Earlier today, Electronic Arts had its stuffy quarterly report. The number, fact, and strategy filled report was of little interest to most MMO gamers until the mention of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Following the recent trend of LoreHound coverage, the mention wasn’t good. According to the publisher, TOR lost 24% of its subscribers, shedding 400,000 paying customers from the peak of 1.7 million a quarter earlier (during the included free month).
That places the second Star Wars-based MMORPG over the million subscriber mark, at 1.3 million, but still showing a decline as troubling as the current, yet declining, kind of World of Warcraft. This is roughly on target with the estimate made by an analyst group in mid April.
This has left many players scratching their heads. TOR was easily one of, if not the most, anticipated MMOG releases of 2011. Sure, there’s the just released action-oriented TERA, or a flood of F2P games available and coming, but is there one core aspect that has drained TOR’s base?
Conspiracy theories will abound as analysts and players attempt to isolate the trend. Hit the jump for our perspective reasons.
Further WoW tourist syndrome? Possible. Players ditching story for the action of TERA? Acceptable. A steep decline in the price of a Rift subscription stealing away wishy-washy subscribers? The cash strapped would think twice. Consumers becoming weary of the subscription model? Numerous developers and publishers from Perfect World Entertainment to Red 5 Studios would have you believe F2P is the way to go. What about the upcoming closing of the core MMO season, ie during school? It’s had me venture before. Or was TOR, like so many other titles, over hyped and ultimately under delivered? Makes sense.
Considering the game never came close to captivating me, a dedicated MMORPG player, I’d say it’s mostly due to the title’s execution, with a splash of a shift in market expectation. The shift being a dose of raised expectations thanks to increasing competition from the F2P market.
Let us know where you stand in the comments.