Old Republic Has More Subscribers Than You Do (Unless Your Name Is Bobby Kotick)

Industry analysts expressed surprise at this news

It’s official: per CFO Eric Brown, during an earnings conference call, SWTOR is making a lot of money, with 1.7m subscribers (which Brown went to an unusual effort to quantify correctly as a mix of paying customers and customers with billing information entered but still on free trial) and over 2m sell-through (copies sold to actual customers as opposed to sitting on store shelves).

Brown said EA was actually able to add a lot more users on a per-server basis, thanks to some technical improvements. He also noted that about 40% of the units of the game sold during the quarter went over the company’s Origin digital-distribution channel, which is not tracked by market researchers such as NPD.

“This has been the most rapid scaling of an MMO ever, based on our research,” Brown commented.

EA stock rose sharply as a result, pleasing Hutts everywhere. SWTOR is now firmly in place as the #2 MMO, in both earnings and subscribers. It’s now up to Bioware to follow through on that with retention.


27 thoughts on “Old Republic Has More Subscribers Than You Do (Unless Your Name Is Bobby Kotick)

    • Sinij says:

      Coincidentally, 1.7 mil is about reported drop of WoW subscriptions since Cataclysm.  I wonder if MMO market no longer appreciably grows.

  1. red dot mist says:

    It didn’t make it past the free month for me, nor ~80% of my friends.

    I have faith that they can make it a decent game in the future, but it isn’t one now.  The HeroEngine is horrible btw, easily the worst client performance of any MMO in recent memory, and that includes the Warhammer client.

  2. red dot mist says:

    PS: Posting on your blog caused my computer to go into an infinite loop of escalating CPU usage that was not escapable via anything but a hard reset.  This is in Chrome btw.

  3. MCL says:

    Not wholly a success yet.  There are the standard rumbles about PvP but there is a little one, a quiet one, that I would imagine EA is suppressing in forums.

    Today I got my first eye witness account of speed and wall hacking that I guess, according to about an hour of research, that has been going on since beta.  The hackers are just now only getting flagrant with it.

    It is still too soon to call if SWTOR is going to be WOWJR or APB the 2nd.

    … and a picture of a tractor. 


  4. Cyndre says:

    Next Quarter’s earning call is all that matters…   3-4 months retention means something…  honestly half of the subs probably just haven’t gotten around to cancelling.  Many people aren’t that worried about $15, its usually the 2nd or 3rd time it hits your account that you get motivated to go in and update the billing info.

    Maybe they have 85% retention, but I am guessing that is a wholly inflated stat, also keeping in mind that they expressly stated that the stats were all “AS OF Dec 31st” which basically means almost no one is out of the free month or are just barly out…


  5. recursion says:

    Unless they have pulled a whole legion of players from some dark corner of the universe who have somehow not played any MMORPGS whatsoever in the last 10 years, I’m not sure how they will be able to retain customers at any level that matters. I last about, hmm 5-8 hours with this game before it felt completely stale (voice overs and new textures do not a new game make). Minecraft is lightyears ahead of SWG as far as Im concerned.

    But to each his own I guess 🙂

  6. BoundingBox says:

    Okay, I hate to be *that guy*, but come on Scott.  As was mentioned in an earlier comment, these numbers are from December 31.  Am I gravely mistaken in my understanding that not a single customer had yet paid a subscription fee?

    I miss Lum from the days of yore.  He would not have been so uncritical; neither of this press release nor of the game itself.

    • John Smith says:

      Lum from the days of yore wasn’t employed in the industry and he didn’t know any of the people he was trash talking. We need a new  ranting savior to teach the children that such behavior is still not acceptable. Lum is just too old to be reporting on online sex scandals and backroom gold seller deals while community coordinators lie, developers steal, and publishers pull things out of their asses and pretend they are innovative 😉

      • recursion says:

        Do I detect a stealth “Lum Sold out” post? I think I do, and my god….. I might be inclined to agree?

        *Shrug* –  Probably wont stop me from lurking, as I have been for the past 12 years…. Jeeze.. thats almost scary to think about.

        Guess Im adding to this thread: “Bring back Pre-Trammel UO Bitchez”

        • John Smith says:

          Selling out carries negative connotations I did not mean to imply. Haven’t we all learned this lesson by now? The only way to get away with negative remarks on the internet is to be anonymous and unknown. Too many people are connected now a days, it isn’t safe neither privately  nor professionally to be well known and out spoken. It makes you a target.

          There is an unfortunate meme that gets spouted that sarcastically implies that the internet is serious business (that is to say, it isn’t) and that every “internet tough guy” is a limp wristed 12 year old. We should all know by now, that neither case is true.  The internet is serious business, and there are just as many deranged adults in positions of authority as there are naive children pretending to be tough.

          Companies have gotten smarter over the years, the pr department is sometimes bigger than the teams that do actual work. Bosses spy on employees and government is watching to boot! Social networking is getting really out of hand and things we once assumed were private no longer are. If you’ve followed tor by any means, youve seen how quick professional companies like bioware have been to blame internet boogieman like 4chan or reddit for bad reviews. The internet makes it so easy to assasinate someone’s (or a group of people’s) character/reputation these day. The uninitatied are trained to follow those in authority unquestionably, so who would the masses believe if it came down to someone like lum’s word or theirs? Hell, even professionals like mark jacobs and richard garriot get steamrolled by the media on occasion. People simply do not check the facts anymore.

          It’s only a matter of time before things get out of hand on our side of the web. They already have in places like china, where supposedly robin hood like hackers will make it their business to track people down so they can be destroyed by a mob of angry netizens. While we don’t have a Confucius based society that encourages that kind of hive mind, we do have a corporate culture overmind that could start participating in similar behavior. Lum has commted on this before, how bloggers have to be careful what they say or it might bite them in the ass. These are really scary times.

          While I do miss those extremely entertaining stories from the past, the juicy drama, I understand that it will never come back. It’s not reasonable to expect people to sacrifice basically everything just to give us a bit of juicy insider gossip.  Personally, I’m here for the tractors.

  7. Lee Quillen says:

    I like the game.  I’d really like it to do well.  That said, there is a lot going against it… and much of it self induced.  I’ll be curious to see what sort of retention numbers they have come next December.  I certainly don’t anticipate any further growth save maybe a few weeks during the Star Wars re-release.

    1) So far it is incredibly hack/exploit friendly.  Checking the exploit sites out there you quickly find getting banned is the exception not the rule.  Once people start seeing this every day (advanced bots are maybe a few weeks away), the mood will sour if little is still done about it.
    2) Features that players in game are assuming are a patch or two away haven’t been talked about by the developers.  Some serious bugs with classes and quests haven’t been addressed and aren’t being discussed as known issues.  Either communication is very poor, or the team isn’t getting the right feedback on common issues.  Either of those two will be a killer for retention.
    3) They will be in a tough spot to add content with substance that meets their newly set bar.  Voice acting, cut scenes, storylines with meat… if they can’t manage this on a similar timeline to other MMOS players reaction will be poor.  This is all they really have over other MMOs… so IMHO they HAVE to pull it off.

    I like it, but the amount of hacking people are already getting away with (teleporting, speedhacking, botting chests from underground, etc) will kill the retention once word gets out that action isn’t being taken about it.    I think the worst ban I have read someone complain about was a 3 day ban for someone who scripted a macro to loot a chest every 7 minutes.  He didn’t lose the money he had made doing so either.

    We’ll see.  I’m hoping they get a wake up call on CS sooner rather than later while it is still relatively infrequent.

  8. rgho says:

    “As was mentioned in an earlier comment, these numbers are from December 31.”

    No they weren’t, those numbers were from the time of the earnings call, which was after the first month was over (by several days for the pre-order people).  From the QA after the call:

    “Q: Are these 1.7 subscribers paying?
    A: Active subscribers means anyone paying or in their trial period. Most of those 1.7m are paying at this point”

    From the prepared comments:

    “To date, we have sold through more than 2 million units.”

    “As John stated, we have sold through two million units of the game since December. We currently have a little over 1.7 million active subscribers.”

    Clearly they are talking about “to date” and not “as of Dec 31st.”

  9. Will H says:

    I like the game plenty.  But I’m playing it as a solo, and sometime cooperative RPG.  Bioware will probably get 4 or 5 months’ subscription from me, at least, until I finish a story line or two.  Then it’s on to the Secret World and eventually Guild Wars 2 for me.  SWTOR doesn’t feel like a fully realized world enough for me to just hang out in.

    • Whatev says:

      This is exactly the problem.  TOR is actually two games, the first of which is an excellent quasi-single player RPG notable for its storytelling (after all, it’s a Bioware game).  The second is a pretty lousy MMO which resolutely ignores virtually all of the engineering improvements that WoW brought to the genre.  I’d say it’s worth the box price, but it’s hard to justify an ongoing subscription at the moment.

  10. Fraeg says:

    I like the sound my light-saber makes when I swing it around, other than that…

    I haven’t had such an On the Rails experience in awhile. Part of the fun of MMOS for me has always been exploring the worlds(s) and finding those random gems of content.  With the exception of the Datacron hunting game, there really isn’t much to explore.   Just about everytime I start thinking “ooh this looks interesting, what is over here?” the exhaustion debuff kicks in.

    Game has only been out a few months, and in 2006 I might have been a lot more understanding, but it isn’t, it is 2012, and I am not that interested in paying for *what might be*.

    I am down with the Frogdogs and Rotworms, and I like the shiny on my few pieces of Battlemaster gear, but as far as a *PVP Planet* goes,  Ilum falls pretty short of what my expectations were. 

    /shrug  will be interesting to see where things stand  come this summer.

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