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EA Studies WoW While Prepping SW: TOR Launch

By - Source: Gamasutra | B 41 comments

EA is studying the initial days of World of Warcraft as it prepares to launch BioWare's upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

The love-hate relationship between Activision-Blizzard and Electronic Arts isn't anything new: we've already heard both sides of the story in regards to launching Star Wars: The Old Republic (TOR) and how the upcoming MMORPG could potentially hurt/benefit the genre. EA seemingly has a lot riding on its shoulders right now, and it's naturally looking at the industry's flagship MMORPG – World of Warcraft – as a model on how to launch a massive, virtual world, and how to keep it interesting in the following months.

"We've actually studied WoW pretty carefully," CFO Eric Brown said at the Citi 2011 Tech Conference on Wednesday. "We spent a lot of time studying the first twelve months or so of WoW, and just to be clear here, when they initially launched, they did not launch in dual geographies. They went North America only."

Brown added that the TOR team is paying close attention to WoW's initial customers, and is applying that knowledge to the first wave of TOR subscribers. More importantly, the team wants to ensure the best experience possible in the initial days – including limiting the number of copies sold at launch so that the servers aren't flooded with new users to the point that gameplay becomes intolerable. As we've seen in the past, a horrible experience means a negative viral effect across the board (like Anarchy Online's initial launch), thus pushing away potential customers. Naturally both EA and BioWare want a positive "YOU MUST PLAY THIS!" viral effect.

"We really want to make sure that the first group of users into Star Wars has the best experience," he said. "For example, when they log on, they have instant access. [Even] when they're playing in a densely-populated world, the bandwidth and response time is excellent. So quality of service is really important to us."

As for the post-launch plans, BioWare has that covered, keeping in tune with its "rich, detailed post-launch detailed plan" for its crop of console games. "[BioWare] has built in a very extensive development plan to make sure there is enough content coming out in intervals," he said. "We haven't specified it, but industry norm is 18-24 months. And the idea there is to keep the game fresh and interesting for all of the players."

As seen with Blizzard's Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft, TOR gamers are expected to burn through the new MMORPG's content rather quick, and will likely wait on the sidelines until the next expansion pack is released. That said, BioWare may need to take Blizzard's new route of releasing short bursts of content to keep those gamers from cancelling their subscriptions until the next major release.

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  • 15 Hide
    Anonymous , September 9, 2011 9:22 AM
    >life wasting games.
    >get outta the house. go talk to some girls...

    Don't think my wife would be happy with that...
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    whysobluepandabear , September 9, 2011 7:08 AM
    I really want this game to be as amazing as I imagine it to be.


    On the flip side, I also want it to fail. Why you might ask? Because then I wouldn't be tempted to destroy my social life (Like I sorta did with WoW). If it sucks, I'll pass it by, and not ever think twice about it -- if It's epic, than I'll constantly be reminded and tempted to play it...which, well, you know how that'll go.
  • -5 Hide
    balev , September 9, 2011 7:15 AM
    life wasting games.

    get outta the house. go talk to some girls...
  • 9 Hide
    crisan_tiberiu , September 9, 2011 7:27 AM
    It is going to be hard to compete against WoW. I also play WoW, and i tried every new MMORPG that was launched because i started to hate WoW...but after playing 2 weeks on the new MMO's i returned to WoW...
  • 2 Hide
    wildkitten , September 9, 2011 8:44 AM
    crisan_tiberiuIt is going to be hard to compete against WoW. I also play WoW, and i tried every new MMORPG that was launched because i started to hate WoW...but after playing 2 weeks on the new MMO's i returned to WoW...

    Well, that may have been the case with WoW before, but for 2 straight quarters since Cataclysm's release WoW has lost nearly 1 million subscribers, with the first 600,000 coming before Rift's release.

    Right now Bobby Kotick is WoW's worse enemy. Ever since the merger and Vivendi naming Kotick the CEO of the gaming division, WoW has been completely different as has Blizzard. EA should only look at WoW right now for how NOT to do something.
  • 4 Hide
    poofypants , September 9, 2011 8:57 AM
    I played wow long enough. No more grinding anything for this guy. If the game doesn't generate intense action or completely wow me, it's not getting picked up.
  • 7 Hide
    Goldengoose , September 9, 2011 9:19 AM
    I think alot of people have been burnt out on MMO type games through over playing of WoW - they move onto more instant-gratification type games such as LoL. I think unless SWTOR has some amazing features which takes advantage of these types of gamers it won't encourage them back and won't attract current subscribers to WoW to move; anyone else get the feeling of "i've put so much effort into WoW but in this new game i've got nothing" feeling when switching games?
  • 15 Hide
    Anonymous , September 9, 2011 9:22 AM
    >life wasting games.
    >get outta the house. go talk to some girls...

    Don't think my wife would be happy with that...
  • 4 Hide
    plasmastorm , September 9, 2011 9:22 AM
    played wow for 7 years, now i have a long term girl, a house, a sweet car and a great job. stuff mmorpgs, my times been served
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , September 9, 2011 9:25 AM
    I would like to play and support Bioware, But I will never touch another EA publication again!

    I am still waiting for GW2, its going to be revolutionary! No more needless grind, Persistent world that suffers cause and effect (No more respawning mobs that stay put on their path) awesome classes and art work, fantastic gameplay and real pvp!

    Luckily LOTRO will keep me grinding until I am released from the Grind Mill.

    Mark my Words, EA will stuff this game, 100% Guaranteed!
  • 4 Hide
    Zuesacoatl , September 9, 2011 9:59 AM
    I think the nail was hit on the head, most people are done playing MMOs for a bit because wow was good enough to keep our attention for so long it wore us out. I have tried other games, rifts is wow with tons of unbalanced specs, and holes in the sky, GW is pathetic, the old classics are just that, old. Nothing coming out will have anything new that has not already been done with the overall MMO game mechanics. Game gimmicks will only work for so long, like rifts and hundreds of specs for rifts, or traps and other features of DnD, but unless instant or immediate gratification can be given, I do not see many players sticking with WoW or TOR for much longer. Games like Diablo 3 and others will begin to reign supreme for a short while until something in the MMO industry changes.
  • 3 Hide
    Andrei24 , September 9, 2011 10:23 AM
    GoldenGooseI think alot of people have been burnt out on MMO type games through over playing of WoW - they move onto more instant-gratification type games such as LoL. I think unless SWTOR has some amazing features which takes advantage of these types of gamers it won't encourage them back and won't attract current subscribers to WoW to move; anyone else get the feeling of "i've put so much effort into WoW but in this new game i've got nothing" feeling when switching games?



    exactly my thoughts on this as well
  • 1 Hide
    ct001 , September 9, 2011 11:20 AM
    "As seen with Blizzard's Cataclysm expansion for World of Warcraft, TOR gamers are expected to burn through the new MMORPG's content rather quick, and will likely wait on the sidelines until the next expansion pack is released. That said, BioWare may need to take Blizzard's new route of releasing short bursts of content to keep those gamers from cancelling their subscriptions until the next major release."

    Or just make the content challenging, instead of 'drool on the keyboard' easy and it'll last longer than 8 hours. Its not about 'instant gratification', or '100% server uptime'. Its about forming an interesting community. There was nothing special about WoW except for the community (which they subsequently destroyed late WOTLK/Cata, which is why its bleeding subs badly). But keep it up with the phasing/instancing/sharding of the player base, don't allow the community any viable method of filtering out the jerks, and continue to put the focus on gear over teamwork, and see just how quickly yet another MMO can go down the drain.
  • 1 Hide
    Zeh , September 9, 2011 11:25 AM
    It sucks that I keep getting older and busier while games keep getting more interesting and time consuming.
  • 3 Hide
    beayn , September 9, 2011 12:14 PM
    ct001Or just make the content challenging, instead of 'drool on the keyboard' easy and it'll last longer than 8 hours. Its not about 'instant gratification', or '100% server uptime'. Its about forming an interesting community. There was nothing special about WoW except for the community (which they subsequently destroyed late WOTLK/Cata, which is why its bleeding subs badly). But keep it up with the phasing/instancing/sharding of the player base, don't allow the community any viable method of filtering out the jerks, and continue to put the focus on gear over teamwork, and see just how quickly yet another MMO can go down the drain.


    You're so wrong. The people who complain that the content is too easy are the ones who don't try hard mode. I played wow a lot when it came out, raided hardcore and spent way too many hours. Now, myself and most of my guild would much rather spend an hour or two getting through content that isn't "bash your head against a wall" difficult. We put enough time into the game and now want to relax and have fun in the community you spoke of. Going back to hardcore isn't an option for us and that is what NORMAL mode is for. Hard mode is for everyone else who wants a challenge.

    Wow is bleeding subs because it's just too old, people are bored of it and don't have the insane number of hours to put into it anymore. I doubt that any MMO will have as many subs as WoW did.
  • -3 Hide
    aaronstyle , September 9, 2011 12:14 PM
    balevlife wasting games.get outta the house. go talk to some girls...



    What are girls?
  • 0 Hide
    Nightsilver , September 9, 2011 12:16 PM
    And as ct001 said, the content in MMOs needs to be challenging. The reason people burn out so quick is because developers dumb down or nerf boss encounters into the dirt in the name of accessibility and appeasing the people who don't want to put in the effort instead of pushing the community to better themselves.

    Cataclysm at launch was a huge step back in the right direction for WoW, and they've already taken tremendous leaps backwards.
  • 2 Hide
    figgus , September 9, 2011 12:50 PM
    4 things that killed WoW:

    -Flying mounts (bye bye world pvp)
    -Dailies (bye bye economy)
    -Arenas (bye bye balance)
    -Dungeon finder (bye bye social network AND front-of-the-instance pvp)

    Universally hailed as a good thing, the effect of those "improvements" was insidious indeed.
  • 2 Hide
    LongLiveRock1974 , September 9, 2011 12:51 PM
    I've quit playing MMO's all together. While they can be fun and I've made a ton of online friends, I hated the feeling that I needed to play to keep up with everyone. I stick to single player games now. If I don't want to play, I don't. I know I can pick up right where I left off and not feel like I'm falling behind or that I missed anything epic for not playing.
  • 4 Hide
    msgun98 , September 9, 2011 12:57 PM
    balevlife wasting games.get outta the house. go talk to some girls...


    I did, got married and I'd rather be playing these games.
  • 1 Hide
    ajcroteau , September 9, 2011 1:03 PM
    Good games based on Star Wars have been few and far between... It'll be interesting to see where this one falls...
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