The first stage of grief is denial, which seems to be where EA is headed after it released its financial report yesterday revealing that subscription numbers for Star Wars: The Old Republic dropped 23.5% from its peak last quarter.
Active subscribers dropped from 1.7 million to 1.3 million, to which President of EA Labels, Frank Gibeau, responded saying this was due to casual gamers leaving the game.
We brought in a lot of users, and with a brand like Star Wars, it reaches out much past the hardcore MMO fan base into the broader market. And as the service evolves from here, what we’re seeing is that some of the initial casual customers have gone through a billing cycle and decided not to subscribe to the game.
Mr. Gibeau goes on to counter, saying that it’s core is actually growing,
the percentage of paying subscribers from our peak until now has actually gone up, and the folks that we have are as engaged as they were when they first bought the product.
Make no mistake, BioWare intends to grow subscribers.
I don’t believe that Gibeau mentioned to shareholders that EA gave
every single player players with a level 50 character a free month of game-time only a few weeks ago. Hmm, I wonder if this 1.3 million number is at all deceptively inflated? I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the real number is already under 1 million.
Also mentioned during the conference call was that SWTOR was in EA’s top 10 franchises in terms of profitability, but was less profitable than the following franchises: Medal of Honor, Battlefield, FIFA, Madden, The Sims, and SimCity. However, it did beat Tiger Woods Golf. This places SWTOR somewhere between 7-9 on the list.
EA is doing what all companies do when they have bad news, put on a happy face and try to explain it away, but casual gamers? I won’t consider anyone that uses Xfire to be casual and from their stats, SWTOR is in serious decline.