Star Wars' Stumble Points to Free, Open Future for Online Worlds
The $15-a-month subscription game is dying. But it's not because players are cheap, it's because they're bored.
As the game development website Gamasutra put it, the most expensive game in history is now free: With a reported $200 million budget, the massively multiplayer RPG Star Wars: The Old Republic wasn't attracting nearly the number of subscribers that publisher Electronic Arts needed if it was going to see returns. So EA added a business model that has been lucrative for other online games: Allow gamers to play for free, then charge them small amounts for upgrades once they're hooked.
But that may not be enough. Experts in the space say the reason Star Wars struggles while other online games are killing it isn't because of the money, it's because of how the games themselves are designed. It's not the business model that's obsolete, but the product.
We do not believe the current method of making these games is sustainable, said John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, at the EverQuest maker's fan festival SOE Live in October.