EA CEO Admits Problem Launching SWTOR as Subscription "In the World of Free-to-Play"
Scott "Lum the Mad" Jennings found the perfect comment from Electronic Arts' executive John Riccitiello, just before announcing the latest round of layoffs from the development team of the company's subscription-based MMO, Star Wars The Old Republic:
"Our conclusion was we had a great product in Star Wars, but that the subscription model in the world of free-to-play was challenging."
This is seriously the game industry understatement of 2012, but it's good to hear it coming from Riccitiello. Some readers objected when I said the SWTOR layoffs also mean the end of subscription-based MMOs, but hopefully his words will take where mine didn't. It's especially curious, reading reader comments in Scott's blog, to see SWTOR fans insisting it wasn't subscriptions that were the problem, but underlying design/deployment problems with the MMO itself. Because that misses an obvious point: All MMOs have shortcomings, especially after launch, but if an MMO is free-to-play and freemium, the users are much more likely to stay and wait out the fixes, whereas someone paying $15 a month isn't likely to be as patient. Hey, did you notice the free-to-play Battlestar Galactica is way more popular than SWTOR? I bet you John Riccitiello did.