Anti-Aliased: Is SWTOR worth 2 million users

Seraphina Brennan
S. Brennan|03.19.10

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Anti-Aliased: Is SWTOR worth 2 million users
So, some big news out of the Electronic Arts/BioWare camp today -- it's going to take one million subscribers to break even on Star Wars: The Old Republic, and EA is shooting for two million subscribers on the game. Those are some pretty intense numbers for a game, but when you're sinking as much money into a project as they're sinking into SWTOR, those are the numbers you need.

But, are they realistic numbers? This isn't the first time EA poured their heart and soul into a MMO, only to find that the subscriptions weren't to their liking. Then again, when you're dealing with a well known IP and an already successful RPG developer who knows how to handle said IP, you might just have the recipe for a subscriber explosion.

So that's this week's question -- Is SWTOR worth two million users?

IP means something, but it certainly isn't everything

Right off the bat, when this story approached us, most of the staff here reacted the same way -- "Never shoot for huge numbers." If there's anything that we've learned from this past year and a half, it's that no title is safe from having their hopes and dreams crushed.

"In short, don't stand all of your hopes and dreams on the fact that this game is Star Wars."

And it's never due to the IP either. In fact, most of the big releases in the last year have been based upon pre-existing IPs, much like SWTOR is built on both the Star Wars and The Old Republic licenses. (Yes, I count them separately, because The Old Republic is very different from the core of Star Wars, in my opinion.) I shouldn't have to reiterate that Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Star Trek Online, and, to a lesser extent, Champions Online were all quite well known before they made the jump to MMOdom. I also shouldn't have to reiterate that all of these titles had huge openings that only gave way to fiery explosions of user anger.

Beyond that, initial numbers mean nothing if you can't hold them in your game. I'm sure many Trekkies jumped all over Star Trek Online when it first launched just because it was Star Trek, but the IP only brings people to your product. Gameplay is the honey that keeps them there, so you better be sure that the honey is sweet and not filled with dead bees. (Wow, that's such a horrible metaphor. Note to self: Never use that metaphor again.)

In short, don't stand all of your hopes and dreams on the fact that this game is Star Wars. Bad games are bad games, no matter what the IP is. But, we shouldn't have to worry about that, as it seems that SWTOR is hanging its hat on fresh, expansive gameplay via cinematic conversations and dynamic quests.

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