It’s been a lot longer since I’ve written a blog post than I envisioned when I wrote my last blog in December. I’m still active on Twitter and Reddit regularly, but the time required to research and write these blog posts has been elusive this year. However, with the release of EA’s Annual Report in the form of its Form 10-K filed with the SEC this morning, I had to make time to share a few thoughts as follow up for my previous analysis of the past years of financial reports back in December. As a frame of reference for this analysis, I’ll start by quoting that December analysis because I think this section provides solid footing for the rest of the post.
Why Does It Matter?
The reason that I decided to review the financial reports for myself is that our recent discussions as a community often seem to devolve into arguments about whether various types of content are more or less desired by players or profitable for BioWare. There is an answer to these questions, but no one outside of BioWare and EA can say with absolute certainty that they know the exact financial state of the game. My analysis simply takes my experience in extracting useful information from financial reports that all publicly traded companies file on an ongoing basis and applying it to Star Wars: The Old Republic within EA’s financials.
My hope is that by providing an accurate picture of the game’s revenue trends over the past four years we can have more informed discussions about the current concerns of the community regarding the game. My goal is to make the concepts accessible to everyone, so I will try to provide clear statements and avoid too much finance and economics minutia. It is important to note though that EA’s fiscal year (FY) ends on March 31st of each year, so fiscal year 2015 (FY15) was the period of April 1st, 2014 through March 31st, 2015. We are currently about 65% of the way through EA’s 2016 fiscal year even though that is counter-intuitive.
The Annual Report
Star Wars: The Old Republic has received a lot of attention for its episodic story content cycle that began in October 2015 with the release of Knights of the Fallen Empire and opinions vary widely. There is little doubt that the financial success or failure of this content cycle will be the largest factor in determining the future path of the game. There is one paragraph that provides essentially all of the information in the entire 97 page report regarding Star Wars: The Old Republic specifically:
For fiscal year 2016, service and other revenue was $1,899 million, primarily driven by FIFA Ultimate Team and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Service and other revenue for fiscal year 2016 decreased $48 million, or 2 percent, as compared to fiscal year 2015. This decrease was driven by a $421 million decrease primarily from Titanfall and Battlefield 4 Premium. This decrease was partially offset by a $373 million increase primarily from the Madden NFL franchise, Need for Speed 2015 and SimCity BuildIt.
The game is doing well enough to appear as the second named attribution for the category’s revenue for the fiscal year. This indicated a continued strong position within the category which has value in terms of the game remaining a large contributor for EA and remaining a development priority moving forward. However, despite being hailed as the most successful expansion that Star Wars: The Old Republic has ever released, it did not significantly change the revenue for the game compared to the prior year and more traditional content cycle of the Shadow of Revan expansion.
The precious little information that can be extracted from such high level financial reporting is fairly neutral. The stabilization of the revenue trajectory for the game would actually be success story if it were not for the hyperbolic adulation that’s constantly showered on the game by the team at BioWare Austin. That is not to say that it might not be the most profitable expansion the game has released, because stable revenue being achieved by an anemic expansion devoid of almost any content associated with the MMO genre, and the commensurate cost savings of only developing a fraction of the content that was seen in prior expansions and typically in other MMO video games, implies a massive profitability increase compared to prior expansions.
The chasm between the financial success of the game and the state of the once vibrant MMO player base of the game has never been wider. By all discernible metrics, the amount of players and the total amount of play time in the game appears to have decreased significantly in the past 6-12 months. The game has been altered to its core and now resembles a TV series nearly as much as an MMO in many ways. As a player, as a GM, and as an active community member, the state of the game is discouraging and heartbreaking. It is never easy to admit an error in prior analysis, but while the December analysis correctly predicted the negative impacts on the player community, the analysis of the financial impact of that deterioration has so far been woefully inaccurate.
As an analyst, there is no longer any doubt that the most profitable path has been selected. There are clearly enough consumers willing to pay for what is being provided to maintain revenues consistent with the prior fiscal year. However, it is unfathomable that the cost of providing the current content cycle could be anything but a fraction of prior content cycles based on the amount of content being provided. I can only assume that this content cycle and business model will now persist indefinitely until a revenue decline significant enough to outpace the cost reductions. The questions that loom large are how EA will react when this model of cost reduction can no longer maintain profit margins when revenues inevitably stumble due to reduced content production and how the broader genre and industry will react to the (at least short-term) success of episodic story without any significant investments in repeatable content and especially repeatable group content.
I’ve grown quite accustomed to remaining emotionally detached from analysis in my line of work. Any indication of emotion is often a sign of flawed analysis in the industry as well. I find my emotions inextricably linked to my analysis in this case though. It feels more like slowly losing contact with an old friend than objective analysis of a changing product that is finding ways to remain profitable over time. In almost any other situation I would likely admire the ability of management to find new customers while reducing costs and be indifferent to the loss of existing customers as long as the client acquisition rate exceeded the client attrition rate over time. Such detachment eludes me and I fear the day when that is no longer the case because this isn’t just any product, it’s a game I’ve come to appreciate more than any game I’ve played before and a community that welcomed me warmly from my first posts here. It makes my analysis objectively weaker, but hopefully more interesting if nothing else.
As always, thanks for reading and I apologize for the long delay between posts. Maybe I’ll return to a more frequent writing pattern at some point, but I’m not sure when or if that might be at this point.
Andrew | SWTOR Economics
20 thoughts on “A Follow Up Analysis of Star Wars: The Old Republic from EA’s FY16 Annual Report”
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It’s the cartel market whales who are keeping the game afloat.
We don’t have subscriber numbers, but the decline of activity on the servers is now reaching the point of being catastrophic if TORStatus is to be believed. Many people misunderstand what information can be extracted from that site with some pro-doomsayers going too far and saying everything is dead and many white knights dismissing the site as “irrelevant” or “not quantitative”. The white knights in particular have a severe misapprehension about the power of trend analysis which the year of server activity data which is publically available on the site enables.
That trend analysis is unequivocal and unambiguous:the game is in a far, far, far worse state at this point than it was at this time last year from a player activity point of view. In both cases this time of year has seen a substantial dip in the fullness of the servers. However the dip this year has essentially started from where the dip ended up last year. A case in point when it comes to individual servers is the one I used to play on: The Progenitor. It was never as active as The Red Eclipse or T3-M4, but it was always a server which would get to medium status for a reasonable amount of the evenings etc. It suffered a decline after the peak of the KotFE and TFA activity bumps (which clearly show up in the TORStatus data) but that decline stabilised around the end of February this year with the server spending around 15% to 20% of the time at medium status and the rest at light status. That’s not stellar activity levels, but it at least shows a server with some community around. It has now got to the point where it is suffering the fate of the PvP servers. The decline set in after about the first week of May and it has now reached the point where it has dropped off the TORStatus graphs because the population is so low. After 24th May it only popped up to medium status for about 5% of 29th May and given the trend I do not believe that it will make it above low population this coming Sunday which has been the most active day of the week recently.
The last non-PVP server this happened to was Begeren Colony and that has never recovered. We are now down to two European servers (TRE and T3-M4) which show real any signs of life and both are declining at the moment. We are now down to three US east coast servers which show any real signs of life (Shadowlands, Jedi Covenant and Ebon Hawk) and all three are declining at the moment. We are now down to one US west coast server which shows any real signs of life, and indeed is the most populous and healthy server in the game (The Harbinger). Harbinger is fairly flat at the moment, but even it shows somewhat lower activity than it did six weeks ago.
I said earlier that it is the cartel whales who are keeping this game afloat. Their expenditure can easily be equivalent to several ordinary subscribers in monetary terms so financially they are the people who the accountants in EA will want to keep around. However from a game community point of view they are not the people you want to keep around. Some of them will be nightmare ops players, high-end PvP players, guide writers, big roleplayers and prominent community members. I suspect that is a tiny minority of the whales however. All of the aforementioned valuable community categories have for the most part either left the game or drastically curtailed their activities in the game which has ripped the heart out of the game’s community.
It does appear that those such as you and I who thought this direction would be catastrophic for the game’s revenue have been proven wrong, at least for now. I would heartily agree that this game’s long-term health does not look good, particularly from a community point of view but also from a financial point of view eventually. The KotFE chickens will eventually come home to roost.
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I agree with that.
When I see people talking (like in a recent thread in General Discussion) about spending 5K a year on cartel coins and hypercrates, well, that’s what’s funding the game, clearly.
Which makes the two recent Kylo Ren lightsabers that much clearer of a moneygrab – and a somewhat desperate one.
The question then becomes, how long can they keep putting things into hypercrates (at low occurrence rates) that the whales will be willing to spend hundreds to get? How long will the whales keep finding gratification in doing so? How many other “must have” objects can they introduce? How blatant will they have to get in order to maintain the interest and the willingness to spend hundreds of dollars for a chance of getting even one?
I am guessing here, based on casual observations while playing, but I think a certain amount of the whales’ motivation in spending on cartel outfits and weapons is being able to show them off to other players. When the majority of the playerbase has evaporated due to lack of MMO gameplay, that motivation will also evaporate – there’ll be nobody to care about whether they look cool.
I also am still curious about what I said in my comment to the previous article –
“If the quarterly report refers to events multiple months in the past, the “continued growth” mentioned could track with my observations through January, in which case I would expect very big problems to show up in the numbers for the _next_ quarter.”
Anyone know if my understanding of the time period covered by the quarterlies is incorrect?
I completely sympathize with Andrew’s comments about it feeling like losing an old friend. The more so because it seems like it is an entirely avoidable situation.
The EA fiscal year beings on April 1st and ends on March 31st of the following year. The 10-K annual filing covered that period from 4/1/2015 through 3/31/2016, the next quarterly report will cover 4/1/2016 through 6/30/2016 and will be released around 8/10/2016 roughly. There is no 10-Q quarterly report filed for the January through March quarter normally, the 10-Q’s only exist to update investors between annual reports.
Apologies if I’ve missed past posts here (I also tend to stay out of the “Is the game dying or not?” rabbit holes on Reddit, etc.), but I’d love to get a post on what makes you suspect that KotFE content must cost significantly less to produce than the older expansion content. They built several new (small) worlds, with accompanying new art design (Odessen+that pirate world Arcann destroys+Star Fortress+Zakuul feels about equal to Makeb+CZ-198+Oricon+raids or to Rishi+Yavin+Ziost+raids to me) and there’s much more VO content and animation. There are fewer new encounter mechanics, but why would the cost savings from that outweigh the increased costs from additional voice acting and animation?
Honestly, I’ve been completely caught off guard by the amount of people doubting that notion. Cost effectiveness is one of the only definable economic explanations for their design choices in KotFE, so if it wasn’t cheaper then my analysis is that everyone in management positions at BioWare Austin should be fired with cause immediately.
how about instead of having min/max meta players only use server space for a short spacial amount of time bingeing on new content, and instead prolong the viewership over a set course of time, setting it up for future installments as well?
I’m sorry. I have friends who work on SWTOR. Trust me, animation and voice-acting are the top 2 costs in SWTOR, and will continue to be so. The fact KoftFE actually added MORE of those things, it boggles my mind that you see it as just a “cost effectiveness ploy”
I’ve read through almost all of your content, and the in-game stuff is really quite epic and very good. Your “real world” analysis though are based on suppositions and assumptions that are very often far from actual facts.
The fact EA states SWTOR is one of their strongest assets, and in fact admitting that Battlefield and Titanfall are falling (aka get ready for new ones) only strengthens the pro-longevity and life of the game.
I’ve been on every server, all during 24 hour periods. The only time the dominant servers are remotely quiet, and even then are still populated at the fleets, are during “real life” times. Aka when people are working or sleeping.
and there’s no way to “edit” ? how does wordpress even survive? lol
I was going to finish with
‘It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.’
Sherlock Holmes Quote
-A Scandal in Bohemia
and as my anthropology colleagues would state “always enter with an unbiased mind, and try to keep it throughout your research.”
>I’m sorry. I have friends who work on SWTOR. Trust me, animation and voice-acting are the top 2 costs in SWTOR, and will continue to be so. The fact KoftFE actually added MORE of those things, it boggles my mind that you see it as just a “cost effectiveness ploy”
I’ve had multiple high-quality sources directly contradict what you’re saying. I’ve never had a source within BioWare Austin itself, but multiple people in positions to know the cost structure of the game have told me that tech infrastructure and programming are far more significant costs than writing and voice acting. There are more animations in a single Operation than all of the KotFE chapters combined and every game I’ve ever researched on the business side says that cut scenes are infinitely less expensive than interactive animations which is logical.
Agree to disagree I suppose, but if they spent more on KotFE than SoR, this expansion is a business failure because revenue is flat. For their sake I hope they spent less making this expansion than the previous ones.
Maybe my assumptions are wrong, but they are based on research, reason, and sources that I stand by based on all of the information available to me today.
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I spent 3 years working in the MMO field, and some of that with some of the people who made SWTOR. I agree with what you say here.
KOTFE is a drastically simplified product requiring a drastically smaller amount of work and thus drastically lower expense. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind on this point.
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And just for the record, I’m not in the “SWTOR is dying” camp by any means. I prefer analyzing the in-game economy than the real economics of the game itself, but if I don’t include these looks at the game’s own financial picture I’d feel remiss. I think that suboptimal choices were made that have been very damaging to the game’s player base, but this game is still very successful by all indications and I’ll be shocked if it is shut down before a new Star Wars MMO is announced/released by EA.
also, first off, if there was an “edit” I’d put all of this into one post.
I’ve followed SWTOR since beta.
I’ve played Bioware games since KOTOR.
I’ve always max-leveled my characters and enjoyed the sidequests – even the seemingly “boring” ones of getting lost in the Mako in Mass Effect 1.
I checked out SWTOR a year ago. I got past the starter planets with all 8 classes. Then I stopped. The GRIND killed it for me, as a roleplayer.
now, coming from, the worst GRIND in history to me, Warthunder and Elite Dangerous, I LOVE this game now. I’m level 22 somehow and I’m not even done yet with the “Flow of Goods” questline on Coruscant for my Consular. I’ve just been enjoying the new crafting and sidequests. I was level 15 leaving Tython. I’m happily a subscriber now if it gives me that kind of gameplay.
As for end-game content of an MMO? That’s become a massive bonus in ALL of this. This is my first deep leap into a traditional MMO. Instead right now, I’m paying a cheap $15/month to enjoy all 8 classes, in the species I want them to be, and the story paced the way it should have been all along.
The issue is that a nearly 5 year old game has a ton of long-term subscribers that have already completed all of the class stories, many of them multiple times. It is an MMO, not a single player RPG, it has to have an active end-game or it will bleed subscribers.
The Google trends and Reddit metrics aren’t perfect analogs for subscriber counts, but (as Teo described on the last Ootinicast episode) those online interest metrics had a very strong and consistent correlation to WoW subscriber numbers until they stopped releasing subscriber numbers. Based on all available evidence, the game is at it lowest level of player engagement in its existence which fits the model I’m proposing better than one that says there were enough solo RPG subscribers compared to MMO subscribers.
All the metrics that we actually have access to point to the fact that player activity in this game is likely at its lowest level ever. It’s not just the Google search interest trends and Reddit stats and it’s not even those plus the year’s worth of server activity level data we have access to thanks to TORStatus which show this.
Another metric which shows the catastrophic decline in player participation is the ranked PvP participation stats. It appears that season 7 might be doing a bit better than season 6 when it comes to solo ranked numbers as so far 66,518 solo warzones have been played v 56,398 in season 6 and 21,816 players have taken part in solo ranked v 20,309 in season 6. So about 7% more participants have taken part in about 18% more warzones, representing both more players and more warzones per player. However one crucial element missing from this is an analysis of warzones per unit time, ie taking into account how long each ranked season lasted. Off the top of my head I don’t know those figures. Even taking those increases into account solo ranked participation is a fraction of what it was in season 1 when 34,687 players played 110,625 warzones. The number of warzones played is thus 60% of what it was and the number of players playing those warzones is thus 63% of what it was. Losing 40% of the solo ranked warzone player base doesn’t look especially good. Looking at group ranked the situation is even worse. It is at its lowest participation numbers ever with 5,195 players playing 5,415 warzones during season 7 v 19,094 players playing 32,134 warzones during season 1. So 27% of the participants are playing 16% of the warzones when comparing season 7 to season 1. Losing 73% of the group ranked players is even more careless than losing 40% of the solo ranked players.
So that’s four independent metrics showing a catastrophic decline in player participation in the game. At best gross revenue appears to have stabilised recently rather than declining as previously. Extracting net revenue for an individual title is a very difficult process but the number of bugs in the game and the much lower amount of content released during this expansion when compared to previous expansions suggest that programming, art and quality assurance resources available for development have been slashed. That would be one way of increasing the net margin assuming constant revenue.
Qualitative indicators are not good either. Anecdotal evidence of guild after guild closing down on multiple servers comes to mind. Many prominent community members have lost interest in the game. The data miners are essentially gone from the game. The limited number of theorycrafters have seen significant attrition. Several podcasts have either formally shut down or sputtered to a halt. SWTOR streaming is essentially dead as a doornail. Look at the lack of class guides on Dulfy post-4.0. Lots of disciplines are simply missing from the guides, not just out of date but missing. Gunslingers for example only have a saboteur guide and sentinels are missing a guide for focus. On the Empire side there is no powertech tanking guide and no operative DPS guides at all.
Quantitatively the game is in trouble when looking at player participation. Qualitatively the game is in trouble when looking at player participation. The best they have done with gross revenue is stabilised things and if they have increased net revenue they have only done so through savage budgetary cutbacks. So tell me Patrick Murphy: where is the good news for SWTOR in that lot?
You have to understand that you, individually, are not necessarily representative of the audience the game needs to attract in order to remain viable. I absolutely grant that there are people like you, who are coming to it now and enjoying it and find it willing to pay for. The problem is that, first, there are not ENOUGH of you, and second, once you are done you will simply stop paying and move on to another single player game.
These two things spell disaster for the game’s financial state if the plan is to depend on you and those like you.
Regarding David Newton’s post, I agree with most of that, but I want to add – I think a very large part of the game staying financially viable _for now_ is due to what are essentially desperate money grabs; the two Kylo Ren sabers being the most obvious examples. People are spending tremendous amounts of money on the game the same way they would spend money in a casino. This only lasts as long as the casino can continue providing hope that the player will receive something good. The more the playerbase attenuates, the harder they have to sell to the remaining people. That’s not going to last.
Is SWTOR in trouble? I seriously doubt it. But is it thriving? From everything I have looked at, its doing slightly better than suriviving. And the big gazillion dollar question, is TOR thriving in way that builds a high value, sustainable brand with lots of growth potential in the future? Not even close. And there are very specific reasons for that I doubt will ever change, unless Disney intervennes. And Disney doesn’t get or like the gaming business, so I doubt that will ever happen.
#1- While the Cartel Con drives revenue, it does so in the same way a heroin addict gets high. When your chosen path to monetization is to EXPLOIT your base rather than GROW your brand, your company is a drug dealer peddling superficial value. And like the addict, a day will come when the high you’re is no longer what it was, and the revenue will begin to tumble as a result.
#2- I live in Austin and have a good friend whose wife worked for Bioware Austin for a long time. As angry and frustrated as I have been with EA, because thats what Bioware Ausitn is, talking to her revealed nothing earth shattering.
There is tremendous pride in what they are trying to do, there is a lot of passion for the product. But, the culture is broken, just as EA’s culture is very broken. Its a top down, penny pinching enterprise that does a horrible job with their customers and their staff. And this is nothing new with EA. Do a deep dive on EA the last few years, its all out there in Internet Hutt Space.
Meaning, TOR is reflective of its keeper. All the bugs in DAQ sound familiar? They rush product, the are not a creative house, and at the end of the day, its all about getting the money in at any price. Heroin today, to hell with the brand. Disney NEVER should have handed over their licenses to EA. Period.
#3- Fallen Empire versus the current one, huge differences. While I greatly enjoyed the cutscenes, stories of both, even more so the recent release, the actually game play has gotten worse. I think only the walkers challenged me a little, where I actually had to think. The lead up to the walkers was entirely bugged, A-Z. At one point, I just stopped fighting and lived. Thats how pitiful it has gotten.
And talk about upset players, does the term Galactic Command come to mind?
My MONETARY point being, the monetary buzz that kept people in the game spending last year, I dont see it being the same this year. I think their carry in revenue will be softer and I think there are going have increasingly big issues by the next annual. We shall see. But the negative buzz, the media getting off their butts and actually reporting it, all of that is growing.
#4-As a long time business consultant, I’ve done a lot of work in this realm, not just financial analysis, but finding and resolving core issues, triage, so on and so forth. I disagree that their extremely slow bleed out, with moments of ressurection coupled with moments of blood loss, has anything to do with them fading their MMO model. I think it has to do with them straddling too many models and this doing a poor, hit and miss job, with the whole license. A jack of all trades becomes a master of none.
I think they could greatly grow their revenue if they just decided who the hell they are, doubled down on it, built up whatever that is WITH INTEGRITY (which will never happen under EA), and TRULY built a community that was positive, a ton could improve. The adversarial tone of TOR’s community, in particular, the player base vs the devs, some of the worst out there. Which is also all over Hutt Space.
They are half assing everything and therefore doing an epic job with nothing, desperately trying to fund it all through the Cartel Con, until somehow, they can make it all work. The ROOT ISSUES to monetization with brand integrity have never been dealt with, at all. The root issues of community morale, bugs that go back five years, basic gameplay issues, remain broken. Long gone is all the excitement their New York city flash mob inspired.
If they want to be an MMO, then go all in on being an MMO. If they want to be best Star Wars theme park, then go all in on that. I think there is room for a hybrid of the two, but a visionary one, not the broken down mess they now have. The OPS themselves, in most cases, don’t even feel like Star Wars. And back we go to the bugs issues. Its endless.
My final thought is this, lets be brutally honest, shall we. Are people capable of that with TOR? If this were not a Star Wars property, if that name were not attached to this game, the game would have gone bankrupt long ago.
What does that truth say about their model? A ton.
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SWTOR in my eyes is one of EA’s penny squeezing scheme games that at it’s core is inherently unfair and because of that unfairness will kill it self in the end.
In the past games where always based on equality, somehow game developers found that they could squeeze a lot of cash out of people, by letting people pay to be the strongest player in a game, sadly in all such games that are Pay-To-Win, there is no real honor to be the top player, and there is only a “Look at Me I can Waist more Cash then you” element of showing off between rich people.
I have not paid EA a single cent for playing SWOTR and will never pay them anything, due to the toxic player environment and Pay-To-Win model, I do volunteer work with mentally handicapped people and help refugees in our local refugee center, while living off the governments unemployment benefit, hence I can never compete in a Pay-To-Win game against people who own ten factories, oil fields or something similar, and I have met such people in Pay-To-Win games.
As soon as I realized that I was competing against people who could dump thousands of Euros in to the game just as easily as that I breath in air without any effort, I wanted to stop playing any such game that gives in game advantages to people who pay more.
In contrast I have bought vanity items for Dota 2, a game that does not give any in game advantages to paying players, regardless of Dota 2 being a free game, Valve is making 18 Million dollars per month from Dota 2.
When I started playing SWOTR a couple of years ago, it was virtually impossible as a F2P player to join a clan, toxic comments where made like “We do not want freeloaders in our clan”, I left the game relatively quickly after I discovered that F2P players where shackled left right and center by EA, and that if I committed to this game, and paid for content, I would be shut out of said content as soon as I would stop paying cash, and of cause I would always be a weak player, even if I paid for stuff, as people who are more rich then me can simply buy their ultimate end gear.
Last week I reinstalled SWTOR, just to see how good it would run in Linux/Wine+CSMT on my new hardware, and I was surprised how empty the server was, compared to when I played it many years ago.
What also surprised me was an avalanche of clan invite requests, even though I could no longer chat, as F2P chat blocks have gone up from level 10 to 60, something that will definitely not encourage new players trying out the game.
As a Linux gamer I stopped paying money anyways to games that do not support Linux, looking at EA’s game portfolio it seems they now heavily invest in games that are all Pay-To-Win, I just get sick looking at Madden or FIFA on Twitch, seeing how EA is trying to squeeze every last penny from players with gambling schemes of opening boxes or card packs, I guess EA has become a seller of gambling games for people who have more money then brains.
I do not believe that these Pay-To-Win business models are creating long living fun to play games, as all these games tend to get more and more unfair over time, in an effort by the publisher to squeeze the last blood(money) out of the game.
And players will only play these games, either because they have not experienced the full unfairness of such games, or because they feel it’s the only exclusive kind of content available on the market for a specific story/brand, or if people as said before have more cash then brains.
For 15€ per month I can buy 3 games on sale on Steam, like Portal 2, giving me much more content then these Pay-To-Win games, am I going to pay EA 15€ per month for the opportunity to be the weakest player in the game, killed by millionaires throwing thousands of Euros at it, without having any official game support for my OS ? I don’t think so!
FYI. This was recently linked in another discussion on Dulfy. The quote from the report you mentioned above was made, but it is entirely incomplete in the analysis. As a former SWTOR player and EA shareholder since March 2011, I probably am more sensitive than most at scouring the reports for information on SWTOR.
For completion of the analysis, more from that report must be gleaned. Here is a response I wrote to someone on Dulfy mentioning the exact same quote from the report.
Wrong report to quote. Yes I am aware of that particular statement. However, from the same report when discussing net revenues (proxy pg. 124, paragraph 3):
“For fiscal year 2015, net revenue was $4,515 million and increased $940 million, or 26 percent, as compared to fiscal year 2014. This increase was driven by a $1,481 million increase in revenue primarily from the FIFA and Madden NFL franchises, and Titanfall. This increase was partially offset by a $541 million decrease in revenue primarily from the SimCity, Crysis, Dead Space, and NCAA Football franchises, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.”
Also of note in that same report is the percentage of revenue FIFA counts for (which is their absolute No. 1 franchise). According to detail in that report, all FIFA titles account for $1,849 million – leaving $50 million spread across 12 other titles in sub services of which SWTOR is one of them.
Now, SWTOR could be $10, $20 or even $30 million of that with the remainder equally spread across the other 11 titles and that would make the earlier statement true.
But wait, there is more. Under Service and Other Revenue (proxy p.124 last paragraph):
“This increase was partially offset by a $154 million decrease primarily from SimCity franchise, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Pogo-branded online games services.”
So, after reading all mentions of SWTOR in that report, please tell me how it was a major contributing factor in increased revenues. Because that exact report quoted in fact says the opposite more than one time.
As a former SWTOR player and a stockholder since March 2011 (when shares were $18.50), I am probably more sensitive than most when it comes to digging into the financials on SWTOR reporting. Most stockholders could care less as the stock performance has been great – especially over the last two years.
Based on the above, at best, SWTOR was maybe a $20 million – $30 million title for them (last year). Once you account for licensing and server costs, they were barely making money on the title to begin with. To a $4.5 billion company, a $30 million title barely even registers as anything important.