Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
 
A minor comment about SWTOR math

There has been a discussion whether SWTOR has shrunk by 90%, based on the number of servers designated as source for free server transfers. I believe that number is misleading. The number of servers you need depends on the maximum number of concurrent users, which is *not* the same as the number of subscribers. Even if no subscriber left the game, the number of concurrent users would drop a few weeks after release.

[EDIT: P.S. Of course that 90% shrinkage in subscription could still happen now that they announced that the game will eventually become Free2Play. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!]

Comments:
Yes. But there are two distinct ways the #s are wrong.

The first is your point about subscribers versus concurrent users. Sixty hour/week customer during launch is unlikely to still be doing that in six months. Also SWTOR and WoW probably had about as many customers on May 14 as May 16th yet I bet the number of player-hours dropped by over half.

The second is server technology. Bioware may be using the same number of hardware "servers" as before. It's just the number of realms has been reduced. Whether they had twice or half as many realms as they chose would not change the # of customers. It would change how many instances would be dynamically created for a zone/planet.

In MoP, there could be players from a dozen realms in the same Wetlands and they will supposedly be consolidated dynamically and seamlessly.

It sure seems like all the PR and technical issues are pushing for not having fixed realms.
 
@Hagu you can't deny the poor optics of reducing your server count by 90% and providing zero context for the media/players in return. Wishy washy statements about larger servers and F2P doesn't instill any confidence.

Until that time, Occam's Razor applies here.
 
Maybe there's been a new statement, but everything I've seen has only indicated they are considering the F2P strategy and nothing that definately stated the game is going F2P.
 
@Asmiroth - I don't understand. First, players are getting a big and obvious benefit to realm reduction. ( A recent podcaster said he was playing TOR more than he had since launch. It addressed the biggest complaint people had; player density.) Second, many disagree but I think that any game would benefit by being reduced to one server. E.g., if WoW went to 100+ to one server with zones/areas getting dynamically adjusted to make the people/computer-power ratio work, I would not say they were providing 1% of the value. It just depends on whether you want a lifestyle where you think you know "most" of the people on the realm or whether you want a larger, more anonymous (urban?) experience where you know a lot of people but not a large % of the population.

Look at the inefficiency of a game developer trying to make a realm playable on the "everyone playing many hours per day" launch while still being efficient from a hardware and player density in 9 months. My guess is that fixed realms are an MMO idea that will be phased out or at least ameliorated. I.e the WoW-killer of 2015 (which ships in 2017 and they start designing now) may have the cross-realm/merged experience of MoP not TBC.
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I still don't think F2P is near confirmed (but may happen.) There are two events. (IIRC and I could be out of date)
1) SWTOR announced they would follow WoW in being F2P: You can play a level 20 in WoW and a level 15 in SWTOR for free forever.
2) A designer was quoted being more honest than PR savvy about (paraphrasing) "everyone is looking at it." Which is true; even if Blizzard, Trion, & CCP will not go F2P in the next 3 years, I am sure that every few months in a strategic planning meeting they at least consider it. But publicly saying that causes the forum champions to froth.

That being said, F2P wouldn't be a surprise.
 
They didn't announce that they were going free to play. A developer, and then the president of EA, talked about eventually heading in the direction of F2P once the game has aged a certain amount (and even then, only as a possibility) . There would be no abrupt changes at all. Basically, they said they were thinking about it, which every MMO does if they're smart.

Seriously, you're smarter than this Tobold.
 
They said it was inevitable that sooner or later they would go Free2Play depending on subscription numbers. The logical reaction of any subscriber to that should be to unsubscribe and hasten that process along.
 
Here, Tobold, I'll put in the actual quote since you didn't bother to read it.

Gibeau stressed that EA will continue to evaluate the business around Star Wars and implement changes as needed, so free-to-play isn't out of the question at all (indeed, BioWare recently said as much too).

"We're going to be in the business from a long term standpoint so absolutely we're going to embrace free access, free trial, ultimately some day we can move in and embrace that model. It's all a matter of timing and thinking things through. We have a great business right now and we're not looking to make any abrupt changes. We made some good announcements in terms of giving you the first few levels free, because our telemetry told us that if we can get you to around level 8 or 9, you stick with us for the long term. So really the strategy right now is about opening up the funnel at the top so we can acquire more customers who are interested in Star Wars who perhaps aren't ready to pay the full price," Gibeau continued.

"[We want to give them] an opportunity to try and it and say, 'You know, I really do like this. I'm going to make that commitment.' MMOs, obviously, are a big commitment of time and money and so giving people an opportunity to access it for free, try it, we found in our telemetry and our experiments is a really good strategy and a good tactic. We're going to do that. We also announced a... mass amount of content thats coming for the service, so we're going to be in the Star Wars business for ten years, who knows? We're still publishing Ultima Online for seventeen years. So we're definitely going to be in the Star Wars business for a long time and if the business changes in accordance with how the market is reacting, then that's just good process for us since we're trying to create the best possible service for our gamers."


Gibeau said that all MMOs will transition to an "F2P" model. All of them will, at some point in their lifespan, make the switch because it just makes more sense for a dated product to do that. He was referring more to a free trial, free access sort of arrangement (like they are starting in July - free to play levels 1-15).

And your 'logical reaction' is laughably biased. We get that you didn't like SWTOR. Get over it. Lots of folks do, and this F2P hullabaloo is driven more by SWTOR hate than real curiosity or questions. It would be interesting to see TOR go free to play at some point, but that point's not really now.
 
the business changes in accordance with how the market is reacting

He said exactly what I said. If they are willing to change their business model in accordance with how the market is reacting, it would be clever of the "the market", aka us the players, to unsubscribe and push them in the Free2Play direction. Not that most players aren't already unsubscribing for other reasons.

SWTOR, because of its story-centric design, is probably more suited to a Free2Play model than many other MMORPGs.
 
"Look at the inefficiency of a game developer trying to make a realm playable on the "everyone playing many hours per day" launch while still being efficient from a hardware and player density in 9 months."

When I started to play SWTOR around christmas, on republic allegiance no less, there were 100 people at the start planet Tython around 11 PM (post prime time). A few days later I continued to play and managed to get past level 10, did my first instance. There were many people on fleet. I was even on coruscant #2 which was a problem during group creation because I didn't know how to get to coruscant #1 where the rest of the group was located.

1 month later the landscape was changed. A lot. While this is only my experience on that server (The Shadow Runner EU), what I did experience was a massive amount of players leaving the game. It was so many people leaving (again, on that server at least) that the game became unplayable PvE-wise, and PvP-wise in WZ we were always losing (the Empire had more l50). Why bother then? This is something they did not see coming or else they'd have even bigger servers on launch. Besides that they also did not quickly anticipate the problem (only half a year later they did). Yes, they did give a month for free, but I did not play for far longer than one month because my server was R.I.P.

"They said it was inevitable that sooner or later they would go Free2Play depending on subscription numbers. The logical reaction of any subscriber to that should be to unsubscribe and hasten that process along."

Agreed, at the very least that is how I as P2P/SWTOR player read that quote (rightfully or not) and was another good reason for me to /unsub. I did not unsub because "I did not like SWTOR" I unsubbed because the monthly fee isn't providing enough bang for the buck for me compared to other games IOW I do like aspects of the game. I also feel, as already mentioned, I paid more than enough early adopter fees.
 
If they are willing to change their business model in accordance with how the market is reacting, it would be clever of the "the market", aka us the players, to unsubscribe and push them in the Free2Play direction.

This sort of reasoning confuses individual player actions with collective player actions. Individual players (or, indeed, participants in RL society) act based on their own local self interest, not in combination with everyone else to achieve common goals.
 
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