Thoughts about EA’s recent announcement, in easy to read bullet point format because I’ve done WAY too much PowerPoint at work recently:
* A drop off of 400,000 is by no means good – but that’s 25% of a very large total. Age of Conan and Warhammer Online both had much steeper drop-offs by the four month mark, so it’s not fair to put SWTOR in the same category as those two games.
* That still leaves 1,300,000 subscribers – every other subscription game that isn’t WoW would kill to have that. People need to get their heads around the fact that WoW is a frakking outlier and not a useful point of comparison.
* A 25% drop-off, however, means that SWTOR is not on the trajectory of continued boundless growth that the frakking outlier was. It looks set to be second in terms of market share, but a distant second.
* Since EA have stated that the game would be profitable at 500k subscriptions, and it has over two and a half times that well after the point where the tourists usually go back to the frakking outlier, I think we can assume that the game has not “failed” in any reasonable business sense. It may, however, have failed to meet some people’s over-optimistic expectations of instantly vaulting up to the numbers that the frakking outlier took years to achieve… but I would never use the dreams of fools as a yardstick.
* There’s some confusion on exactly when the subscriber count was taken and whether the free month given out to a lot of (but not all) players has artificially inflated it. My own call is that I don’t think it matters that much – the free month would only affect the figures where a player had been subscribed for four months but was just about to cancel their sub. I’m sure there were some in that category – but my gut feel is that people are either gone from a game at the one or three month marks, or else likely to stick around for at least six months plus.
* Sod the subscription numbers, I’m still happily playing through the Imperial Agent and Bounty Hunter storylines on my alts. While I find the endgame lacking (not being a raider and only being up for so many warfront matches) I’ve still got months of casually playing through storylines before I run out. I will, however, run out. For players like me, Bioware’s best bet is to put out more story content instead of trying to make WoW with lightsabers.