BioWare on SWTOR F2P: Not Trying to Squeeze Every Penny Out of It

Taking Star Wars: The Old Republic from a subscription model to a free-to-play/subscription hybrid is a difficult process, one that BioWare Austin has to approach delicately.

Speaking with CVG, BioWare Austin’s general manager, Matthew Bromberg, said the studio is trying to figure out how to “grow” its business, but it wouldn’t be trying to nickel-and-dime players in order to do it. First and foremost, the conversion to free-to-play is to get more people into the game, he said.

“Obviously we are a business and we have to grow that business, but my primary intention is to make as many people play this beautiful game that we’ve made,” Bromberg said. “It just so happens that the business will naturally grow as more people come to play the game, but we’re not trying to squeeze every single penny out of it.”

Bromberg said moving to the free-to-play model for SWTOR made sense given how many Star Wars fans there are out there in the world. The plan is to grow the game and its player base, largely because BioWare was finding that the subscription model was what was turning players off.

“We looked at it and thought, what is the size of opportunity for your brand? There are tens of millions of Star Wars fans, how many have tried our game? How many would like to try it? Clearly the awareness of the brand is really high so what’s standing in the way?,” he said. “We did a lot of research and found that people who gave it a try but left found the subscription to be the biggest barrier. So it was a pretty straightforward decision for us.”

It has been a pretty complex task to move SWTOR from a paid model to a F2P one, though, Bromberg said. And while BioWare has high hopes that the conversion will bring in more players, it sounds as if this is a pretty big learning curve for the company.

When CVG asked, straight up, if Bromberg thought F2P would make more money than the subscription model did, he said, “I don’t know.” But it sounds as though he and BioWare at least thinks it’ll bring people back to its MMO. That might be enough of a start, at least.

Check out the complete interview right here.


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9 Comments on BioWare on SWTOR F2P: Not Trying to Squeeze Every Penny Out of It

SweetPea

On August 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Why do they even try with these statements? Not like anyone is going to believe them…

kyle

On August 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm

I was turned off by how terrible the game was. I’d happily pay a subscription; next they need to release a game with no bugs that were present throughout the entire beta, standard features like group finder and cross realm grouping, and at least some playable end game content. I will not be going back to it even if it does make as a f2p because of how terribly botched the whole thing was.

SXO

On August 31, 2012 at 6:02 am

“The plan is to grow the game and its player base, largely because BioWare was finding that the subscription model was what was turning players off.”

Sure….. THAT’s what was turning people off. I wonder how a game like Rift that came out before SWTOR can manage to continue to use a subscription model without “turning players off.” For the record, I have friends that played both, and the subscription was never something they complained about with SWTOR. They complained about plenty of other stuff though. So if/when player numbers continue to drop-off, what will their explanation be then?

Brad

On August 31, 2012 at 9:36 am

It’ll likely be cancelled by this time next year.

James

On August 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

Pretty sure it wasn’t the subscription that was turning people off.

R.J.

On August 31, 2012 at 10:40 am

Sure, they aren’t trying to squeeze “every” penny out of it, they’re trying to squeeze “any” pennies out of it. The way people were leaving this game, they didn’t have much of a choice. And I doubt if the subscription was the biggest turn off. It was probably a factor, yes, but there were other issues, such as running out of things to do and a general level of disgust for EA and Bioware lately. But I also wouldn’t expect a company to ever acknowledge its own problems. It’s always easier to blame “the market” for everything.

XoX

On September 1, 2012 at 3:19 am

Is the Free-to-play option available in Spain??

DrDA

On September 2, 2012 at 9:58 am

I would gladly have paid the subscription fee if I deemed the game good enough, but as it turned out, it was not worth it.

Kevin

On September 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm

At least he had a brief moment of honesty when he hints he “doesn’t know” if this big move to F2P will actually…. you know, turn a profit.

Sorta tells you they are just trying this out of desperation, rather than actually analyzing the numbers. They’ve lost a ton of money with this game.

Voiceovers=content will probably go down as one of the most laughable gaming strategies ever tried.