Quality is vital in standing out from the freebies, says BioWare man
The Old Republic has launched into a market that has restrited space for subscription MMOs, the game’s director has said.
James Ohlen believes that, when pitted against an army of MMOs that people can play for free, subscription games like The Old Republic need to allure customers through quality.
“We felt, and we still feel, that there is a place for subscription based games,” Ohlen told IGN.
“If you're going to build a subscription-based game it's got to be huge in scope. People have to feel that it's worth paying a fee every month, so the scope of the game has to be much bigger than the free-to-play games.
“The quality, the polish has to be very, very high, and then you need to have a plan to continue to deliver free content on a regular basis. If you do those things, I think you can succeed.”
There is feverish speculation over EA’s full investment in bringing the Old Republic to market. One analyst has infamously predicted it would have cost half a billion dollars, though general predictions are less than half this amount.
With exorbitant development costs pushing risks high, the subscription MMO market is often regarded as a danger zone for developers and publishers.
Crackdown developer Realtime Worlds closed completely after launching its subscription MMO, called APB, after failing to convince consumers to pay for the title.
APB is now owned by another company and operates as a free-to-play game.
“Obviously, there can only be a few subscription-based games,” said Ohlen.
“There is a limited MMO audience and not a ton of that audience is playing more than one MMO, but I still think there's room for more than just one really successful online game.
“I think Star Wars: The Old Republic can coexist with World of Warcraft and other successful games like Rift. You can have multiple MMOs with a subscription being successful as long as those games fulfil the requirements of high quality, good polish, lots of content, and continuing to do high value updates on a regular basis.”
Earlier in January, Baird Equity Research's Colin Sebastian said the success of The Old Republic was “an indication of a healthy MMO market”.