BioWare Unable To Give Straight Answer On SW:TOR Subscriber Numbers

BioWare Unable To Give Straight Answer On SW:TOR Subscriber Numbers
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“Subscriber numbers are funny things. How you count them — the maths you use — really matters and there are lots of variables to consider.” I’ve heard my fair share of PR deflections in my day — heck, in a former life I conjured a few — but this pearler, from Emmanuel Lusinchi, the lead designer on Star Wars: The Old Republic, is a doozy.

Lusinchi gave the answer during an interview with Sponge during London’s Comic Con. That’s not the whole of it though — the designer did attempt to elaborate:

“All games of this nature, have a set of variables that are constantly changing. You will have a certain number of people that buy the box and never install it. I know it sounds strange, but it happens. There are people that play it, and then decide after ten minutes that it’s not for them -– that’s a small percentage, but every game has them. Finally you have people who play for a couple of months, finish the story, and then be done with it.”

To be fair, there’s a decent point in there — how do you count subscribers? We know Blizzard touts figures like 10 and 11 million when talking about World of Warcraft, but it has never really expanded on what this count includes. The most obvious would be active subscribers, but someone with an active subscription might only play an hour a day. Average players per server could be a better metric, but this would need to take into account the total number of servers to be accurate.

What we do know is that SW:TOR could be doing better — just last month, EA announced a drop of 400,000 subscribers in its latest earnings report. It also gave a number of BioWare employees their marching orders, though this could have just been natural staff contraction.

Lusinchi didn’t comment on reports that the SW:TOR‘s servers are averaging a measly 350 players, though the methods used to calculate this number are hardly solid.

Regardless, the designer’s answer does not reflect confidence. It feels more like an excuse — if the game is doing well, the numbers should speak for themselves.

Interviews// Star Wars: The Old Republic [Sponge via VG247]


  • To be fair a drop from launch day subs who are on their 30 free days is to be expected IMO. As long as the game keeps around 1 million subs for quite a while the game should be profitable.

  • Subscribers are generally taken as the number of active paid subscribers in a given month. Obviously the same metrics aren’t as indicative in F2P or hybrid models but in the case of a subscription-only MMO like TOR, it’s relatively cut and dry.

    At any given day they should easily be able to run a report that tells them how many people have a valid subscription (i.e. can login and play). Metrics like people who purchased but haven’t yet installed, have completed all the story arcs across all classes etc. serve an altogether different purpose.

    I don’t believe SWTOR is failing by any means as many people seem to enjoy it. Personally, it wasn’t the right game for me – I hated the combat and character mobility and that turned me right off it. Bioware had a chance to make a fresh and accessible MMO and tap into the Star Wars fan base but what they instead seemed to make was a WoW inspired game with some other innovations / refinements.

    Shame it wasn’t the one for me – I’m looking forward to Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World as they both seem to offer something new.

      • In your opinion. Your poor spelling and grammar aside, I never understand ridiculous statements like these. What exactly am I supposed to be losing out on if it is something that I’m interested, will derive enjoyment from by playing?

        I said *I* was looking forward to Guild Wars 2 and TSW.

        I have beta-tested both and based on what I have seen, I have decided that I like them and have pre-purchased/ordered both. I didn’t say everyone was looking forward to these games, nor did I suggest that they were going to be the ‘WoW-killers’ that some people build up every new release to be.

          • Yes, I have beta tested TSW during both beta weekends.

            At the end of the second weekend I liked it enough to play for a considerable amount of time moving forward so I decided to purchase the lifetime subscription. I purchased a lifetime subscription to Champions Online and still regularly go back so doing the same with TSW affords me the same flexibility.

            In my opinion there is a relatively strong foundation to TSW – An example of a TSW side-quest: that I think showcases some of the atmosphere that the game generates quite well.

            If you pre-order via Amazon you can (cheekily) use the beta code they give you for the upcoming weekend and decide if you like it. If you don’t, cancel your pre-order on Amazon with no $ loss and look at something else that appeals to you more.

      • How does one lose out on something they enjoy.

        It’s personal opinion. And it’s the mentality that someone is lOsing out because they enjoy something you don’t like that continues to foster the BS elitism crap.

        Your only losing out on something if you never even try it because some idiot said its crap. Even though it may be the perfect game for you

  • One of the biggest problems is that the game is so linear! WoW had a massive, open world that you could explore at your own leisure. TOR you literally follow a path through each world, complete the quests and move on. There is no reason to return once you’ve finished each world. Its not an MMO, it’s a single player game with optional co-op that requires an internet connection.

  • They won’t give the numbers because they’re fudging them in game to make it look more popular than it is.

    There are a few reports of people seeing that there are X number of players in the server when they look in the stats only to find it is significantly less. EA have been very shifty about the numbers for a fair while now. TES online will kill TOR… but TES itself doesn’t look all too hot itself.

    Between the dev cost, the server cost and what it takes to maintain TOR, it’d be hard to see them scraping even. Bioware breaking parts of the game with each update and the absolute shitstorm with ME3 and TOR on the forums has damaged the game irrepairably.

    It’s a shame though, back when It was announced I was excited like crazy, I adored KOTOR and KOTOR 2… maybe they should have done a sequel instead of an mmo

  • It’s pretty simple really. How many people in the last week were able to log in and play? What is the number of active subscribers today? Easy. World of Warcraft can do it – so can Bioware. This kind of response is easily just trying to deflect that the numbers aren’t strong. EA firing heaps of Bioware employees only confirms what they can’t admit.

  • All the server status data mining done by users has it below 400k and dropping. Numbers are mined off unique logins not actual active paid accounts so take that into consideration.

    Me personally I would guess around 500k and I predict it will level off at around 150k-200 with 3-4 servers similar to what happened with Warhammer Online, which is funny since both games have alot of staff from the other.

  • This just reminded me of FFXIV, where they used to display stats of the game to the public. But then they suddenly stopped reporting player numbers when people were quitting in large numbers. Let’s just say Bioware isn’t fooling anyone.

  • I liked it, but it doesn’t have enough to keep you playing. I used my 30 days, plus… two billing periods of 30 days. The second of which, I played only about 2 hours worth of game in that time.

    It was great, then not so great really fast. I’d still play if it was F2P or if it was $5 a month, but $15 a month for what is essentially a single player RPG is a joke.

    • Same happened to me and several of my friends. There was just no desire to login and play any longer. I logged in every day during the first couple of months, then less so the following month, then the final month I didn’t log-in at all and that was indicative enough for me that it was time to cancel the subscription if I hadn’t even logged into the game in the preceding 4 weeks.

  • The Problem with SWTOR is a patently obvious and simple one. When you construct a game around 1 campaign and that game has a primary development goal of enacting a fourth pillar of play and that pillar is story, what happens when you run out of story?

    You can play through different character classes only to discover that you will be replaying many of the same story elements despite reporting to a few different NPC’s. You can take up multiplayer only to discover that it requires more grind to obtain kit than the campaign itself requires to get through it.

    Ultimately SWTOR is an MMO that ran out of story.

  • What can EA expect? They took Mythic – the same bunch of clowns behind Warhammer Online, rebranded them Bioware and then expect them to turn out a solid game on a strong franchise – and they didn’t deliver, again.

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