey - and indeed, Mythic's Warhammer MMO is a very good example of the risks inherent in launching an MMO. It was a title released by a proven studio based on a popular IP, and while Mythic swears the title isn't a money pit [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/102559-BioWare-Mythic-Swears-Warhammer-Online-Isnt-a-Money-Pit], it certainly failed to live up to expectations.

With the failure of APB fresh in the memories of investors, a new MMO is seen as risky. Furthermore, says Hickey, factors are betting against SWTOR in particular: The title is rumored to be subscription-based "versus a market that is quickly transitioning to free to play," previews have been "modest," and it's a very, very expensive game [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/100967-Star-Wars-The-Old-Republic-is-EAs-Most-Expensive-Project-in-History] (not even counting royalties to LucasArts).

Combined with EA's growing stake in the game [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/105219-EA-Deepens-Its-Stake-In-The-Old-Republic], and it's not hard to see why investors might be gunshy at the idea of putting their money behind the game.

Of course, if it does come out and promptly lands a couple million subscribers, the same investors will be kicking themselves. No risk, no reward, right?

(Gamasutra [http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/32605/Analyst_Wary_EA_Investors_Betting_Against_SWTOR.php])

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Feb 13, 2008
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Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers, and unless you absolutely trounce WoW from the first week, you're going to lose this one.
 

the.chad

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I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...

But I'm actually considering trying the old republic out for a few months, and i'm completely against the idea of monthly subscriptions!
 

Worgen

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Whatever, just wash your hands.
warhammer online was pretty poorly handled and Im putting most of the blaim on ea for rushing it, it needed a few more months of dev time and that would also make put it out after a wow expansion rather then before, so they would probably have been able to capture people who were tired of wow and it would have had less bugs so it could have kept them better. if war didnt have wow to compete with then it would have been huge but since it released in a buggy state it couldnt compete with something that had 3 or so years to iron out the bugs
 

KarmicToast

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Well, I have been involved in a massive amount of beta testing for this game, and while I can't say anything specific about it, I can say that it is awesome. It's just a shame that the Star Wars IP is actually going to turn away more people than it brings in (IMO) Lucas has done nothing but continually ruin the franchise and insult his fans. KOTOR is the only version of Star Wars other than the original trilogy worthwhile. I hope people give this game the chance it deserves.
 

Tzekelkan

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Well if it fails to reach expectations, they could, you know, lower them. There's no shame in going free-to-play, EA. You even have experience with Battlefield Heroes and whatnot. It might just work, and that's where the Star Wars license really has the opportunity to shine.

Indeed, people who don't play MMOs but like Star Wars would probably not try a subscription-based one. You'd need to get to MMO fans that are also willing to pay. But I'd bet even non-fans of MMOs that are Star Wars fanatics would try a free-to-play SWTOR based on the letters "SW" in the name.

Personally that's what I think will happen: it won't be amazing (probably better than Galaxies though) and after a while it might go on the microtransaction route (if the higher-ups at EA and Bioware could stomach the punch to the ego).
 

GonzoGamer

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Games aren't a good investment anyway. I like investing in all sorts of things but I would only put throw-away money on a game or even a publisher. So much of the "intelligence" is marketing/PR bullshite, you can't trust anything you hear.
 

Gralian

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Sep 24, 2008
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Sorry. But stop trying to think you can dethrone WoW. It will never happen. They look at companies like Blizzard and think they can recreate the same - if not better - degree of quality, fun and balance that a company has several years of experience, patching and thorough understanding of the strengths and faults of the product within the space of a week. It just won't happen. It's a ridiculous money sink. You have to be lucky to have an MMO survive the initial hype, let alone the first week. It really saddens me to see a big name like Bioware try to dip their fingers into the moneypot of the niche MMO market.

Be prepared for them to lose a tonne of money and for the quality of their products to diminish. Goodbye Bioware, it was great while it lasted.
 

w-Jinksy

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i see this will most likely end up toppling WoW, me and my friends are excited about unlike any other game before and the gameplay looks fresh for an mmo and the whole thing is done in such a way it looks so great. not forgetting all the great dialouge and story that will no doubt be included ( plus jennifer hale is in there, the good shephard).

plus, it's fucking star wars.
 

SonicWaffle

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KarmicToast said:
KOTOR is the only version of Star Wars other than the original trilogy worthwhile.
I call BS. The Rogue Squadron games? The Jedi Knight series, 2 in particular? Fucking Battlefront?! There have been some awesome Star Wars games. Unfortunately, for every Rogue Leader we have three or four Shadows Of The Empire or Force Unleashed, but to ignore the absolutely brilliant games because they're surrounded by crap is to cheat yourself out of plenty of fun.

OT: I loved, loved, loved KoTOR, but I'm not buying this. I dislike the idea of paying subscription fees, along with the grinding aspects of your average MMO, so much as I'd love to head back to the Old Republic it just isn't going to happen. Even with a fantastic dev like BioWare helming the project, I'd still much rather have KoTOR 3.
 

SonicWaffle

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HankMan said:
the.chad said:
I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...
So that was a good game? I only played the demo and I kept running out of ammunition for some reason.
I fucking hate Republic Commando. I've never actually played it, but I bloody hate it - I bought a copy of KoTOR off of Play, waited weeks for it, and when it finally came they'd put the disc for Republic Commando in by mistake. It might be a great game, but I'll never be able to shake that feeling of coming home really excited to play something only to find something completely different. Even reading the name feels like being let down...
 

KarmicToast

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SonicWaffle said:
KarmicToast said:
KOTOR is the only version of Star Wars other than the original trilogy worthwhile.
I call BS. The Rogue Squadron games? The Jedi Knight series, 2 in particular? Fucking Battlefront?! There have been some awesome Star Wars games. Unfortunately, for every Rogue Leader we have three or four Shadows Of The Empire or Force Unleashed, but to ignore the absolutely brilliant games because they're surrounded by crap is to cheat yourself out of plenty of fun.

OT: I loved, loved, loved KoTOR, but I'm not buying this. I dislike the idea of paying subscription fees, along with the grinding aspects of your average MMO, so much as I'd love to head back to the Old Republic it just isn't going to happen. Even with a fantastic dev like BioWare helming the project, I'd still much rather have KoTOR 3.
I'm talking universe, not games. I totally agree on the games you mention; I just don't think they do a lot for the "story of star wars." For that you have extended universe books (not always garbage, but often contradictory), KOTOR (great), the Original Trilogy (great), the new trilogy (awful), the new clone wars movie and show (awful)
 

Woodsey

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The_root_of_all_evil said:
Sorry EA, if I was a betting man, I'd follow that bet. Lucasophobia has already taken some of your customers, and unless you absolutely trounce WoW from the first week, you're going to lose this one.
/facepalm

They're never going trounce WoW immediately, nor are they aiming to, nor is it necessary. They've even said they're not looking at it as a competitor because there's no point right now.

If they get a solid user base and it is good, the gamers will come - this isn't a get rich or die tryin' (peace out Fiddy), they need to play the longhaul.

Also: I don't dare count the amount of people who don't like George Lucas and yet love KotOR. I very much doubt anyone cares whether some of the change eventually lands in his pockets if it's good.
 

w-Jinksy

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SonicWaffle said:
HankMan said:
the.chad said:
I for one would be happy to finally see a good star wars game come out!
Don't get me started on how the sequel to republic commando should've been out by now...
So that was a good game? I only played the demo and I kept running out of ammunition for some reason.
I fucking hate Republic Commando. I've never actually played it, but I bloody hate it - I bought a copy of KoTOR off of Play, waited weeks for it, and when it finally came they'd put the disc for Republic Commando in by mistake. It might be a great game, but I'll never be able to shake that feeling of coming home really excited to play something only to find something completely different. Even reading the name feels like being let down...
dude that sucks hard but Republic Commando is a fucking immense game you should give it a chance.

kinda off topic but does anyone know what this restored content mod is for KOTOR2 nostalgia has hit me like a mackerel to the face lately and im reinstalling old games and i saw something about it the other day.