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Michael Pachter: SWTOR Will Have More Players Than World Of Warcraft

Don’t you..
forget about me…
I’ll be alone…
dancing, you know it baby

From GI:

Specifically on the Star Wars news, Pachter noted, “We believe the free-to-play option and lower retail price will combine to significantly increase the number of Star Wars players by the end of the year as the two largest barriers to entry for potential Star Wars gamers (apart from an appreciation for the franchise and PC gaming) have been significantly reduced or eliminated.”

“We expect the network effect to augment the number of gamers further. In the long-term, we believe the adjustments will result in incremental revenue and earnings growth as high-margin Cartel Coin purchases by a much larger pool of gamers and additional advertising generate more revenue than was lost through declining subscription fees and the lower MSRP.”

Ultimately, Pachter believes that Star Wars now has the potential to “attract at least 10 million MAUs indefinitely, with upside to perhaps 50 million.” He added, “Thus, we believe that contribution from the model shift could be significant for years to come.”

MAU is industry jargon for “Monthly Active Users”. Given that Blizzard just announced they had dropped t0 9.1m users globally, that is a fairly bullish  prediction of market domination from Pachter, who went on to state that whipped cream is a perfectly cromulent floor cleaner, crunch is really good for you and builds character, and that Ratt’s “Lay It Down” was the greatest song the 20th century ever produced.

  • Zeldain

    Not without some core changes to the game itself!

    I can’t even believe they went with a number like that.

  • Soufllame

    I don’t think they fully grasp that Free to Play means free.  Including the client.

  • I will be interested to see if we ever hear of this MAU number ever again.  The epeen measurement for user base comparisons seems to be TAEC (total accounts ever created) since that is the only number where even free games can hope to match WoW’s current subscribers number.

    Whatever number looks best to the guy in marketing.

    http://memegenerator.net/instance/24512750

  • MAU and ARPU are the two main metrics for F2P games and have been for some time.

    MAU – monthly active users
    ARPU –  average revenue per user (in facebook games usually it’s DARPU – for daily)

    A game with a high MAU and a very low ARPU isn’t much of a success – however if a game can have stratospheric MAU that can make for a profitable title even if the ARPU is super low. See: Farmville.

    Obviously for subscription games like WoW the ARPU is very high (higher even than $15/mo what with the various upsells like server transfers and sparkle ponies), however unless your name is WoW your MAU will probably be pretty low. Still with an assured ARPU you can have a profitable title even with a low MAU. See: Rift.

    So yeah, those aren’t going away any time soon since it’s the easiest way to determine the profitability of a F2P title.

  • Genda

    So I am filing this under “predictions sure to go wrong.”  I am amazed by people who are ostensibly very smart who make such large leaps.  To me it betrays a lack of understanding of how we, as gamers, react to such stimuli.  I’ve said all along that if SWTOR was worth playing long-term, I’d happily shell out $15 a month for it.  The reverse is not true.  I won’t play a game because it’s free to play.  I will play it because otherwise I would be willing to shell out for a sub.  

    The most obvious piece of data that is out there for them as an indication of how things may go it’s the fact that they have already churned at least half of their original sales (probably much more) and they left.  For them there was not a significant barrier to entry as they invested in the game and presumable would be willing to sub.  That was their core audience, who they have now started to lose.  Making the box price lower and not charging a monthly isn’t going to take them to those kinds of numbers.  50M?  Pure fantasy.

    • Anubis

      For me it is a far simpler decision: Add regular content to your game and I will playit , or don’t (like SWTOR) and I will move on to another game.

  • Oh, I am sure those standard metrics are not going away.  My point was that Michael Patcher brought MAU up as a metric, but it isn’t one that I have seen companies announcing publicly very often. (I think the guy who runs Puzzle Pirates discussed that measure at one point, but that is it.)  So he can imagine SWTOR will be whatever and it will be meaningless (to me at least) since there is little to compare it against. 

    Outsiders like me only ever hear the “what sounds best” marketing metrics.   So we see press releases where SOE announces that Free Realms has 20 million “total users,” which sounds a lot like the metric I made up above.

  • Ok, first of all, it’s Way Cool Junior, not Lay It Down. I can’t believe I still subscribe to your rantings if you’re going to make such elementary mistakes.

    Second of all, did they ever add respecs? Until someone tells me they’ve added respecs, I have no interest in power-acting and joining /hellcows to get power-leveled by strangers.

  • uh… swtor had respecs since launch. What game are you talking about?

    • During beta there was a report that SWOTOR didn’t have respecs, and I promptly lost interest. Beta is beta, obviously.

      And I’m one of those who wants to support Bioware but doesn’t like Star Wars anymore, for whatever magnificently jowled reason you’d care to presume.

      I’ll admit that I’m disappointed that I got no response to my Ratt troll.

  • Jeremy Thornhill

    50… wait, what? Did he say 50 *million*?

    Man, I want some of that sweet sweet space weed they apparently give to “analysts” these days.

  • A Man In Black

    Michael Pachter: SWTOR Will Have More Players Than The Population Of The Earth

  • Inklink

    Well first of all… Michael Pachter.  Nuff said.

    But on the whole SWTOR F2P conversion.

    SWTOR is possibly the greatest SINGLE-player game ever developed.  To be more precise, the greatest single-player adventure game a la KOTOR/Mass Effect.  However, EA spent a LOT of money on it and wanted a big return.  So they tried to sell it as an MMO by tacking on some generic WoW clone.  This didn’t work.

    Now the obvious ploy would have been to sell SWTOR as a single-player game.  A compatible business model might have been to sell each character class for, say, $10 and remove the subscription cost.  Add an item shop of course, in the same way that single-player games nowadays add DLCs.
    Such a move would have allowed EA to sell the game’s central asset, the main character story line, to its players.  And it would have avoided scaring off die-hard single-player gamers (of which there are a lot).

    What they ARE actually planning, however, is the exact opposite.  They are intending to GIVE AWAY the central asset of their game, everybody can play all character story lines for free to max level.  They are removing subscription costs AND box costs (or rather, it seems that the box cost is going to be around $10, which is REALLY low for a game of this quality).
    And their business model is then centered around all the MMO stuff that they tacked on on top of the central game.  Subscriptions so you can raid more, and probably an item shop with lots of consumables etc. for more pve and pvp efficiency, all unnecessary for basic questing.

    So this only leaves me with two possible conclusions:
    a) EA is making the biggest mistake ever, basically giving away the most expensive computer game ever for free.
    b) EA is taking a huge risk and going for the pure numbers.  Offer a deal that’s so fantastically good that they will really have HUGE numbers of subscribers.  Yes, that means their ARPU will be in the pits.   Perhaps some money can be recovered later by selling sparkling millennium falcons or by selling later expansions (GW model).  Or perhaps EA takes the opportunity to create legions of lifelong EA fanatics or merely to prepare a fanbase for possible sequels or the next big BioWare game.

    Now the people at EA ain’t stupid, but option b) sounds really really risky, considering the amount of money on the line.  On the other hand, perhaps EA has already written off their losses and would rather leverage the burning wreckage (which still houses tremendous value, if only it can be made to shine) for something more substantial in the long run than some small cash-grab which would really not do the game justice.

    Either way, I feel the decisions here definitely have the capacity to save or break EA.  In fact, they may possibly have major impact on the entire industry for years down the road.  Something I wouldn’t have thought when the game came out, as the MMO aspect of it in any case was sooo outdated.

    tl;dr:  50 million… probably not.  10 millions does sound feasible though, maybe even more.  I bet I could get a lot of customers for my hot-dog stand if I sold hot-dogs for free (charging 10 cents for the optional mustard).

    • Just one problem, you assume 0% friction. The truth is that EA already spent 100m marketing SWTOR resulting in the current situation. 

      Do you think they’ll spend another 50 million to get the FREE player base to 10 million?

      As you so aptly point out, this is generally a good singleplayer game and unlike League of Legends or World of Tanks, players generally do not drag their friends into single player games. 

      Zero vitality? Bring back the marketing budget problem.

  • What’s odd about this is it is so obviously nonsense and comes from someone who does know quite a lot about the industry. From 1.5 million at launch, dropped to about 500k by the end of the sub phase and up to 50 million as a result of a free to play conversion? Not even DDO which had the luxury of launching into a market utterly ripe for this managed to boost its MAU by 20-100 fold.

    There’s nothing in MMO precedent that suggests converting to free to play is this successful ever.  And even if DDO had been this successful, had boosted its numbers from 50k to 1m-5m that was then, it seemed a great deal then, it seemed that we gamers were getting a triple A title with a top-notch IP completely free. Now however people are much more cynical about the benefits of F2P, games companies have learned to be less generous with the free elements and there’s a lot of triple A competition.

  • VPellen

    Oh wait, they’re serious

    Let me laugh even harder

  • Talorc

    So what, like 8 million+ people are suddenly going to download and start playing a twelve month old MMO with more than a whiff of problems associated with it?  Because it went free 2 play.

    yeah right.

  • Loredena

    I picked up the trial on a whim last week (mostly because my husband the MMO tourist did, and it looked pretty).   For an MMO it is an *amazing* single player game, and we’re likely to be able to duo pretty well together too once we get in synch (he had a significant headstart).  I liked it enough to buy the box and odds are I’ll continue to play it occasionally once it goes F2P.      I do think it’s strange that they are planning to give away the best part of the game; I don’t raid, and I can happily play all 4 classes to 50 over the next year or two.  I wouldn’t pay for a sub to do that – but I will if it is free.   

    They might even get some cash out of me past the initial box sale – I tossed some money at DDO for the 3 months or so I actually played it as I like to show some support and the game was free.   But I already have 3 lifetime subs (yes, I’m a complete sucker for those and can think of at least 2 games I’d still be playing occasionally if they’d offered one) and the only game I pay a sub for is EQ2 – – I can’t justify two subs a month, and I have too much time invested in EQ2 to just walk away.