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EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs

MCV quotes Electronic Arts CFO Eric Brown at the UBS Annual Media and Communications Conference discussing what it will take for Star Wars: the Old Republic to be a success. Brown says BioWare's upcoming MMORPG will not require the kind of subscriber base of World of Warcraft to last a decade. "Our assumptions for break-even and profitability are not seven-digit subscribers. We think we can run and operate a very successful and profitable MMO at different levels," he told the assemblage. "The key thing here is to really perfect the product. We’re shooting for an extremely high quality game experience. We view this as a ten-year opportunity."

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54. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 14, 2010, 16:24 Animals for Crackers
 
Something was definitely lost along the way though, they don't make games like UO anymore.


Yes I'm biased towards EQ, I tried UO after I had been playing EQ for awhile, but I don't think the trend towards player convenience/hand-holding began with EQ. Norrath (especially on the pvp/pk servers like Rallos Zek) was plenty hardcore. Of course, UO did have plenty of extra features that leaned towards players having more material permanence in the game-world, which EQ didn't focus on or just omitted from the formula like player housing, etc.

You'll find no disagreement from me on everything else you said.

DAoC was the last MMO I played where I felt that on-edge sense of adventure, danger-lurking-around-every-corner type feeling. These games, through design, forced players to interact just to survive even, let alone thrive. Hence every action/interaction felt far more meaningful and real.

I think the trend towards this fetishistic obsession with player convenience/accessibility/mainstream demographical appeal in MMOs began with the success of vanilla WoW, which was way harder than it even is now and was still a walk in the park compared to any other previous MMO I've played. I could be wrong, it might've technically began earlier but WoW was the one that changed the game.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed and occasionally still do enjoy plenty of WoW in my own way, but the excitement for me has worn off because of how top-down-ish Blizzard has designed the the whole experience; instead of giving more leeway for the players to make a meaningful impact on the game world from the bottom-up, you're stuck following Blizzard's preconceived narrative to the T. For a franchise with "Warcraft" in the name, that's a pity. It should have been so much more. Blizzard played it safe.

Edit: I've only tried the old-school 2D EVE(I can't remember if that was even technically an MMO), looks like I need to give the newish one a whirl too.

This comment was edited on Dec 14, 2010, 16:39.
 
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53. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 9, 2010, 11:00 Verno
 
Sounds cool, I'll give it a whirl sometime man I tried it years and years ago and it was super rough around the edges but I'm sure its polished up quite a bit since.  
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52. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 9, 2010, 10:48 aeonos
 
Verno, try EVE, you'll have plenty of opportunities to get killed, loose items, ships, skill points, stations, etc. Sure, there are areas in the game that are not as dangerous, but even in the protected space you can get killed and end up loosing valuable in-game items. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGplrpWvz0I

 
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51. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 9, 2010, 09:57 Verno
 
Yeah definitely IB. I mean, I can understand why someone doesn't want to die and "lose my stuff" but at the same time it adds a sense of urgency, caution and danger to the game that just cannot be replicated. Dungeons should be a dangerous affair where the chances of survival are very low, you should have to work through it over time. Unfortunately the kind of MMO I described earlier and in this post isn't very accessible to the masses who want to be patted on the back and rewarded at every step of the game. There's nothing really wrong with that I guess, as long as people are enjoying themselves then hey whatever but at the same time I miss my kind of game  
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50. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 9, 2010, 08:32 InBlack
 
Agreed completely Verno. Its a shame that no one makes games like these anymore. In my opinion MMOs could be the best (instead of the worst) and most inovative games ever, if they were designed more along the lines of the original UO. But these kind of games are usually hard.

Its difficult to balance HARD vs FUN though, its much easier (and more profitable) to make an accessible game and to equate fun with things like achievements or graphics or something along those lines.

In my opinion the only MMO that will be capable of toppling WoW will HAVE to be built sort of like the original UO. I mean these tens of millions of subscribers have to grow tired of the handholding eventually....
 
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49. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 9, 2010, 07:43 Cutter
 
People simply don't have the patience to be genuinely challenged in these types of games anymore.

I disagre. It's an issue of quality or quanity. If you want to provide the WoW like experience for the masses in hopes of chasing down the big numbers, than that's what you have to do. Making a smaller, tighter, more focused experience won't net you those sorts of numbers, but it can still be profitable. Just look at EvE. And had the developers for EvE a little more lateral vision they could even have bigger numbers.

If you can create a game world for a few million that supports 100k_ people profitably and keep a focus on that, perfect! Then you can do the same for all the various genres, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, post-apocalypse, steam-punk. That way you cater tyo all comers of the various genres, who are more hardcore players and will remain dedicated to that particular IP instead of making one game try to be all things to all people.
 
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48. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 22:52 Verno
 
MMORPGs are basically all the same to me and I never felt WoW had anything over EQII (or vice versa) except media hype and low system requirements.

It wasn't always this way. Back before Ultima Online became really successful it had a moderately sized playerbase that was surprisingly diverse. The game back then was mostly PvP driven and controlled by the players. The world itself had "rules" but you could skirt them for the most part. It was a lot more fun to play that kind of MMO, you felt actual danger when leaving the comforts of a city. Dungeons were deadly to the point that surviving wasn't something taken for granted. The players had faction wars and created their own stories. You could setup your own shop outside of your own tower, it wasn't instanced. There was no MMO-Champion, no community managers or wowhead. You made your own maps using memory or a piece of paper. People gave you directions or you hired a guide. It was neat in that many aspects of the game followed real life counterparts closely.

Unfortunately the commercialization of that particular game and MMOs in general lead to the gameplay variety going downhill and the amount of game enforced rules increasing rapidly for the sake of accessibility. Ultimately they found some success with it and set the pace for other MMOs until Everquest came along and did it better. Something was definitely lost along the way though, they don't make games like UO anymore. I can see why but at the same time people don't know what they missed out on, it was quite the experience. People simply don't have the patience to be genuinely challenged in these types of games anymore.
 
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47. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 19:51 wtf_man
 
We’re shooting for an extremely high quality game experience.

...Yeah right... Space on Rails.

***cough-bullshit-cough-cough***
 
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46. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 19:44 MxxCon
 
Cutter wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 17:14:
Even a 100k subs for 10 years won't earn you your money back and that just isn't going to happen. SWTOR will be the last major failure for a long time (Rift Planes of Telara only marginally less so as a 50 million dollar failure).
dc universe online will be a rather average game and i suspect will ultimately fail as $/month game. as a micro-transaction type game it will have a decent following.
Cutter wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 17:14:
So far it looks like GW2 is the only thing on track to really innovate the genre, if not it'll fail too. The whole genre needs a reboot. It's gone way too far off track. It was us old school PnP/MUDders who created this damn genre so I know what I speak.
vindicus is an innovative game.
 
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45. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 18:08 Jdrez
 
Sepharo wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 18:00:

That's pretty much my experience with MMOs as well.

I've played all the big ones for at least a few weeks at most 2 months but they all feel the same after I get bored.

The one exception for me was SWG. I played that for several years if you count beta. Right up until they ruined it with CU/NGE. It had a rough start but after transport and player buildings got put in, it was just the best.

Would probably still be playing if SOE hadn't gutted it.
 
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44. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 18:05 MUGWUMP
 
Cutter wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 17:14:
...Developing smaller, more focused games with smaller budgets is the way to go here. While providing some linearity for those who want/need it, more zone based wide-open exploration is key. User-created content is also key. Phasing to support real dynamic content is key. Basically, something like NWN on a larger scale - each server supporting hundreds, but not thousands, of players is the way to go. Smaller servers create self-policing communities whereas the larger they are you're just another anonymous face in the crowd.

I agree 100%. I played EQ and early on we had a pretty tight community. You really found out who your friends were when you had a 3 hour corpse run at 2am through some ridiculous zone. I remember some horrible mansion with vampires that had buggy walls where the mobs would aggro through them and pull like 30 friends along to you.

CHOO CHOO!!!!!

It made for a more enjoyable experience. Troublemakers would be shunned and wouldn't get groups. Good times.
 
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43. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 18:00 Sepharo
 
Jdrez wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 17:49:
I played a lot of WoW. I played a lot of Everquest II at the same time. I've played nearly every MMORPG that's ever come out, at least for an hour or two.

I get into nerd arguments with people because they see all these things that are SOOOO DIFFERENT! All I see is a fantasy world and a hot bar where you go to some spot and click 1 - 9 repeatedly until you've killed 10 boars or whatever.

MMORPGs are basically all the same to me and I never felt WoW had anything over EQII (or vice versa) except media hype and low system requirements.


(And to the other commenter: I have no hate on for Blizzard. I have no feelings about them whatsoever. If my not thinking WoW is anything special makes me elitist somehow, so be it.)

That's pretty much my experience with MMOs as well.

I've played all the big ones for at least a few weeks at most 2 months but they all feel the same after I get bored.
 
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42. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:57 AnointedSword
 
This is preemptive. It took years for Wow to have this many subs. This was a good call to do this, because many compare mmorpgs with Wow. It is not realistic to have those numbers right off the bat. Let us hope it will be a fun game.  
If you were right, I would be agreeing with you.
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41. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:56 JoeNapalm
 
Cutter wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 17:14:
The whole genre needs a reboot. It's gone way too far off track. It was us old school PnP/MUDders who created this damn genre so I know what I speak.



Except that it's come full circle, and now WoW is bleeding over into PnP (D&D 4e).

All of these publishers and devs have $$ in their eyes, still. As long as people are foolish enough to think that the fortunes WoW earns are still up for grabs, they'll keep adding to the bonepile.

How hard is it to understand that it's a finite market? Blizzard's the Alpha, and the rest of the pack are fighting over scraps.

-Jn-
Ifriti Sophist
 
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40. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:55 MUGWUMP
 
Beamer wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 15:56:
...But I'll still argue that it's not a "game," just a chat room with chores.

We used to say something like this about EverQuest while playing. A chat room with a game attached.

I think another reason WoW does so well is the world and the story and characters in it.

 
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39. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:49 Jdrez
 
Warskull wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 16:25:

If you compare WoW's quality to other non-MMO games, yes it seems lacking. However, if you only compare it to MMOs you will realize before WoW every other MMO have extreme levels of grind and were very punishing. WoW focused on the reward schedule and a faster, but still addictive leveling system while leveraging their company name, which they built up over time. WoW cut a lot of bullshit out of MMOs (yes there still is a lot of bullshit.)

As a genre most MMOs tend to be very bad games. WoW, mediocre as it is, is still the best in its genre. There is a reason a vast majority of WoW players end up returning to WoW.

I played a lot of WoW. I played a lot of Everquest II at the same time. I've played nearly every MMORPG that's ever come out, at least for an hour or two.

I get into nerd arguments with people because they see all these things that are SOOOO DIFFERENT! All I see is a fantasy world and a hot bar where you go to some spot and click 1 - 9 repeatedly until you've killed 10 boars or whatever.

MMORPGs are basically all the same to me and I never felt WoW had anything over EQII (or vice versa) except media hype and low system requirements.


(And to the other commenter: I have no hate on for Blizzard. I have no feelings about them whatsoever. If my not thinking WoW is anything special makes me elitist somehow, so be it.)
 
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38. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:39 Cram
 
I think it is difficult at this point to determine what Guild Wars 2 measure's of success are considering that, at this time, there are no plans for required subscription fees. That alone may steal some people from WoW looking to save a buck and play something new. I think you're right though, with the lack of monthly income, the game will probably have to be fairly innovative to reach sales goals needed to breakeven & maintain a player base they will need for whatever other programs they have planned to make more revenue.

Cutter wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 17:14:
So far it looks like GW2 is the only thing on track to really innovate the genre, if not it'll fail too. /quote]

 
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37. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:14 Cutter
 
Even a 100k subs for 10 years won't earn you your money back and that just isn't going to happen. SWTOR will be the last major failure for a long time (Rift Planes of Telara only marginally less so as a 50 million dollar failure). So far it looks like GW2 is the only thing on track to really innovate the genre, if not it'll fail too. The whole genre needs a reboot. It's gone way too far off track. It was us old school PnP/MUDders who created this damn genre so I know what I speak.

Developing smaller, more focused games with smaller budgets is the way to go here. While providing some linearity for those who want/need it, more zone based wide-open exploration is key. User-created content is also key. Phasing to support real dynamic content is key. Basically, something like NWN on a larger scale - each server supporting hundreds, but not thousands, of players is the way to go. Smaller servers create self-policing communities whereas the larger they are you're just another anonymous face in the crowd.
 
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36. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:10 Beamer
 
but ultimately junk food with no redeeming value in it.

No redeeming value?!

But if I don't give this random NPC with a ? over his head 10 cow horns I won't level up! Since cows drop cowhorns at a rate of 1 per 10 killed, I need to kill 100 cows to appease this NPC. Since there are 4 cows in this field, they spawn at a rate of 1 per minute, they take 1 minute to die, they take 2 minutes to get to from another, and 4 of us are in this field...

Crap, I have no clue how many minutes that turns out to be to do this quest, but man, is it ever value. I can't wait for the NPC to ask me to then deliver these 10 cow horns to someone halfway across the map as if I'm a UPS driver!


 
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35. Re: EA: A Decade of The Old Republic Won't Need Millions of Subs Dec 8, 2010, 17:01 Flatline
 
justice7 wrote on Dec 8, 2010, 14:48:
I say enough with the elitist (and completely false) attitude that WoW isn't a fantastic product; like it or not it is. It's genuinely one of the greatest games ever created, even if you don't bother with it.

Blizzard has always been a well loved company, why did success change people's minds?

Er... it's a fantastic moneymaker, not the second coming of Christ. What is your proof that it's one of the greatest games ever created? That it has millions of subscribers? By that logic, McDonalds makes the best food on the planet, since it outsells any other food offering by orders of magnitude.

Success didn't change my mind about Blizzard. The company evolves. The people who made the games that WoW & Blizzard have cached in on are, largely, gone, moved on, and doing other things. Even at this point the minds responsible for WoW have either moved on to other projects or are no longer with Blizzard. I don't see why you think of Blizzard as this monolithic, static, unchanging entity.

WoW is the Big Mac & Fries of the gaming world. Tasty, relatively cheap when you aren't addicted, but ultimately junk food with no redeeming value in it.
 
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