A sign that Bioware are onto a winner?

You know things are looking good for SWTOR when Bobby Kotick goes on record as doubting the game’s profitability.

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20 thoughts on “A sign that Bioware are onto a winner?

    • Oh, and I like this quote: “If you look at the history of the people investing in an MMO and achieving success, it’s a small number.”

      Thank you, Captain Obvious. Any more gems of wisdom to share?

      • Actually, if you look at MMO investment, the number of companies that have made a return (albeit not on the magnitude of WoW) it’s surprisingly large. Especially Free-to-plays. Hell, just look at the continuing success of LOTRO. That’s been around for what, 5 years now?
        Hell, even Cryptics two abortions (STO and CO) are going Free to play, and CO is doing well (STO’s not swapped yet has it? if it has it’s not been for long)
        APB’s profitable now it’s got a half decent pricing model (IE, freemium + microtransactions), so much so that G1 has bought Fallen Earth and making that Freemium too.
        Once again Kotick is talking out of his arse.
        He may be right about SWTOR not being profitable, in the long term, but atleast I can see Bioware entertaining the idea of Free-to-play if things do start to flag. Unlike Kotick, who will drive WoW into the ground before he agrees to let people into his game for nothing (and the free 1-20 trial doesn’t count)

      • I don’t think Bobby Kotick’s definition of success encompasses anything that doesn’t make a hundred million dollars a year or more.

  1. Um, yeah.

    The big drawback to making statements like that –meant for the investor/analyst types rather than the end users– is that he expects those analysts to not listen to the internet scuttlebutt. Well, given the tendency of analysts to reduce everything to easily biased “quantifiable data”, maybe he can get away with saying crap like that.

    • I have a feeling that the analysts are currently making up their own mind from the numbers. With just over 900k preorders in the US and an estimated 3 million worldwide, they may already have a winner in the bag.

      Long term viability, now that’s another question. For that we’ll have to see what the 6-month churn rate looks like.

      • What I’m curious about is just how many of those preorders are for gold farmer accounts.

        Sure, they all spend, but there are days when I wonder whether I’m the only real player on some WoW servers and the rest are just gold farmers.

  2. Isn’t he saying this after their stocks took a bit of a fall? Maybe he is trying to comfort investors.

    And why would he even need to address this if he wasn’t maybe a bit nervous about what SWTOR would do to his paycheck? I didn’t hear him saying anything about Rift when it came out or LotRO and EQ when they went F2P.

  3. Kotick is not say that SWTOR won’t make a profit. He is saying, based on his prior dealings, the Lucas take most of the proft and EA won’t be left with enough money to keep the game going.

    • Yes. This.

      I’m not sure people actually read the article in question, which boils down to Lucasarts takes a pretty big slice of the Star Wars licensing pie and just saw the words ‘Kotick’ and ‘Swotor’ and made up their own article in their heads.

      • I saw it, but when a CEO takes a stab at rival’s potential profits during an investor call, I’m more looking at the reasons why he felt he needed to say that at that point.

    • Interestingly, several of the articles say things like “Kotick questioned whether his rival would make money off the “Star Wars” game” but none of the direct quotes from Kotick actually back that up. The direct quotes are all about how Lucasarts will be the principal beneficiary, not claiming that they will be the ONLY beneficiary.

  4. After my first weekend beta test I don’t have doubts that SWTOR will make a huge profit.Before the test I had a lot of doubts… I was thinking that the US$ 300 million they used for make the game were lost for sure.

    And I too don’t have doubts that WoW have the first big 100 ton T. rex competitor.

    SWTOR is not revolutionary, but it is evolutionayr enough for be the big pubaa of all MMO and it is a strong competitor to the WoW’s throne. If any game can get more than 10 million players, that game will be SWTOR.

    And take note that SWTOR can make the MMO market a lot bigger. A lot of players that never tryed a MMO will come just because the game is a “KOTOR online” or because it is Star Wars.

  5. “I don’t really understand…how economics work….”
    *Fixed that for you, Mr. Kotick. <3

    All joking aside, this kind of gentle mudslinging is pretty common at the investor level. Of course the current aging kings are going to do whatever they can (whether it seems to carry weight or not) to cast doubt on upcoming competitors. Consider the smaller MMOs that have come and gone over WoW's duration and how many of them Blizzard's brass considered worthy of such a "dismissing mention".

    They'd be fools to not consider that Bioware's MMO is a very real threat to their subscriber numbers…and spoiler: they are not fools. Whether TOR will really hit them hard or not remains to be seen of course, but comments like this tell me the Blizzard brass is at least aware of the possibility.

  6. I actually read two things into the actual quote from Mr Kotick:

    First, the serious one – that he’s expecting TOR to get, and hold on to, a large number of subscribers. If that happens, his best bet to keep Actizard’s share price high is by telling investors that yeah, EA has as many people playing their game, but WoW subscribers are much more profitable than TOR subscribers, so Actizard is still the best bet for someone who wants to actually earn cash.

    Second, the snarky reaction – looks like ol’ Bobby is admitting that he can’t negotiate a business partnership with Lucas that is advantageous to both parties. I reckon that says more about his own failings as a businessman than it does anything about TOR’s profitability. Sure, Lucas will be getting a big slice of the pie, but there’s more than enough TOR pie to go around.

  7. This is interesting on a number of levels. First, Kotick would be a fool to at least not acknowledge the elephant in the room (SWTOR) during an investor call. If Kotick did not acknowledge it could easily be construed by investors that (i) management of Activison is out-of-touch with events in the marketplace (release of SWTOR); or (ii) more importantly, being so comfortably arrogant about WoW’s marketshare that they could care less about competition. So, while at least making mention of SWTOR during the investor call, Kotick has now at least given a defensible position that “Hey, we knew about it, but we, as a company, did not think it was going to be as profitable as it was.” [Assuming, of course, that SWTOR becomes profitable]. On the other hand, if SWTOR does not live up to the gathering momentum of its profitably, Kotick can say, “See, we told you so.” On a second level, is Kotick’s throw away about Lucas Arts business dealings. By lending an economic underpinning to Activision’s failure to collaborate with Lucas Arts (i.e., LA requires a too hefty profit share to make a deal fair), he has given investors a reason why Activision has not pursued business dealings with LA. In essence, Kotick is saying to investors, “Look, it’s not profitable to do business with LucasArts and, therefore, we’re not wasting the company’s money to pursue deals with them.” What Kotick has basically done is business 101 when dealing with investors: 1 – acknowledge competition, 2 – downplay profitability of the competition; and 3 – provide a reason why the Company has not pursued an arrangement with the third-party that market competitors have. Say what you want about Kotick being a douche-canoe, but he is following textbook corporate management strategy.

  8. EA have been working with 3rd party licenses for a very long time.

    They have several successful KOTOR titles under their belt.

    Even if the license is costing them an arm and a leg, I would argue that it is worth it in this case. How many non-MMO players will pick up Titan on the basis of brand recognition/nostalgia?

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