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Star Wars: The Old Republic focusing on subscription model 'right now'

Star Wars: The Old Republic creative director James Ohlen talks about the subscription model, the eventual possibility of free-to-play, and what it will take to be profitable.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic launches today, complete with a traditional subscription model. Meanwhile, more and more often we're seeing MMOs either launching or switching to a free-to-play model. While TOR creative director James Ohlen doesn't discount that possibility eventually, he says "right now" the company is committed to the subscription.

"I don't know what's going to happen in the future," Ohlen said, "but right now, we're very much focused on making it a subscription game."

He feels the subscription model is held to a higher standard, but doesn't think it will disappear completely. "Yes, it's getting difficult for companies to compete in the subscription space because players' expectations are so high," he told Gamasutra. "That has been a big challenge for us, mainly because Blizzard set the bar so high with World of Warcraft. But I think we've hit it and we're bringing innovations that are really going to change the way people view the AAA subscription MMO."

This echoes recent comments from BioWare founder Ray Muzyka, who said that the "quality of volume and content that we provide" will justify the premium subscription price.

Of course, the project's long development time has led to some justifiable questioning of what it will take to turn the game profitable. "There are different levels of success and we have all the different models built out," Ohlen said. "While we want to be super-successful, we also need to plan for not hitting all our targets. Can we then still be profitable? Yes, but it will take longer." He explains that millions of subscribers would mean "super success," they can make do with a smaller base. "While it would be great to get the kind of numbers that World of Warcraft gets, we don't have to come close to those in order to be wildly successful. We could be well below WoW and still be incredibly profitable."

The Old Republic is available now, and you can check out our first look for more hands-on details.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 20, 2011 12:00 PM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Star Wars: The Old Republic focusing on subscription model 'right now'.

    Star Wars: The Old Republic creative director James Ohlen talks about the subscription model, the eventual possibility of free-to-play, and what it will take to be profitable.

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      December 20, 2011 1:13 PM

      It at least sounds they have their heads about them for the business model. But, these comments are from BioWare. EA will likely have a much different view. They want total market dominance by Jan 1 or epic fail - oh, wait this isn't HP. So, Feb 14th.

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      December 20, 2011 1:17 PM

      the issue is to keep the "fix" going. people are RACING through this game like a junkie with a pile of cocaine.

      they need to be worried about people jumping ship (pun intended) too quickly. end game flashpoints and such need to be rolled out QUICKLY, and I'm thinking new worlds and such like how world of tanks continually adds new maps.

      but holy shit, this game is being consumed so quickly it might burn out too fast.

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        December 20, 2011 1:25 PM

        Which newly launched MMO or expansion isn't a race to the end?

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        December 20, 2011 1:40 PM

        There will always be some that make it their life goals to blow through an MMO as fast as possible. There were level 60's within days of WoW's launch.

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          December 20, 2011 2:52 PM

          Took the first people to hit 60 a couple of weeks after launch, I remember reading about it, as that was around the only time I was playing.

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            December 20, 2011 2:59 PM

            After a little Google work, it was 11 days to be exact.

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              December 20, 2011 3:03 PM

              and that was someone putting in way more time than the average player.

              Remember the guy that died playing because he wasn't eating?

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          December 20, 2011 3:14 PM

          Already level 50's on the servers due to early game access. Takes about a week of hardcore playing i guess.

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        December 20, 2011 1:48 PM

        same viewpoint as you on this.

        people are burning through content too fast. there's already people at level 30 on new servers.

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      December 20, 2011 1:40 PM

      It's all about getting to the end instead of enjoying the story along the way. With the story and the voicing, it's a blast. But I guess that's just me

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        December 20, 2011 3:32 PM

        yeah. I'm taking my time. and will do multiple runs to see other stories I'm sure

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      December 20, 2011 3:47 PM

      Terrific game despite the terrible UI and some issues with sound effects not playing when it gets crazy on the screen. It really does feel like a single-player game with a great story with the multiplayer more of a co-op feeling.. of course the flashpoints are a lot of fun however.

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        December 20, 2011 9:57 PM

        Terrible UI? That's one thing the game seems to have nailed moreso than any PC game of memory lately.

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      December 21, 2011 9:03 AM

      "We definately dont want to NOT make money yet.... We've already bled SWG for 8 years and now its round 2 !!!"

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        December 22, 2011 1:14 PM

        Not the same developer, or even publisher. But nice try, troll!

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